She Tempts the Duke(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 1)(74) by Lorraine Heath
He laughed, a deep, rich sound, as he rolled off her. He slid an arm around her, brought her in against his side.
It was strange but that one small act pleased her more than anything else that they’d done that evening. It gave her hope that one day he’d be glad that he married her.
Awaking to the faint call of the lark, Mary remembered leaving a window open and realized it must be morning. Impossible to tell with the draperies around the bed pulled as tightly shut as they were. They locked in the warmth of body heat, the scent of lovemaking, and her husband’s quiet snores. She wondered how late it was. It was the only reason that she leaned over and carefully parted the drapes—to try to determine the proper time, not to catch a glimpse of her husband. Or at least that had been her intention, but when enough faint light stole in to reveal him, she could not resist the temptation to make the most of it.
Sebastian was sprawled on his back. Long limbs tangled in the sheets, long limbs that had been tangled around her when she drifted off to sleep. His face was turned away from her slightly, but because she was to his left she was able to see the scars clearly. At some point during the night he had removed the patch. She’d seen the scars before, had refrained from studying them too closely when he was fighting the fever because it had felt like stealing something private from him without his knowledge.
Perhaps he would consider what she was doing now as the same, only now they were married and should have no secrets, no mysteries from each other. She could not say there was a beauty to the mottled flesh, but there was grace to it. He’d only returned to her life a short time ago, but she couldn’t imagine him with Tristan’s unmarred features. His face—scars and all—suited him. His temperament. His determination. All he’d endured to again walk these halls as lord and master. She wished he were more comfortable in his skin, that he would welcome the light touching upon it as they made love.
And they did make love. She could think of no other way to describe the tenderness with which he’d explored her body or the fiery passion with which he’d finally taken her.
She wanted to touch him now, comb back the hair from his brow, but she was loath to disturb him, to awaken him. The scars trailed down his shoulder front and back. His arm. How devastating the wounds must have been, how painful. Little wonder it had taken him so long to recover. Based upon when the battle occurred and when he returned to England, it must have been months. She wondered—
“Had your fill yet of staring?”
She gasped, startled with guilt. “How long have you been awake?”
“I think you’re beautiful.”
“I think you’re mad.” He rolled onto his far elbow, giving her a clear view of his back and the sinewy muscles that ebbed and flowed with his movements. He reached through the opening on his side of the bed—for his patch she was certain. “Let back in the darkness as I’ve a mind to have you before breakfast.”
She scowled, refusing to acknowledge the hurt at his callous words. “Such flowery words, Your Grace. Definitely designed to make me swoon into your arms.”
He stilled his movements. He didn’t look back, but she could see the tightness traveling through his shoulders, along his back. “You’re my wife,” he ground out.
“A wife still likes to be wooed.”
“Then draw the drapes, and I’ll woo you with my body.”
“No.” She flung the curtain wider until the sunlight poured in.
“Dammit, Mary!” He swung around—
She fought not to cover herself, wondered if he could follow the blush of her skin as the heat traveled over her. She’d not put on her nightdress before falling asleep. She was bared before him, the sheets pooled around her hips. Without him even touching her, her nipples puckered at the heat in his gaze as it roamed slowly over her. She watched his throat muscles work as he swallowed.
“You are so beautiful. Fitzwilliam obviously had no clue regarding the treasures you hid beneath your clothes or he’d have never let scandal keep you from him.”
“I told you I was chaste.”
“Still, a man can imagine.”
“You felt me last night. Is this what you imagined?”
Slowly he shook his head. “Only partially.” Reaching out he trailed his thumb around one of her nipples. “I imagined you dusky not pink.” He skimmed a finger over a rounded swell. “And how the devil did you get a freckle there?”
“I don’t know. Isn’t seeing me better than not?”
“But to see you, you must see me.”
“I told you I’m not repulsed by your scars.”
“But to have them so near, to have them looming over you—”
“You loom over me. With strength and purpose. But my hands are small, so I can’t know all of you. Only what I can touch. I want to know it all.”
“All is hideous.” His voice carried a distraction that pleased her, as he tugged on the sheet, slowly pulling it away from her hips.
She snatched it, held it in place. “Only if the light remains.”
“Until I’ve seen you. Then it goes away.”
“No. If it goes away, so do I.”
“I’m your husband. You will do as I say.”
“I’m your wife. Don’t you wish to see me happy?”
He sighed deeply. “I’d forgotten what a trial you could be.”
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