Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(62) by Lorraine Heath
Not exactly poetry, but then he had no need to woo her. Their arrangement didn’t require that he make any effort to lure her into his bed.
“Yes, all right. Shall we go to my bedchamber then?” Because surely he wasn’t thinking of taking her here, beneath her father’s portrait.
“I brought you something to wear.”
Before she could make any sort of inquiry, he reached inside his jacket, removed a nicely crafted leather box, and held it out to her. She stared at it. Her father had given her a similar appearing box once. Inside had been a sapphire necklace.
Rafe gave it a quick wave. “Take it.”
Her fingers trembled slightly as she did so. As though something might jump out and bite her, she opened it with extreme care. Inside, resting on velvet, was a pearl necklace. Smiling, she said, “It’s beautiful.”
He looked so terribly self-conscious, as though he were anxious that he might displease her. For all his gruffness and his rules and his distance, she found something incredibly touching about him.
“That’s all I want you to wear,” he said. “Tonight.”
“I shall require fifteen moments to change.”
“You are quite dictatorial.”
“If you knew the restraint I was exhibiting not to have you on the floor at this precise moment, you’d already be on your way out the door.”
“You want me that badly?”
“I’m dying here, Eve.”
While she knew that it was probably not her specifically that was driving him to madness—but rather only the thought of having a woman—she did take some satisfaction in his suffering. “Twelve minutes.”
Before he could protest, she was hurrying out the door.
Rafe turned, gripped the mantel, and stared at the clock. He was ignoring his own rules for her. He didn’t live his life counting minutes, but he had spent most of the day doing precisely that, striving to determine how soon he could appear without giving the impression that it had been torment to be away from her. It was only because he’d taken her but once last night, out of concern for the soreness she was no doubt feeling. But tonight, hopefully, she would experience no pain, and he could have his fill of her and this awful need to see her smile, to inhale her fragrance, to hear her voice would dissipate.
The necklace had taken her by surprise. It gave him satisfaction that it had, that she’d not been expecting it. She’d been pleased by it. Tomorrow perhaps he’d bring her a matching bracelet. The next night earbobs. Then he would move on to diamonds, rubies, emeralds. She would have a collection to rival the queen’s.
A minute had gone by. Bloody hell. He’d stopped keeping track of time when he was at the workhouse. Minutes ticked by at an infernally slow rate. It was torture. Best to just exist, not to think, “I have a thousand more moments of this hell.” Counting them down was not a relief. Counting them not at all was better. Time had begun to have no meaning—until the night when he was waiting for Sebastian and Tristan to return. It had been the longest night of his life.
The minute hand on the clock jerked. He’d given her enough time. If she wasn’t prepared for him, he’d speed things along by helping her get ready.
He stopped in the bedchamber where he kept his clothes, where the servants were allowed to see to his needs. After removing his jacket, he tossed it onto a nearby chair. His neckcloth, waistcoat, and shirt followed. He sat down and removed his boots. Warm water was waiting in the washbasin. He’d ordered it sent up before he went in search of Eve. He washed quickly, considered shaving when he rubbed his hands over his rough face, but he didn’t have the patience for it. He’d probably nick his jaw or worse, slice his throat. No, better not to risk it.
He headed across the hallway, opened her door without knocking, and came to an abrupt halt at the sight of her lounging against the pillows on the bed, her hair cascading around her. The only thing she wore was the necklace. He’d expected her to be obstinate about it—the way she was with the red gown. He’d thought she’d be in a nightdress, her chin angled high, daring him to find fault.
Even when she did what he commanded, she was unpredictable because he didn’t know if she would heed his words. Oh, she was skilled at this mistress game. If he didn’t know her history, he’d have thought she was a trained courtesan. Although perhaps her mother’s influence had rubbed off on her.
She’d left but one lamp burning low, and it cast her in provocative shadows. He liked that she wasn’t modest, that she was already comfortable enough with him that she felt no need to be coy.
“Please, do close the door,” she said, and only then did he realize that the sight of her had stopped him dead in his tracks, his hand gripping the door handle. He closed the door, shed his trousers, and strode over to the bed. Her second time should be gentle as well, he thought. But it wasn’t going to be. He had envisioned her beneath him for hours now. He craved the feel of her hot velvety tightness closing around him.
When he was near enough, he cradled her jaw, lowered his head, blanketed her mouth with his, and came very close to losing all control. The taste of her made him more heady than his finest Scotch. His body cried out for him to whisper the words, “Touch me,” but he didn’t dare, for fear that the madness would come upon him and he would cause her to suffer. The last thing he wanted was to hurt her, and yet he knew that he already had. Selfishly, he had carried her onto the path that made it unlikely that she would ever have the husband and children she wanted.
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