In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(5) by Lorraine Heath
They’d experience a far gentler life than their parents had known.
The massive front door opened. He was surprised to find his butler still awake. Luke kept all hours, came and went as he pleased, when he pleased. He didn’t expect his servants to live their lives according to his late-night habits.
Fitzsimmons had seen after the residence long before Luke ever came to live there with the old gent. The butler had been fiercely loyal to the previous earl, and not once—as far as Luke knew—had Fitzsimmons ever questioned the old gent’s contention that Luke was his grandson.
Once the door was closed, Luke removed his hat and handed it to the butler. “I’ve told you before that you need not stay up until I return home.”
“Yes, my lord, but I thought it best to do so this evening.”
“And why is that?” Luke asked, tugging off his gloves.
“A lady arrived earlier.”
Luke stilled. “Who?”
“She wouldn’t say. She knocked at the servants’ entrance, said it was of paramount importance—a matter of life and death were her precise words—that she speak with you. She’s been waiting in the library ever since.”
Luke glanced toward the hallway. “And you have no idea who she is?”
“No, my lord, although I would venture to guess she is a lady of the utmost quality. She has that air about her.”
Over the years a few ladies of quality had sought out Luke’s bed. He lived a life of abundance that many had wanted to embrace, but he always made it clear that he offered nothing permanent. Some had simply wanted to play with the devil for a time. But none had ever claimed visiting him was a matter of life and death. How dramatic. The remainder of his evening promised to be entertaining.
He handed his gloves to Fitzsimmons. “See that we’re not disturbed.”
“Yes, my lord.”
His curiosity piqued, Luke strode down the hallway. No footman waited outside the door. He had no reason to believe his services would be required at this ungodly hour.
Luke entered the library, slamming the door behind him, a grand entrance to disarm his visitor.
The woman standing at the window, gazing onto a garden hidden by darkness and fog, jerked around. The hood of her pelisse lay against her shoulders, its clasp interfering with what would have been a lovely show of skin from throat to bosom. Beneath the cloak, she’d dressed to seduce and for reasons he couldn’t fathom, he was suddenly very much in the mood for seduction.
“Lady Catherine Mabry, as I recall,” he drawled, sauntering nearer until he could smell the expensive perfume that wafted over her skin like the fragrance of a delicate rose.
Her blue eyes widened slightly. “I’d not realized you knew who I was.”
“I make it my business to know who everyone is.”
“You consider me your business?”
“Ah, yes, Lady Catherine. Isn’t that what you wanted when you challenged me that night at the ball?”
“Not particularly, no,” she muttered.
Mesmerized, he watched as her delicate throat moved ever so slightly as she swallowed
—the only indication she gave that she was having second thoughts about being there.
She was lovelier than he remembered—or perhaps it was simply that maturity agreed with her—and she still possessed the courage to hold his gaze. Or perhaps not. It wavered for a heartbeat as she glanced away while licking her lips. An invitation for something more intimate.
He trailed his finger along the soft flesh beneath her chin and her gaze jumped back to his. Beneath his touch, he could feel her pulse quickening, fluttering like a tiny moth that had dared to approach the flame and now realized it was left with no means of escape. It was obvious she was a novice when it came to the art of seduction, but no matter. He had enough experience to see them through.
“I know why you’re here,” he said, his voice low, provocative, a prelude to their lying beneath the silken sheets that adorned his bed.
She furrowed her delicate brow. Her features were exquisite perfection, carved by nature with obvious care and never altered by the harshness of life.
“How—” she began.
“Do not think you’re the first to try to trap me into marriage. I’m not easily caught.” He slid his finger along her flesh, down to the clasp at her throat. “I have little doubt your guardian stands just beyond the window, watching, waiting until the perfect moment to make his presence known.” With nimble fingers, he loosened the clasp and carefully slid the cloak off her shoulders until it pooled on the floor.
His body tightened with his unobstructed view of all she had to offer. He’d gone too damned long without a woman beneath him. Even if he were snared by her trap he would escape it easily enough. Cradling her face, he leaned nearer until his breath mingled with hers. “But even if he witnesses my removing your clothing, even if he sees you welcoming me with open arms and crying out in ecstasy, I will not marry you,” he whispered.
He heard her breath catch.
“I will not restore your reputation once tarnished.” He brushed his lips over hers. “If you get with child, I will not give you respectability. The price you pay for waltzing with the devil is residing in hell.”
He settled his mouth firmly over hers, not at all surprised that she acquiesced so easily.
Even if she’d not come here to trap him, he knew what he was to her. A curiosity, nothing more. A bit of misbehavior before she settled into a respectable marriage with a lord whose lineage was never questioned behind his back.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online