The Last Wicked Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 5)(34) by Lorraine Heath
Elegantly, she rose, skimming her body along his until her arms were wound around his neck and her lips were playing with his. Slipping his hands beneath her hips, he lifted her and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He suspected he would be rowing his boat for the next hundred years in order to keep his arms strong enough to carry her wherever he wanted her to be. Holding her near, he strode over to the bed and tumbled onto it, taking her down with him.
She shrieked, laughed. He loved to hear her laugh, and of late it seemed she laughed more and more. She was free of cares, free of worries. She lightened his days, eased his burdens, brought joy to his nights. How had he ever thought he could go a lifetime without her to share moments with?
He had been consumed with healing, not realizing that a part of him needed healing as well. He didn’t need to save the world to atone for the sins of his youth. He merely needed to save a portion of it. He’d only needed to save her.
But in the end, she had saved him.
With Swindler’s report, no one became suspicious regarding the thief who had broken into the residence and subsequently died. No one suspected Winnie of any wrongdoing. As a matter of fact, she had been heralded as quite the heroine for not being cowed by an intruder. While she blushed at the praise and downplayed it, he could not deny that she had changed into a woman who knew she deserved far better than her husband was giving her. Three and half years ago, her husband had nearly killed her, but she had arisen from the ashes of that beating to become a stronger, more confident woman, one who understood her own worth. He couldn’t be more grateful that she didn’t need him to rescue her, although that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t always be near to watch over her.
He took his hands and mouth over the familiar terrain of her body, relishing every inch. There was comfort in the familiar, in knowing that any further changes would happen because of nature and the passing years. No one would ever hurt her again. No one would ever hurt him. He would never leave her. She would never leave him.
They were anchored together. They were survivors.
They came together in a conflagration of desire and burning need. Always it would be this way with them. Always the need, always the desire, always the passion, always the love.
They gave equally, received equally, partners in all things.
When they lay lethargic and replete in each other arms, they both knew they had found within each other the comfort of home at last.
From the Journal of Sir William Graves
My mother did more for me in death than she ever did for me life. I was fascinated that death had come to her so quickly and without blood. I also harbored the thought that had I known what to do, I could have saved her.
So I became fascinated with the workings of the human body. I wanted to understand everything about it. But more I wanted to ensure that no one would die unnecessarily, and so I became a physician. That role eventually led me to Winnie.
I took great pleasure in watching her blossom over the years. When I told her that Jack Dodger was in the process of building a hospital because of a debt he owed to me, she decided to use the funds she’d gathered for a hospital to build a sanctuary instead, someplace to shelter women who found themselves living in fear as she once had. And she work tirelessly to have the laws changed so women would no longer be deemed as property. She stood strong in her defense of women’s rights. I, who had been a criminal as a child, never expected to marry a woman who would one day find herself thrown in jail because she stood firm in her convictions that women should have the same rights as men.
I was proud to have such a revolutionary at my side.
She blessed me with three sons and two daughters. They were sharp, strong of will, and determined to make their way in the world, and in doing so, they brought us great joy.
Whit eventually became known by his father’s title and while most of the aristocracy called him Avendale, to his mother, he remained Whit. To her everlasting relief, he was a far better man than the one who sired him.
Neither Winnie nor I ever attended another séance, but sometimes in the late hours of the night we would talk about that evening, and Mrs. Ponsby’s revelations. On occasion, I like to think that she possessed a true talent for communicating with the dead, that she contacted my mother, and that she did forgive me. But forgiveness is a gift of the kind, and my mother had no kindness in her. So then I doubt the veracity of the words. Not that I need my mother’s forgiveness, for I have Winnie and she forgives all my sins.
Knowing that the dead always reveal their secrets, I sometimes think I should burn this journal, but my secret is a relatively harmless one. I had told Catherine that she caught me in a compromising position with Winnie because I was attempting to seduce her so she would keep me near and I could better protect our secrets. But the truth was I could no more resist Winnie than I could cease to breathe.
Which, by all accounts, made me the last among our group of scoundrels to be brought to his knees because of his love for a woman.
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