In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(39) by Lorraine Heath
She shook her head slightly. “No, I don’t think so. You’re a very complicated man. I’m not even sure you appreciate how complicated you are.” She skimmed her fingers over his shoulder. “How did you get these scars?”
His body reacted with a swift vengeance. He grabbed her hand, her injured hand. She gasped. He swore.
“I’m sorry.” He brought her curled fingers to his lips and pressed as gentle a kiss to them as he could. “You just really shouldn’t…you just shouldn’t.”
Her eyes widened as though she’d only just fully awakened and realized—
“Oh, good Lord, of course I shouldn’t. I’m in a man’s bedchamber. Oh, forgive me, whatever was I thinking. I shall leave now.”
She came off the bed quickly and hurried to the door. He rolled to the side, away from her, but twisted his head back to look at her. “Catherine?”
She stopped at the door, her hand on the knob, her face averted.
“Tell me you didn’t have your carriage deliver you to my front door.”
She shook her head. “To the park, but I told the driver not to wait.”
“Then give me a few moments to make myself presentable, and I’ll escort you home.”
Nodding, she opened the door and slipped out.
He rolled onto his back and stared at the velvet canopy over his bed. He’d never had a woman in his bedchamber, in his bed, without making love to her. It seemed
inconceivable that he had last night, but what was even more amazing was the immense satisfaction he felt in simply having had her here. It was enough.
Oh, he wanted more, he wanted a great deal more, but what she’d given him was enough.
He loved Frannie, he’d always loved Frannie. But of late, it seemed he was only capable of thinking of Catherine.
Catherine was mortified. Quite simply and completely mortified.
She sat on a bench in the hallway and fought to quell her trembling. She’d been carrying on a conversation with a man in his bedchamber—worse than that! In his bed!—as though they were sitting in the garden sipping tea and nibbling on biscuits. With nothing except a thin sheet hiding the treasures of his body.
Oh, how she’d wanted to explore those treasures.
Falling asleep on his chest had been lovely. He had such a magnificent chest. Even the scars didn’t detract from his rough beauty. She couldn’t imagine that he’d gained any of them after he came to live here. No, he would have acquired them when he was a lad living on the streets. She wanted to weep for what he must have endured.
Who could blame him for turning to deceit in order to gain a better life?
She wanted to hold him close, stroke him, and take away all the bad memories that must surely haunt him. No wonder he had debilitating headaches. Who wouldn’t with the horrendous memories with which he no doubt lived?
Was she adding to his burden by asking him to kill for her? When he gave up the last of his soul, would he give up the last of his humanity?
She’d not expected him to be kind. She’d not expected him to be tender.
If someone had asked her who would be the worst man in all of England to marry, who would beat his wife and terrorize his children, who would selfishly care about only his own needs, wants, and desires, who would put himself first above all others—if someone had asked her, she’d have said Claybourne without hesitating. She’d come to him because she’d believed he was worse than Avendale—and one didn’t ask an angel to destroy the devil. One asked another devil.
But he was not at all as she’d envisioned him to be.
Good God, he hadn’t even taken advantage of her being in his bed, and that gentlemanly behavior, to her everlasting shame, disappointed her.
His bedchamber door opened, and he stepped out. Clothed. Fully clothed. Thank the Lord for small favors, even if they did provide a measure of regret.
“I feel like such a ninny,” she said. “Really there’s no reason for you to escort me home.
If you’ll just provide the carriage—”
“You can’t possibly believe after our encounter with those ruffians and your belief that you’re being followed that I’m going to put you in a carriage and not ensure your safe return home.”
Before she could frame her argument, his stomach made a rumbling noise, and
Catherine thought he was blushing. Who would have thought the Devil Earl would be so easily embarrassed? She might have considered it precious if he weren’t so masculine, so much a man. He was so very different from what she’d thought. Oh, he could be formidable when he wished to be. She’d never forget how he’d made her tremble in his library and doubt her wisdom in going to see him. But he could be equally gentle.
“My apologies,” he said. “I can’t eat when a headache is upon me, and now that I’m feeling better, I have an appetite.” He glanced at the hallway clock. “We have a couple of hours before daylight. Will you join me for a bit of breakfast?”
She had every intention of being proper and saying no, but she heard herself say, “Yes.”
Thank goodness, her mouth was wise enough to snap shut before she added that she’d enjoy it very much. As his butler didn’t seem to know who she was, she thought she’d be spared from inciting gossip.
To her surprise, after he escorted her to the kitchen, he didn’t wake the cook. Instead, he sat Catherine in a chair at the servant’s table, found some cloths, and took her hand in his.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online