A week to be wicked, p.42
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       A Week to Be Wicked, p.42

         Part #2 of Spindle Cove series by Tessa Dare
Page 42


  But she knew tearful professions were hardly what he needed at the moment. This situation called for distraction.

  She said, “I’m sure it won’t be long. What shall we do with ourselves to pass the time?”

  “Why don’t you read me your presentation again, and I can pretend to pose thoughtful questions?”

  She laughed a little.

  His voice warmed. “No, truly. I like listening to it. I can’t pretend to understand every word in your presentation, but I don’t have to be an expert to know you’ve something important to say. I don’t need to be a geologist to understand that it’s well-written and carefully reasoned. And the way you pronounce all those polysyllabic words?” His thigh nudged hers. “Makes me rock hard, every time. ”

  She blushed. Not just at the carnal suggestion, but at his honest appreciation for her scholarship. For all his teasing over the months, she had to give him this: he’d never once suggested she lacked a mind of her own, or insinuated her sex must be an intellectual handicap. How many men of his rank and importance would so readily recognize a young unmarried woman as their academic superior?

  She supposed she’d find out when they reached Edinburgh.

  If they reached Edinburgh.

  “We will make it,” he insisted, as though he could read her thoughts. “Go ahead, read through the presentation again. ”

  “It’s growing too dark for me to read my notes. ”

  “Oh. ” Looking drawn and tense, he leaned against the carriage wall. He tugged at his open collar. “Night will be coming on soon, I suppose. ”

  Drat. Minerva winced. Of all the stupid things to say.

  He was working mightily to conceal his physical discomfort, but she knew this was misery for him.

  “Colin, why don’t we just get out and walk?”

  “Because it’s pouring rain. ”

  “A little wet won’t hurt us. ”

  “It would chill you. And it would demolish Francine. In a lighter rain, the trunk might keep her dry. But a downpour like this? You know the rain will pound right through the seams. The plaster would disintegrate. ”

  “So we’ll just leave her here in the carriage. ”

  He snorted. “Out of the question. I’ve done far too much and come much too far with that scaly old girl. She’s not getting out of my sight now. I’m fine. I can do this, Min. The postilion will be back soon with fresh horses, and we’ll be moving on. ”

  The tone of his voice would brook no argument.

  “Well, we must have some distraction in the meantime. ” She perked. “I know. Let’s list naughty-sounding mathematical terms. ” In her most tarty, breathy voice, she whispered, “Parabola. ”

  After a pause, his fingers squeezed hers. “Tessellation. ”

  “Binomial. ”

  “Why stop there? Trinomial. ”

  “Now that’s just wicked. ”

  “That’s nothing. I’ve been saving this one. ” He leaned close to whisper in her ear. “Annulus. ”

  Laughing, she crawled into his lap. “Oh, Colin. This is why I love you. ”

  His hands went to her waist. “For God’s sake. Because my adolescent mind always wandered to ribald places when I should have been attending my studies?”

  She shrugged. “Did I need a better reason?”

  “I should think so. Yes. ” His brow met hers, and his voice dropped to a raw whisper. “That’s why I’m here, Min. You must know that’s why. You need a much better reason to love me, and I’m trying like hell to give you one. ”

  Dear, foolish man. By shifting her weight and pulling at her skirts, she managed to straddle his lap. “Just kiss me. ”

  Framing his face in her hands, she brushed her lips against his. Then he kissed her back, fierce and deep. Their tongues tangled and played.

  She guided his hand to her breast. He moaned into her mouth as he cupped and kneaded, smoothing his palm over the fabric-cloaked bud of her nipple. Their kisses became greedy, urgent. He ravaged her mouth with his lips and tongue, and she gave back as good as he gave.

  The firm ridge of his arousal announced itself, thrusting against her inner thigh. His free hand found her backside and grabbed tight, grinding her pelvis against his.

  “Yes. ” She sat back to loosen her bodice. “Yes. Make love to me. ”

  “Min, I want . . . ” He worked for breath as he pushed up her skirts. “Jesus, I can’t be gentle right now. I can’t make love to you. I can’t. ”

  She whimpered with disappointment, pressing her body to his. She needed him so badly, and she could feel the significant proportions of his need for her. He couldn’t say no.

  His sweaty brow pressed against her neck. He licked, then nipped the top of her breast. “You deserve sweet, tender love. A man who’ll give you anything you desire. But right now, what I want is to take. To take you hard and fast and wild enough to light up the whole damn night. ”

  His fingers delved under her petticoats and found her sex, plunging deep without preliminary.

  She gasped. She was so ready for him, his fingers slipped right in.

  “Can I . . . ” He pushed deeper, grunting. “Will you . . . ”

  “Yes,” she managed. “Yes. ”

  He withdrew his fingers and began fumbling with the buttons of his breeches falls. “Say it. I need to know you understand, that you’re fully willing. ”

  She wasn’t merely willing. She was wanting, desperately.

  “Yes,” she whispered. “Take me. ”

  Arousal rushed through her. She actually felt herself go damp and pink.

  “Take me,” she said louder, this time owning the words. Owning the wildness that was a part of her, too. “Take me. Now. ”

  He positioned himself and entered her on a hard, almost painful thrust. She cried out with the joy of it. With fierce digs of his hips, he worked deeper still. Her pelvis banged his, and the entire post-chaise jounced and rattled on its springs.

  “Oh, God. Minerva. I don’t deserve you. You’re so good. So hot and so wet and so very, very good to me. Clever, foolish, lovely thing. ”

  Good Lord, did the man never stop talking? Minerva didn’t want to converse right now. She just wanted . . . deeper. Harder. More.

  She caught his earlobe between her teeth and growled, spreading her legs to draw him closer still. He clutched her hips and pumped wildly, guiding her up and down his length. She rode his thrusts with abandon, bracing one arm against the carriage roof for better leverage. They clung to each other with teeth and nails, making harsh, snarling, animal sounds.

  The whole coach bucked and swayed with their frantic rhythm. The square windowpane fogged over with the heat of their passion.

  Her eyelids fluttered closed, blocking out what daylight remained. His arousing words became inarticulate grunts. Their rhythm took on a power of its own, became a force unto itself.

  In his arms, she was speechless, helpless, heedless, mindless. She knew nothing but sensation. Nothing but him.

  When the climax hit her, she gave a helpless, keening cry of joy. Pleasure racked her body. He withdrew from her all too soon, growling curses and blessings and spurting warmth against her thigh.

  “Min. ” His hot, openmouthed kisses covered her face and throat. His voice was raw with emotion. “Min, don’t ever leave me. ”

  She laced her arms around his neck. “Colin, I—”

  A loud, brittle snap interrupted her. Followed by a creak of metal and a shivering, shuddering moan.

  And then they were falling. Falling in each other’s arms, as the whole post-chaise toppled to the side.

  “Oh no. ”

  Chapter Twenty-eight

  Together, they slid to the end of the bench, slamming against the wall of the post-chaise. Then the wall became the floor, as the whole business tipped on its side.

  The coach hit the mud with a thick squelch.
They broke apart, and Minerva’s shoulder jarred painfully as she bounced against the side panel.

  “Min. ” He scrambled to her side. “Minerva, tell me you’re not—”

  “I’m fine,” she hastened to say. “Unharmed. ”


  She wouldn’t tell him so, but her shoulder did ache a bit. Nevertheless, this was hardly a dramatic, deathly carriage accident. The post-chaise hadn’t even been in motion. It was really no more than falling off a fence, or out of a tree.

  “Just don’t die. ” He clutched her tight. “If you died, I’d beg God to take me, too. ”

  Lord, what a statement. She forced herself to ignore its implications and keep to the task at hand: reassurance.

  “Well, I’m not dying. I’m not even injured. ”

  He searched her face. “Are you certain?”

  “Yes. ”

  “You’re not bleeding anywhere? You can feel all your limbs?”

  “Don’t you feel my arms around you?”

  She stroked up and down his back, until he released a heavy sigh.

  “Yes. ” He moved his weight off her chest, laughing a bit. He passed a hand over his face. “Good God. I didn’t realize how unstable these contraptions are without a team hitched to them. I suppose we were too . . . ”

  “Zealous?” She smiled. “Well, look at it this way. The wheels aren’t stuck in the mud any longer. ”

  “This is true. Let me help you up. ”

  They untangled their knot of limbs. Colin rose first, then offered his hand.

  As she got her feet under her, Minerva’s boots sloshed. Water was seeping in through the coach’s damaged side panels, puddling at their feet.

  “Oh dear. ”

  Colin had noticed it, too. He tipped the trunk, using his boot to move it away from the growing puddle. Francine was packed so tightly, she’d no doubt survived the fall—but she wouldn’t survive a soaking.

  “So it wasn’t our . . . you know . . . that toppled the chaise. At least, not entirely. ”

  He shook his head. “The road is flooding. That’s why the wheels slid free. ”

  The muddy water lapped at her hem. “We should get out of here. Right away. ”

  “I agree. ” Colin raised his hands and pushed on the door overhead.

  It wouldn’t open.

  With a curse, he caught the door latch and rattled it violently. “Open, damn you,” he muttered. “Open. ”

  “It’s all right,” she said, trying to keep him calm. “We’re not trapped. If you break the window, I can crawl through and open it from the outside. ”

  “Right. You always were the clever one. Move aside and cover your head. ”

  When she’d obeyed, he took a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wrapped it tight about his knuckles. Then he grabbed the pistol by the barrel and used it to smash at the windowpane. Two good swings, and he had it cracked.

  Small bits of glass rained down on Minerva’s bowed head and shoulders. When the shower of glass had ceased and true raindrops made their way inside, it seemed safe to look up. She glimpsed him clearing the few remaining jagged shards from the edges of the window opening.

  “Here. ” He cupped one hand and held it out. “You put your boot in my hand and your hand on my shoulder. I’ll lift you up. ”

  She nodded.

  As her head and shoulders emerged through the small opening, Minerva braced her hands on either side of the makeshift hatch. She hauled the rest of her body up and through. Rain doused her instantly, plastering her hair to her neck and brow. She swiped it away, impatient.

  Once she had her entire body outside the carriage, she knelt on the top—which had recently been the side—and pulled at the door latch with both hands, rattling and cursing the twisted bit of metal.

  “Drat. The latch is jammed from this side, too. ” She peered down at him. “Just come through the window, like I did. It will be a tight squeeze, but you’ll fit. ”
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