Lady Leticia Blake has wealth, beauty and, most important of all, numerous marriage proposals. Tish knows precisely what she wants in a husband: a man who can fulfill her deepest, darkest and most unladylike fantasies. But as a respectable debutante, she has no means to test her admirers’ arts in the bedchamber. Not unless she turns the tables and takes liberties with them—starting with tempting Viscount Nash Langston….
Under any other circumstances, Nash would have suspected he was being maneuvered into a compromise. But since he had arrived unannounced and of his own volition—and since he hardly required the inducement of a compromise to offer marriage in the first place—he didn’t know quite what to make of Lady Albemarle’s abrupt departure. More pressing than that, however, was the matter of exactly what game Tish was playing with him and his two unsuspecting rivals.
He took two steps closer to her, and before she could realize what he was about, reached into her pocket and retrieved the two notes she had taken from the footman.
“What are you—?“ she began when his hand entered her pocket, then, “I say, give those back. They are private, and you’ve no right to read them.”
Shaking his head, he held the scraps of parchment just out of her reach. She stomped her foot, her blue eyes burning with righteous indignation. Fascinating how eyes the color of a cool crystal lake could appear as hot as a bonfire on Guy Fawkes’ Day, although he was rather more interested in the way her bodice gaped away from generous bosom as she stretched her arm upward.
He resisted the temptation to slip his free hand inside her dress to test his theory that her breast would be just slightly too large for his palm to encompass, and said, “I never enter a game without knowing the rules and all the players. If you want me to play, you’ll have to tell me precisely what I’m playing for…and with whom.”
A wide-eyed look of alarm skittered across her face before she mastered it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she bluffed.
“You know precisely what I’m talking about.” He lowered his arm and opened the first of the two notes, which he proceeded to read aloud. “Lady Leticia Blake cordially invites the Earl of Randley to a private picnic luncheon at Albemarle House in Ealing this coming Tuesday afternoon at two o’clock.”
Her expression darkened perceptibly.
“And look,” he continued, opening the second one, “here’s another just like it, addressed to the Duke of Hapsborough for Monday. And fascinatingly enough, I have one in my breast pocket addressed to me, only I am to be feted on Wednesday afternoon. What am I to make of this, my lady?”
“You can make of it whatever you like. I am under no obligation to explain my social engagements to you. You are not my father.”
That drew a pained laugh from him. “God, no.”
She frowned. “Or my husband, either.”
“You won’t ever be if this is any indication of how you’ll behave when we are married. High-handed, arrogant, self-righteous, insuffera—“
Nash did the only thing a rational, right-thinking man could when confronted with a barrage of unfair, inaccurate, multisyllabic accusations coming from the mouth of a pretty woman. He kissed her.
His intent was merely to interrupt her tirade and regain some control over the situation. In the first instance, the tactic was wholly effective. She didn’t utter another word. In the second, however, it was a complete failure, because it was immediately apparent that maintaining control and kissing her were mutually exclusive enterprises.
The trouble was not that her mouth tasted warm and sweet as buttered toffee nor that her lips were pliant and velvety as rose petals nor even that, after a brief, outraged attempt to push him away, her hands clutched at the lapels of his coat as if to prevent herself from puddling at his feet. Those were all things he’d been imagining with great specificity for some time now, and as such, he was prepared for their effect on his libido. He had known his heart would race, his head would swim, and his cock would go straight to attention.
No, what threatened to unman him was her response. Her attempts to return his kiss were eager and enthusiastic, to be sure, but also artless, bordering on awkward. Her lips were in one moment too spongy and in the next too stiff. She seemed not to know what to do with her nose, twisting her head this way and that in a graceless attempt to keep it out of the way. And when he coaxed her to open her mouth to admit his tongue, her teeth inadvertently collided with his.
In short, Tish Blake hadn’t the first idea how to kiss. Had likely never been kissed. The insight positively inflamed him.
How had Leticia Blake, by every account the recipient of no less than twenty proposals of marriage, managed to reach twenty-two years of age without one decent, thorough kiss? It was almost inconceivable, and yet the truth was a plain as the nose she could not keep from bumping against his face.
Though, he had to give her credit, she was a damnably quick study. Already, she’d figured out how to achieve that subtle balance between soft and firm lips and how to match the sweep of his tongue with shy, tentative licks of her own. With each thrust of her tongue, each parry of her mouth, arousal roared hotter in his veins and pounded more fiercely in his loins. There was nothing romantic or tender about his desire. It was nothing but pure, raw lust. The coarse, primal need to fuck. To plunder and invade and possess. The portion of his brain that was still functional busied itself conjuring images of throwing her to the floor, pushing her skirts up to her waist, and plunging his cock inside her snug, virginal walls until he exorcised the demon riding him.
What stopped him was not a sudden attack of either romantic feeling or conscience, but the dawning comprehension that she was no longer participating in the kiss, but struggling against him. It was then that he realized he had pinned her up against the door and was grinding his erection into the soft cradle of her belly in a crudely salacious overture that would alarm all but the most experienced of females. To a pure innocent like Tish, his behavior must seem nothing short of nasty and brutish.
With an oath, he broke the kiss and backed away from her, raking his fingers through his hair. He could scarcely countenance his own conduct. Christ, he’d behaved like a randy schoolboy on the verge of tupping his first whore, not a gentleman who’d spent the last decade of his life perfecting the art of slowly and thoroughly pleasuring his bed partners before seeking his own release. Not only was his lapse of control inexplicable, it was downright humiliating. It was as though her inexperience was contagious, and he’d caught a full-blown case of it.
“I’m sorry,” he panted. He stared down at the shiny black toes of his boots. He couldn’t bear to look at her, not because he was embarrassed but because he feared if he did, he would want to repeat the experiment. Just to determine whether he would go over the edge the second time as quickly as he had the first.
“And I am sorry it is not Wednesday,” she said with a weak laugh.
“Wednesday?” he repeated stupidly, risking a glance at her face. Her cheeks were flushed, her lips dark pink and swollen from his none-too-gentle attentions, and her eyes dark as midnight on a moonless night. Aroused. Not frightened at all, as he’d imagined.
If any other woman had looked at him like that, Nash would have had no qualms about pressing his advantage. He would push her back up to that door and finish what he’d started, because there was no question whatsoever that she wanted consummation as badly as he did.
But Tish Blake was not any other woman. And that was one bloody hell of an understatement.
Her mouth flirted with a smile. “If this were Wednesday, I would not have had to stop you.”
Shew. So – what’d you think? 😀 I always appreciate a lovely excerpt that really gives me a feel of the story and the author’s writing. Ms. Barbosa has also very generously offered a giveaway. One commenter can pick either a digital copy of The Reiver or Carnally Ever After. And if the winner lives in the states, there’s the option of a print copy of Behind the Red Door. And what about that cover for Taking Liberties?