Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(57) by Lorraine Heath
“I know. Because you won’t hurt me.”
His mouth went still, and she was incredibly aware of the tension in his muscles, the light beads of sweat that coated the cords of his neck. His hand moved to the top button—
“I’ll do it,” she said quickly, placing her hand over his and nudging it aside. The buttons popped free as though grateful for the freedom, and she realized he wore nothing except trousers. But her fingers didn’t falter. Instead they hastened to reveal what cloth held hidden. He shucked his trousers down until he stood before her, erect, proud, and utterly magnificent. She lifted her eyes to his. “You’re beautiful as well.”
The worry she’d seen in the deep blue of his eyes dissipated. He laughed and lifted her into his arms.
“We’re going to have a jolly good time, Frannie,” he said as he laid her out on the cool satin sheets.
She was more beautiful than Sterling had expected, more bold than he’d dared hope for. Whatever experiences may have tarnished her past, she’d not brought them with her to his bed. She was coy. She didn’t turn away from him or pretend embarrassment. She received him as the most highly paid courtesan might, with a seductive smile and welcoming arms.
But she was there not because of any coins he might have given her. She was there solely for the pleasure they could bring each other. He’d never wanted a woman more. His body ached with the need to possess her, but he had no plans to rush the moment. He’d have only one night with her, but he wanted it to be one that would last his lifetime. He was fairly certain he’d never find another woman as courageous, determined, and intriguing as she was. Any moment not spent in her company was an empty moment. As he stretched out beside her and skimmed his hands over her, relished the gliding of her hands over him, he didn’t want to contemplate the never-ending spectrum of empty moments that might lie ahead.
“I wonder what would happen to your fair skin if the sun kissed it in the desert,” he murmured.
“You mean remove my clothes outside?”
Giving her a devilish grin, he arched a brow at her. Her eyes scanned the length of him. “Did you do that?”
“Once or twice.”
Her fingers trailed up his thigh, skimmed around to his buttocks, stopped. Tickled. “What’s that?”
Sitting up she leaned over and looked at his buttocks. Gently, she feathered her fingers over the five ragged scars that ran from his hip down as though the wounds were fresh and still causing him pain.
“Tiger,” he said. “I didn’t see him until he was upon me. Fortunately, Lord Wexford is an amazing shot.”
“You could have been killed.”
“And instead, now a tiger skin adorns the floor in Wexford’s study. I thought women found scars rakish.”
“I don’t mind their appearance. I just don’t like that you were once so badly hurt.”
Powerful words from a lady who carried her scars inside. Cradling her neck with one hand, he brought her back down to the pillow. “How can you have so much compassion and no bitterness?”
She gave no answer to that. He expected none, truly wanted none as he kissed her. He’d explored many women during his travels but none with the intensity that he wished to explore her. The others were merely passing fancies. She was more. She was the reason he skulked around in alleyways and had food prepared for little thieves. She was the reason he now understood the sentiments that drove a man to kill.
It was as though before her, each of his emotions had lain dormant. He’d never known such intense anger, or jealousy, or joy, or…love.
His thoughts faltered. No, it was not love that he felt. Infatuation, adoration. But not love. Nothing as binding. She would walk away from him and he’d allow her to take nothing of him with her. But while she was there, in his bed, he would strive to give her much by which to remember him.
Frannie had known he was a man of passion. What she hadn’t expected was the way he touched her as though he could never have enough of touching her—not only with his hands, but with his mouth.
He swirled his tongue around her nipple until it pebbled, then closed his mouth greedily around it. She raked her fingernails through his thick hair, dug her fingers into his shoulders, skimmed the sole of one foot up his calf. Pleasure ebbed and flowed until she thought she would go mad with the wanting for release. Patiently his mouth journeyed to her other breast. She, a child of the streets, had never known such reverence, had never expected it, especially of a man whose life was so above the squalor.
Here, in his bed, she found what she’d never hoped to hold—unselfish giving and receiving, a sense of evenness that was difficult to explain. He knew of her past, but because he hadn’t witnessed it, he wasn’t obsessed with guilt over what he’d been unable to prevent. He didn’t treat her as though she was fine china that would shatter with too much pressure. He squeezed and he coaxed and he trailed his mouth along her stomach, across her hip, down her thigh.
He lifted his head to give her the most wicked smile she’d ever seen, one that promised adventures, delight, the sun kissing her skin. He gently nudged her thigh and she opened herself to him. He moved this way and that until he was nestled between her legs, his open mouth heating her stomach. And then he journeyed lower and lower…
She thought she should have been afraid or at the very least wary, but she realized with startling clarity that she trusted him to never hurt her, to never cause her discomfort, to never betray these tender feelings that allowed her to come to his bed when she’d never gone willingly to the bed of another man.
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