Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(36) by Lorraine Heath
A corner of his mouth slowly rose. “I said a bit of fire. Besides, you keep your temper on too tight a leash to release it completely. Why is that, I wonder?”
“You don’t answer my questions. Why should I answer yours?”
He tilted his head to the side. “Thought you believed we needed to know inconsequential things about each other.”
“There are no inconsequential things if you care for someone. That’s what my father told me. Do you like me at least?”
She didn’t think it was possible for him to grow any more still. He didn’t blink. He didn’t seem to be drawing in breath.
“It’s important for you to be liked,” he said slowly.
Another question that would go unanswered. He would test the patience of a saint. She wished she could read him as easily as he seemed to read her. She did want to be liked. As a little girl, she thought if she were good enough, behaved properly, her father would do more than give her dolls, he would take her with him. And when he finally had taken her—after her mother’s death—she thought that if Geoffrey would like her, he would become a true brother. Now, she supposed she was silly enough to think that if Rafe liked her, she might become more than a mistress. But he wasn’t going to like her. He didn’t seem to like anyone.
Then she remembered something else he hadn’t liked.
“Why are you truly here, my lord?”
Although he didn’t move, she felt the fissure of temper roll off him. “You’re never to refer to me in that manner.”
His voice was flat, but sharp. He could slice a man to death with it. Had he used it on Geoffrey? Dear God, she hoped so, but what sort of cruel person did that make her?
He gazed toward the window as though the answer lay beyond it. “That’s not part of my life now.”
“But you told Madame Charmaine of your heritage.”
His jaw tightening, he shifted his cool eyes back to her. “Yes.”
“You used it to curry her favor and you’re unhappy that you did.”
Had he done it for her, so Madame wouldn’t look down her nose at Evelyn, or had he done it for his own pride? Not his own pride. It would have had him storming from the shop. She didn’t think he was a man who bowed before anyone.
“But you are a lord—”
“I am my own man. I built myself up from the squalor in which my brothers left me—”
He came up off the bed with a speed that had her pressing back against the headboard, even though he moved away from her, presenting her with his back. She could see the tenseness in his shoulders, the corded muscles of his neck.
“We won’t discuss this matter, Evie.”
He turned back toward her, no evidence of any emotion. He might as well have been snuffing out a candle. With two strides, he returned to the side of the bed, stood there as his gaze slowly roamed the length of her. Of their own accord, her toes curled as though they wished to hide from him. Reaching out, he closed his fingers around the covers and began pulling them down.
With a tiny shriek, she grabbed the bedding, jerked it up, and glared at him. “What are you doing?”
“Taking steps to make you more comfortable with me.”
“This isn’t the way to go about it.”
“Neither is talking apparently. You’re not going to want to hear this, but I want you, Eve. I won’t take you tonight, but by God, it needs to be soon.”
His voice was rough, ragged, and made her toes curl even tighter. She shook her head.
“You’ve seen my bare feet,” he said. “Shouldn’t I see yours?”
“You saw mine last night.” Had it only been one night since she’d made the bargain with this devil?
“I haven’t seen them in bed.”
“They don’t look any different.”
“Then why be shy about it?”
She felt as though he’d led her into a trap.
“Loosen your hold on the covers. I won’t hurt you.”
“And if I don’t loosen them?”
He slammed his eyes closed, then slowly opened them. “I won’t hurt you then either.”
“Finally, a question you didn’t neatly sidestep.” Swallowing hard, she slowly, slowly unfurled her fingers.
He wanted her flat on her back, with her legs spread. He wanted to be buried deeply inside her, thrusting, thrusting, until the pleasure carried away the pain of memory. He’d almost told her everything, the dark secrets that he’d never shared with anyone, that he’d begun carrying with him since he was ten. He’d accumulated more over the years, each one weightier than the one that came before.
But if he told her, she’d choose the rookeries over him. She would know the blackness that was his soul, the horrors that haunted him, the desperation that had once filled him with dread.
Now that desperation was turned toward her. He’d never wanted a woman as he wanted her. If only some of her innocence could wash over him, but it was more likely that his darkness would rub off on her. He hated the thought of touching her, of destroying the light in her eyes, but he hated more the thought of never possessing her.
He waited, his patience barely tethered until her fingers were no longer clutching the blankets. Then ever so gradually, he dragged the covers down. The cotton of the nightdress hid her well. He was having a new nightdress sewn for her, one that wouldn’t leave much to his imagination. The blankets reached her waist and slid down to reveal her hips.
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