Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(32) by Lorraine Heath
“I’ve told you that you won’t be a secret with me.”
“Yes, but I’m left to wonder if it will be better or worse. I still shan’t have friends. I won’t be respectable.”
He would not feel guilty for his role in shaping her life. If not for him, she’d already be bedded, of that he was certain. She’d have no choice at all. “Respectability will not keep you fed, warm, clothed, or sheltered.”
“Have you friends?”
“No. I need no one save myself.”
“But you have your brothers.”
“And you have yours.”
Within his, her hand jerked. “Are yours horrid as well then?”
“No, they are good men.”
“I don’t suppose they’d approve of me.”
He stopped walking and faced her. He was grateful for the shadows that cloaked her features, hid the blue of her expressive eyes. “It makes little difference what they approve. All that matters is what I think.”
And what he thought, by God, was that he couldn’t go another second without tasting those succulent lips again. She was still holding his hand, so he very smoothly moved her arm behind her back while he snagged the other hand and brought it round to meet its mate. He could feel her steady gaze on him, even if he couldn’t see it.
“You don’t have to hold me captive. I’m quite capable of following your silly rule.”
Silly, was it? It was a rule that would save her. He released his grip, brought up his hands and cradled her face as he’d longed to, with both hands, his thumbs stroking her cheeks, slipping down to caress the corners of her mouth. He wanted her to smile for him. He plowed one hand into her hair before lowering his mouth to hers. He tasted the wine, a rich bouquet that only became richer on her tongue. She wasn’t quite as timid tonight. She parried, danced, challenged. He liked when she didn’t fear him.
He didn’t relish knowing that she had grown up alone and that with him, she would continue to be so. He would hire a companion, someone to visit with her during the day. He would hire a dozen if it would make her smile.
She kept her promise, bless her. She didn’t touch him. She didn’t run her hands up his torso, she didn’t tangle her fingers in his hair. But she didn’t need to do either of those things in order to bring him to his knees. She sighed huskily. She circled her tongue around his mouth. She explored as he did—hungrily and deeply. He had no doubt that she would be all he required in bed. She would learn quickly, she would—
Lie there and take what he gave her. Keep her hands fisted at her side as they were now. He felt the tension radiating through her as she fought for her own enjoyment while not breaking his blasted rule. What would it hurt if she settled her hands lightly on his shoulders?
He dare not risk it. He couldn’t give her power over him. He couldn’t relinquish control. He couldn’t take a chance of her discovering the truth about him.
He marched forward, forcing her to step back—once, twice, half a dozen times—until she was pressed against the brick wall. He could take her here, lift her skirts, bury himself to the hilt. But if he did that, she might as well have stayed in the rookeries. He could take her down to the grass, let the verdant green serve as their bed. But she deserved better than that sort of barbarism.
He had promised her that he would wait until she was comfortable with him. While her lips played wildly with his, he knew she wasn’t yet ready for more. Or perhaps it was that he feared how he might hurt her the first time. The taking of a virgin came with responsibility. He couldn’t simply plow into her as he did with other women. He had to take more care.
It would be different if he weren’t going to see her again, but she was living in his blasted residence. He would see her. Unless he took her once, then walked away and left her with everything, as he’d promised. He wouldn’t have to see her disappointment or sorrow or regret. Perhaps that was the best way to handle this situation: take her, be done with her, let her move on with her life.
But already he knew that at the very least he would desire another kiss.
He drew back, not surprised to see that he was correct. Her fists were clenched. He stroked his thumb over her damp and swollen lips, felt her tongue dart out and touch his skin.
“I must get to the club.” His voice sounded rough and raw, as though he’d not spoken in a century.
She merely nodded.
“I don’t know when I’ll return.” Nor did he know why he felt compelled to say that. His schedule was his. She would conform, would wait for him.
Turning on his heel, fighting everything within him that demanded he make her well and truly his mistress, he left her there in the shadows of the garden.
She waited several heartbeats, taking in shallow breaths, working to regain her composure. She unfurled her hands. Her nails had dug into her palms. She’d come close to drawing blood. When she thought she no longer needed the wall for support, she walked on trembling legs to the table, lifted the wine bottle, and began pouring what remained into her glass. She was quite glad he was gone. Or so she told herself. The alternative was to wish he’d stayed, and had he stayed, she had little doubt that things between them would not have ended with the kiss.
If not for his silly rule, she would have melted against him, entwined her arms around him, might even—to her immense shame—have begged him to carry her to his bedchamber. He was so skilled at stirring heat and passion, such torrid heat and passion. Considering his stiffness, his distance, his aloofness, she had not expected him to send her senses ablaze.
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