The Last Wicked Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 5)(16) by Lorraine Heath
“I think anything’s possible.” Lowering his head, he kissed the nape of her neck, where jasmine behind her ear overpowered the scent of rain. He wondered where else she may have applied the fragrance. He kissed the other side. “Are your parents alive now?”
“No, it’s only Whit and I. He thought it was such an adventure when we spent time in your residence.”
“He’s a good lad. We should take him to the park one afternoon.” He trailed his mouth from one shoulder to the other, relishing her sigh.
“He went to the zoological gardens today. He’s drawing me pictures of the animals he saw.” Her voice sounded faint, faraway as though she were floating into oblivion.
“I should like to see them.”
“I’ll show you when he’s finished.”
He nipped at her ear before slowing turning her around. Lifting her hand, she rubbed the bridge of her nose. He wrapped his hand around her wrist. “Don’t,” he said gently. “Don’t cover your nose.”
“Nothing, absolutely nothing about you is unsightly.”
She released a self-conscious laugh. “Sometimes I forget that you’ve seen all of me.”
“I looked upon you as a physician—which is a cold and impersonal observation. When I look upon you as a man, it will be very much like seeing you for the first time.”
She gave the tiniest mewl as though it had not occurred to her before that what he’d implied would most certainly happen. Sometimes he forgot that she was a lady first, a woman second. That she wasn’t accustomed to traveling the path he wanted to travel.
Still, he brought her in close and took her mouth, while the rain cooled and scented the air. Her tongue parried with his, her hands combed through his hair, her sighs mingled with his moans. Sweet, so gloriously sweet. He could have—
“Excuse me, Your Grace.”
She jerked back as though the butler had taken a lash to her. “Yes, Thatcher, what is it?”
“A missive from the queen for Dr. Graves.”
Graves held out his hand, and Thatcher extended the silver salver. He took the letter bearing the royal crest, opened it, and walked over to the doorway where enough light spilled out so he could read the words.
“What is it?” Winnie asked, coming to stand beside him.
“I’m being summoned.” With an apologetic sigh, he said, “I must go.”
“Of course you must.”
He cradled her face. “Thank you for dinner. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a night more.”
“If it’s not too late when you’re finished, perhaps you could come back to enjoy your after-dinner port. I’ll feel like a horrible hostess otherwise.”
He grinned. “We can’t have that. But I have no idea how long it’ll take.”
She glanced back over her shoulder. “Thatcher, give the doctor a key to the residence before he leaves.”
“Winnie—” Graves began. They would be opening a door they would be unlikely to close.
She nodded, somewhat jerkily. “I want you to have a key. If I’m asleep, you can awaken me and I’ll get the port for you.”
If he were to awaken her, it wouldn’t be for bloody port, not that he was going to confess to that with the butler standing there. Leaning in, he kissed her gently. “I’ll return when I can. I should warn you that it could be days.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Don’t be, he almost told her. No good would come of it.
With the flame in the lamp turned low, Winnie lay in her bed, listening as the rain beat against the pane. It was coming down with more force now, and she thought of William traveling through it, dashing from the carriage to her door, his hair damp when he came to her.
It was after midnight. She’d waited up as long as she could, but she was tired now, so tired. She’d taken great pains to prepare for bed. Her nightdress was satin. It revealed very little. The matching wrap was resting at the foot of the bed, so she could snatch it up quickly when William arrived. Her maid had brushed her hair a hundred times before braiding it. She’d applied a dab of perfume behind her ears, just a small dab, because he seemed to enjoy kissing her neck.
She could hardly fathom that she’d given him a key to the residence, that she was considering allowing him into her bed. But she loved the way he made her feel: precious, treasured. They’d not spoken of love or a future, but it hardly mattered. She just needed something to erase the memories of what happened the last time a man had taken her in this bed. She squeezed her eyes shut. No, not this bed. She’d had that one carted away, had purchased a new one to replace it. Only she had ever slept in it. Not entirely true. Her lips curled up. Whit had joined her a time or two when he had a bad dream. But he was older now, beginning to show a preference for not being coddled by his mother.
Her eyelids began growing heavy. William would return when he could, and she was anticipating it as she’d not anticipated anything in a good long while. He would open the door, slip beneath the sheets, take her into his arms—
The silk slid over her body as his hands caressed her, the silk no barrier to the heat of his touch. He nuzzled her neck. “I returned as soon as I could.”
She didn’t want words, didn’t need them. All she wanted were the marvelous sensations that he seemed able to elicit with so little effort. She was floating on a cloud of pleasure, his hands and mouth taking her to places where she’d never traveled. Heat scorched her, inside and out. She wanted to touch him, to feel his skin, but she seemed unable to grasp anything of substance. He was like shadows, weaving around her—
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