Between the Devil and Desire(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 2)(75) by Lorraine Heath
“Oh, God.” Finally, at long last, she found the wherewithal to push him aside.
He staggered. “Livy—”
“No, no.” Then she was running toward the house, tugging up her bodice, ignoring the remnants of the delicious release, swiping at the tears that threatened to blind her.
Grief nearly overwhelmed her. While married she’d never experienced anything closely resembling the heights of passion she’d just achieved. Jack Dodger had certainly earned his reputation. He was indeed the devil. Tonight he’d carried her to heaven.
Now she’d languish in hell.
Sitting on the bench in the garden, Jack knew he should have gone after her. That she’d recovered enough to run, while he could barely stagger, had made an immediate pursuit impossible. He’d considered going to her when he was more in control, but what good would that do? He’d heard her sobs. Did she expect him to apologize? He had no regrets. If he was honest, that wasn’t exactly true. It bothered him that she was upset. As for himself, he was bloody-well terrified.
He’d never reacted to a woman like that. He’d never wanted to bring one pleasure that exceeded his. And now he felt so damned vulnerable. He wanted to crawl into her bed, fold himself around her, and have her hold him.
What the hell was the matter with him?
His business was sex. It was all about satisfying physical urges and then moving on to the next source of pleasure.
But she wasn’t his business, and God help him, what had transpired between them hadn’t been only sex.
He should go to his club, return in the morning, and pretend tonight hadn’t happened.
Or he could get drunk, go to bed, get up in the morning with a staggering headache, and pretend tonight never happened.
But it had happened, and he wasn’t likely to ever forget it.
With her head buried beneath the pillow, Olivia awoke to gritty eyes, a stuffed nose, and a woozy head. If she didn’t know better she’d think she was getting ill again. But she did know better. Just as she had when she was a little girl and her dog had died, she’d cried herself to sleep. How had she let Jack take those liberties with her? Although she was plagued by a more important question: How had she wanted him to? And she had. He’d effectively stolen her willpower. Now she was going to have to go down to breakfast and face him. How could she meet his gaze without remembering every wickedly wonderful thing he’d done to her body?
Rolling over, she screeched at the sight of Jack standing at the foot of the bed. Scrambling up, she pressed her back to the mound of pillows. “You promised never to come to my bed.”
“I’ve kept my promise. I’m at least two inches away.”
His voice held none of its usual teasing. He was completely dressed, yet he left her unsettled. Perhaps it was the way he held her gaze as though he had nothing of which to be ashamed, or the fact that he was familiar with not only her body but its reaction to his touch. She lowered her gaze and began tugging on a thread on the counterpane. “Why are you here?”
“Look at me, Livy.”
It was so very hard, but she refused to be cowed. Defiantly she glared at him, surprised to discover his eyes held not a speck of triumph. She’d expected him to lord her shameful behavior over her. Instead, the arrogant, self-assured, confident Jack Dodger appeared—dare she even think it—remorseful.
“I’m not in the habit of losing control when I’m with a woman.” She lowered her gaze to that wondrous mouth he’d pressed to her throat, his hot breath heating her skin as he—
“I want you, Livy. I want you as I’ve never wanted any woman, and that’s not an easy thing for me to admit. I’m certain my behavior is not what you’re accustomed to.”
She thought that could possibly be the understatement of the century.
“But I won’t apologize for it,” he continued. “I can promise you that it won’t happen again.”
With that he spun on his heel and left the room. She wasn’t quite sure it was a promise she wanted him to keep.
They studiously avoided each other for the next two days—or perhaps it was only Olivia who was finding so many excuses to be in other portions of the residence whenever she thought Jack was on the prowl. Breakfast was not too terribly thorny because Henry was always there, serving as a buffer. Olivia would sit at the foot of the table and surreptitiously watch Jack as he patiently answered the thousands of questions that Henry seemed to have—all of which began with why.
Dinner was a bit more challenging. The night before, they’d actually discussed the weather, which had almost made Olivia weep. They’d become such polite strangers. He no longer teased her or challenged her or flirted with her.
And she missed him terribly.
Standing in the window in one of the upstairs bedchambers, she watched as Jack darted over the lawn, trying to catch Henry in their regular afternoon game. Henry was doing his usual crowing and Jack was laughing. It was amazing how well they got along. It was almost like watching two boys at play—
But Jack was not a boy. While she suspected life was more carefree for him now than it had been when he’d grown up on the streets, she also thought he carried a good deal more responsibility.
She knew him only from his life here. But he had another one that was very different. She wanted to see it.
Jack had his carriage brought around earlier than usual. He could hardly stand to be in the house any longer. Dinners shared with Livy had turned unbearably awkward.
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