Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(40) by Lorraine Heath
How could he not? It had shaped him, was part of his life. She supposed it was a testament to his character that he had moved on, that he thrived in spite of knowing that the world could be unkind. He didn’t wallow in self-pity or bemoan the unfairness that had been bestowed upon him.
She wanted to be as strong as he, to remember the wonderful moments she’d spent with Walter, to release the regrets. The regrets no longer served a purpose. She saw that now. She had said good-bye. She must move on.
Like Tristan. She had to turn her attention toward the horizon where better things awaited. While she knew he would not be waiting for her there, he was here with her now.
She couldn’t waste these moments with sorrow or remorse. She needed to relish the joy that being with him brought.
Peering up at him beneath half-lowered lashes, she gave him an impish smile. “I see your interest in me has dimmed. Pity.”
He gave her a cocky grin. “I can be at full sail before you hit the bed.”
With a laugh he grabbed her and tumbled her onto the rumpled sheets. The fragrance of their previous lovemaking wafted around her. As he nestled himself between her thighs, she wasn’t surprised to discover that he was true to his claims. He was ready for her.
“Are you tender?” he asked.
“Yes, some, but we have only tonight.”
She saw an emotion pass over his eyes that she couldn’t quite decipher. He nibbled on her ear.
“Tell me if you experience discomfort. I know other ways to enjoy each other.”
She’d learned that quickly enough. She supposed there was a comparable way to pleasure him, but then his mouth was again ravishing hers and she wasn’t supposing anything at all.
“Just because we’re in dock doesn’t mean we have to leave the ship.”
Deciding her hat was as straight as it could get, Anne turned away from her reflection in the mirror to the man leaning against the door. He wore black trousers that hugged his thighs, boots, and the familiar loose white shirt with its rebellious buttons. Only an hour before, he’d been sprawled in glorious nudity over the bed. She suspected in spite of all the time it had taken for her to dress with his assistance that he could have her naked and beneath him before she took her next breath if she but encouraged him.
“My family is no doubt desperate for word from me. If I don’t leave now, we would only be delaying the inevitable.”
“If it can be delayed, perhaps it’s not inevitable. Pen them a missive. Tell them you’ve decided to see the world. I can have us back at sea by dawn.”
Oh, she wasn’t half tempted. “I have responsibilities here.” A Season to endure, a husband to find, a father to please.
She crossed over to him, placed her hand on his chest, right where his heart beat out a steady rhythm. “We’re from different worlds, you and I. As lovely as it’s been, I can’t stay in your world. Not for the long haul.”
“Then for a short haul. A year. Eighteen months.”
“I would return a ruined woman with no hope for marriage prospects or children.” She shook her head. She wanted him to say that he’d marry her, but if he offered it would be foolish to say yes. She couldn’t go gallivanting around the world. What sort of life would that be for their children? Nor could she stand the thought of months on end, waiting at home for his return. But she also suspected that he wasn’t a man willing to take a wife. He’d lived his entire life unencumbered. “You know that we can’t be.”
In answer, whether acknowledgment or denial, he captured her mouth with his, shoved the fingers of one hand into her hair, and used the other to press her flat against him. She thought she would never tire of his kisses, the heat and passion of them, the way they encompassed all of her. Rising up on her toes, she wound her arms around his neck.
This would be their last kiss. She would be strong; she would walk away once his mouth was finished ravishing hers. But she was so tempted to stay, even knowing the disaster it would beget. She had known all along that their association would come to an end. Between them was unbridled passion, but no love. She wouldn’t even contemplate that she could possibly love him, because how would any man ever measure up to her courageous, strong, and unyielding captain?
She would have to forget him, cast memories of him to the locked corners of her heart, only to be visited on the very rarest of occasions.
His tongue swirled with hers, a familiar waltz now, and yet desperation clung to her as she swept hers through his mouth, searching for anything she’d not yet explored. She didn’t want to look back and wish that she taken one more swipe, nibbled a little longer, tasted more deeply. With him, she wanted no regrets. He’d given her a night that would sustain her for the remainder of her life. But it was time now to say good-bye.
Drawing back, he pressed his forehead to hers. “You should know that I’ll never forget you.”
She squeezed her eyes shut because she couldn’t give him the same promise, even if it was true. It wouldn’t be fair to the man she would eventually marry. She must forget him. She must condemn him to a faint wisp of memory.
Reaching behind him, he opened the door. She walked into the passageway and felt the heat suffuse her face at the sight of Martha standing there with Mr. Peterson. She wondered if they had heard her moans, sighs, and cries through the night. Then she decided what they might have heard was of no consequence, and it was far too late to worry over.
The captain led her up to the deck. She’d known it was night, of course, but somehow it seemed the right time for her parting. Although she was so tempted to stay with him until dawn. But her family had waited for her return long enough.
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