When they reached the ballroom he locked the door behind him. Jack walked over to one of the decorative side tables and produced a box wrapped with red paper.
“Merry Christmas,” he said, handing it to her.
“Why didn’t you give this to me earlier?”
“I needed us to be in private when I gave it to you. Open it.”
It had to be jewelry. “I told you not to get me anything outlandish.”
“I don’t have to listen to you. Even if we are married.”
Caroline ripped the paper away. She opened the box and was greeted with an exquisite emerald necklace. Fringe design, with each individual green stone framed by tiny sparkling diamonds. The necklace was dripping with jewels from end to end. It looked like a prop from an eighties soap opera except it was stunningly, gorgeously real. She wouldn’t even want to speculate about the cost. “Jack-”
“Do you like it?” he asked.
She was convinced he only gave her presents just to gauge her reaction. To see how long she’d gawk at them before starting to gush. Caroline wasn’t refined when it came to her spontaneous responses to him. Did she like the necklace? A rather silly question since it was one of the most amazing things she’d ever seen.
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered.
He took the box from her. “I didn’t recall seeing you with anything other than sapphires or diamonds. We’re going to have to do something about that.”
She could only imagine the media attention they’d get if she paraded around wearing a necklace that cost more than what the average household made in a year, several times over. Sometimes her husband forgot that he was running for governor, not auditioning for the cast of Falcon Crest. “It’s too much, Jack. It’s so…elaborate. I can’t wear that in public.”
He smiled. “Then don’t. Wear it just for me.”
“Just around the house? Like, when I’m watching baseball and stuff?”
He laughed. “‘And stuff’?”
Her language was less polished than usual. “I’ve had a ton to drink today. I can’t always be articulate.”
Jack pulled her to him, leaning toward her ear. “How about you wear the necklace and nothing else, and grant your husband a dance?”
Now she saw where he was going. “A nice Christmas waltz?” Caroline suggested. “Fully clothed, of course. We must always be proper.”
He tugged at her sweater. “Try again.”
His romantic and seductive gestures were sweet, but impractical. “It’s cold in here.”
“I’ll turn the heat up.”
“What about you?”
“We don’t need to worry about me.”
Caroline sighed. “I meant your clothes.”
He unbuttoned her pants. “They’re staying on.”
That seemed unfair. “I’m not sure I like this power differential.”
Jack ran a finger under the waistband of her panties. “I think you do,” he whispered.
She shivered when he pulled her pants and underwear down. “Will there be music? Or are you going to parade my naked self around the ballroom in silence?”
“I picked a special song for the two of us.” He grinned. “And you won’t be naked. You’ll be wearing the necklace.”
She ran her hands down the front of his shirt, imagining how it would feel for her bare chest to rub against it while they danced. “You will undress at some point, right?”
He kissed her again. “Upstairs. Let me do this,” he said softly, stripping off the rest of her clothes, even her bra and panties. He laughed when he reached her socks. “Are those dinosaurs?”
Caroline liked wearing fun socks. She didn’t care if they were juvenile. She’d get away with it for as long as she could. “They’re wearing little Santa hats.”
Though he’d started to yank them down, he hastily pulled them back up to below her knees. “These can stay on. But only because they make you look so damn adorable.”
She tried not to think of what she’d look like wearing nothing but whimsical dinosaur knee socks and an emerald necklace, but the expression on his face indicated that Jack didn’t particularly care. He kissed her deeply before retrieving the necklace. He took his time placing it around her neck, then stepped back to look at her. It took all her effort not to blush. She hadn’t anticipated the night ending this way.
Jack tipped her chin up. “You look fucking marvelous.”
Her face had to be as red as a cherry. “Even with the socks?”
He brushed a stray hair out of her face. “There are few things sexier than a woman wearing an emerald necklace and dinosaur socks…and nothing else.”