Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(49) by Lorraine Heath
Much better to live one’s life with a man whom she could like, but in whom she would not invest her heart and soul. Chetwyn came to mind. He would be such a man. No passion. No risk to her heart. No worries.
Proper. It would all be very proper. She suspected even his lovemaking would be proper. No sweating bodies, cries of pleasure. No torrid breathless moments.
The carriage came to a halt and she realized that they’d arrived home, her wayward thoughts careening into oblivion.
“Do we have an understanding?” Jameson asked. “Regarding Lord Tristan.”
“Yes, Brother. I understand perfectly what you said.” Doesn’t mean I’ll heed your orders. But she did understand them.
She retired to her bedchamber, rang for Martha, and an hour later was prepared for bed, though her emotions were in such a swirl that she knew she’d be unable to sleep. She considered going to the library to fetch a book, but she doubted she’d be able to concentrate.
“Will there be anything else, m’lady?”
From her bench in front of the vanity, she peered over at Martha. “No. Thank you. Sleep well.”
When the door had clicked shut behind her maid, she turned her attention back to her reflection in the mirror. Her first ball after so many years away had not gone so terribly badly. She supposed she would survive the Season.
Leaning toward the mirror, she watched as a boot-clad foot and tight britches appeared through the window. Coming to her feet, she spun around and stared as Tristan made his way ever so calmly into her room.
He grinned. “I thought she’d never leave.”
“What are you doing here?”
She didn’t seem alarmed, so much as curious.
“I came to see you of course.”
“My brothers are—”
“At their clubs. As is your father.”
“Still, this is my father’s home and for me to allow you to stay . . .”
Her voice trailed off, and he strove not to let show his joy at her considering allowing him to stay. Damnation but the past week had been hellacious. He suspected, and tonight it had been confirmed, that his calling on her would not be welcomed by her family. Before tonight he had no opening, no way to explain how he knew her. Now an introduction at a ball opened doors . . . and windows.
He strode over to her, cupped her face in his hands, and tilted up her chin so he could gaze squarely into her silver eyes. “Tell me to leave and I will.”
“God forgive me for my weakness,” she whispered, rising up to meet him as he lowered his questing mouth to hers.
It felt marvelous to once again have the taste of her, the scent of her, the feel of her. Why did she call to him so? Why could he not leave? He’d readied the ship for departure. He wanted to be back on the seas. He wanted to hear the wind slapping the sails. He wanted to look out and see nothing that hindered him. He’d stood on the deck prepared to give the order to set sail and the words that had come out of his mouth surprised him as much as his men. “We’re staying in port.”
He’d gone to Sebastian’s, knowing that Mary would have an inkling as to which ball held the promise of attracting most of the nobility. He hadn’t confessed his interest in Anne to her, although she’d certainly given him a speculative look. Once he returned to his brother’s residence, she’d no doubt pepper him with questions regarding what she may have witnessed this evening. Small sacrifice for what he had now gained.
Anne was as greedy as he was, her mouth matching his eagerness, her tongue darting and exploring as though she’d only just discovered a treasure map and needed to memorize the paths that would lead to gold. Bold, so very bold. Her hands skimmed over his shoulders, his back, up into his hair. He couldn’t get enough of her touching him, but he wanted it to be flesh meeting flesh with no clothes between them.
Breaking away, she staggered back, her hands pressed to her mouth, her eyes dimmed with misgivings. “Not in my father’s house.”
“Get dressed. I’ll meet you in the back and we’ll find a room in a hotel where we can be alone.”
“As though I’m some common doxy?”
“As though I shall go mad if I don’t possess you.”
A bubble of laughter burst from her mouth, lighting her eyes, even as she shook her head. “It’s too tawdry. A room somewhere in which other people have slept.”
“You didn’t seem to mind my climbing into bed with you when we were on my ship.”
“It was another world. Far away. Not . . . here.”
God help him, he wanted to push her, but he’d seen how she’d suffered with the refusal she’d given her fiancé. He wanted to do nothing that brought back memories of the man who had once—and possibly still—held her heart.
“Seems you could at least be hospitable and offer me a drink. Still hoarding your father’s brandy?”
He saw the gratitude wash over her features because he was squelching his desires. Only for now, sweetheart. Misjudging an adversary on the sea could cost a man his ship and possibly his life. Tristan was not in the habit of misjudging. He was very skilled at biding his time until the moment was right.
With a nod she turned and headed toward her wardrobe. He wandered over to the sitting area and stared into the empty hearth. He couldn’t help but imagine what it might be like to be with her in winter, snuggled beneath a layer of blankets, seeking warmth.
“Here you are.”
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