The Last Wicked Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 5)(26) by Lorraine Heath
But at that moment he needed the surcease she could offer, the balm of her innocence, the solace of her trust.
Cupping her face, he planted his mouth over hers. Triumph rushed through him as she sagged against him, an invitation he could no longer ignore. He would have regrets in the morning. He had little doubt she would as well, but tonight they were both raw and wounded, reeling from disappointment, despair. The unexpected turn of events.
He lifted her into his arms. “Not in here,” he said, “not in here where the ghosts from both our pasts linger.”
With resolve in his stride, William carried Winnie through the house with purpose. She should have objected. Any decent woman would, but she wanted too badly what he was offering, and she wanted to provide comfort in return. She had thought tonight she would be dealing with her past, and it seemed he was dealing with his.
She was glad she’d had a chance to see him in anger—in fury, more like. She knew for certain that he would never take his fists to her, would never hurt her. She could trust him with her body—and in doing so, with her heart and soul. He would guard them, he would keep them safe.
It was late, and all the servants were abed. She was grateful for that, although she wasn’t certain it would have mattered. As she kissed the underside of his jaw, she realized how very desperately she wanted to be with him.
He opened the door to her bedchamber, walked through, then slammed it shut with his foot. Setting her down on the bed, he stretched out beside her, rising up on one elbow. As one of his fingers journeyed along her throat and stopped at the first button, she held her breath.
His eyes darkened, his breathing grew shallow. “It will be like seeing you for the first time.”
He’d seen her injuries, but not the scars that had formed. Could she share them with him? Could she share them with anyone? They shamed her and yet—
“I don’t find scars hideous,” he said as though reading her thoughts. Leaning in he kissed her brow. “The reason behind them perhaps, but they are a badge of survival.” He pressed his lips to the small one at her cheek. “But you have scars across your soul, and I don’t know how to heal those.” He touched his tongue to a small place beneath her chin.
Was there a scar there as well? It seemed he knew her better than she knew herself, but then he had treated them while she had avoided looking for any reminders of that night.
“Do you have scars?” she asked.
“A few, from when I was a boy, so they are faint now. You probably wouldn’t even notice them, but I still see them, feel them, know they are there. We look at ourselves more harshly than others do. We think people note the imperfections because they are glaring to us, when in fact they are nothing at all to others.”
With little more than a quick flick of his wrist, he freed the first button.
Stop him, a tiny voice cried, but a louder one told her she would be a fool not to welcome his advances. She remembered how gently he had tended her hurts, how tenderly he had changed bandages and applied salve.
Now he cupped her face, leaned in, and captured her mouth in a deep searing kiss that sent all her doubts, her inhibitions to perdition. Within her he stirred a matching hunger that she couldn’t deny. She wanted his mouth, his hands, his body, every aspect of him touching her, becoming part of her. She’d never felt this way before, had never dared want anything this desperately.
She was vaguely aware of the other buttons being released. Pulling back slightly, he slowly peeled away her bodice, his eyes fastened on the skin he was revealing. She saw appreciation wash over his features, and she felt treasured, beautiful, accepted.
Within a few heartbeats, he had her stripped of her clothes. She watched in wonder as he quickly divested himself of his clothing. She saw no scars, but then the whole of him was distractingly marvelous. Hard muscles, flat stomach, narrow hips.
Rejoining her, he took his mouth on a sojourn over her body, pressing a healing kiss to each scar, the ones along her ribs, her collarbone, her thigh. He licked, kissed, murmured sweet words. Then he kissed the whole of her. Every inch, every nook and cranny, every hidden cove.
When he returned his mouth to hers, she was heated with need, burning with desire. She plowed her hands into his hair, relishing the feel of the soft curls claiming her fingers, wrapping around them. She turned her body into his, skimming the sole of her foot along his calf. She moved in rhythm with him, rolling one way and another, striving to touch all of him as he touched all of her. There was no complacency from either of them.
For the first time in her life she felt as though she were an equal partner in the lovemaking. Nothing she did disappointed him. Nothing she did was incorrect. She explored to her heart’s content. Exultation swept through her when he groaned deeply, and she felt the vibrations of his chest. She had caused that reaction, and she felt triumphant. He cradled one breast. His eyes fluttered closed, long dark lashes resting on his cheeks. He lowered his head and circled his tongue around her nipple, taunting and teasing.
The first gentle tug almost had her coming off the bed. No pain, just sweet sensations surging through her. He gave his attentions to her other breast, to the valley between, to her stomach, and lower. Everywhere he touched cried out for release, she cried out for release.
Then he rose above her, gazed down on her. She locked her eyes onto his as he eased himself inside her, withdrawing slightly, pushing with more determination, over and over until he was nestled deeply inside her.
He rocked against her. She met each thrust, the pleasure increasing, until she was writhing beneath him and screaming out for release. It came in a glorious rush that had her bucking against him, as he groaned hoarsely and drove into her one last time.
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