When his wife shows no signs of getting over her giggles, Duncan takes matters into his own hands.
A few moments later, he re-emerges, feeling distinctly rumpled. People who recommend kissing one’s partner to shut him or her up must not have first-hand knowledge of the way Jo hooks her leg around his waist, or the way she kisses, warm and masterful and dizzying. He can hardly remember the topic of conversation for a very long moment.
Jo, meanwhile, looks quite comfortable snuggled among the pillows. And while the giggling has stopped for the moment, the curve of her smile looks quite dangerous.
“You said you wouldn’t laugh,” Duncan manages at last, ignoring (with a supreme effort) the way Jo’s fingers are playing lazily across his wrist. “You said.”
“I said I wouldn’t make fun,” Jo corrects, teeth flashing. “There’s a difference. One is an involuntary physical reaction, and one…”
“Yes, thank you,” Duncan says, and tries the kissing again.
He’s breathing rather hard when Jo lets him go at last. Her foot, rubbing just there, is not helping. Neither is the fact that she is doing it slowly and contemplatively.
“Really, though,” Jo says, and the pink in her cheeks makes it hard to listen, but he focuses with a supreme effort, because she is Jo, and because he vaguely remembers that this is an important conversation, “Julian?”
“No making fun,” Duncan says, and catches her foot in his hand, pulling it away from its maddening rub and slide.
Jo’s eyes are still distinctly merry, but she pulls her best serious face. “You want to sleep with Julian. Julian Huppert.”
“Yes,” Duncan says, because he does, and she asked, and if he gets all embarrassed about it, she will make fun of him.
“He of the ginger hair and ginger beard and adorable focussed earnestness?” Jo asks, although of course they only know one.
“The very one,” Duncan agrees, and kisses the cradled foot he holds, feather-light, watching the way Jo shudders and stills, eyes going dark.
A thought catches up to him. “Adorable?” He slants a quizzical look in her direction. “Does Mrs Hames fancy Julian as well?”
She flushes, just a little, but her smile is an unembarrassed grin. “I think it’s the hair. It truly is exceptional. And the earnestness – to have all of that attention on oneself would be quite…”
“Mmm,” he says, and pulls her on top of him, tipping his face up to be kissed.
Some time later, her own hair stands out in tangled curls against the overhead light, the muscles of her legs tight around him, his own hands nestled in the curve of her waist.
“Shall we ask him, then?” Jo says, and does something with her hips that makes him see stars.
“Shush,” he says, and feels proud of himself for managing even that much.
She grins, blinding against the light, joy and mischief blending together.
Duncan reaches a hand up to stroke one of her nipples, just to see the oh of her mouth, the way she arches into his touch, the way her hair moves in the air from her sudden exhale.
Jo’s eyes find his, watching him watch her.
“Like what you see, Mr Swinson?” she says, and he does, he does.
Between them, Julian won’t know what’s hit him.