Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 4)(77) by Lorraine Heath
As her sighs and moans grew louder, as she writhed beneath him, turning into him, opening herself to him, he plunged into the velvety heat that welcomed him and closed around him.
Stilling, with a deep groan of satisfaction, he absorbed the full impact of his penetration. He framed her face with his large hands and kissed her. “I love you, Emma.”
Emma thought she would never tire of his saying those words, of his melding his body to hers. He kissed her chin, her cheek, her neck. Then ever so slowly, tormenting them both, he began to move against her.
Her body rocked in rhythm with his, the pleasure ebbing and flowing, building until the maelstrom couldn’t be held back. She cried out his name while he ground out hers through clenched teeth, and they rode the crest of fulfillment together. Afterward, they lay in each other’s arms, allowing their saturated, replete bodies to bask in the glory of what they’d just shared. Tucked up against him, their limbs intertwined, she drifted off to sleep, content.
Swindler awoke sometime later, lethargic and sated. Marriage, he decided, was going to be very wonderful indeed.
Opening his eyes, he saw the silhouette of Emma standing in front of the window, a blanket draped around her, as the sea breeze blew into the room. Getting out of bed, he went to her, wrapped his arms around her and pressed his lips to the top of her head. “Come back to bed, Emma.”
She leaned into him, her head finding its familiar place in the nook of his shoulder. “I was just thanking Elisabeth for you.”
Dipping his head down, he kissed the nape of her neck. “Were you?”
“She was supposed to ensure that Eleanor and I found husbands. In an ironic, twisting way, she did exactly that.”
Turning in his arms, she tilted her face up to him. He was grateful to see only a smile—
and no tears—on her face. He wanted from this day forward to fill her life with nothing except joy.
“I shall miss this place,” she said softly.
Tomorrow they would close it up and begin their journey to London.
“We’ll return occasionally,” he assured her. “I rather like the way it smells out here.”
In the moonlight, he saw the smallest shadow of doubt cross over her face.
“What is it, Emma?”
“Do you think if it had been Eleanor that afternoon at Hyde Park that you’d have fallen in love with her?”
“No. Never. You began to claim my heart the first time you smiled at me.”
From the Journal of Sir James Swindler
Lord Rockberry had misjudged his peers. They, however, did not misjudge him. He did not face the gallows with the dignity that my father had, confirming my belief that it was not a title that was the measure of a man.
As for the others in the dark society who were involved that night, the daughter of the duke married a titled gentleman who took the other lady as his lover—although there were rumors that the two ladies were fond of each other. The remaining men lived their lives on the far side of the world, even though evidence seemed to indicate the two other lords had died from mysterious circumstances. William Graves, physician to the queen and to the poor, was handy at providing corpses beyond recognition. Two men destined for a pauper’s grave now lie at rest in the finest of settings.
When I was younger, a darkness hovered inside me. A combination of guilt, remorse, and a determination to make myself worthy of my father’s sacrifice. They were heavy burdens to bear, but bear them I did, in gratitude for every breath I drew. I often think of him standing tall and broad upon the gallows, the slight curve of his mouth, his final wink. We fooled them, lad. We fooled them all.
Indeed we did.
I’m not certain I quite understood how he could have gone so willingly—until I was blessed with children of my own. I was humbled by the trust my flaxen-haired daughters placed in me when, mere moments after their arrival, they each wrapped their small hands around my fingers, a touch that reached far into my heart. Twin daughters. Ah, the pranks they play. They are outdone only by their brother, who came into the world two years later and brought with him his grandfather’s smile.
I do wish my father could have met my Emma. I cannot help but think he would have appreciated her as much as I do. She shines a light into the darkness of my life. She and my children.
As I sit in the small cottage by the sea writing in my journal, I can hear them laughing near the cliffs. Soon I will join them.
I have loved my Emma dearly these many years, and I shall continue to do so until the day I die. She is the light of my life, the one who took the darkness away, the one who completes me.
Emma is the one who gave the lost and lonely orphan who lived inside me a true home at last.
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