Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(35) by Lorraine Heath
“How long do you think it’ll be before I’m rid of you?”
He did smile then. He couldn’t help it. Just a quick flash of teeth, but he held back the laugh. “Not long.”
“What if I’m never ready? What if I’m never comfortable with you, Rafe?”
She might as well have bludgeoned him in the midsection. She’d never before uttered his name and it struck him with the force of a battering ram, nearly doubling him over. Women had said his name before, often in the throes of passion. Then the words she’d spoken ahead of his name slammed into him. Unacceptable. Completely and utterly unacceptable. He wouldn’t force her, but by God he would have her, and his patience was quickly running out.
“Then I shall just have to ensure that you do become comfortable.”
To Evelyn, the words sounded like a challenge. But then from the moment she’d awakened to find him standing in her bedchamber, she suspected that something was going on that she didn’t quite understand. Geoffrey had always stayed out all night at his clubs. She’d assumed Rafe, as owner, would be occupied until dawn. But then perhaps as owner he had underlings to do the work. She suspected he was a man who did whatever he wanted when he wanted.
Just as now, in a predatory manner, he moved to sit at the foot of the bed, his back against the post, which couldn’t be very comfortable. He lifted his legs onto the bed, and she couldn’t stop her eyes from widening. His feet were naked. Large and naked, with rough soles that looked as though he might have run through the streets with no shoes at all. The intimacy of it almost had her crawling out of the bed and going to stand by the window.
She didn’t know why she was so surprised. He wore only his familiar linen shirt and breeches. She was fairly certain that he’d recently bathed because his hair curled at the ends and appeared damp. But his feet . . . good God. She couldn’t recall ever seeing a man’s feet before. Like the rest of him, they seemed powerful. He crossed one ankle over the over and settled back as though he intended to stay the night.
“Don’t look so alarmed,” he said, his voice low and somehow sensual. “I’ve told you that nothing will happen tonight.”
“I’m not alarmed. I’m simply . . . it’s not proper for me to see your bare feet.”
He released a dark chuckle. “Sweetheart, nothing between us is going to be proper.”
She supposed announcing that he shouldn’t be on the bed with her would result in the same response. “Will we often have these midnight encounters?”
“It’s long past midnight. Closer to half past two now.”
He’d deftly avoided answering her question, no doubt because he thought the answer would unsettle her. But she had made her decision to become his mistress. She wasn’t going to back out, even if he did look decidedly more dangerous at that moment. She imagined him unfurling that magnificently toned body of his and prowling toward her like a large predatory cat—one of the panthers she’d seen at the zoological gardens.
“You keep rather odd hours,” she said.
“Sin seldom runs on a schedule.”
She began plucking at the blanket, belatedly realizing that it had pooled in her lap at some point and was no longer covering her. Her first impulse was to snatch it back into place, but the action would only make her appear skittish. She would meet her fate with him with as much dignity as possible, much as a condemned woman might face the gallows.
“Tell me about your life in St. Giles,” she prodded.
He studied her for a long moment before giving a careless shrug. “There’s little to tell. It was hard, unpleasant. And I was determined to get out of there as quickly as possible, to do whatever it took.”
She leaned forward a bit. “What did it take?”
“Even more unpleasantness.”
He gave her one of his wicked grins, the one that seemed to say, “You don’t really want to know, do you?” She found herself wanting to see a joyous smile. Did he even have one in his limited repertoire of facial expressions? He was so guarded, so careful not to reveal a hint of vulnerability. Would she adopt his method of dealing with the unpleasant aspects of her life?
“In a few hours you should shop for hats and shoes and all the other little fripperies that women require,” he said. “Take Lila with you to assist as needed, and a footman to carry your packages.”
“Makes it a little difficult to shop for hats and such when I’m unclear as to what the clothing will look like. Items must go together. A woman doesn’t simply purchase a hat to have a hat.”
He narrowed his eyes. “You’re upset about the clothing.”
“About the high-handed way you handled it, yes.”
“You wanted only black, and I, daresay, items that buttoned up to your chin.”
She had considered putting button makers in demand.
“Virginal clothing will no longer suit,” he told her.
“I’m well aware of that,” she snapped, then closed her eyes tightly. She refused to become a shrew simply because of the circumstances. “I apologize—”
“Don’t. I like a bit of fire.”
Opening her eyes, she found herself in the midst of a conversation she never thought to have. Because of the low flame in the lamp, she couldn’t see him as clearly as she’d like. He was more shadow than form. She was half tempted to reach over and make the flame brighter, but then it would reveal more of her as well. At that particular moment, she preferred the gossamer darkness. “Yes, well, I can show you quite a lot more temper if you like.”
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