In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(78) by Lorraine Heath
Selfishly she wished they could delay their leaving, because once they began their journey back to London, everything between them would change, would come to an end.
Unselfishly, she was anxious to see Winnie and her father. She knew they were being well cared for, but the knowledge didn’t make her miss them any less,didn’t make her not want to do what she could to bring them comfort.
“What are you thinking?” she asked Claybourne.
“I’m trying not to think.”
With the water splashing around her, she eased up; and not finding room enough along the side of the tub, she straddled him. His body reacted immediately. With a groan and a smile, he opened his eyes. “I think you found the cure for my head pains. Send the ache elsewhere.”
“They can’t have gone away that quickly.”
“Not completely, no, but I’m not going to let them stop me from having what I want.”
She gave him what she hoped was a seductive smile. “And what is that?”
His eyes darkened. “You.”
He threaded his fingers through her damp hair and brought her nearer. She leveraged herself so she could welcome his kiss. The hunger of his mouth on hers sent desire spiraling down to her toes. He eased her back, took the soap, slicked up his hands, and began rubbing them over her body, coming back to her breasts over and over as though they were the center of her being, the city from which all roads led and returned.
In his eyes she saw appreciation and pleasure.
Reaching for the soap, she imitated his actions, enjoying the feel of silkiness on velvet.
Dropping her head back, she moaned from the incredible sensations created by his touching her, the joy of touching him.
His hands dug into her hips and he lifted her.
“If this water weren’t so filthy, I’d take you right here,” he said. Instead he moved her aside, stood, and pulled her to her feet. Pitchers of water surrounded them. He lifted one and poured the water over her, removing the soap and any lingering dirt. Another pitcher, another dunking. Then he did the same for himself.
“Stay,” he ordered as he stepped out of the tub.
“I’m not a dog to be commanded about.”
Chuckling low, he grabbed a towel and vigorously dried himself off. “Must you always be so difficult?”
“You’re not acting as though you truly find me difficult.”
He flung the towel around her and lifted her into his arms. “I find you adorable.”
He carried her to his bed and very gently dried her off, then he flung the towel aside.
With one smooth motion, he sank into her and stilled. “When I saw him strike you, when you fell—” His voice was rough with emotion.
“Don’t think about it,” she urged.
“Why do you have to be so damned courageous?” he asked as he kissed her neck, her ear, her throat, her chin.
She wondered if he’d want her if she weren’t, but she wasn’t brave enough to ask, so perhaps she wasn’t as courageous after all.
“Don’t talk,” she murmured as she kissed his temples.
He took her slowly, as though he realized this would be the last time, savoring each thrust, creating memories with each touch. There was nothing frenzied about their joining. Rather it was simply an appreciation that they’d escaped the fire, a celebration of survival, and perhaps in a way, a farewell.
As the pleasure peaked, she shivered in his arms, he shuddered in hers. Breathing heavily, he pressed a kiss to her temple before rolling off her and drawing her near.
Nestled up against him, she fell into a deep sleep.
“Shh, darling, shh, we have to be quiet. We’re playing a game. We’re going to hide from Papa.”
“Shh. Don’t be frightened, darling. Shh. Mummy will never let anything bad happen.
We’re going to have fun. Do you see the magical lever? It’s our little secret.”
Catherine awoke to an agonized groaning. At first she thought it was the thunder, but then she became aware of being in the bed alone, of harsh breathing in the room.
Reaching out to the bedside table, she turned up the flame in the lamp.
It chased back the shadows to reveal Claybourne, naked, kneeling on the floor, rocking, his arms wrapped around his stomach as though he were suffering intense pain. She scrambled out of bed and crouched before him. “Luke, Luke, whatever’s wrong?”
He lifted his face, and she saw the tears trailing down his cheeks.
“I remember,” he rasped. “Dear God, I remember.”
Feeling powerless to stop his agony, she touched his shoulders, his face. “Remember what?”
She heard him swallow, felt him shudder beneath her fingers. “My parents. Ah, it hurts!”
“No, my heart. It was my uncle.”
“Luke, darling, I don’t understand.”
“They took me to a menagerie. So many animals. A lion. And a giraffe. And a striped horse. I didn’t want to leave. But it was growing dark and the crowds were thinning—
there had been so many people that the carriage was parked far away. I grew tired of walking. My father lifted me onto his shoulders. And then the boy…”
His voice trailed off, but she was still confused. What was he saying?
“What about the boy?” she asked.
“A street urchin. Said his mother was dying in the alley, needed help. My father took me off his shoulders and hurried after the boy. My mother grabbed my hand and rushed after them. But my father’s legs were so long, mine so short that we couldn’t keep up. When we turned the corner, we saw my father being attacked by men—it looked as though they were savage animals. Clubs and knives. And my uncle standing off to the side laughing, as though it was his favorite prank. My mother screamed for me to run, and I did. But I was still near enough to hear her cries as they descended on her.”
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