An indecent wager, p.4
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       An Indecent Wager, p.4

           Georgette Brown
 
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  Deana fluttered her eyes. Settled in a haze of comfort and satisfaction, she had no desire to move, but the aroma of fresh coffee called to her. She glanced down at the luxurious blanket covering her legs and felt the firm cushions beneath her. Her gaze moved to the porcelain coffee set in front of her and then across the table to the opposite sofa where Lord Rockwell sat, one leg crossed over the other, his expression soft.

  Good heavens, had she fallen asleep?

  Quickly she sat up, but the speed of her motions made the side of her head throb.

  “Coffee will aid your situation,” he offered, pouring a cup.

  Flushing, she took the hot beverage with gratitude. He was correct—she should not have come intoxicated. She noticed he was no longer wearing his banyan or any neckwear. Instead, the top buttons of his shirt were undone—a minor feature but grandly provocative. Memories of what had transpired betwixt them rushed into her mind, warming her body instantly.

  “Forgive my impoliteness for having, er, fallen asleep on your settee,” she said more to her coffee than to him. She had never fallen asleep in a strange place before.

  “I am glad for it,” he replied. “Do you drink often, Miss Herwood?”

  She eyed him carefully. “You seem to know much about me. Do you not already have your answer, your lordship?”

  “A gaming hell is no place for one of the fair sex to let down her guard.”

  “I am no fool nor child.”

  “Tonight being the exception?”

  She tried not to glare at him. “Though I am sure you are accustomed to women throwing themselves at you, might you allow that one would deem the situation I find myself facing rather daunting?”

  His lips curved in genuine humor and she found it hard to remain angry with him. How glorious those lips had felt upon her…

  “Miss Herwood?”

  Realizing she had been staring at his mouth, she buried her face in her coffee. What a gauche young woman he must perceive her to be!

  “Please partake of the sweatmeats.” He gestured to the berries, cheese and bread on the coffee tray.

  Though not particularly hungry, she decided to eat as a distraction and idly wondered if he had woken the servants in the middle of the night to prepare the coffee.

  He poured himself a cup and settled back into the sofa to gaze upon her. She wanted to quip about the impoliteness of staring, but the entitled would not care for comments from one such as her. Instead, she broke the silence with small talk.

  “Do you travel to India often?”

  “What do you consider often? It is no easy journey.”

  She had no definition in mind. The farthest she had ever been from London was Bath.

  “Would you venture there if it were not?” she rephrased.

  He weighed her query. “In truth, I am ambivalent. There is much to wonder at and detest of the East.”

  She tried to fathom a world she had seen only in books and an occasional painting, but in her mind danced colorful silks, teas and curries.

  “Tell me of India.”

  “Many would find her easy to disdain, but you would appreciate India.”

  “You know me well enough to make such a declaration?”

  “I merely observe the inflection when you speak and the shine in your eyes. You are not difficult to read, Miss Herwood.”

  She frowned. She was gauche and guileless?

  “Do not distress yourself. Consider it a compliment. I find it refreshing.”

  Is that what had attracted him to her table?

  “I imagine a visitor from India could find much to disdain in England,” she remarked. “For instance, certain noblemen can be quite insufferable here.”

  He grinned at her taunt. “I couldn’t agree more, Miss Herwood. More coffee?”

  She eagerly accepted, for the coffee did aid with her headache and she was beginning to enjoy her conversation with Lord Rockwell.

  “I think you are partial to India, Lord Rockwell.”

  “Indeed?”

  She gestured about the room. “You have reminders of her everywhere.”

  He followed her gaze from the elephant she had held earlier to a bronze oil lamp above the fireplace to a tapestry on the wall. The image on the tapestry was a woman wearing a golden headdress, arms stretched with a bow and arrow, astride a many-hued parrot.

  “Rati,” he explained. “Hindu goddess of love, passion and carnal pleasure.”

  Her cheeks colored. She recalled her purpose for being here and, as she had pointed out earlier, it was not for conversation.

  “How appropriate,” she murmured. “I am aware that I have not fulfilled my end of the arrangement, my lord.”

  “Not entirely. I took great pleasure in seeing you spend.”

  Her whole body flushed. She shifted under his gaze.

  The fires in his eyes flared. “I have much more planned, Miss Herwood.”

  She swallowed with difficulty the coffee she had just imbibed and felt a strong need to fan herself.

  “How do you wish to begin?” she croaked.

  “Come here,” he said, his tone gentle and commanding.

  She went to stand before his sofa. He rose to his feet. Looking down at her, he brushed a stray tendril of hair over her shoulder.

  “What does your body desire most, Miss Herwood?” he asked.

  You. At that moment, she realized that she had never desired a man as much as she did then. The embers from his recent caresses were quick to burn anew.

  “My lord?”

  “What brings you the greatest pleasure?” He slid the back of his forefinger down her neck and along her collarbone.

  “Having a romp at the tables against haughty noblemen.”

  He circled his arm around her waist and jerked her to him. She could feel his hardened arousal against her hip.

  “I promise you will enjoy having lost to me, Miss Herwood.” As he held her against him, his other hand cupped her jaw and lifted her face. “You shall not soon forget this night.”

  “And what have I done to merit such a prospect?” she asked quietly, momentarily mesmerized by the depths of his eyes. Like diamonds, they reflected an inner fire.

  His thumb passed over her mouth, tugging the bottom lip down. He grazed the tip of her tongue. She caught his thumb in her mouth and sucked. Hard.

  He groaned. Removing his thumb, he replaced it with his mouth. She could taste the coffee and, beyond that, him. His mouth covered hers, his tongue probed and coaxed. Her head was spinning, she had never experienced such a full and luscious kiss. Deeper he went but in steps that assured she could follow. Not at all like her last lover, who harkened to her mind a pet dog she once had. The dear little bitch would greet her with all tongue, lapping at her face and drowning her in slaver.

  Lord Rockwell’s kiss was consuming but purposeful. His lips led hers in a heady dance that left her breathless and wanting. His cock felt like a steel rod against her. She pressed her hips to him, the carnal yearning in her body needing to connect with his. He responded by gripping her tighter, one hand cupping a buttock so that she remained molded to him. She let out a small gasp. He dropped his head and tongued the hollow of her neck. Any lingering regrets of having lost to Lord Rockwell at the card table vanished. She wanted him to take her and satiate the burning within her. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him into her. She would be content to kiss for an eternity but for the ache building within her. Her hand slid from his neck to the slight opening of his shirt.

  Abruptly he whipped her around and pinned her backside against him. The thickness of his desire pressed against her derriere. One arm circled her chest, the other her pelvis. She could have melted into his embrace. As he rained kisses along her neck, he groped a breast, kneading the flesh through her dress. Her nipple puckered beneath his touch. She wanted his other hand to pull up her skirts as he had done and fondle once more that most sensitive of parts.

  Taking
her by the hand, he led across the drawing room and, pulling a key from his pocket, unlocked a door she had not noticed before.

  The room she entered was dark but for two bronze oil lamps on either side of a grand four-post bed of mahaony with a blood-red canopy and golden tassles and orange silk curtains, large plush pillows, and silk bedclothes. It was beautiful, fit for an Indian princess. “How lovely,” she mururmed.

  “It pleases you?”

  “I supposed it were as fine a setting as any for the…” she began.

  He had cme up behind her. She tensed. His presence alone could send her judgment scattering. Already her body responded as if being called by sirens.

  “The transaction,” he supplied, “or let us call it what it is: a night of debauchery, of the finest pleasures.”

  She closed her eyes at his seductive voice but resisted.

  “Finest pleasures? I hope your words signify you will not be too difficult to please.”

  “I was referring to your pleasure.”

  “Mine? You are bold, my lord.”

  “Have I not attended you with satisfaction?”

  He ran a finger up her bare arm and she could not quell a shiver. How had her body become so sensitized to his touch?

  “What you require is beyond the norm,” she murmured.

  He rested his hand upon her shoulder, then gently began rubbing away the tension.

  “I would not have invited you here if I did not think you possessed a bold spirit. I shall do nothing you cannot bear. All that I do is for your desire.”

  She raised a brow. “You presume to know my desires?”

  The corner of his mouth curled upward. “And they shall be provided a most rapturous end.”

  She shook her head. “Your presumption knows no bounds.”

  His eyes glimmered. “Care to lay wager upon it, Miss Herwood?”

  “Despite my conviction, I think I had best not.”

  “Then to allay your fears, allow me to propose that if you do not find this night to be fulfilling, I will offer as recompense the sum of one hundred pounds.”

  A hundred quid! She salivated at the sum. She could stall the creditors from repossessing the furniture. Her mother could indulge in jam and butter upon her toast.

  “And how would you define fulfillment?”

  He trailed his hand down to the swell of her breast. “Not I. You shall—with your orgasm. The absence of it would mark a night unfulfilled.”

  She gazed down at his hand. One hundred pounds. And she had but to refrain from spending?

  “You mock me, Lord Rockwell.”

  “I rarely jest on such matters.”

  His hand dipped beneath her décolletage and cradled a breast. She closed her eyes. His touch was exquisite.

  “Do you make a habit of such outrageous propositions?”

  “Would you believe me if I said I did not?”

  “No.”

  He kissed her lightly upon the neck. “Then why ask?”

  She sighed. Exasperating if not clever man.

  He whipped her around and pressed his mouth full upon hers.

  “Come, I dare you to accept the wager,” he murmured against her lips.

 
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