A Lady by Midnight / Page 37

Page 37


He stared up at her, fingers woven behind his head. He’d never considered the matter that way.

If she was truly that determined to learn something of his darkest desires . . . he supposed he could oblige her. But he would keep to the fantasies that didn’t put her in any sort of risk.

Ones that placed her in control.

He unhooked his hands from behind his head. Beginning at her shoulders, he skimmed a touch down her arms until he clasped her hands in his. He took and lifted them to the level of her torso, then fitted her palms over her own pale, smooth breasts.

“Hold these for me,” he said.

Then he reclined to the pillow, once again lacing his hands beneath his head.

She gave him a quizzical look. Then she turned that quizzical expression on her own breasts, plumping them lightly in her hands. “What am I to do with them?”

“Whatever feels good.”

“And you’re just going to lie there and watch?”

He nodded.

Her brow wrinkled. “Truly. This is something men fantasize about?”

“With regularity.”

She laughed and blushed a little, as women did when they were embarrassed. He simply lay there, waiting, and offered no excuse.

Eventually, she shrugged. “As you wish, then.”

With her palms, she gently lifted and shaped the modest swells of creamy flesh. She ran her fingertips around the circumference of each breast. And then she balanced them carefully, like two weights on either side of a scale, and pressed her thumbs to her hardened nipples.

“Like this?” she asked. “Am I doing it right?”

He nodded, unable to answer aloud. His tongue had plastered itself to the roof of his mouth.

As she rolled her own nipples beneath her thumbs, a wash of pink spread across her chest and worked its way up her throat. Her lips fell apart, swollen and red, and she moistened them with her tongue.

“Pinch them,” he scraped out.

She gasped faintly as she obeyed, catching the puckered, berry-red nubs between her thumbs and forefingers. As she pinched and plucked, she closed her eyes and arched her back, thrusting those luscious breasts forward for his view. Her pelvis rocked against his tensed abdomen.

She was already so wet. He was painfully hard.

“I did this once,” she whispered, opening her eyes. Her gaze was dark and glittering, and a shy smile played about her lips. “That night after the outing to Wilmington. I touched myself just like this and tried to imagine your mouth on me.”

Holy God. He’d never heard anything so arousing in his life. His fingers curled like talons, biting into his scalp, but he didn’t move. He didn’t dare reach for her—or before she could whisper a word of caution, he’d be ballocks-deep in her tender flesh, rutting like a beast.

Still, he couldn’t resist wanting more.

“Bring them here,” he said. “Bring them to me. Let me taste.”

She smiled. “Yes, Corporal.”

Her pert response made him wild. Normally, Thorne didn’t care for those power games in the bedchamber. He hated any implication that he would trade on his rank for pleasure.

But she wasn’t ceding to his will. She was poking fun at him for resorting to a stern, military tone. She knew he was desperate. She knew she’d made him that way, and she was already learning to relish her sensual power.

Damn, but she was a quick study. A clever, clever girl.

And he was a lucky, lucky man.

With one hand, she gripped the headboard for balance and support. She cupped her breast with the other, leaning forward until her taut nipple hovered an inch above his lips. The scent and warmth of her skin were palpable, intoxicating. She was teasing again, waiting for him to stretch and bridge that last distance.

Minx. He could tease, as well.

He pursed his lips and blew, sending a current of air rushing over her nipple. Her skin erupted in gooseflesh, and a delicious shudder traveled through her body and straight into his.

He stretched his tongue—just the very tip of his tongue—and flicked over just the very tip of her nipple.

Then he pursed his lips and blew again.


He ached for contact and physical release, but the needy edge in her voice was satisfying in a different way. A deeper way.

She lowered her breast, rubbing its silky weight against his unshaven cheek. He closed his eyes as the sweet, tender berry of her nipple traced his bottom lip. He smiled—a rarity for him—just to stretch his lips and give her more distance to cover.

They spent several minutes like this—teasing, lightly tasting. Each baiting the other in turn. As if acknowledging they had a lifetime to enjoy this, so there was no reason to rush just now.

He lazily mouthed her breasts—first one, then the other. She braced both hands on the headboard and leaned close, so he might alternate at will. Her breathing went ragged and a heady musk filled the air. As he licked at her nipples, she began to rock in a slow, steady rhythm, grinding against his belly. He drew one peak into his mouth and suckled hard, until she gave a low moan.

She responded to him so naturally. He might have been able to make her come this way. But that couldn’t be enough for him now. That moan pushed him past some breaking point, and he craved more.

He let his head fall back against the pillow, releasing her glistening breast to the dark, cool air. He unlaced his hands from beneath his head and grasped her by the waist.

And then he pulled forward, drawing her toward his mouth.

She tensed. “Samuel.”

“You claimed to know there are other ways.”

“Yes, but—”

“You wanted to know my every dark, depraved fantasy.”

She sighed. “I know. It’s just—”

Her words broke off as he lifted her by the waist, resettling her so her knees rested on either side of his broad shoulders. The pose spread her wide. She was pink and dewy and beautiful. Perhaps he shouldn’t push her this far, this soon. But he was out of his mind with lust, couldn’t rest now until he tasted her. All of her.

“Hold the headboard,” he commanded.

“Are you certain this is right?”

“It’s perfect.” Then, more hoarsely, “You’re perfect.”

He parted her with his thumbs, opening her to his kiss. He needed to get his mouth on her, and then she’d warm to the idea.

He began slowly, just as he had with her breasts. First teasing her with his breath, then sweeping light, flickering passes of his tongue all along her crease. He explored her every ridge and fold. When he focused his attentions on the swollen pearl at the crest, he heard a little sob of pleasure catch in her throat.


Triumph pulsed through his veins. He gripped her hip, holding her still and close for his attentions. With his other hand, he reached for his own throbbing staff.

Easier this way, he thought. If he tended to matters himself, he wouldn’t be tempted to paw at her afterward. By taking himself in hand, he’d keep his baser needs under control.

It wouldn’t take long, for either of them. As he stroked his eager cock, he kept up a brisk, relentless rhythm with his tongue. With a bit of trial, he found the angle and rhythm that pleased her—one that had her gasping and arching against his open-mouthed kiss.

Yes. Move with me. Come for me.

Her mewling sighs of pleasure drove his own excitement to a dizzying peak. He’d never known anything so arousing in his life. She was so trusting, so completely spread open and vulnerable. So damned delicious against his tongue, positively molten with desire for him. For him. Perhaps he would never make her light up from within, but he could make her burn.

He could make her pant. And sigh. And moan.

This was a fantasy indeed. Lifting his eyes, he could watch her breasts sway and bounce. Her thigh muscle gave a sweet quiver against his jaw, and he knew whatever thin cord of restraint was left to him would surely snap. Soon. Raw, animal need chased beneath the surface of his skin, seeking release.

He gripped his cock tighter, pumped faster. So close.

“Samuel,” she gasped. “Samuel, I can’t—”

She cried out and bucked against his mouth, shaking the headboard with the force of her crisis.

Hearing his name on her lips, in that lusty voice . . . it sent him over the edge. His own climax erupted, wrenching his hips off the mattress. He came growling and shuddering, spilling his seed in forceful jets.

In the aftermath, the only sounds were the crackle of the fire, the muted patter of rain, and the hoarse, open-mouthed rasps of their breathing.

Well. She’d wanted carnality.

As soon as he could regain some strength in his limbs, he guided her aside and helped her settle onto the mattress. She curled next to him with her eyes closed, still working for breath.

She was so quiet for so long, he began to worry. Damn it. He must have shocked her too greatly. She was having regrets, wondering just what sort of beast she’d tethered herself to.

He stroked her hair, teasing out the rain-induced tangles with his fingers. “Are you well?”

“Yes,” she replied. “I’m well indeed. I’m just not sure how to look at you after that.”

After a moment’s thought, he suggested, “With pride?”

She laughed into her pillow.

“I’m serious. You were perfect.”

“You have such a wicked sense of humor. You always make me laugh at the most unlikely moments.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“It’s a wonderful thing.” She propped her chin on his chest. “It’s one of the things I love most about you. And it’s what assures me we’ll be happy together. We’re neither of us perfect people, but we can laugh together and admit our mistakes. And there’s this.” She eyed the mussed bed linens, blushing.

There was “this” indeed.

“After what we just did,” she said, “I don’t suppose I could have a single secret from you.”

“I pressed you too far just now. It’s your first time. I should have been more tender, more—”

“Please. Don’t apologize for giving me unfathomable pleasure. It’s just . . . for a fantasy girl, I didn’t even do much of anything.” Smiling, she touched his flagging erection. “I’d like to help with this part next time.”

A hoarse chuckle lifted his chest. “That can be arranged. Shortly.”

“Do we have a little time to talk first?”

He sat up in bed, pushing a hand through his hair before reaching for his flask. “A few minutes, at least. I’m not a youth anymore.”

At her chirping call, Badger abandoned his quilt and leaped onto the bed. The pup circled a good five times before finally wedging into a space between them. His tail whipped furiously.

“There we are,” she said. “Just like a little family. We’ll be very cozy in America.”

Thorne took a casual draught off his flask. Best not tell her that with those simple words she’d gone and made his wildest, most depraved and outrageous fantasy come true. He’d keep that information to himself. Until after a few more rounds of pleasure, at least.

She dropped her gaze and picked at an edge of the bedsheet. “I’m legitimate.”

He choked on his mouthful of whiskey. “What?”

“Evan and the solicitors found a marriage record. It seems Simon and Elinor—my parents—were married in secret. And the housekeeper from Ambervale identified me by my birthmark. So it seems I’m not just a Gramercy, I’m . . .”

Oh, Jesus. Don’t say it.

She lifted her head and looked at him. “I’m a lady.”

The room tilted. Then the walls began to spin around him.

A lady.

“Please don’t look so overset,” she begged. “It won’t change a thing between us.”

A cloud of frustration blurred his vision. She was the legitimate daughter of a marquess. A lady. How could that not change everything?

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