In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(38) by Lorraine Heath
When he’d rather dance with Catherine.
He jerked out of the lethargic place where he’d been drifting. Why was he thinking of Catherine, dreaming of Catherine…why was her scent so strong?
Opening his eyes, he looked at the weight upon his chest.
Catherine. What is she doing—
Then he remembered: her arrival, rubbing his temples, and sending him into a deep slumber. Had he ever slept that soundly?
Until his dream. When he tried to recall it, his head began to pound unmercifully, so he let it go. The headaches weren’t nearly as frequent in London, but when he was at his country residence, they were an almost daily occurrence. Something in the air there was disagreeable to him. He was almost certain of it.
He turned his head slightly and saw Catherine’s bandaged hand, marred with blood, resting on his pillow where it had no doubt fallen after she’d succumbed to sleep.
It had hurt her to rub his temples, and he should chastise her for it.
But it had felt so comforting not to be alone with his pain. He could think of a thousand reasons why she shouldn’t be here. The worst of which was that she tempted him as he’d not been tempted in a good long while.
It was because he’d been so long without a woman. He told himself that. He wanted to believe that—as much as the old gent had wanted to believe that Luke was truly his grandson, Luke wanted to believe that what he was beginning to feel for Catherine was just lust, was just his bodily needs, that she called to his desires of the flesh and nothing more.
Because a man couldn’t love two women. And his heart was Frannie’s. It had always belonged to her. And Catherine was just…brave, strong, determined. Irritating.
Even as he thought about how annoying she was, how she’d never bend to a man’s will, he took several loosened strands of her hair between his thumb and forefinger, stroking gently and imagining setting it all free and feeling the silkiness cascading over his chest.
How he’d like to bury his face in it. How he’d like to feel more than the silkiness of her hair. How he’d like to feel the velvetiness of her flesh. How he’d like to plunge himself deep inside her, be surrounded by her heat, her scent, her softness.
The groan of desire came unbidden.
Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled at him, innocent to the torment raging through his body.
“How’s your head?” she asked, as though waking up in a man’s bedchamber was as natural as sipping tea at breakfast.
She eased up, and he realized with alarm that the tent in the middle of his bed was going to make it impossible for her to miss his reaction to having her so near. Any other unmarried woman might not know what it meant, but hadn’t she told Jack that she fantasized about men? And if she fantasized, then she knew…
Reaching up, he cupped her cheek to prevent her from turning her face in a direction that would no doubt cause embarrassment for them both. “Give me a moment.”
She furrowed her brow.
“To make certain the headache’s not going to return.”
She skimmed her fingers over the hair at his temple. “It shouldn’t, at least not for a while I shouldn’t think.”
That wasn’t helping at all. If anything it was making the tent rise higher.
“How did you know what to do?” he asked, searching for a distraction, for anything to keep her occupied and to give himself a chance to regain control of his rebellious manhood.
“I told you—my father had headaches.”
“I’ve heard that he’s ill.”
Nodding, she sat up a little straighter and put her hands in her lap. “Yes, he was struck with apoplexy.”
He lowered his arm, so he was no longer touching her. “I’m sorry. That’s quite a burden for you to carry. Shouldn’t your brother be here?”
“My brother doesn’t know. He and Father had a row and Sterling left. I don’t know what it was about. I heard only the shouting. I’ll wager you didn’t know that.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Everyone thinks Sterling is irresponsible, a cad. I’ve thought about writing to tell him, but Father gets so agitated whenever I mention it. But of late, I’ve been thinking about what you said about the previous earl wanting you to be his grandson so badly…what if it’s Father’s deepest desire to see his son once more before he dies, but he’s just too proud to admit it? Will Sterling forgive me if I don’t write him, if I don’t tell him the truth of the situation? Would you do it?”
Her words took him aback, enough so his body had returned to a more normal
state. Thank God. Thank God. “You want me to write your brother?”
She smiled sweetly. “No, of course not. But should I—even knowing that Father doesn’t want me to? If he was your father, would you want to know?”
“I think you have to seek your own counsel on this matter. Do what your heart tells you to do.”
She released a very short burst of laughter, and he sensed that she was amused with herself. Did he know any woman who was as comfortable in her skin as Catherine?
When he killed for her, what inside of her would he also murder? How would his actions affect her? He thought doing anything to change her would be a worse crime, an unforgivable sin.
“Do you know, before the night I showed up in your library, I thought you were a man without a heart?”
“You thought correctly.”
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