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Authors: Cheryl Ann Smith

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #General

A Convenient Bride (10 page)

BOOK: A Convenient Bride
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The expanse was touched by the sun and marked by angles and planes of rippled muscles.

“Oh, my,” she said, before catching herself. He followed the path of her eyes down to where she stared at his flat stomach. Her cheeks burned.

“You blush like an innocent,” he said softly.

“I am an innocent,” she said, as the burn deepened. She knew her cheeks were bright red.

When he lifted his eyes, there was amusement there. “One would not know it from the way you asked me to compromise you, during our first meeting.”

Brenna grimaced. “I was desperate. Certainly, you will not hold that against me forever.”

Their eyes locked. Brenna’s heartbeat thudded in her ears. She was close enough to touch him, feel his warmth. After the attack and the long ride, the longing to slip into his arms and ask to be held was great. But she knew it was also exceedingly inappropriate.

So she turned her attention to his arm. The wound was red, as the bullet had scraped along the skin to take off a layer of flesh. Richard was correct. It wasn’t serious. The blood had caked in the shirt and stemmed its flow.

“Sadly, you’ll live,” she muttered, and took a piece of cloth to the basin to dampen it. When she returned, she washed the blood away and reached for the salve. He leaned to watch her work, and his breath caressed her face. His mouth was dangerously close—too close.

She silently scolded herself for the scandalous path of her thoughts. Her duty was to help him, not ogle his body and daydream of his kisses.

“Your concern is touching,” he said.

“I have to keep you alive for the wedding.” She handed him the tin to hold and stretched his arm out over her lap. His hand curled over her thigh. She almost leaped out of her skin with the intimate contact. Quickly, she used her good hand to spread the offensive goop on his arm. He didn’t twitch, though his hand tightened on her leg. Tingles spread out from her thigh.

He was dreadfully attractive. She’d have to be dead not to notice. Lud help her!

She bit her lip to hold her concentration and to fight a sigh. He was too close and too deliciously warm. Her eyes lifted, saw his intense gaze on her face, and darted back to his wound. The weight of his stare, beneath a tangle of tousled hair, made her body flush.

“Hand me a cloth strip.” Her voice wavered. She knew if she did not get the wound wrapped quickly and remove his arm from her leg, she’d melt all over him like warm honey. “And another.” Working efficiently, the wound was soon covered.

“Perfect.” She tucked the last end of the cloth under and nodded. “You were an excellent patient.”

He thwarted her attempt to move away by linking her hand with his.

She froze, not knowing his intentions. She stared at his hard mouth. Would he kiss her? She desperately wanted another kiss!

Instead, he took her injured hand and turned it upright. She’d nearly forgotten about her wrist. She felt foolish for thinking he’d steal a kiss.

“It doesn’t hurt.” She tried to flex it and whimpered. “Perhaps it hurts a little bit.”

She peered around his shoulder as he examined the wrist. It was swollen and a funny blue and purple color.

“We’ll wrap it so that it will not bend, and hopefully in a few days, it will recover,” Richard said. He reached for the remaining cloth strips. He laid her hand on his knee and gingerly wrapped the wrist. “Too tight?” he asked.

“Not too,” she replied. The gentleness of his calloused
hands surprised her. For a bold man, his touch was feather light.

Taking the moment to examine him up close, she noticed small crinkles around his eyes, probably more from squinting in the sun than laughter. He was the sort who would find society frivolous and the usual amusements tiresome.

His hair looked impossibly soft and fell in disarray over his forehead. His nose was slightly crooked at the base, likely from an old break, and the small scar under his eye added to his rakish appeal. But it was his bright blue, expressive eyes that held her attention and tugged at her heart.

She wanted to kiss him so desperately. She wanted his perfect mouth on hers, his arms tightly around her, the breathless feeling that came from his touch.

“Finished,” he said, low and deep. He rubbed the bandage with his thumb. He held her hand for a moment more before lifting his eyes. Her breath wavered, and her lips parted.

Whether it was the longing in her eyes he saw, or his own need, he drew her closer by her hand until they were almost nose to nose. He hesitated and looked into her eyes. With a groan of surrender, he captured her mouth in a searing kiss.

Chapter Eight

B
renna clasped the smooth skin of his shoulder with her uninjured hand lest he recover his senses and break the kiss. She’d intended to make the most of the moment before guilt resurfaced. She was terribly tired of that unwelcome emotion ruining her kisses.

She moaned low in her throat. The sound came out closer to a purr. She slid against him, an awkward angle, surely, as they were seated side by side. Still, his arm was between her breasts, and his hand had reclaimed her thigh, inches away from her feminine core. It pulsed as if anticipating something Brenna, in her innocence, could not name.

Richard reached up to slide his hand along the side of her face, cupping her cheek as he teased her tongue with his.

Her senses frolicked over the scent of soap from last evening’s bath and a hint of leather and horse. His muscled body arched forward, pushing her back onto the bed. She wasn’t certain exactly how she ended up in the center, only that Richard was kissing her breathless and did not seem eager to end the kiss.

Aroused, he brushed against her with his hard body, and she responded in kind by arching upward, her covered breasts flattening against his bare chest.

Brenna smiled against his mouth. She kissed him with all
the need inside her, her body melding with his, her passion released. The kiss went on, his mouth tormenting her, teasing, tasting.

When he tore free, his eyes were troubled. “I cannot.”

Frustrated, she pushed him off her and scrambled from the bed. “I’m taking my own room.” She stomped to the door and reached for the chair. Richard caught her before she could jerk it free of the door handle.

“I cannot let you leave. It’s too dangerous.” He spun her around and pushed her against the wall. She felt the brush of his erection on her thigh. Her hand closed into a fist. Let him suffer from his unsatisfied passion. She was done with him.

“I am tired of guilt and games,” she said, struggling for freedom. She hit him in the shoulder and twisted her body. He tightened his grip. “Unhand me.”

He grabbed for her hand and clasped it tight to keep her from hitting him again. Brenna snarled and locked onto his eyes.

“I should never have come after you.”

“It is too late for regrets,” he countered, and leaned in until their breaths became one.

“I despise you,” Brenna said, through gritted teeth.

His mouth softened into a wry smile. “Lud, you are a troublesome minx.” His eyes drifted down to her lips, and he added roughly, “I am about to lead you to ruin.”

Brenna, with a bold sensuality she did not know she possessed, pressed her breasts to his chest and pushed up to her toes to nip him on his neck. “Ruin me, Richard.”

Richard let loose a curse and slammed his mouth over hers. He grasped her buttocks, jerked her hips forward, and ground his cock against her. “Is this what you want, Milady?”

“Yes,” she breathed, against his mouth.

Bending, he swung her up into his arms and strode purposefully to the bed. He set her on her feet, unlaced her bodice, and jerked the dress down from neck to feet. The layers of undergarments followed, until she was bare to his view.

There would be no words of love, Brenna knew, no promises. But her skin was on fire. She knew somehow this night would be magical. A man who kissed as he did had the experience to extinguish the raw need inside her.

His hands caressed her, marking her, kneading her pliant skin. She felt him reach for his waistband, and he somehow removed his breeches without breaking the kiss. She knew that the moment he lost focus on her, the seduction would be over.

Though a war clearly raged inside him, she’d gotten her kiss, and his surrender.

Free of his clothing, he pressed her back on the bed. Brenna arched up, her modest yet perfect breasts drawing his attention. His mouth closed over one nipple, and she gasped. He teased the peak before moving to the other.

Seeking intimate knowledge of every part of him, she touched him all over, tempting him with her fingertips. He groaned as she ran her hand down his chest to the curls below his navel. She silently thanked the courtesans and their inappropriate conversations.

“Do not stop,” he urged.

As commanded, Brenna began a slow exploration down his body. He reclaimed her mouth. Every part of her wanted his attention, every inch of her aching for this man.

Brenna kneaded his sculpted buttocks, the firm flesh smooth beneath her fingertips.

She had never touched bare male buttocks before and suspected his were perfect. However, it was the hard erection between them that drew her attention. She knew from the experienced courtesans that men enjoyed being touched down there.

Tentatively, she slid one hand around him to caress along the hard length. Richard groaned again, not from pain but pleasure. He allowed her touch for a moment. Then he eased back, out of reach, and began an exploration of her body. He trailed kisses and caresses over her, tasting her skin as if he were a man starved. Brenna’s moans encouraged each new kiss, each touch.

When she was fully aroused, he poised between her legs and pressed his erection to her core.

Brenna sensed hesitation. “Please. I need—” The sentiment was left unfinished as he gently pressed inside her.

A brief moment of discomfort followed as her body adjusted to his presence. He pushed deep, and she whimpered
softly. He trailed kisses up her neck, nipped her ear, and licked a nipple.

Slowly, he moved within her while teasing her with his mouth. Soon she forgot the initial discomfort as her body responded to his play. “Mmmmm,” she said, “yes.” She wasn’t certain what she was searching for, but he knew. He slipped a hand between them and gently rubbed her core.

Brenna gasped and pressed against his hand. Richard teased her until she felt weightless, breathless. Crying out, she arched back on the bed as her body found her release.

His movements quickened. She returned her hands to his buttocks, encouraging his own release. Within moments, he let out a hoarse sound and shuddered, pumping twice more inside her.

The harsh sigh that followed, as he dropped onto the bed beside her, did not bode well for her. Brenna felt his emotions withdraw even before he’d moved from her body.

“Have we returned to guilt again, Milord?” she asked, staring up at the cracked ceiling. She’d just lost her innocence. She wanted to be held in his strong arms, have him whisper sweet sentiments in her ear. Instead, she said, “No one will know of this, save us.”

He said nothing. Brenna sighed and pulled the worn sheet over her nakedness. She was too pleased with him to bicker. If he wanted to spend their time here thinking about her father, it was his issue. She rolled over and promptly fell asleep.

R
ichard listened to Brenna’s breath even out and quietly called himself all sorts of names he’d not used since his days as a rebel at Cambridge. The shame of having taken her, the guilt over betraying her father, and his own lack of control left him angry and frustrated.

All his plans to never marry again were thwarted by one moment of bad judgment. In spite of Brenna’s plan to help him find Anne and then marry him, he had no real intention of doing so. He’d let her think that in order to keep her from pressing the issue.

Now he had to marry her. There was no choice. He could not send her back to her father ruined.

His friend would be outraged. The moment Brenna had found him on that first day, he should have returned her to London on the morning coach and not looked back. He never should have allowed her to accompany him on this futile chase.

It had been the sweet scent of her skin and those damnable green eyes that made him lose all sense. One look into them and he’d agreed to throw himself blindly off a cliff.

Hell, her hands on him as she tended his wound, and the feel of his arm on her thigh, had almost caused him to spill himself in his breeches. His body had taken control, and his mind shut down. Her taste had driven him mad.

Lud. What had he done?

No excuse would satisfy Walter. Perhaps a wedding would save him from being murdered. Something he richly deserved.

He ran all sorts of excuses through his head, words needed to satisfy an outraged father. Nothing eased his conscience.

It was exhaustion that finally let him sleep.

Richard startled awake sometime later with a hand circling his erection. Befuddled, he sat upright to see Brenna, framed by the last threads of sunset trailing into the cracked window, smiling at him through a seductive mass of tangled hair.

BOOK: A Convenient Bride
6.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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