Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(77) by Lorraine Heath
The couple of weeks that had passed since she’d last seen him had left her wanting. Dancing with him earlier, meeting with him now was only serving to reignite a flame she had been working to douse. He had to leave her be. They could no longer have any association. Because it only made things more difficult all the way around. It threatened her resolve to carry on. She had moved past Walter. Now she needed to move beyond Tristan.
But when a strong arm snaked around her waist and drew her into the darker shadows of the garden, when a mouth covered hers with purpose, when her curves were pressed against the familiar hard lines and planes, she sank into him with nary a protest. It was marvelous to be surrounded by his unique fragrance, to have his taste teasing her tongue, to have his hands stroking her shoulders, cupping her breasts, to hear his groans mingling with her sighs.
“Damn, but I’ve missed you,” he rasped as he dragged his mouth along her throat and lower, where the swells of her breasts awaited his questing lips.
Heat spiraled through her and her knees weakened. Why did she have so little control when he was near? Why did she have to yearn for what she could never fully hold? She didn’t want to not have moments of passion like this, but they would be too few and far between. Loneliness was a bitter companion. It wouldn’t hold her on cold nights. It wouldn’t comfort her when sorrows struck. It wouldn’t celebrate with her moments worth remembering.
Tristan had left the ballroom and Chetwyn had taken his place: talking with her, dancing with her, fetching her some refreshment. He would be there until she left. That it was his home barely signified. What mattered was that he would always be within easy reach. She wouldn’t be sitting somewhere wondering where he was. She would always know. She wouldn’t be worrying that he was brawling with some ruffians or fighting some tempest that might break the ship apart. With Tristan she would spend her life in uncertainty.
She had done that once with Walter. She knew the strain that the constant not knowing placed on her. It aged her. It killed her spirit. It left her in perpetual mourning.
“Chetwyn is advancing his suit.”
Tristan stilled, his mouth pressed to the hollow at her throat, one hand cupping her backside, the other her breast. She felt the bulge in his trousers nudging against her belly. She listened to his harsh breathing in the stillness of the night.
“You’re going to marry him?” he asked flatly.
“Perhaps, if he asks. I don’t know.”
“But we can have tonight.”
“No. Having decided my course, it wouldn’t be fair to him for me to stray from it. Even for another night with you.”
Even though he did little more than release her, she staggered back. She hadn’t realized how much she’d been leaning on him.
“Yet here you are with me in the garden.”
He snagged her waist, brought her back in, and captured her mouth with unerring accuracy. She heard a moan, realized it came from her as she met his questing tongue with hers. Her arms were entwined around his neck, her fingers tangled in his hair, her body straining to be even nearer.
“You can’t resist me,” he said.
It was the triumph in his voice that had her shoving away from him. Arrogant cad. She was weak where he was concerned. She wanted to shriek. She wanted to pound her fists against his chest. She wanted to tell him that he held the power to destroy her.
“I can’t deny that there is an attraction and that you are extremely skilled when it comes to delivering pleasure, but my future is with Chetwyn.”
“Give me tonight, Anne. Give us tonight. On the ship.”
Even knowing what her answer should be, she succumbed to what it would be. “I’ll go to the mews after my brother takes me home. If you’re there—”
“I’ll be there.”
They’d not stayed in harbor. Instead Tristan had ordered the ship taken out to sea. Not far. Just enough so the wind toyed with Anne’s hair while she stood on the deck, just enough so all the stars were visible. Just enough so she heard a whale in the distance.
She couldn’t deny that she understood why he had an appreciation for the sea, but she didn’t want to spend her life competing with a mistress who would always come first in his heart. Nor could she blame him for wanting it when it had always been there for him. When he had needed a place to run, it had provided sanctuary.
Tristan stood behind her, his legs braced, holding her near while the ship rocked gently, the sails now furled until they were ready to return to shore.
“I can understand why you love it out here,” she said quietly.
“I think you love it as well.”
“I appreciate it. That’s a very different thing.”
“I’ve never shared any of this with another lady.”
She turned in his arms until she was facing him. “And I’ve shared with you far more than I’ve ever shared with anyone.”
“Nary a one.”
Rising up on her toes, she kissed him with all the hunger, the yearning—and yes, even the love—that she held for him. She would never utter the words that might hold him to her because she cared for him too much to deny him the sea.
Or perhaps she feared her love wouldn’t be enough to hold him.
It didn’t matter. What she felt was not to be shared or examined. They would have tonight, and then she would lock it away.
With her nestled securely against his side, they made their way to his quarters. It was not what she would want for a home, but it was his home. She was glad he’d brought her here again.
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