Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(85) by Lorraine Heath
He stilled, studied her, held her gaze. “Those were the terms of the arrangement between us.”
“And if I don’t like them anymore?”
“Then I shall have to work harder to convince you that the terms are to your liking.”
His mouth came down on hers, hard and hungry. Tears pricked her eyes. She was vaguely aware of his carrying her down to the bed, his hands and mouth trailing over her. She felt like the porcelain dolls her father had given her, easily broken.
“Touch me, Eve,” he rasped. “Touch me.”
Only she couldn’t, not when she had no hope of reaching his heart. She realized with astounding clarity that from the beginning she had hoped for more between them, had thought that perhaps he would fall in love with her. That she would acquire the happy ending that her mother had never known.
He rose up over her. She could feel his hardness nudging, intimately, seeking entrance. “Respond to me, Eve.”
For the first time in her life, nothing mattered. “What is the purpose in life if there is no hope for love?”
He cursed harshly, nuzzled her neck, kissed her breasts, taunted and teased her nipples. “There is purpose in this. Respond to me.”
She stared at the canopy and imagined the roiling of the yacht as it glided through the water. It could carry her away from here. She would let it take her someplace far, far away. That first night, she had wondered if she would possess the wherewithal to distance her mind from her body. She was discovering that it was quite easy to accomplish when one’s heart was little more than shattered remains.
With a feral growl, Rafe came off of her, off the bed, and glared at her. “You knew what the arrangement was. It’s too late to have regrets.”
“Unfortunately, I fear it’s never too late.”
“You’re being unreasonable.”
“I deserve more.”
“You damned well won’t find it out there,” he said, pointing toward the window, before storming into his bedchamber, slamming the door in his wake.
She wrapped her arms tightly around herself, let the warm tears wash down her cheeks, but they couldn’t wash away the ache in her heart.
Rafe pressed his back to the vibrating door. He’d not needed his key because it was no longer kept locked. He should have been familiar with the room by now but it still took him off guard. All his clothing was gone. Every torn shirt, waistcoat, jacket. Every pair of trousers. Every scrap of remaining neckcloth. Every discarded bit of attire that had once offended him, threatened to suffocate him. Gone.
Eve had gathered them up and taken them to the poor.
The bare mattress upon which he’d once slept when the thought of sheets or blankets would make him break out in a sweat was no longer visible. It was covered by violet velveteen. The recently hung draperies were drawn aside to let in the night. Not a speck of dust was to be seen. The wooden floor was polished to a fine sheen.
The room smelled of beeswax and polish. The room smelled of her.
She had done this. She had chased back the demons. She had returned to him the magic of touch. She had helped him conquer the madness.
He strode over to the window and gazed out, when everything inside him told him to return to her room, to apologize, to make her smile. More to make her laugh. That was what had upset him today, seeing that a lad had the ability to bring forth her laughter with such ease when he couldn’t recall a single moment when he had managed to accomplish such a remarkable feat.
He braced his hands on either side of the windowsill.
“Do you care about me?” she’d asked.
With every breath I take.
For a heartbeat, he had been that small boy standing beside his father’s coffin, the one who had watched his brothers ride away, the scruffy lad who had been terrified and alone in the dark.
She would leave him. If he gave her power over him, she would leave.
There wasn’t enough goodness in him to make her stay, and she knew his secrets.
He wasn’t supposed to care about her. She wasn’t supposed to matter.
But she did.
Reaching into his trousers pocket, he rubbed the coin. She would tell him to flip it, but he didn’t need to in order to know his own mind.
He’d never needed anyone or anything. Not since that night when their uncle had tried to kill them. He didn’t need her, but it didn’t stop him from wanting her.
He didn’t know how long he stood there, rubbing the coin, recounting every moment he’d spent with her. He considered lying down on his bed, the one that now looked as though it belonged to a sane man, but he didn’t want to sleep alone.
Turning from the window, he strode back toward the door.
She was his mistress. He made the rules. He would sleep with her when he damned well wanted to, and he wanted to at that moment. He wouldn’t make love to her—
The thought staggered and stumbled through his mind. When had he begun to think of what happened between them as making love? When had it ceased to be merely bedding? When had it become more with her than it had ever been with any other woman?
He pressed his forehead to the door. All he could hear was the silence on the other side. Was she asleep by now? Had she wept? He hated the thought that he might have caused her to cry. She deserved so much better than him. He should walk away, leave, announce the terms met. The residence was already in her name. He’d seen to that before he’d left to retrieve the horse. In truth, she was within her right to toss him out on his ear.
She was a woman who wanted more than he could give her. He could purchase her anything she desired. The problem was what she truly yearned for could not be bought, and well he knew it. He also knew that he hadn’t the means to give it to her.
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