Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(18) by Lorraine Heath
“That’s very presumptuous of you, Your Grace, to believe you know exactly how I was raised.”
He swore beneath his breath. She was correct. He knew nothing about the reality of her life. “I’ve somehow managed to insult you.”
“We come from very different worlds. Have you never given anything away simply for the joy of giving it away?”
“Ah, but you see, there is still the trade. You give away something and in return you gain joy.”
“By that notion, seeing the smile should be its own reward and should require no payment.”
“I can see you’re too clever by half. All right then, I shall donate five hundred pounds to your cause.”
“Thank you, Your Grace, and for that I shall most definitely smile.”
And she did, a beautiful smile that lit up her entire face. He would have paid ten times that amount to keep it there, but he suspected money was not the key to her heart. His thoughts stumbled. It was not her heart he wanted. He wanted her curves, her flesh, her heat…
Before he could convince himself it would be unwise, he settled his mouth over hers, not at all surprised to discover that it fit exactly as he remembered. He’d dreamed about it often enough during the past two weeks. She tasted of lemon and sugar. He was willing to bet the previous Earl of Claybourne wasn’t the only one with a penchant for keeping sweets handy. Moaning low, she opened her mouth fully to him and he suddenly wasn’t thinking about anything except how wonderful it felt to once again have her in his arms.
She fit against him as no other woman ever had, as though she belonged. He cursed himself for not closing the door earlier.
As her arms wound around his neck and her fingernails scraped along his skull, need ripped through him with a blinding fierceness. He wanted to know the full measure of her passion.
Panting and breathless, she tore away from him. He wanted to yank her back, take her in his arms, and carry her to his coach. He wanted her in his bed. He wanted her slowly. The fire of passion burning in her eyes ignited the flames of desire within him. He’d sampled women in every country he’d visited, but he couldn’t recall wanting one more than he yearned for her.
“Come with me.” He barely recognized the low raspy voice as his own.
She shook her head quickly. “I can’t. I have responsibilities here.” She touched his chin as though she’d return for another kiss and just as abruptly dropped her hand to her side.
He cradled her cheek. “Apparently I unintentionally lied earlier. It appears I came for your answer, and it seems that I have it.”
Her lips parted—
She jerked away at Swindler’s voice. The inspector was standing in the doorway, flexing his hands. “We’ve got some chairs here, but we’re not sure where they’re supposed to go.”
“I’ll be there directly.” They were words of dismissal, but Swindler stayed where he was. She turned her attention back to Sterling. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to see to some things.”
He didn’t want to excuse her, but the polite words were leaving his mouth before he could stop them. “Yes, of course.”
“Please feel free to look about at your leisure.” How could she suddenly sound so damned calm? She took a step away, then glanced back. “Meet me in the garden in ten minutes. I’ll have your answer then.”
Sterling watched as she strolled out of the room in her plain dress, which for some reason didn’t appear plain at all. She touched Swindler’s arm. He looked down on her and something warm passed between them. Sterling flexed his fingers. At that moment, he thought he could bring the inspector down with a single punch. By God, he was feeling possessive in a way he never had before.
Then Swindler glared at Sterling, before following Frannie into the hallway. Sterling turned his attention to the garden and pressed his hand to the cool window, but it failed to ease the boiling in his blood. Only one thing would accomplish that: a night with Frannie Darling.
Ever since she’d ordered the furniture, Frannie had been envisioning where each piece would go, and now she looked at the plush bright yellow chair and couldn’t remember if it was for the sitting area in the library or the offices for one of the staff. She simply couldn’t think.
She’d seen in his eyes that he intended to kiss her, and rather than discourage him or move beyond his reach, she’d stayed exactly where she was and welcomed his mouth playing havoc with hers. Even now, she could still taste him, smell him, feel him…
She wanted to be with him in the garden, wanted things she could never have.
A throat cleared and she jerked her gaze over to Jim, who was waiting for her answer, and studying her as though he was searching for something else.
“The library,” she said smartly, deciding she could always move it later if it wasn’t where it belonged. “If you’ll excuse me—”
He moved in front of her before she’d taken more than a couple of steps. She could see the worry and concern in his green eyes, but then he always looked at her as though he expected her to shatter at any moment. “He’s not one of us,” he said quietly.
“Neither is Catherine, yet she and Luke get along well enough.”
“Because he’s one of them.”
She couldn’t chastise him for saying exactly what she’d been thinking at the wedding. She knew he worried over her, they all did—but sometimes she wanted absolute freedom, although the one time she’d sought freedom had ended in disaster. In all likelihood, this situation with Greystone would end the same way: with regrets.
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