Between the Devil and Desire(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 2)(74) by Lorraine Heath
“Of late, you’ve been asking me a lot of questions regarding the type of man I’d want for a husband,” she dared to begin.
“Have you finally decided what you want? Or even better, which lord you prefer?”
She fought back the disappointment that he still wished to be rid of her. Even though he claimed to want her in his bed, his words confirmed he was interested in nothing more than a dalliance.
“No, actually, but I was curious regarding what you want in a wife.”
“I have no plans to ever marry.”
“Why so shocked? Surely you of all people know the difficulty I’d have in finding a woman to take me as a husband.”
“If you were to reform—”
His low, dark laughter cut off her words, shimmered through her, and seemed to blend in with the shadows hovering at the edges of the path.
“I have no interest in reforming.”
“I can’t even begin to comprehend why you would willingly choose a lonely life of decadence over one that offered marriage and a family.”
“Then allow me to demonstrate.”
His arm snaked around her, drawing her up against his body, even as he maneuvered her off the path. His mouth claimed hers with a hunger that startled her. If at all possible, this kiss was more intimate, more demanding, more persuasive than the previous one they’d shared. It was all-consuming, encompassing every aspect of her being, until she was aware of nothing existing beyond them. One of his large hands cupped the back of her neck, his fingers playing a seductive tune along her spine. Her knees immediately weakened and she clutched his shoulders, reflexively pressing her body against his for support. With a groan, his mouth never leaving hers, he urged her farther into the shadows, until the brick of the wall cooled her back. But it couldn’t touch the fever rampaging through her.
She was mad with desire as she cradled his face. It wasn’t enough. She wanted to feel more of his skin against her fingertips, but she couldn’t bring herself to ask for more—or to take that which she so craved. Surely he felt the want shimmering through her, just as she felt his yearning in the tautness of his muscles as he wedged his knee between her thighs.
The pressure was heavenly even as it stoked the flames of passion. She’d never, never experienced such intense longing, had never felt the nerve endings whispering along her skin, begging for more, for something elusive, something she didn’t quite comprehend—but she knew it was waiting, knew he had the skills, the knowledge to bring it cresting toward fulfillment.
She moaned as his mouth left hers to blaze a heated path along the underside of her chin. She tipped her head back in ecstasy, gave him leave to taste her.
“Come to my bed,” he rasped.
“I can’t.” Her words carried her profound disappointment.
She’d expected him to stop then, to relieve her of this torment, but instead he took his mouth lower, his lips and tongue skimming along her collarbone, settling in the hollow at the base of her throat. How could so small a touch create such intense weakness in her limbs while ushering in such powerful pleasure?
As he eased the bodice of her gown down, his low groan of triumph filled her with unbridled satisfaction, so intense that she couldn’t bring herself to chastise him for the liberties he was taking. Then his mouth closed over her breast, and suddenly his thigh pressing against her wasn’t enough. She heard her mournful cry, was barely aware of her fingers slipping beneath his jacket to dig into his shoulders, and her hips squirming against him.
“Shh, shh. Easy, sweetheart. All in good time,” he murmured.
Good? There was nothing good about this. It was decadent and wicked, but she’d never felt more like a woman in her entire life. She’d lost all semblance of control. Sanity was a distant concept.
She was vaguely aware of the rustling of her skirts a heartbeat before she felt his warm fingers gliding along her thighs. Whimpering, she cradled his jaw, urged his mouth back to hers, and thrust her tongue between his lips, muffling his dark chuckle. Was he feeling victorious over her? Or was he simply pleased beyond measure that she’d taken the initiative, that he’d stirred to life something over which she no longer had any control?
His nimble fingers worked their way through her clothing until they were lost in her curls, skillfully enticing her to respond to his urgings. He was a thief, stealing from her any power to resist. Her body tightened and thrummed. Pleasure such as she’d never experienced hovered, taunting her with the whispers of something more.
“Come to my bed,” he growled.
“No.” She nearly wept with wanting what she knew he could give her, cursed her own strong-willed purpose.
She was aware of movement at her hip, even as his fingers never stilled their dancing over her sensitive flesh. With his free hand, he threaded his fingers through hers, those digging into his shoulder and brought them down, down, wrapping them around his bulging and heated velvet shaft. Guiding her hand to touch him intimately, stroking him even as he stroked her, while her pleasure rioted beyond control.
He slid a finger into her, then two, his thumb pressing against her swollen flesh, caressing intimately, creating incredibly sweet sensations—
As the cataclysm rocked her, he turned his face into her shoulder, his mouth pressed against her neck. His body bucked, his harsh growl echoing around him, his hot seed surging into and over her hand. Breathing harshly, he collapsed against her.
Tremors cascaded through her while she slowly became aware of her surroundings. Recognizing what had transpired here in the garden, shame swamped her. Shame for her lack of control. Anger at him for doing this to her. Fury at herself for letting him, for encouraging him, for pressing against him instead of moving away.
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