Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(80) by Lorraine Heath
“Oh my dear God.”
He couldn’t look at her, as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t. “I don’t remember how I got away from him, but I did. Before he got my clothes off, before he did what he intended to do. I don’t remember beating on him, but I did. I beat on him until I killed him, until he would never again touch another boy.”
He felt her fingers, trembling, touch his hand, wrap around it, squeeze. “I’m glad,” she rasped.
He jerked his head around then to look at her. Tears were in her eyes, tears that he’d wanted to shed that night, tears he’d wanted to shed when the boy had died in the tunnel with him, but he’d feared that if he gave them their freedom they’d never stop, that they would confirm that he was weak, that they would serve as further evidence that his brothers had been right to leave him behind.
“I’m glad,” she repeated. “I’m glad you killed him. He was the worst sort, to hurt a child.”
“You don’t understand, not completely. All I saw was red. I don’t remember doing what I did, but I know I did it because no one else was about. He was holding me, and I was suffocating again, and I did what I had to do in order to get him away from me.”
“And you’ve been afraid of letting anyone hold you ever since?”
“Because I know what I’m capable of. If I lose control—”
“You won’t with me.”
“You won’t with me,” she repeated with conviction. “You won’t with me.”
He should tell her the remainder of it, but she gave him hope, and it had been so terribly long since he’d embraced true hope. Perhaps with her it would be different. He felt something when he was with her, something he’d never felt with another, as though he’d found a part of himself that had been missing, as though all that he could be was possible.
Very, very slowly, she moved her hand toward his bare chest.
His mind shouted, “No! No! No!”
But his body was separate from it, holding still, waiting, waiting. She held his gaze, challenging him to trust her while at the same time issuing promises that she wouldn’t hurt him. He wasn’t afraid of pain. He’d suffered through enough to know that when it ended, he’d remain. What she didn’t know was that she had the power to destroy him.
She meant something to him. He wasn’t exactly sure what, but he knew she mattered. That’s why he had been devastated that she’d seen his madman’s cell. That’s why he refused her touch. He could hurt her and when he did, she would leave. She was strong enough that she would survive without him. He didn’t want to survive without her.
Terrifying thoughts that sent a shiver through him just before her hand came to rest above his pounding heart. He could feel the pad of each finger, the warmth of her palm. If he were a kinder man, a gentler man, he might have wept. He had yearned for so very long to be touched, stroked, held.
His baser instincts allowed him to bed her, but beyond that he dared not risk hurting her.
So slowly that he was barely aware of the movement, she glided her hand up his chest, over his shoulder, down his arm.
“Tell me if the pressure is unsettling,” she whispered in a low voice, similar to the one he used when calming his horse.
Unsettling it should have been. He should have tossed her back by now. That’s what had happened the first time he’d been with a woman. She had held him, and he had shoved her off. He hadn’t hit her as he had the man in the alley, but he’d been trembling as though someone had thrown him into an icy river. She had told him he belonged in Bedlam. He’d been sixteen and he’d believed her. He’d not let a woman hold him since.
Eve’s other hand came to rest on his chest and she took it on a similar journey as the first, along the other side. Wherever she touched, he felt as though he was being set ablaze, but not with fire. With passion. It felt so good, so good.
Touch all of me. All of me.
Her hands traveled back up his arms, over his shoulders, down his chest. “I don’t think I’d ever get enough of this.”
Leaning in, she pressed her mouth to the center of his chest. It was his undoing.
“Eve.” The guttural sound was that of a man dying, and he was. He plowed his fingers through her hair, tilted up her face, and took her mouth as though he owned it, as though he were the only one who would ever experience the taste of her. It drove him mad to think of anyone else ever knowing her as he had.
Her hands traveled along his neck, up into his hair, over his scalp, and back down. Always open, always nonthreatening, never closing around him. Long smooth strokes. No holding, no squeezing, no restraining.
Liberating. How had he ever survived without this? How had he ever thought it was enough to touch her, and not let her stroke him?
Her hands glided over his back, over his buttocks. He growled low, as he began gathering up the hem of her nightdress. She broke off the kiss, unbuttoned the garment, shrugged out of it. It shimmered along her body and pooled on the floor. She stepped over it and came in close, pressing her body against his, her breasts flattened against his chest. He groaned, while she released a throaty sigh.
“Yes,” she breathed. “I’ve wanted this so badly.”
He circled his arms around her. It had never occurred to him that he was denying her pleasures, that she would want to touch him, caress him. He thought if she didn’t know what was lacking in their coupling, she wouldn’t miss it. He held her, just held her, while she held him.
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