Melania Traynor walked with her husband along the treelined boulevard, hugging his arm to ward off the chill that had descended with the sun. Her sleeveless dress with its flouncy skirt had been perfect for the intimate bistro where they had dinner, but was not warm enough for the moonlight stroll back to their car. An evening breeze stirred the midnight curls that tumbled over her shoulders, and she shivered.
Jared glanced at her and smiled affectionately before his expression shifted to concern. "You have goose bumps. You should have told me you were cold! I would have gotten the car and picked you up at the restaurant." He shrugged out of his leather jacket and draped it over her slim shoulders before wrapping his arm around her.
Melania buried her nose in the butter-soft fabric and savored the scents of rich leather, traces of cigar, and the masculine essence of Jared himself. "Now you'll be cold." The jacket muffled her words.
"I can take it. It's my duty to care for my wife."
Melania loved the possessiveness in his voice and the kiss he pressed to her hair above her ear.
She resisted the urge to pinch herself. Mrs. Melania Traynor. Mrs. Jared Traynor. She mouthed the words, loving the feel of her new name on her lips. She couldn't believe she'd been married for an entire month now. Her parents had spared no expense to give her the fairy-tale wedding of her dreams. Jared's expression of awe and pride when she had glided down the aisle in a billow of satin and lace would be embroidered on her memory forever. She'd barely managed to hold back the tears of joy as she recited her wedding vows.
Following the ceremony and lavish reception, she and Jared had honeymooned on the white sandy beaches of Aruba before returning two weeks ago to the home Jared had purchased in anticipation of their marriage.
"I'm the luckiest person in the world." She peered up at him.
"No, I'm the luckiest person in the world," he corrected her with a sexy grin and a wink. "And since you promised to obey, you must accept my authority on the matter."
"In all things." Her heels clicked happily on the sidewalk.
Melania had been raised in a conservative, traditional family, where her father stood as the firm but loving head of household and her mother his softer, supportive partner. While her mother directed home matters, she deferred to Melania's father when differences of opinion arose. The system worked smoothly, and Melania envisioned the same type of marriage for herself. She wanted a strong husband to guide and protect her--a man she could respect, who wouldn't permit her to walk all over him. As a teenager, she'd often tested the boundaries of her father's authority but loved him all the more when he demonstrated his care and concern by disciplining her.