Surrender / Page 3

Page 3


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“Yes.” She took a deep breath. “My luggage is outside. Is my room still available?”


There was an edge of pain as she asked the question. She had learned that Missy had opened her room for guests, rather than keeping it up for Tess’s infrequent returns.


“I’m sorry, Miss Tess,” Thomas said softly. “The room is being redecorated. But the turret room is available. I prepared it myself this morning.”


The turret room was the furthest away from the guest or family bedrooms. At the back of the house, on the third floor. The turret had been added decades ago by her grandfather and she had loved it as a child. Now she resented the fact that it was not a family room, but the one she knew Missy used for those visitors she could barely tolerate. Evidently, Tess thought, she had slipped a few notches in her stepmother’s graces.


Tess breathed in deeply. Those weren’t tears clogging her throat, she assured herself. Her chest was tight from exhaustion, not pain.


“Fine.” She swallowed tightly. “Could you have my luggage brought up? I need a shower and some sleep. I’ll see Father in the morning.”


“Of course, Miss Tess.” Thomas’ voice was gentle. He had been with the family for as long as she could remember and she knew she wasn’t hiding her pain from him.


“Is Father happy, Thomas?” she asked him as she paused before going down the hall to the hidden staircase that led to the turret room. “Does Missy take care of him?”


“Your father seems very happy to me, Miss Tess,” Thomas assured her. “Happier than I’ve seen since Mrs. Ella left.”


Tess nodded abruptly. That was all that mattered. She moved quickly down the hall, turning toward the kitchen then entering the staircase to the right. The staircase led to one place. The turret room.


It was a beautiful room. Rounded and spacious, the furniture had been made to fit the room exactly. The bed was large with a heavy, rounded walnut headboard that sat perfectly against the wall. Heavy matching drawers slid into the stone wall for a dresser, with a mantle above it to the side of the bed. Across the room was a small fireplace, the wood was gas logs, but it was pretty enough.


She felt like Cinderella before the Prince rescued her. Tess sat down heavily on the quilt that covered the bed. This sucked. She should get back in her car and head straight back home where she belonged. She didn’t belong here anymore, and she was beginning to wonder if she ever had.


Taking a deep breath, she ran her hands through her hair and listened to Thomas coming up the stairs. He stepped into the room with a friendly smile, but his brown eyes were somber as they met hers.


“Will you be okay here, Miss Tess?” he asked her as he set the large suitcase and matching overnight bag on the luggage rack beside the door. “I could quickly freshen another room.”


“No. I’m fine, Thomas.” She shook her head. What was the point? She had come back, mainly to find something that didn’t exist. It was best she learn that now, before it went any further.


Thomas nodded before going to the fireplace. With practiced moves he lit the gas fire, then pulled back and nodded in satisfaction at the even heat coming off the ceramic logs.


“Would you like me to announce dinner for you, Miss Tess?” he asked.


Her father and stepmother were away. Tess knew the servants would only be preparing their own food. She shook her head. They were all most likely anticipating a night to relax, she wouldn’t deprive them of that. What hurt the most was her father’s absence. He had known she was coming, and he wasn’t here. It was the first time he had ever left, knowing she was coming home. The first time Tess had ever felt as though she were a stranger in her own home.


* * * * *


One thing Tess really liked about the turret room was the bathroom. The huge room was situated to the right of the bed, and held a large sunken tub big enough for three and a fully mirrored wall. Thomas had stocked the small refrigerator unit against her objections. One of his little surprises was a bottle of her favorite white wine. Tess opened it, poured a full glass and sipped at it as the water ran into the large ceramic tub. Steam rose around the room, creating an ethereal effect with the glow of the candles she had lit.


She stripped out of her jeans and T-shirt and setting the wineglass and bottle on a small shelf, sank into the bubbled liquid. Exquisite. She leaned back against the hand fashioned back of the tub and rested her head on the pillowed headrest. It was hedonistic. A wicked, sinful extravagance, as her mother would have said.


She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She had expected her father to be home, had expected some sort of greeting. She didn’t expect to be left on her own. But the sinful richness of the bathtub eased a bit of the hurt. She could enjoy this. This one last time.


She hadn’t come home without ulterior motives, she knew. Perhaps this was her payment for it. It wasn’t her father that had drawn her so much as the man that she knew would arrive sooner or later.


Cole. She took a deep breath, flushing once again at the memory of the phone conversation. She could handle a little sex with him. It wasn’t like she was a virgin. It was the rest of it. Cole didn’t go for just sex. Cole was wild and kinky and liked to spice things up, she had heard. Heard. She whimpered, remembering his promise to tie her to his bed and what he would do there.


She had never had rough sex, though she admitted, she had never had satisfying sex either. It had never been intense enough, strong enough. The hardest climax of her life had been in that damned hallway, with Cole’s fingers thrusting inside her cunt. She had been so slick, so wet, that even her thighs had been coated with it.


Lifting the wineglass from the shelf, Tess sipped at it a bit greedily. Her skin was sensitive, her breasts swollen with arousal, her cunt clenching in need. Dammit, she should have found a nice, tame principal or teacher to satisfy her lusts with. Cole was bad news. She knew he was bad news. Had always known it.


She had known Cole before her father had married his sister. She had heard about his sexual practices, his pleasures. He was hedonistic, wicked. And sometimes, he liked to dominate. He wasn’t a bully outside the bedroom. Confident, superior, but not a bully. But she had heard rumors. Tales of Cole’s preferences, his insistence on submission from his women. The comments he had made to her over the years only backed up the rumors she had heard.


Tess trembled at the thought of being dominated by Cole. Equal parts fear and excitement thrummed through her veins, her cunt, swelling her breasts, making her nipples hard. She didn’t need this. Didn’t need the desire for him that she was feeling. Didn’t need the broken heart she knew he could deal her. She drained the wine from her glass then poured another, realizing the effects of the drink were already beginning to travel through her system. She felt more relaxed, finally. She hadn’t been this relaxed in months. Enjoying the sensations, she poured another, hoping she would at least manage a few hours of sleep tonight without dreaming of Cole.


CHAPTER FOUR


Tess came downstairs the next morning expecting to be greeted by her father. She had dressed in the dove gray sweater dress he had sent her the month before. Tiny pearl buttons closed it from the hem to just above her breasts. On her feet she wore matching pumps and pearls at her neck. Confident and sure of herself, Tess felt able to field her father’s questions, his urgings that she move back home for a while. When she walked into the dimly lit family room, it was Cole she found instead.


She stood still, silent as she faced him across the room. His eyes, a brilliant blue and filled with wicked secrets, watched her narrowly. Thick, black lashes framed the brilliant orbs, just as his thick, black hair framed the savage features of his face. His cheekbones were high, sharp, his nose an arrogant slash down his face. His lips were wide, and could be full and sensual or thin with anger. Now, he seemed merely curious.


His arms were crossed over his wide, muscular chest, his ankles crossed as he stood propped against the back of a sectional couch that faced away from her.


“Where’s Father?” Tess asked him, fighting her excitement, her own unruly desires.


“He was held up. He expects, perhaps, to be home tomorrow,” he told her quietly.


“Perhaps?” She barely stilled the tremble in her voice.


“Perhaps.” He straightened from his lazy stance, watching her with a narrow-eyed intensity that had her breasts and her cunt throbbing. Damn him for the effect he had on her.


“So he couldn’t tell me himself?” she questioned him nervously, watching him advance on her, determined to stand her ground.


“I’m sure he’ll call, eventually.” His voice was a slow, lazy drawl, thick with tension and arousal. It was all she could do to keep her eyes on his face, rather than allowing them to lower to see how thick the bulge in his pants had grown. She knew for certain the throb in her vagina had intensified.


“So you volunteered as the welcome wagon?” She was breathless, and knew he could hear it in her voice. His eyes darkened with the knowledge, causing her heartbeat to intensify.


He moved steadily nearer, until he was only inches from her. She could feel the warmth of his body, and it tingled over her nerve endings. He was tall, so much broader than she. She felt at once threatened and secure. The alternating emotions had her caught, unable to move, unwilling to run.


The blood raced through her veins as she attempted to make sense of the powerful feelings racing through her body and her mind. Two years she had thought about him, fought the temptation he represented and the heat he inspired.


“I’m always here to welcome you, Tess.” He smiled, that slow quirk of his lips that made the muscles in her stomach tighten. “But I have to admit, I was more than eager after talking to you yesterday.”


Her face flamed. Echoes of her whimpers, her fight to breathe through her climax whispered through her mind. Cole’s voice, husky and deep, urging her on, rough from his own arousal, then his own climax.


Tess swallowed hard as she caught her lip between her teeth in nervous indecision. Did she reach out for him? Should she run from him?


“Hound dog,” she muttered, more angry at herself than she was at him.


He chuckled, his hand reaching out to touch the bare flesh at her neck.


“Prickly as ever I see,” he said with a vein of amusement as his eyes darkened. “Would you be as hot in bed, Tess?”


“Like I would tell you!” she bit out.


She fought the instinct to lean closer to him, to inhale the spicy scent of aroused, determined male.


“Hmm, maybe you would show me,” he suggested, his voice silky smooth, heated.


Tess trembled at the low, seductive quality of his voice. It traveled through her body, tightening her cunt, making her breasts swell, the nipples bead in anticipation. Her entire body felt flushed, hot. Then the breath became trapped in her throat. His hand moved, the backs of his fingers caressing a trail of fire to the upper mounds of her heaving breasts.


He looked into her eyes, his own slumberous now, heavy lidded.


“Mine,” he whispered.


Her eyes widened at the possessive note in his voice.


“I don’t think so.” She wanted to wince at the raspy, rough quality of her voice. “I belong to no man, Cole. Least of all you.”


So why was her body screaming out in denial? She could feel the bare lips of her cunt moistening as her body prepared itself for his possession. Her skin tingled, her mouth watered at the thought of his kiss.


“All mine,” he growled as a single button slid free of its fragile mooring over her heaving breasts. “You knew there was no way I would stay away after hearing you climax to the sound of my voice, Tess. You knew I wouldn’t let you go.”


She shrugged, fighting for her composure, an independence that seemed more ingrained than needed at the moment.


“You don’t have a choice but to let me go,” she informed him, feeling trepidation dart through her at the sudden intensity in his eyes.


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