Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 4)(30) by Lorraine Heath
Laughing, he swept her into his arms and strode into his bedchamber. “Never. I’ve wanted you since that first afternoon in the park.”
“You’ve shown remarkable restraint.”
“You’ve no idea.”
He set her down beside the bed, before turning to the bedside table and striking a match. The wick of the lamp flared to life.
“Wouldn’t darkness serve better?” she asked.
“No.” But he turned down the flame until it allowed in enough shadows to provide the intimacy he thought she required.
“Your bed is so large. I’ve never seen one like it.” He heard the nervousness in her voice.
“I had it made especially for me to accommodate my height. But it’s only a bed, Eleanor, and nothing will happen within it that you don’t desire.”
He detected the tiniest of flinches. With both hands, he cupped her face to draw her attention back to him. “I won’t hurt you.”
“I know. I trust you implicitly, James. More than I’ve ever trusted anyone.”
He brought his mouth back to hers and kissed her deeply. Tasting the lingering flavor of champagne, he prayed the heady drink wasn’t affecting her decision. But she wasn’t swaying, not yet anyway. If he had his way, she would before long. She’d become drunk on his kisses, on his touches.
He dragged his mouth along her throat, feeling her pulse quickening against his lips. With a sigh and her hands clutching the sleeves of his jacket, she dropped her head back, giving him easier access to whatever he might wish to plunder. Her hair first, he thought, as he straightened. He skimmed his knuckles down the column of her throat. “You have the most enticing neck.”
“Is it my best feature, do you think?”
“A little vain, Eleanor?”
Her brow pleated. “No, I just…I’m nervous, I suppose. I don’t want you to be disappointed.”
“There is absolutely nothing about you that could disappoint me.”
He saw in her eyes the pleasure that his words brought. It was only the first bit of pleasure he intended to bring her. After deftly removing her pins, he watched her hair cascade around her shoulders and tumble down her back. It was more glorious than it had appeared at a distance. He almost confessed about the night he’d watched her brushing it in the window, but then he’d have to explain why he’d been outside her lodgings. He didn’t want anything to distract her from his attentions.
He took her hand and began to peel her glove down her arm until it was bunched at her wrist. His thumb grazed her pulse there and he felt it jumping beneath his touch. She watched him, and he wondered what she was searching for, hoped she could see how very much he treasured these moments with her.
“I could do that,” she whispered, her voice a rough rasp.
“It’s my pleasure to do it.” He tugged on each finger until they were all free enough that he could finish removing her glove. Tossing it away haphazardly, he skimmed his fingers over her hand.
“The glove belongs to the Duchess of Greystone. I should take more care with it,” she said.
“She won’t mind. I’ll purchase her new ones if need be.”
He began working to remove the other glove. With the bared hand, she touched his cheek, skimmed her fingers up into his hair. It was the first time she’d stroked him with a bare hand. Although it was only his face, his hair, his scalp, a shudder of pleasure coursed through him. He wanted her touch so badly. Everywhere. He discarded the second glove with equal abandon. Very slowly he turned her around.
She’d not expected him to take his time, but then where he was concerned, she had quickly learned that he was a constant surprise. He made her feel lovely, desired. She saw in his eyes that even something as simple as letting her hair down pleased him. Now he moved it so it all draped over one shoulder. Then he began to work on her gown. She felt the first button set free, then the second. She tried to remember how many buttons there were, how long it might take before the gown was removed completely. Before she’d finished the thought, he was easing it off her shoulders.
He touched his mouth to her neck, and it was as though he’d poured hot wax into her veins. Warmth swirled through her.
She knew she was wrong to be here, to take matters this far, but Elisabeth’s death had taught her that one never knew when everything of value could be stolen. James was hers for tonight. She had no promises that he’d be hers tomorrow.
Happiness was fleeting. Love an illusion.
She would make the most of what time she had with him, cherish it, pray that she never came to regret it.
She pushed back thoughts of Elisabeth and Rockberry. For this small space of time, she wanted no sorrow to intrude, no quest for retribution. Selfishly, she was going to take all that James offered her and hoard it away for the lonely nights that would no doubt await her. Leisurely, so leisurely that her skin grew more sensitive, he removed cotton, silk, lace. He untied ribbons, loosened buttons, eased aside cloth. Each piece was discarded without care, until nothing remained except for the pearls, while his fingers gave the greatest care and attention to her skin. His mouth followed his fingers, touching and tasting, stirring passions until she thought she’d go mad with wanting more.
Pivoting around to face him, she judged his reaction, hoping he wasn’t disappointed that she wasn’t acting demure. She wanted this night with him, wanted it so badly she would trade her soul for it. No doubt she already had.
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