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An Accidental Affair
  • Текст добавлен: 9 октября 2016, 02:15

Текст книги "An Accidental Affair"


Автор книги: Heather Boyd






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Текущая страница: 11 (всего у книги 18 страниц)

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Arabella rolled her face into the pillow as frustration grew. Kissing Rothwell had ruined everything. Now instead of the memory of Farnsworth’s red, angry face filling her with terror, she saw Rothwell, and not just in that moment before he’d touched his lips to hers and ripped her contentment apart. Every kind and gentle moment between them flickered through her mind, adding fuel to her memories of kissing him.

She burrowed beneath the sheets, irritated by herself more than anything. During dinner tonight, Rothwell had acted as if that kiss never happened. He’d been charming and kind, always smiling and ready to converse. He’d had no problem upholding his side of the conversation at all. Arabella had barely managed to finish her meal. How could he not feel anything after such a kiss?

She was thankful he’d been taken away by Holland to speak of something so vitally important that Rothwell had not reappeared at all. Arabella rolled over and tossed the covers from her body. Her nightgown was twisted completely around and she lacked the will to collect herself. The advice she had received months ago on how to seduce a man played through her mind again. The ring on her finger was gone, just the faintest trace of the depression remained. She had restyled her hair and worn more revealing gowns than normal.

Even close proximity to a rogue had made no discernable increase in her attractiveness.

Perhaps she was doomed to die a virgin.

She sat up quickly. No. Absolutely not. She would not allow life to pass her by. If not for Rothwell’s being home, she might have fallen prey to Farnsworth’s evil intentions and been coerced into marrying Lord Parker.

How long could a man like Rothwell resist a woman if she were to climb into his bed? He had said he was interested but had assumed she was put off by men entirely. She wasn’t, but if Rothwell was waiting for some sign from her to proceed to intimate relations between them, she had no idea what that sign might be.

She bit her lip. Rosemary had promised that her body would appeal to any man. She wanted to test that theory with Rothwell before he found himself a wife. Nervous but committed to her decision, she climbed from bed. She just had to allow Rothwell an opportunity while he was still here. He’d been amenable to a kiss that had scorched her senses. She would go to him tonight before she changed her mind.

Arabella drew in a deep breath to steady her nerves and stepped out into the dark hall. It took a few moments before her eyes adjusted to the gloom and without the aid of any other light she padded toward the room her butler had assigned to Rothwell on his arrival. Steady rain beat against the windows she passed and disguised the sound of her passage. Light flickered beneath his door and she raised her hand to the wood. Her knock sounded loud to her own ears, so instead of waiting outside where a servant might see her, she quickly entered.

But the room was empty. The bed was made as if Rothwell had not been in it at all. Crushed, she turned on the spot and retraced her steps quickly. So much for having dishonorable intentions about a man. She would have to try again later or give up her wish as a fool’s errand.

“Arabella?”

She jerked her head up and stared into the shadows lingering beside her bedchamber door. Rothwell stepped from them.

“Oh, there you are.”

He came closer. He was still dressed as he’d been at dinner, but his coat was missing. He looked rather dashing in his shirtsleeves and embroidered waistcoat. “Were you looking for me?”

As during dinner, his deep voice did funny things to her nerves. A ball of uncertainty settled in her stomach. She took a deep breath and took a pace toward him. “I was. I have another request to make of you.”

“Are you thinking of Farnsworth again?”

“No. I was thinking of you.”

“Me.” His fingers brushed the sleeve of her nightgown. “In what way?”

This was the moment. “I’d like you to kiss me again and not stop.”

He studied her for a long, uncomfortable moment, eyes skimming her body as if he were touching her. Warmth pooled between her thighs and she clutched her robe tightly to stop her hands from shaking. When he blinked, his expression grew shuttered. “This is an unexpected request.”

Arabella brushed her suddenly sweaty palms over her robe. There was only one thing left to do. She’d have to be honest and as bold as Cecily could be. “I wanted you to seduce me,” she blurted.

Rothwell drew back a pace as if she’d struck him. For the first time ever, he seemed at a loss for words. He shook his head. “I’m sorry. My mind wandered for a moment. Could you please repeat that?”

His words bolstered her courage considerably. The tables had turned. Now he was the one flustered.

Yet Arabella hesitated. She hadn’t actually thought she’d need to ask to be seduced. She’d assumed Lord Rothwell would understand what she wanted without being told and act accordingly. How else did one invite seduction if there were no right words to request it? “I want you.”

She stared at him, hoping a blunt invitation would be acceptable. Time slowed. The clock ticked loudly nearby and then Rothwell finally seemed to catch on. But still he did not sweep in to ravish her. Perhaps additional conversation was a requirement in a seduction. She smiled. “Are you not pleased?”

“Don’t mistake my silence as displeasure. I am honored.” He swallowed and dug a finger beneath his cravat to loosen it. “However, before I consider how to proceed I want to know why me and now.”

Because there was much about Rothwell to be impressed by—tall; dark haired; broad, muscled shoulders. He commanded attention wherever he went and to be alone with such a man in her own surroundings did terrible things to her senses. She might actually swoon.

That he was so out of countenance pleased her. From the moment he had kissed her, she had hesitated to name the force that plagued her. It might be described as lust, but she’d never experienced that. Yet the heat of his gaze now seared through her body and did terrible things to her composure. She wanted to twine her body around his and never let go.

Even now, with her interest in the open and the heat in Rothwell’s gaze evident, he still refused to act. Perhaps he looked at all women as potential candidates to grace his bed but he didn’t necessarily follow through in bedding every one.

The thought was disheartening. She liked him best of all the gentlemen she knew. Disappointed, she pulled her robe closer about her body. “Forgive me for taking up your valuable time. I’m sure you have other, more interesting activities planned for your evening.”

He caught her arm to prevent her flight. “Wait. Our discussion hasn’t ended.”

“But my courage has.” She turned for the door and an end to her embarrassment, slipping from his soft hold easily. “Good evening, my lord.”

He caught her before she made her door, his hands firm on her upper arms, his body behind her. “I’m willing. I’m just surprised. Why would you need courage for me? Has Farnsworth given you another fear to conquer? I promise you few men are cruel like that.”

She drew in a shaky breath. “I hope not.”

They were alone. His seduction could begin. He drew her against his body and when her spine landed against his chest, she shuddered. Warmth penetrated her robe where they touched and took her breath away. His hands slid up her arms firmly and she tried not to start from the unfamiliar sensations he stirred. Yet her whole body thrummed with anticipation at the sensation of his attention.

His soft sigh against her hair made her jump. Rothwell stilled, breath caught as he inhaled, and after a time, he released her. “Are you sure about this? I will not seek to detain you should you change your mind.” Rothwell’s voice was a soft murmur, full of patience and perhaps even a touch of understanding.

She faced him. “This is what I want.”

Rothwell twined his fingers through hers and tugged. “Then follow me.” He drew her back to his bedchamber and through the door, shutting it softly behind him.

Ahead lay his large, empty bed. She risked a peek at him. Although this moment marked a turning point for Arabella, Rothwell appeared calm, as if such an act was almost mundane. He didn’t immediately ravish her. He seemed completely at ease.

Could she really hope that London’s most debauched rogue would introduce her to carnal pleasures? It seemed she could.

The next moment, Rothwell stood before her, a devilish grin on his lips. He caught her fingers in his and squeezed, then dipped his head to brush his lips over her hot cheeks. “Lovely.”

Arabella shook her head, puzzled by his behavior. “Thank you.”

When he loosened the tie on her robe, his fingertips brushed her stomach and she sucked in a sharp breath. She swallowed past the lump forming in her throat. She could do this and not feel fear. Yet, as her robe slithered down her arms and Rothwell tossed it across the room to land on a chair, she feared her legs might give way.

His arms curled around her back and held her against him. “You can change your mind.”

She met his gaze quickly. “No, I couldn’t do that.”

He frowned. “Arabella, you are trembling.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just…” She swallowed quickly. “I’ve never been in this situation before. I find you quite overwhelming.”

“I don’t mean to be.” He grinned suddenly. “Shall we talk first?”

All they had done was talk. Arabella leaned forward to kiss him instead. Although taken by surprise, he quickly kissed her back. As before in the gardens, Rothwell’s kisses turned her legs to butter. She sagged against him for support even as he drew her closer against his chest. Through the thin nightgown, the cold metal buttons of his waistcoat dug into her body, reminding her how little she was dressed by comparison. Was there a polite way to ask a man to disrobe?

Rothwell eased back a touch even while he continued to kiss her. His fingers flew over his waistcoat and discarded the garment, ending the discomfort. He broke the kiss and stared at her. “I was leaving tomorrow.”

Arabella frowned. “You were.”

Rothwell leaned his head against hers and sighed. “I thought it best, but now I don’t know what to think.”

All the gossip she’d heard of his restless habits crowded her mind. He was hardly the type of man to consider a long-term relationship that gave him so little, and she could never forget he was on the hunt for a wife. She had only tonight left with him. “You always do the right thing, Rothwell.”

He met her gaze and then smiled, the same devilish smile that she had seen before but never received. “Flatterer.”

She laughed too. “The truth.”

Of course he couldn’t stay with her forever. Even tonight, she’d practically forced him to make love to her and whatever happened between them she wouldn’t regret it.

Rothwell circled behind her. His fingertips brushed her spine above her nightgown and she shivered again. “You are the most sensitive woman I have ever met.”

She glanced over her shoulder. “Is that good or ill?”

He reached around her body without touching her and caught the ties on her nightgown. “You are so aware of everything I do. Every touch. Every brush of my hands about your beautiful body. It’s as if you’ve never done this before, but that couldn’t be so.”

Her anxiety returned as he loosened the cord holding her nightgown in place. She should tell him. Confess her most embarrassing secret. She was eight and twenty years old and still a virgin. It was humiliating to need another man to fulfill her husband’s failing.

Her nightgown fell to her feet and she stared at it, her face heating. She was naked. After a few more moments, Rothwell’s fingers traced a short distance down her spine and then back up again. She dragged in a deep breath, expecting him to pounce, to touch flesh that craved attention.

When he walked away, she followed his progress. He picked up a banyan that had been draped across the end of his bed, the one she’d always worn at his London town house, and flicked the silken fabric around her. She stared at his face—his mouth was pursed as he tied the robe securely around her waist.

Why had he stopped? Had she done something wrong? Did he not like what he saw?

His hands rose to cup her skull. “May I take your hair down?”

In all she had heard about seductions, they were quick and required the minimum of undressing. Taking her hair down hadn’t come into her calculations.

When she nodded, Rothwell lowered his head and brushed his lips against hers. She sighed at the warmth of his kiss, and he took advantage and swept his tongue across her parted lips. She kissed him back, glorying in sensations as he drew her flush against him. Kissing Rothwell was something she would miss when he was gone.


CHAPTER NINETEEN

Damn it to hell. Arabella was an innocent. Merrick would stake his life on it. Since their kiss that afternoon, he had watched her closely for signs that she’d welcome intimacies between them. He’d been disappointed until she’d said she wanted him, but had then wondered why she was so nervous about being with him in his room.

He ruthlessly reined in his impatience. He had been attracted to the woman since the moment they met, but he’d never imagined her to have been untouched. It explained so much about his fascination with her. She might have been married for half a dozen years, but he’d bet her spouse had never laid a finger on her.

Which meant that Merrick couldn’t rush this. He had to prepare her properly. She was utterly terrified and yet utterly determined to be seduced. He couldn’t risk botching the job or he’d never get another chance to have her in his arms.

He smoothed his hands down her back, feeling her curves beckoning him to strip her naked again. Removing her outer garments had been his way to level the field and give her time to adjust to intimacy, but he’d gone too far too fast. He’d covered her in his robe as a means of reassurance. At least now she’d ceased trembling.

He broke the kiss and moved his lips to her neck, nibbling a path across her flawless skin. Such soft, delicate flesh deserved every consideration. He kissed just below her ear and then concentrated on removing the ribbons from her hair. Once freed the blonde tresses cascaded down to the middle of her back.

He combed his fingers through her hair, catching the odd snarl and then smoothing it. He wanted Arabella so much he ached. Still, one could not rush a virgin into bed. He wouldn’t want her to regret her faith in him. He could scarcely believe she had come to him in the first place, and he wasn’t so foolish as to send her away unsatisfied.

He smiled at her, saw the same dreamy expression she’d worn the first time they’d kissed, and brushed his lips over the tip of her nose. “Come sit with me.” He caught her fingers and drew her to the settee.

She settled primly beside him, appearing uncertain of herself again. Did she really expect him to have just thrown her over his bed and be done with her already? “What did you do after dinner?”

“Not very much at all.” She sighed when he leaned into her and nibbled her throat. “Was Holland’s news urgent?”

“Not really.” Holland had lectured him about Arabella again until Merrick had confessed to his change of mind about the urgency of marriage. He wanted to see what came of a longer friendship with Arabella before he hunted for a wife again. “I swear that man should have been a woman the way he fusses.”

“He is very fond of you.”

“And of course I am so very lovable.” He laughed as he removed his footwear and flexed his toes. He wanted Arabella comfortable with nudity, hers and his. He planned to explore every inch of her lush body, and it would certainly not be under the cover of a comforter. He would coax her lustful impulses and hope she enjoyed his.

She smoothed her hands over his banyan, straightening what didn’t need straightening. Merrick removed the pin from his cravat and tossed it carelessly behind him. Holland would find it in the morning. There would be little chance of hiding what he was about to do anyway. Merrick untied his cravat. “Have you written to Grayling and his wife yet?”

“Not yet. Grayling will be sorry to have missed you.”

He shrugged, finished removing his cravat, and dropped it to the floor. “I will catch Gray another time or he will catch me in London.”

When Arabella smiled, a little of her tension seemed to slip away. He moved closer and set his lips to her neck again. Her spine arched and a soft moan left her lips.

Merrick cupped the other side of her face. “Enough of tomorrow. What will come will come.”

He kissed her lips when she turned her face to his. He brushed his thumb over the smooth curve of her dewy, soft cheek as he deepened the kiss, using his tongue to induce further pleasure. Her response was to clutch at his shirt and pull him closer. Merrick quickly shifted her onto his lap and plundered her mouth, listening to the little whimpers she uttered. Pleasing Arabella was the one thing that mattered tonight. He would face the rest tomorrow.

He cupped her breast gently in the palm of his hand, noticing the way she stiffened against the intimate touch and treasuring her response all the more. Truly untouched. He thrilled to know he would be her first lover. He had never expected that.

Merrick slowly thumbed her nipple, brushing over the peak until it pebbled. When she pushed her chest into his hand, he squeezed and massaged her, all the while giving in to the impulse to indulge in never-ending kisses.

She had a mouth made to be kissed. Sweet, lush, and hungry like his. He slowly removed his hand from her breast and stroked down her body. She tensed again when he touched her hip and he lingered there a long while, allowing her to grow used to the pressure.

When her hands threaded through his hair, he progressed down her leg, caught the bottom of the banyan, and lifted it until he touched her bare knee. Arabella broke the kiss and squeezed her eyes shut, her breath a fast pant against his cheek.

He stroked up her calf. “You have lovely legs. It is a pity ladies’ fashions hide them from proper admiration.”

She drew back, stared at him, and then buried her face in his throat with a laugh. “My whole life I have wanted to be short.”

Merrick smiled at her mood. Playfulness in bed was preferable to terror. “You are the perfect height. Never doubt that.” He raised his hand higher, sliding it under the banyan she wore, letting her warmth brand his fingers. When he touched softer skin, he paused. Smooth, slim thighs greeted him. But they were firmly pressed together.

Determined to proceed, he sought her mouth and when she kissed him in return and relaxed again, he took the opportunity to part her thighs. She squeaked a protest, but he continued, sliding his hand up her inner thigh until he reached the apex. Damp curls brushed his fingertips and he lingered, knowing he was the first to touch her there.

The experience was heady and he drew back to look into her face, to memorize the moment. She looked so surprised that he kissed her cheek. “Sweetheart, I cannot wait to bring you pleasure.”

Her hand settled against his chest, her fingers playfully twisting into the light dusting of hair revealed by his parted shirt. “And how will you do that?”

“Wait and see.”

He nudged her thighs wider and then stroked between her legs. Arabella jerked away, but he soothed her with inarticulate words and brushed against her a little more firmly. She was wet, but she likely didn’t know why. Poor darling. He’d soon show her the pleasure he could give. He stroked his fingers along her sensitive skin, catching the twist of her hips when he neared her clitoris.

He focused there, softly at first but returning again and again with firmer pressure until she was sobbing, churning her sex against him. He paused to probe her entrance with the tip of his finger and then alternated the pressure so she’d grow accustomed to his invasion.

The tension in her thighs softened and allowed greater access. His fingers slipped through her moisture easily, and encouraged, he kissed her brow. “Ready for more?”

Arabella nodded quickly as he slowly pressed one finger inside her tight confines. She squirmed, clearly unnerved by his actions. As he teased her, repeating the movement, he brushed his thumb over her clitoris, bringing her deeper into her desires. Merrick increased his movements, listening to the rasp of her breathing, enjoying the scrape of her fingertips against his chest, and finally the sudden tension that clamped her body around his finger. Her breath hitched as she experience her first release of the night.

Merrick stilled the movements of his hand but laid it over her mound. “There now. Isn’t that better?”

She gulped air and when she finally looked up at him, she appeared dazed. Merrick kissed her lips, drew her tightly against his chest. There was so much more to give her. So much joy and tenderness that he couldn’t wait to bestow on her. He stood, taking her with him, nestled in his arms.

She clutched his shirt. “What are you doing? I’m too tall to be carried.”

“Not to me, and I’m taking you where you’ve always belonged. Into my bed.

~ * ~

Arabella stared at Rothwell as he placed her in the center of his large bed. She had never dreamed such pleasures could be found simply from a man’s hand. She’d be embarrassed or worse except her limbs were as heavy as lead and coherent thought was a struggle. No wonder the ladies sighed over him.

Rothwell stripped her of her remaining clothes and she allowed it without considering a word of protest. When he removed his own clothing and climbed in beside her, displaying his bare skin to her startled eyes, she glanced at the candles anxiously. “Shouldn’t you…”

Rothwell smiled widely and then kissed her cheek, his breath hot enough to make her sigh contentedly. “No. Seductions are much more decadent when you can see the effect you have on your lover. And Arabella, I want to see all of you. Every moment between us must be remembered.”

A little startled by his determination, she dropped her eyes to his bare chest, studying the unfamiliar sight that stirred her all over again. She peeked lower and couldn’t miss his arousal. So many unasked questions flooded her mind but she hid them, determined not to give herself away.

He eased onto his side and the heat in his gaze warmed her all over. “Have you grown shy of me again?”

Perhaps she had. There was quite a bit more to making love than she’d first expected. Rothwell’s intensity was overwhelming and would take some getting used to. “I’m sorry.”

His fingertips skimmed her hipbone and she jumped because it tickled. A soft chuckle left him and he laid his hand flat over the place. “Don’t be. There is nothing more appealing than seeing you in any state. Shy or bold, I do admire you.”

As Arabella met Rothwell’s gaze, she wondered how far his admiration went. His behavior was nothing like she’d expected, and she definitely liked getting to know his character better. His consideration of her nerves and his tenderness was rather sweet actually. The smile on his face showed he was not alarmed or even disappointed by her timidity. She’d made the right choice for her first lover.

Determined to press on, she set her hand to his bare chest and fluttered her fingers over his skin the way he had done to her. A low groan left his mouth as she touched him. He remained still and let her explore and learn the warmth and contours of his upper body. He was remarkably robust and appealing, and she circled his flat nipples, smiling to herself as he groaned. When she’d touched all she could reach, her face was hot with a fiery blush.

“Bella, my darling,” he whispered against her lips. “Dear God, I want you more than words can say.”

A burst of happiness caused her to smile and she stretched to press her lips to his. Rothwell dragged her flush against him and she didn’t resist or mind his sudden impatience. He draped her upper leg over his, aligning their hips quite scandalously. But he didn’t let her remember where she was for long. His kisses filled her awareness. The occasional rasp of new whiskers against her skin was pleasant, and the scent and warmth of him turned her mind in one direction only—experiencing more bliss at his command.

She curled her arms about his neck as he rolled to bring her beneath him. His strength and muscular thighs between her own caused her breath to catch. She clung to him as sensation upon sensation swamped her. His hard length brushed her leg, burning hot and foreign to her. She broke the kiss and met his gaze.

He swallowed. “You are everything I dreamed of and so much more.”

“You dreamed of me?”

He buried his face in the curve of her neck. “Every damn night.” His words were a coarse growl, swiftly followed by a change of position. He slid a hand beneath her hips as his hips jerked forward. A sudden sharp pain caused a yelp to leave her throat before she could prepare herself for the loss of her virginity.

Arabella waited for Rothwell to denounce her. To cry foul that she’d tricked him. However, he remained still within her, motionless above her, his rough pant against her throat a comforting presence. He groaned and eased back. “I’m sorry. It’ll pass soon,” he whispered.

After a few thrusts, the pain faded only to be replaced by urgency. She threaded her fingers through his hair and held on, certain that he would bring her to that perfect place of passion again. His movements grew wild as he urged her legs farther apart. She wrapped them about his hips when urged to do so and hung on as her body once more tensed and shuddered with the force of her desire.

Rothwell’s rumbling groan ended with his sudden stillness and then he jerked from her body, his shoulders shaking violently beneath her clutching hands. Warmth splattered across her thigh and she lifted her head to see. The next instant, he collapsed atop her, hot, slick with sweat, and more familiar and dear than Arabella dreamed anyone could ever be. He rested his weight on her briefly before rolling off again.

She was no longer a virgin, but was now Rothwell’s lover. The thought made her happy. Now she knew why other women smiled so smugly when they whispered about their gentlemen friends. Rothwell was so skilled that making love again, even with that necessary first burst of pain, was highly desirable.

Rothwell wriggled closer and when he offered a place in his arms, Arabella snuggled against his side and listened to the fast beat of his heart. He held her firmly against his chest, pressed a long kiss to her hair, and sighed deeply. He didn’t speak, and Arabella didn’t mind. His hands wandered restlessly over her skin, and she touched him in return. A candle spluttered and died, casting the chamber in deep shadow.

She held herself to Rothwell, unwilling for their time alone to be over. If she had but one night to spend with him, she would revel in every moment. “Thank you.”

His fingers fluttered over her lips to shush her.

When she lifted her chin, Rothwell kissed her lips softly and dragged her atop his body before sighing deeply. The unfamiliar position alarmed her momentarily until he drew her higher and brought one nipple into his mouth. He suckled on the peak and she squirmed.

Although it barely seemed possible, warmth pooled between her thighs again. Could all men illicit such desires, or was it simply Rothwell who sparked the flame? She met his gaze and her body shook until finally she grabbed his head and held him to her breast.

It seemed there was quite a bit more about pleasure that Rothwell could teach her. She’d be a fool let one last opportunity slip away so soon. She loosened her hold on him and ran her fingers through his wavy dark hair. The firm tug on her nipple made it hard to remain still. “That was perfect.”

Rothwell released her and feathered kisses all over her breast. “No, you are.”

He tumbled her over onto her back and held her down with the weight of his body, his teeth flashing white in the dim light as he grinned. “We’ve hours of night left to play and please each other.”

“Hours?”

“Certainly.” He lifted up and then rolled her onto her stomach. “Take your back for instance.” He shifted her hair aside and kissed the top of her spine. “A tall woman has much more skin—a man can devote hours to kissing.”

She squirmed as he proved his point, giggling from the certainty that he was teasing her and thoroughly enjoying doing so.

“Then there are her delightfully long legs. You have no idea how many hours of thought I’ve put into imagining them wrapped about my hips.” He kissed the back of her knee suddenly and she flipped over.

“Please be serious.”

He rose to his knees at the foot of the bed. “Arabella. Sex doesn’t have to be a serious matter. It can be a great deal of fun and delight for both of us. A man doesn’t have to be inside the woman for them both to find fulfillment.”

“Really?”

He caught her ankle and ran his hand up her leg, forcing her to part them involuntarily. He slid between them on his stomach and laid his head on her inner thigh. “Nothing would please me more than to prove it.”

And without another word, Rothwell showed her exactly what he liked best. Again and again through the long hours of the night.


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