In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(90) by Lorraine Heath
“Who is it?”
Catherine’s heart kicked against her ribs. “What’s he doing here?”
“Apparently he wants to see you. He’s been here for two hours waiting. What were you doing out and about?”
“I don’t owe you an accounting of my actions.” She walked into the hallway, and Sterling fell into step behind her. She stopped and faced him. “Nor do I need you to accompany me when I speak to Claybourne.”
“A woman does not go into a room with a gentleman by herself.”
“Sterling, while you were enjoying your travels, I spent a good deal of time alone with Claybourne. I don’t need you now to oversee our meeting. I assure you there is no cause for worry. He’ll be a perfect gentleman.”
He glanced toward the doorway where the footman waited, then looked back at her.
“Catherine, I know I’ve not been the best of brothers, but I’m determined now to take my responsibilities more seriously.”
If he took them any more seriously, she’d find herself locked in a tower.
“There’s no need. I’m quite capable of seeing after myself. So, please, don’t disturb us.”
She left him standing there and swept in through the doorway as the footman opened it.
She was reminded of that first night in Claybourne’s library, only now hestood by the window and the room was filled with the warmth of sunshine rather than the coolness of midnight shadows.
“My Lord Claybourne, it was so nice of you to come to call.”
“So formal, Catherine, after all we’ve shared?”
There was nothing mocking in his tone, rather it was decidedly sensual. Just the thought of all that they’d shared had her body growing warm, and she thought she might be in danger of swooning again. He looked so amazingly wonderful, dressed so formally.
Handsome as sin. Her heart was stuttering at his nearness, her hands wanted to reach out for him. She would miss him terribly—but she would always have and cherish the precious memento of their time together that he’d unknowingly given her.
“How is Frannie?” she asked, her words coming out in a rush, her fervent hope that he would leave before she came undone. Even though she’d seen Frannie only that
morning, she didn’t want to raise his suspicions by not inquiring.
“She’s well. I saw her late this morning as a matter of fact.”
“Did you ask for her hand in marriage at long last?”
He slowly shook his head. “I apologized to her.”
“For what? You didn’t tell her what passed between us—”
With the predatory prowl that she’d come to associate with him, he crossed over to her.
“I apologized because I’ve done all in my power to convince her to become my wife, would do anything to have her as my wife, and I suddenly realized that I couldn’t marry her, that I had to marry you.”
Her heart stammered. “Why?” Before he could respond, the truth hit her. “Damn them!
They told you, didn’t they? I didn’t want this. I didn’t—”
“What? Who? What are you talking about?”
“Dr. Graves and Winnie. They’ve opposed my plans from the beginning. But it’s not fair to you, just because I’m with child—”
“What?” Claybourne wrapped his hand around her arm, drew her near, and stood over her with fury undulating off him in waves.
It occurred to Catherine that this might have been how David felt when he confronted Goliath.
“Oh, dear Lord, they didn’t tell you.”
“You’re with child?” he asked, as though what she’d said had finally registered with him. His gaze dropped to her belly. Her condition was not yet evident. Then ever so reverently, he splayed his fingers over her stomach. He lifted his gaze back to hers.
“Why did you not tell me? Because of that first night in the library when I told you that I’d not give you respectability if I got you with child?”
“No, no.” Reaching up, with tears in her eyes, she cradled his beloved face between her hands, holding his gaze so he’d have no doubt she spoke the truth. “I didn’t tell you because I knew you would do right by me, and in so doing, you would sacrifice your own dream. You would marry me and give up Frannie, the woman you love more than life itself. And I love you far too much—”
She suddenly found herself crushed against him, his mouth devouring hers, his hand plowing into her hair, scattering pins, the heavy strands tumbling around her.
He tore his mouth from hers. “I love you. I adore Frannie, but I love you desperately, Catherine. You’re courageous, bold, and you challenge me at every turn. You’re willing to risk everything for those you care about. Your willingness to sacrifice knows no bounds. I am so unworthy, but if you’ll marry me, I’ll see that you never regret it.”
His heartfelt declaration had tears running along her cheeks. “You are the most worthy man I know. You’ve got a bit of the devil in you, and a bit of a saint, but you’re everything I could ever wish for in a man, in a husband. The answer is yes. Gladly.”
He was kissing her again, and she felt the fire building between them. She wondered if she could sneak him up to her bedchamber so she could give him a proper answer.
The door suddenly burst open. Catherine simply looked back over her shoulder to see Sterling standing there, his arms crossed over his chest, his expression formidable.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online