Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(54) by Lorraine Heath
“I don’t want to become something to you that I’m not or that I’m not capable of being. I don’t want to fool you.”
“You think so little of me as to believe I can be easily fooled? You’ve discouraged me at almost every turn, and yet here you are at last in my bed. At my invitation as I recall.”
“It could all be part of my well-conceived plan. That’s how we work, you know. We lure you into believing exactly what we need you to in order to take advantage.”
Releasing his hold on her wrist, he settled back against the pillows and spread his arms wide. “Then by all means, take advantage.”
Her gaze slowly wandered the length of him, and his body reacted with fierceness that he couldn’t control. He watched as she swallowed and licked her lips. Then she picked up the tray and gave him a saucy wink. “You see? Now you are no longer in a position to stop me from removing the dishes—which is exactly what I wanted.”
He laughed. He didn’t believe her, not for one minute, but if it was the game she wished to play, he would concede defeat in hopes of gaining a decisive victory later.
“You should rest now,” she told him. “Regain your strength.”
He watched her leave the room, then closed his eyes. She was correct. He needed to regain his strength and quickly. The minutes were ticking away, and he suspected once she left his residence, he’d have a devil of a time getting her to return.
While Greystone rested, Frannie retired to the morning room. Jutting out into the garden, it was three walls of windows with a glass roof that the rain pattered and exploded against. She wanted honesty not only from him, but also from herself. Could she look herself in the mirror if she gave herself to a man who would never marry her, a man she would never marry? Was it wrong, just once in her life, to know what it was to be truly desired?
Greystone was a man of passion. He was a man of adventure. He was a man who desired her. That much had been evident this morning when she’d awoken to find him fully aroused and pressing against her bottom.
His nearness exhilarated her.
He didn’t care about her past. He didn’t care that she’d once been a pickpocket and thief. She’d never enjoyed the times when Feagan would pretend to be a soldier, when people were kind to them, and they repaid the kindness by taking their possessions. She’d innately understood that everything they were doing was wrong—and yet she did it anyway in order to please him.
She used the excuse that Luke’s grandfather had forbidden them from visiting Feagan to explain her never again seeing him. But the truth was that she was ashamed of the things he’d asked of her. It was part of the reason that she spent so little money on herself and she had so few possessions. She’d taken that to which she wasn’t entitled when she was younger and now she wanted to give back as much as she could. If she could teach children not to break the law, if she could provide them with good examples to follow, if she could undo the lessons they’d been taught…
Perhaps she wouldn’t feel quite so tainted by her past, by her association with Feagan.
“I was hoping for a sunny day so that we might have a picnic in the garden,” Greystone said as he sat in the chair beside her.
She smiled at him. “I enjoy the rain. I’m probably the only person in all of England who does.”
“It seems melancholy weather.”
“I prefer to think of it more as weather designed for reflection.”
“You are the eternal optimist. And what are you reflecting on?”
“Nothing of any importance. How are you feeling now?”
“Still a bit achy, but I’m confident that survival is in my future.”
She studied him for a moment, the lines fanning out from his eyes, the crease in his brow. He was still experiencing discomfort. Why did men feel that they always had to give the impression of being strong?
“I want to thank you again for sending the cobbler.”
“Did it make you think better of me?”
“Then it was worth the expense.”
“I’m thinking of listing our benefactors on a plaque on the wall. Would that be a nice acknowledgement, do you think?”
“I prefer to be anonymous. I did it for you, not for the glory.”
“And here I thought you did it for the boys.”
He gazed out at the rain, a slight flush on his cheeks that she thought had nothing to do with his injury. He had done it for her, to please her, to gain her favor. Another bouquet of flowers would not have worked as well. It meant a great deal to her that he’d come to realize what was important to her and what wasn’t.
“Will you dress for dinner tonight?” he asked quietly.
“I thought I might. I found a gown of Catherine’s that fits me rather nicely.”
He shifted his gaze over to her. “I’m pleased to hear that. I’ve asked Cook to prepare something special. Is there anything you don’t fancy?”
“Growing up as I did, I’m thankful for any food that comes my way.”
“You’re too easy to please, Miss Darling.”
“I prefer when you call me Frannie.”
His beautiful blue eyes warmed. “Frannie, it would please me immensely if you’d call me Sterling and no more of this Your Grace business while we’re here.”
She wanted to tell him that she thought it was important that she remember he was a duke, but suddenly with the rain locking them inside, it was almost as though the real world was no longer surrounding them. They could pretend for just a few hours that they belonged in the same world.
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