She Tempts the Duke(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 1)(75) by Lorraine Heath
“Close your eye. Pretend you’re in the dark.”
“I will not even blink and miss a second of seeing you in the light.”
She gave him a hopeful smile. “Can you not understand that I feel the same?”
“As I said: you are mad.” He yanked hard on the sheet, revealing the alcove between her thighs. His breathing came harsh and heavy.
“The light?” she asked.
“Stays, damn you.”
With a laugh she worked her way out of the sheet that remained then yanked away the linen covering him and simply stared, taking her fill. “No wonder it hurt when we joined last night.”
“I wish it hadn’t.”
His voice held such regret that she could have wept.
“Aunt Sophie said it will only hurt in the beginning. I’m not sure what she considers the beginning. Will it hurt the next time, do you think?”
“I don’t know.”
“Doesn’t matter.” She straddled him before he could protest. Smiling brightly, she looked down on him and glided her hands over his chest.
“You’re really not repulsed.” His words were an astonished statement.
She lowered her face until their breaths mingled. “I’m really not.”
Then she kissed him. She may have initiated it but he quickly took control. She would let him have this victory, because she’d won the major battle. Sunlight was warming her skin as much as he was. She loved the feel of his hands coasting over her body. His palms were rough, fingers callused. A soldier’s hands. The hands of one who had toiled and fought. Not one who had done little more than study books and drink to excess. His lessons had come from life, living it, and very nearly being killed by it.
Was it any wonder that he showed impatience in ballrooms and thought trivial so many rituals of etiquette?
Drawing back from the kiss, she smiled at him, combed her fingers through his hair. She could see scars in his scalp that had been denied her before, and she realized he wore his hair long for a purpose. She could only hope that in time he would come to realize that none of it mattered. That when she looked at him, she saw beneath the scars to the man he was.
Brave. Caring—even if it was the land instead of her that called to him.
He cupped her cheek, tilted her face until she met his gaze.
“You are such a beauty,” he said. “I was a fool to take you in the dark. I just thought it would be more pleasant for you not to see—”
She pressed a finger to his lips. “Don’t try to read my mind. I suspect you will always guess wrong. Last night was wonderful. I don’t regret it. The darkness added its own mystery to everything. Now the light will do the same.”
She kissed him again, didn’t object when he cradled her hips, lifted her up, and brought her down to envelop his shaft. She took him deep, felt satisfied, complete.
With his hands he guided her movements until she caught the rhythm. The sensations began building and she was in control of them. He glided his hands to her breasts, kneading them, scraping his thumbs over the taut nipples, sending desire coursing through her.
He knew so much and she knew so little, yet still she felt his equal in their lovemaking. His groans, his panting spoke volumes. Her pleasure increased as she watched his face. The strain to hold back, the clenched jaw.
Then she was the one panting as the pleasure spiraled. She rocked faster, harder. She dug her fingers into his chest, craned her head back, arched her spine—
And succumbed to a joyous awakening as they were both flung into the abyss together.
As Sebastian guided his horse over the rain-drenched land, he cast a glance at Mary riding beside him. She looked magnificent in her dark green riding habit with her hat perched at a jaunty angle. He kept her to his right not because he wanted to spare her the sight of his scars, but because he wanted to be able to see her with as much ease as possible. Of course now it was difficult to look at her without seeing in his mind’s eye her without a stitch of clothing. He’d been a fool to insist they make love in the dark, should have known that headstrong Mary would have her way. If she wanted light shining on them in the bed, light it would be.
He also should have realized that she would greet lovemaking with an eagerness to explore all facets of it. Fitzwilliam had been a bloody fool to walk away from her. But Sebastian couldn’t regret that she was his duchess. Not after this morning. Hell, not after last night.
All the things he’d worried over, she turned into insignificance. Theirs might not have been a love match, but it was based on a deep and abiding friendship. More than some had.
“What did you do, all these years, while I was away?” he asked.
She gave him an impish smile, released a small laugh which echoed between them and lit upon him as lightly as a butterfly. Only it didn’t stop there. It knocked at the edge of his soul, but he had learned that he needed to remain hardened to soft things so he forbade his soul from answering.
“What do you find so humorous?” he asked.
“Not humorous. Encouraging. It’s the first time you’ve asked me about the life I led while you were gone. I’ve had a thousand questions, wanted to know what happened during every moment of your time away from here. I wasn’t even certain that I warranted so much as an afterthought.”
He furrowed his brow, clenched his jaw. Surely he’d asked after her welfare. Something. But nothing came to mind. Yet she’d married him anyway. Thank God for scandal. “I was occupied with thoughts of securing Pembrook and my titles.”
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