In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(32) by Lorraine Heath
incredibly aware of the taste, feel, and tangy scent of Claybourne. His hands were rough in her hair. She heard a hairpin drop to the floor. She was surprised they didn’t all tumble out.
Deepening the kiss, he swirled his tongue over hers, and she thought if she were standing that her knees would have been too weak to support her. She knew she should pull back, should slap him with her one good hand, but he was so incredibly delicious.
And while she knew it wasn’t desire for her that prompted his actions, but simply desire to distract her, still she was grateful for the moment, grateful to have one more opportunity to experience his kiss. She’d been haunted ever since he’d kissed her in the library. The kiss hadn’t been nearly long enough then, and she knew that no matter when this kiss ended, it wouldn’t be long enough either.
The kiss seemed to encompass more than her mouth. It seemed to reach into the very core of her womanhood and awaken yearnings she’d never before known. Desire rushed forward, dulling everything else. She knew she was wanton, loose, shameful to harbor this intense craving for him to come nearer, for him to press more than his lips against hers. She thought of all the warnings he’d given her that first night. She risked more than her reputation with him; she risked her heart.
“Luke? Luke, I’m finished.”
Claybourne broke free of the kiss and drew back; he seemed as dazed as she.
“Not sure I’ve ever seen quite so inventive a distraction,” the doctor said.
“Yes, well, it worked didn’t it?” Claybourne got to his feet, snatched up the glass of whiskey she’d set aside earlier, and downed the contents in one long swallow.
Oh, yes, it had worked. Her hand was not only stitched but it was wrapped in a white bandage.
“It’s common to feel dizzy after such an ordeal,” Dr. Graves said. “Give yourself a few moments.”
She nodded. “Thank you, thank you for your attentions. I assume Claybourne will pay you for your services.”
“He paid me long ago.”
“You’re another one of Feagan’s children, aren’t you?”
He gave her a wry smile, before coming to his feet and beginning to put the tools of his trade back into his bag. “In about a week, anyone should be able to remove the stitches for you. But if you’d rather I do it, just have Luke send word.”
“Thank you,” she said again.
“It was my honor to be of service.” He snapped his bag closed, stopped to whisper something to Claybourne, and then made his way out the door, leaving her alone in the room with Claybourne. She dearly wanted him to move nearer, to touch her, to kiss her.
The whiskey was influencing her thoughts. Or perhaps it was simply the ordeal of the night. Their surviving had created a bond between them that hadn’t existed before.
“How will you explain it?” Claybourne asked.
“Pardon?” She felt as though her thoughts were moving through honey, especially those that concerned him. How would she explain wanting him to kiss her again?
“Oh.” She looked at it, turning it one way and another. It was aching. Perhaps she should drink more whiskey before she left. “I’ll just say I cut it on a piece of glass or something. There’s really no one to challenge me. One of the advantages to my brother traipsing all over the world.”
“I should get you home now.”
“Oh, yes, indeed.”
To her surprise, in the coach, he didn’t sit opposite her as a gentleman should, but he sat beside her, his arm around her, holding her as close as a dear friend—or dare she think it, as a lover?
“I’m sorry this happened,” he said, his voice low and intimate within the confines of the coach.
She was incredibly exhausted. All she wanted to do was sleep. “Not to worry.”
“About the kiss—”
“Don’t be concerned. I shan’t mention it to Frannie. I know it was the only recourse you had to distract me.”
“I know some coin tricks, but I didn’t think they’d be as effective.”
“I’m certain they wouldn’t have been.” She sighed. “Are you attacked often?”
“From time to time, there have been dangers.”
“Do you think it was Mr. Marcus Langdon?” She knew better than to refer to him as a cousin.
“My death would certainly expedite things for him, but unlike you and I, he’s not of a bloodthirsty nature.”
She brought her head up quickly, was immediately hit with a spinning world, and dropped her head back against his shoulder. “You think me bloodthirsty?”
“You want me to kill someone.”
“Oh, yes. Quite.” She’d almost forgotten what had brought her to his door. It was sometimes easy to forget—when Winnie wasn’t bruised. When she seemed happy.
Was Catherine’s solution a rash one?
As often as she’d lain awake at night pondering solutions before she’d approached Claybourne, she didn’t see any other way. And yet sometimes her decision seemed extreme. If only two of Avendale’s wives hadn’t died mysteriously. If only he didn’t take his fists to Winnie.
“Tell me about the rescued lambs,” she said, needing a distraction from the discomfort of her thoughts and aching hand.
He groaned low as though irritated—or maybe embarrassed—by the question and she thought he would leave it at that. Finally his low voice filled the coach, lulling her with its purring resonance.
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