In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(6) by Lorraine Heath
She didn’t resist when he urged her lips to part. She moaned when he swept his tongue through her mouth, leaving nothing unexplored. Her hands gripped the lapels of his jacket, and he thought for a moment that she swayed. He reacted with a need so strong that it almost brought him to his knees.
Even as he cursed her and his own weakness, he recognized that he had no will to resist temptation. He would have her. She’d brought this moment upon herself by arriving at his doorstep. He was a man who always took advantage of opportunities presented, and she was presenting him with an opportunity for passion. It had been too long since he’d unleashed his desires. She would benefit from all that he had to offer this night, but no more than that. In the morning, she’d take nothing from him except the memories.
Tearing his mouth from hers, he bracketed her face between his hands and held her gaze.
“Be sure this is what you want, my lady, for there will be no undoing once this is done.”
Her breaths coming in short gasps, she shook her head. “You misunderstand my purpose in coming here.”
“Do I?” he asked mockingly.
She nodded. “I want someone dispensed with. And I hear you’re just the man to do it.”
If Catherine hadn’t been standing so extremely close to Claybourne that their hearts fairly beat in the same erratic rhythm, she’d have thought he’d received a brutal blow.
Although he seemed to recover quickly enough as he released his hold on her and stepped back, his face once more an unreadable mask.
His expression had been just as inscrutable when he’d first walked into the room. While she was certain his butler had told him that a lady had come to call, Claybourne had not even looked surprised to discover she was the one waiting for him. It was only when he’d drawn back from the kiss that she’d seen any emotion at all, and she could have sworn it was desire. Desire for her specifically? Hardly likely. It was no doubt nothing more than lust unleashed and the particular woman standing before him of no
He was known for flirting at the edge of respectability, and he was no doubt accustomed to dragging others over the precipice with him. But to her immense shame, she couldn’t help but think it would be a lovely way to go. In the secret recesses of her mind where wickedness lurked, she’d dreamed of him kissing her, but never in her wildest fantasies had she imagined that his lips would be so soft, his mouth so hot, his tongue so determined to have its way. What their mouths had been doing was quite uncivilized, and even though she knew she should have stepped away, she should have objected, she should have slapped him, all she’d wanted was to deepen the intimacy. He tasted of a flavor she’d never before experienced. He was bold with his explorations, enticing her to forget all she’d learned of decorum.
With his mouth playing over hers, he’d succeeded in making her body thrum madly and burn with desire as it never had. She’d been halfway tempted to follow where he was leading, but more was at stake than satisfying her own yearnings. His earlier words had convinced her that he’d hold no respect for her if she succumbed to his charms, as no doubt many a woman had before her, and at this stage of the game she needed to have the upper hand.
Giving her his back, he walked to a small table where an assortment of crystal decanters rested. He took the top off one and poured amber liquid into one glass, and then another.
“Dispensed with? Such gentle words. I assume you mean you want someone killed,” he stated flatly.
“Yes.” Reaching down, she gathered up her pelisse, holding it close as though it had the power to stop her trembling. Dear God, but she wanted to reach out to him, run her hands over his back, his shoulders. She wanted to comb her fingers through his thick, black hair. She wanted to press her body against his. Waltz with the devil, indeed. Lord save her, she wanted to lie with him.
Turning from the table, he held a glass toward her. Swallowing hard, forcing her body not to reveal its inner quivering, she reached for the glass, pausing as her gaze fell on the inside of his right thumb, scarred with a series of raised welts as though someone had repeatedly slashed at him. Upon further inspection, she realized more than a knife had been used. He’d been burned as well.
“Staring at it won’t make it look any prettier,” he said.
She snapped her gaze up to his. “My apologies. I—” She could say nothing to make the matter right, so she simply took the glass he offered. “Thank you.”
His gaze roamed over her. Disdainfully. It was all she could do to keep holding her head high, but hold it high she did.
He brushed past her and dropped into a chair, lounging insolently. Gone was any semblance of him being a gentleman, any hint that he viewed her as a lady. Although in truth, he’d ceased to be a gentleman the moment his warm, pliant lips had met hers.
Even now her body heated with the memory of his mouth urging hers to open for him, to welcome the thrust of his tongue. And in the welcoming she’d ceased to be a lady, but she could regain her footing easily enough by simply reverting back to her upbringing.
He took a long swallow, then with the hand holding the glass, indicated the chair opposite him. Not certain how much longer her quaking legs could support her, she gracefully sat, ever mindful of her posture, determined to remain a lady, even if he were no longer acting the gentleman. Since that first night, at least a thousand times, she’d imagined being in his presence, but not like this. They were always in a ballroom, their gazes meeting across the crowded room—
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