Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(52) by Lorraine Heath
“Where were you when I was an angry young man?”
“Probably at Claybourne’s knowing that what he was giving me was better than I’d ever had and not liking it one bit. I missed Feagan. Claybourne forbade us from visiting Feagan while we lived under Claybourne’s roof.” She nestled back into the comforting crook of Greystone’s shoulder. “I’m fairly certain it didn’t stop Jack, though. He never was one to take orders well.”
“I’d take that wager.”
“Have you heard that he recently married?”
“No. God, who would have him?”
She released a small laugh. “Truly, you must think better of my friends.”
“When they stop threatening me, I shall.”
“Are they still threatening you?”
“Not lately. So who is the unfortunate lady?”
“Olivia? That’s a surprise.”
“I daresay that’s an understatement, but I believe they’re very happy.”
“You take delight in others’ happiness.”
“Of course. Shouldn’t we all?”
“I don’t suppose I’ve really given it much thought.”
With her finger she lazily drew circles on his chest. “I should probably let you sleep.”
He closed his hand over hers, stilling her actions. “Stay with me while I do.”
She listened as his breathing quickly became slow and even. She knew if he woke up first, he’d not take advantage of her. Luke had ensured it by telling Greystone about her past, but she suspected he’d have not taken advantage without the knowledge. Yes, he was a lord. Yes, he was accustomed to power. But he was also a gentleman.
As she drifted off to sleep, her final thought was that he was her gentleman.
Sterling awoke to find himself resting on his good side, his arm curled around Frannie, his hand nestled innocently against her breast. Not a position he had ever been in before with any other woman. He always touched a woman with purpose, with desire. He had to admit that he wanted to touch her that way again, but it had to be at her pace, when she was ready. Her backside was spooned against his hips, and his body’s reaction there wasn’t innocent at all. He eased back a little because he didn’t want her to awaken to find herself being poked—
Only with a sigh, she snuggled back against him.
Lovely. Here he was, trying to be a gentleman, and she was ensuring that he not be. He concentrated on the sound of the rain pattering against the window, which made him think of water, and subsequently, his thoughts turned to her bathing, her silhouette behind the screen, and he grew achingly harder. He began cataloging all the treasures he’d brought from his travels: vases, pottery, statuettes, jewels. His body began to respond to the lack of exciting images. He thought of the bone-jarring trek on the camel. He thought of the fear that had fissured through him when a tiger attacked him and Wexford had shot it. If Sterling had died, he would have missed out on lying here with Frannie in his arms, her scent gracing his pillow, her delicate body separated from his by nothing more than a thin layer of cloth…
He cursed under his breath as the ache returned.
“Do you always awaken in such a foul mood?” she asked.
“How long have you been awake?”
She rolled away from him and off the bed. The drapes were drawn, but the lamp still burned and he could see her clearly. “In spite of what happened when I was a girl, I don’t fear intimacy. I fear a lack of honesty. Always be honest with me.”
Running his gaze along the length of her, he said, “I want you. Desperately.”
She gave him an impish smile. “I know. Unfortunately for you, at the moment I want breakfast.”
He rolled over to his back, started to laugh, then cursed that unfortunate reaction that caused his side to ache.
“Perhaps it’s fortunate for you that I want breakfast,” she said.
He slid his gaze over to her. “Don’t make me laugh.”
“I’ll stay until dawn tomorrow.”
With that she quit the room. Sterling stared at the deep purple canopy. He planned to have the speediest recovery on record.
Sterling had promised her pampering so he saw to it that she was served breakfast in bed—even if it was in his with a tray of food between them. She sat at the foot of the bed wearing one of Catherine’s simple day dresses, while he leaned against a stack of pillows at the headboard. His valet had changed his bandage, then helped him into trousers that didn’t look as though they’d been slept in and a billowing shirt that made him feel more carefree than he had in some time.
“I suppose, working at Dodger’s, that you’re acquainted with all sorts of naughty behaviors,” he said, spreading marmalade on his toast.
“I’m also sworn to secrecy regarding what I know. Jack has always had a very strict policy regarding the confidentiality of our customers.”
“Pity. I imagine you have some rather fascinating stories.”
“Well…I suppose I could share one.” She gave him a sly smile.
He sat up a little straighter. “Go on.”
“One night…it must have been around midnight”—she shook her head—“I don’t know if I should tell you.”
“I’m not going to tell anyone.”
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