Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(57) by Lorraine Heath
He shoved back his chair, stood, and pulled her to her feet. “We’ll have the reading in the library.”
A reprieve. She hardly knew whether to be grateful or annoyed. She settled for grateful.
In the library, Rafe stood by the fireplace and drank his best Scotch, one glass after another, while she sat in a nearby chair, her posture perfect.
In the end, she didn’t read him poetry but some story about windswept moors and haunting love. But he wasn’t listening to the words as much as he was the lilt and smoky cadence of her voice. The raspiness of it had intrigued him from the beginning. She could recite the letters of the alphabet and hold him enthralled.
Dangerous, so very dangerous.
He wanted to sweep her up into his arms and carry her upstairs, even knowing the hell that holding her so close would bring. Watching her, he could almost forget his limitations, that there was so much he could not give her, and for the first time in his life, his inadequacies filled him with regret.
He was vain enough to acknowledge that on the surface he was a handsome enough fellow. It was what lay beneath that would turn her away. The dark parts, the secrets, the things he’d done. If she knew of those, even the surface would not be attractive to her. And then she’d wash her hands of him. She wouldn’t send him invitations, dress becomingly, have a lovely dinner prepared, offer boring entertainments such as reading and music.
She would leave him, and he would once again be alone with only his thoughts to keep him company.
Her voice was growing lower, raspier, more seductive. He wanted her with every breath he took. He drained his glass, set it on the mantel.
Before he went truly mad, he walked over to her, reached down, closed the book, and set it on the table beside the chair, beside the glass of untouched Scotch that he’d poured for her earlier. He brought her to her feet, watched as she focused her gaze on the black onyx stickpin in his cravat.
“You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I thought it was your skin or your hair or your eyes. But it’s more than that.” Dear God, how much had he drunk? He couldn’t seem to stop his mouth from opening and uttering words. He cradled her face, tilted it up, because he wanted to gaze into the violet depths of her eyes. “I’ll hurt you, Eve. It’s what I do. I hurt people. I have for so long that I don’t know how not to. I want you with a desperation that”—damn near had him on his knees, but he wasn’t going to tell her that, give her power over him—“consumes me. I don’t want to hurt you.”
She made it sound so simple. “I should let you go.”
“I don’t want you to.”
He told himself it was because of all she would gain by becoming his mistress. When he was done with her, she would have wealth, power—and if she played her cards right—influence. And the freedom to do any damn thing she wanted.
“Make me your mistress in truth,” she rasped, and the wisps of her smoky voice swirled through the charred remains of his blackened soul.
A deep feral groan hung on the air as his mouth blanketed hers before she took her next breath. Her arms were almost around his shoulders before she recalled his first rule and dropped them to her side. Oh, she wanted to touch him, hold him, secure him to her because she was in danger of melting into the floor.
No gentleness, no kindness. He would not bestow those upon her, but the dark and needy way in which he devoured her heated her blood, weakened her knees, sent pleasure cascading from her head to her toes.
She wasn’t exactly sure when she’d decided that she wanted him, that she cared little about her ruination. She only knew that she desired him. They were two lonely souls cast aside by Society. Surely they could find solace within each other.
He drew back, and the ice that was usually in his eyes was gone, replaced by smoldering embers. The blue was a richer hue, like the hottest flames at the base of a fire. “I must have you, Eve,” he growled.
Nodding, she licked her lips, tasted his Scotch and him lingering there.
“Just remember my rule.”
“I won’t hold you.”
He swept her into his arms and began marching from the room. She wanted desperately to wind an arm around his neck, to stroke his jaw. “What am I allowed?”
“Nothing.” He strode down the hallway. “Just take the pleasure, don’t try to give it.”
“What if I leaned in and kissed your neck?”
He gave her a quick glance, his eyes clashing with hers, before he started up the stairs. “No.”
She wanted to ask him why, to uncover what had happened to make it so he couldn’t bear her touching him—no, not her, anyone. She realized now with resounding clarity that the night he had carried her through the rain, he hadn’t been urging her on as she’d originally thought. He’d been urging himself on. Whatever had happened to him? But now was not the time to poke, pry, and prod. But she would. After tonight, this distance between them could not remain. After tonight, everything would change.
He shouldered open the door and made his way inside, kicking it closed behind him. Gently he set her on the bed as though she were capable of breaking. Then he began tearing at his clothes. She heard linen rip and buttons ping as they scattered over the floor. She thought she should be frightened by the frenzy, but instead she was fascinated that she could elicit such a reaction from a man. That he was fairly mad with wanting her.
It was a heady realization as she rose up on an elbow to watch him. He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it aside. He balanced on one foot, jerked off his boot, cast aside his stocking, before moving on to the other side.
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