Between the Devil and Desire(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 2)(34) by Lorraine Heath
Her eyes widened slightly. “You’re not planning to inhabit the bedchamber next to mine.”
“It is the master bedchamber, is it not? And I am the master.”
“I shall move myself to another room.”
“Why go to the bother? I’ve told you I’ll not seek out your bed. Although I have no objections to your coming to mine. Is that what you fear? That with me so near you’ll be unable to resist my charms?”
“I have no fear of you and find you not at all charming. Besides, I would never lie with a man to whom I was not married, and I’d certainly never marry you.”
He shoved himself away from the wall. To her credit she stood her ground. “You think your tart tongue will hold me at bay, when all it does is cause me to wonder how it would feel against my skin.”
Her lips parted slightly as a deep flush crept up her cheeks. The hell of it was, he’d meant the words to disarm her, but somehow they’d managed to undo him as well. He imagined her tongue gliding over his chest—
Before he lost control of the situation, of himself, he turned abruptly to walk away, then stopped and looked back, fighting to keep the sudden inexplicable tremors from his voice. “By the by, I prefer not to dine alone, so do be kind enough to join me for meals. Bring your son if you like.”
With a jerk, she snapped from her haze. “It’s proper for children to eat in the nursery.”
“Have you not yet learned I don’t give a fig about what is proper?”
“Have you not yet learned I do?”
He supposed she deserved a small victory. “Have it your way. We’ll compromise. I’ll have one meal with my ward: breakfast or dinner, you choose.”
“Are you not listening? He shouldn’t have any meals with you.”
“Then how am I to educate him?”
“You hire tutors.”
“They can’t teach him what I know.”
“I’m not certain he needs to learn what you know.”
“One meal, Duchess. My word is final.” He spun on his heel before she could voice another protest. She voiced it anyway, in the form of a screech and quite possibly a foot stomp, maybe even two. He didn’t know why he was so insistent that they join him for a meal. Perhaps because when he’d walked in, they’d been smiling, and the smiles had disappeared with his entry.
The boy had eyed him warily, and Jack didn’t like that level of distrust in a child. Something had caused it, and he didn’t think it was anything he’d done. Maybe because this morning he’d promised the lad a dog and had yet to deliver it. He didn’t have a clue where to find one. On the streets he supposed. He’d have to give it some thought. But not tonight. Tonight he had more pressing matters to deal with.
Olivia was unable to sleep. She couldn’t quite rid herself of the image of her tongue playing over Jack Dodger’s skin. How exactly would it feel—would it taste?
Although she was alone in her bed, alone in her room, she still felt self-conscious when she brought her hand up and licked the back of it. She did not think he would be so silky or taste so pure.
Would he lick her in return? She imagined that he would. That he would start at the tip of her toes and slowly slip along her flesh, perhaps stopping to detour around to the back of her knees, before journeying along the insides of her thighs—
She flung back the covers, desperate to relieve the heat.
But her thoughts wouldn’t be cooled. She envisioned him at her hip, taking a leisurely sojourn toward her breasts. She clamped her hands over them as though that was all she needed to stop this maddening fantasy, but in her mind he merely gave her his devil-may-care smile and pushed her hands aside. His tongue circled and tormented until he finally nipped at her shoulder. But he wouldn’t stop there. He tasted her throat, and having his fill of one side of her, he began the journey downward to experience the other.
Gasping, she sat up. Oh, God. She squeezed her legs together in an effort to quench the lovely ache throbbing between her thighs. She wanted to reach her hand down…Lord help her. She didn’t know what she wanted. She was trembling with desire such as she’d never known.
It was Jack Dodger’s fault. Speaking to her of intimate things. Making her crave an illicit touch. Just once for sweet release.
She scrambled out of bed, stumbled and almost fell, her knees were so weak. Righting herself, taking deep, gasping breaths, she glared at the door that led into the dressing room. Through it was the path to the master bedchamber, the room that held the bed where Jack Dodger would now sleep. He would remove his clothes…he would be so near.
She should transfer to another bedchamber, but it would be an admittance of cowardice and he’d lord it over her. If she was to have any hope at all of curtailing his influence over her son, she had to never retreat. She would stand her ground and curse him while doing it.
She needed to get some sleep so she’d be rested and better prepared for whatever tomorrow brought. Perhaps some warm milk would help. She considered ringing for her maid, but she was in the mood for wandering through the house when Dodger wasn’t around. During those moments, she could pretend it was hers, pretend that Lovingdon had cared for her enough to notice how much she’d treasured the residence. But he’d noticed so very little. It left her with a deep sadness that they’d given almost nothing of themselves to each other. She blinked back the tears that threatened. How could she miss a man who, since she’d conceived, had been more a stranger than a husband?
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