She Tempts the Duke(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 1)(87) by Lorraine Heath
Her hands roamed over him, eliciting pleasure wherever they traveled. Even the cuts and scrapes didn’t bother him when she touched him. Nothing bothered him. Everything receded. The troubles, the guilt, the worries. Here, within his bed, she was all that mattered.
The lamps remained burning, the sashes remained tied. Without her asking for either. She felt as though something had changed, shifted inside him.
With his eagerness, Mary felt a renewed sense of hope that soon the past would be behind them. He was always enthusiastic in their lovemaking, but something was different tonight. She felt almost as though he were worshipping her. He left no place untouched, unkissed, unexplored.
She had so wanted him to understand that to her the scars were nothing. She had told him a hundred times—tonight she’d finally thought of a way to show him. She could not help but admire him.
She had spoken true: he had been forced to make difficult decisions. He’d only been a young lad then. There had been no right answers, yet each carried harsh consequences. He had done what he thought he needed to do. Now, she was doing the same.
Loving him, even knowing that he might never be able to love her. She would give him everything she could, give him a reason to let go of the past.
She pushed him onto his back and straddled him, taking her turn at kissing and touching and tormenting every inch of him. She was gentle when she came across the abrasions left by flying stone. She hated when anything hurt him, wished she had the power to protect him.
Rolling her over, he joined his body to hers with one sure thrust. He rose above her and she watched in wonder as he pumped his powerful body into hers. His face was set in concentration, in intensity. Reaching up, she trailed her fingers over his face.
With barely a loss of momentum, he took her wrists and locked them together in one hand above her head. He nuzzled her neck, nibbling the sensitive skin, causing her to writhe beneath him. She wound her legs around him as tightly as she could, felt him sink more deeply into her. Pleasure spiraled through her. He lifted himself up, and her enjoyment increased as she watched passion flow over his strong features. Silhouettes could capture the strength of his profile but not the beauty of the whole. She wished he could truly see himself as she saw him.
Sebastian became relentless in his search for some proof that would condemn his uncle. Sitting in his library, Mary watched as he scoured through ledgers, journals, scraps of paper. Anything he could find. Why he would think the man would be silly enough to leave behind evidence was beyond her.
He had hired more men to patrol about. He’d forbidden her from riding, from leaving the residence. Even a walk in the garden was not to be tolerated. She’d become a prisoner here.
During the day he saw to matters of the estate but at night he was absorbed by his quest. When she was in need of a book, she would have to step over piles of papers and leather-bound journals. She wasn’t allowed to touch anything. Some stacks stood for what he’d already sorted through. But the majority were for what remained.
Dark circles were emerging beneath his eye. He shaved less often as though he couldn’t spare the time. Just as he had so little time for her.
The only time they truly came together, the only time she really had his attention was when he came to her bed at night. Then she relished the moments, savored them, devoured them.
She was so lonely, so in want of attention that she felt rather pitiful about it. “Sebastian, what do you say to our having a picnic tomorrow?”
“I haven’t time for such nonsense,” he said gruffly.
She felt as though shards of glass assailed her. “Am I nonsense then?”
That seemed to get his attention. He looked up to study her. “I’ve never known you to be one to whine.”
She didn’t know why she’d bothered to ask for a picnic. Of late, food wasn’t agreeing with her. She seemed to have little energy. Tears came with no provocation. So did irritation. “I’m not whining. I’m simply going out of my mind. For all the freedom you give me, I might as well be locked in the tower.”
Not that a lock would do much good. He’d managed to knock out a good portion of the wall. He often hammered at it late at night which left them with weary servants during the day. Of late everything he did revolved around Pembrook. Even when they made love, she felt as though she didn’t have his undivided attention. Afterward, he rolled off her and stared at the canopy, one hand shoved beneath his head. Eventually he would leave and several minutes later the crashing of stone would start.
“Tell me something that I can do to help you. Surely there are papers I can read or—”
“See to the affairs of the manor.”
“I do, but even I need to do something fun from time to time.”
“Fun? It’s not a game here, Mary. He tried to have my brother killed. He wants Pembrook and he shan’t have it. If it takes the remainder of my life, I shall see him ruined!”
And what of my life? she almost asked. Our life?
Sebastian wasn’t certain what woke him. When he rolled his head to the side, he saw Mary standing at the window, wearing her nightdress, a lamp on a nearby table casting her in soft silhouette.
He swung his legs off the bed, snatched up his trousers, and jerked them on. He crossed the room to her, placed his arms around her, and drew her into the curve of his body. She didn’t relax against him with a sigh as she once had. She remained stiff, unyielding. He lowered his head, pressed a kiss to the sensitive spot below her ear. “Come back to bed.”
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