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The corner of Rhett Butler’s mouth turned up slightly as he entered his wife’s drawing room. “A beautiful lady shouldn’t curse without company. It wastes air.”

Scarlett’s own smile was slightly less sharp than usual. “You never do knock,” she complained, running a brush through her hair. He knew the old signals well with her – she had dismissed Mammy early, and likely wished to spend time with him alone. So he settled at the edge of his bed in his dressing gown, watching her comb her black hair.

“Do you need help removing your underthings?”

She glanced back at him over her shoulder. “Where did you learn your manners?”

He smiled lazily as she started fussing with the laces of the corset – it was bright green with a red satin trim, which she believed made her look quite elegant but in fact made her resemble a circus clown. He reached up and unlatched the heavy laces, peeling back layers of cotton and satin. “In the finest brothel in New Orleans,” he declared, tracing the red marks the whalebone had imprinted on her pale flesh.

Scarlett quivered slightly against his touch, though her eyes retained their typical hardness. “Are you going to wave your other women in my face?”

He swept her onto his lap. “Now, is that fair, Katie Scarlett?” he replied, making her fume as he used her family name. “When the ghost of Ashley Wilkes is always clinging to your ankles?”

“Take your hands….”

“…And place them here?” he cupped her face, drew it close, and pressed their lips together. The kiss was an overheated tangle of tongues and restless hands; once he pulled back to shed his robe, she was lambent and sloe-eyed with heat.

She muttered a complaint about his impossibility as she climbed into bed. “You might try to woo me with flowers.”

He laughed. “You’re too hot blooded for such tomfoolery,” he said, yanking her into his arms.

“Any gentleman would,” she said, rapidly giving up the fight, her hands seeking his cock and boldly stroking it to iron-firmness.

“I’m no gentleman,” he replied, pausing to lick her nipple, nuzzle the underside of her breast, tease her skin pink with the brush of his stubble, so that she would look at herself the next morning, see the marks on her skin over the whalebone impressions, and remember who had put them there.

She gasped and reached blindly to position him – even after birthing two children and bedding three men, she was an innocent as to proper procedure. He thrust home and she stiffened, legs tucking around his hips with a moan.

“Rhett, Rhett…whatever shall I do with you?” she sighed, resting her head on his chest.

“That’s something for time and the fate to decide,” he said, kissing her once atop her head.

Neither of them felt the chill, foreboding breeze sweep up from the swamps of New Orleans to cross their sweat-laced bodies.