Tessa could not remember a time when she had not loved William Owen Herondale. They were in Florence this week, staying at the lovely Florence Institute, as they did in all great cities they visited, that had Institutes almost as big as the London one and provided accommodation for travelling Shadowhunters and their families.
Will had just arranged a warm bath to be set for them — oh, how she loved their shared baths! — and after they have washed each other with water and kisses, and no doubt sprayed soap all over the room in the process, Tessa would finally find out what the carefully guarded surprise was. Will told her two days ago that he had a surprise for her, and that she would discover what it was in two days time. Tessa was practically bursting with excitement and anticipation as the minutes and hours dragged by endlessly.
Angela, the girl who was preparing their bath left just as Will walked into the room. What a sight he was! Blazing blue eyes — his beautiful eyes were always the first thing Tessa would notice about him and that never changed — messy black hair, radiant smile, tall, handsome figure, and a face of an angel. That was her husband. Her heart skipped a beat upon seeing him and then resumed its purpose at a slightly quicker pace.
Will stared at Tessa looking every bit as dazed as she felt. “Tess,” he said finally in a low, gravelly voice.
“Will,” she answered almost inaudibly, swallowing hard.
In a matter of seconds they crashed into each other in the middle of the vast room and were kissing fiercely. Tessa could feel Will’s hands on her neck, then back, her waist, and suddenly in her hair, pulling her intricately arranged braids down. Distantly, she could hear clanking of her hairpins on the floor, but was too busy to give the sounds much thought. Her hands were in Will’s hair, then caressing his lovely cheekbones, then on his chest, then stroking his back, unbuttoning his jacket, in his hair again. He was undoing her corset binding with expert fingers, and planting small kisses along her chest and collarbone while doing so. Tessa gasped a little and Will raised his head to look at her. Their gazes locked together and they were kissing once more, leaving no space for air. Who needed air, anyway? Air was overrated, Tessa thought.
Will broke away first. Tessa must have looked terrible, because he smiled sweetly and said, “Don’t be cross, my dear, this is just for a little while. And, you must allow, necessary if we are to take our bath before you get your surprise.”
Tessa jumped up. Her surprise! For a minute there, she’d completely forgotten about it! And it was all she could think about for the last two days. What power he had over her! Astonishing! Dangerous! Frightening! Thrilling. Wonderful. Adoring.
“When will I find out my surprise? Is that a surprise too? Oh, just tell me what it is!” she said.
Will’s smile grew wider. “All in good time, my love. Now, come. Tess.”
He walked her towards the tub, where steamy mist was hovering just above the surface of the water. As they drew closer, Tessa could smell something sweet and flowery and soft in the air, that made her think of a summer day back home, in America. No. Not home. Just — America. Will was her home now. She could not, for the life of her, imagine herself feeling at home anywhere in this world where Will was not.
He was removing her dresses now, patiently working layer by layer, using every opportunity to tickle or kiss bare skin where it flashed white and smooth. Tessa was all goose bumps. She reached for Will’s shirt, determined to rip it off him, but failed miserably when he moved downwards to free her legs from the last bit of undergarments. When he finished untangling them, he didn’t immediately come back up as Tessa had expected, but stayed kneeling, staring at her naked feet and legs, mesmerised. Will began to kiss her toes, then legs, progressing inch by inch, emerging gradually into view, until he was at her eyelevel again. This time she managed to take off his shirt; his bare chest, all creamy smoothness and lean muscles, greeted her eyes, and she gazed upon him lovingly, letting her hands explore before she closed the distance between them by simply walking into him. They became an intertwined mess of hot skin and dishevelled hair that somehow ended up rolling around in bed.
This time Tessa stopped. “What was it that you said before? Something about a surprise and taking a bath?” She laughed.
“I think,” Will said a little breathlessly, “that everything can just wait. Just wait for a few minutes longer.”
“But the water—”
“The water will be fine. It was too hot anyway, so it will probably be even better in fifteen minutes.”
“Fifteen minutes?!” Tessa echoed in disbelief. “You mean to say that your ‘few’ minutes are, in fact, fifteen?”
“Ten?” Will said, a plea in his voice.
“Five,” Tessa declared. “Or seven,” she added as an afterthought. ”Seven minutes in Heaven.”
Will grinned and pulled her closer.
—written by Ms. Reed