“What would you do to protect the people you love?”
CHRISTIANA TATUM will do anything. But when a handsome stranger comes to Bellewyck Abbey looking into guarded secrets of the past, she finds herself not only trapped in a web of deception, but falling in love with a man who could destroy everything she has struggled to save.
DEVLIN GRAYSON, the ‘Duke of Pemberton’, learns the estate he’s inherited is in ruins. Even worse, Bellewyck’s ward is missing. Certain of treachery, Devlin probes into the shadows of Bellewyck Abbey. The woman who thwarts him at every turn, yet steals his heart, makes him question the foundations of everything he’s grown to believe. Will he be able to win her trust in time to save her—or will the sense of honor that guides her actions end in her death?
His kiss transcended time and space, and swept her into an enchanted kingdom ruled by desire and passion. Yet, awareness of so many details endured, from the quiet of the room to the sighs and cadence of their breathing. The texture of his clothing and the muscles she felt contracting in his back with each movement. And, of course, the scandalous sensation of his arousal pressing against the skirts of her gown.
He kissed the side of her neck, resulting in a most curious reaction. A fluttering feeling deep inside her belly grew more insistent; slick moisture gathered between her thighs. A moment later, his seductive lips slid down to place open-mouthed kisses upon the swells of her bosom, prompting her to clutch his upper arms and direct a rather unfocused gaze to the ceiling.
Do not faint.
Then, he stopped. Pulling back, his breathing harsh, ragged gasps, he flicked his hand and—much to her startled amazement—her gown slid to the floor. How had he accomplished such a thing without her knowing?
Standing before him in her half-corset, she had little time to think about the gown. His long, large masculine fingers began to release the lacings with a skill that made her blink. Pulling it off her body, he grinned. “I do so like the shorter version.”
“How did you learn—”
Shaking his head, he pressed a fingertip against her lips to stop her question. “You do not really want to know, do you sweetheart?”
“No.” She did not want to think about past lovers. Their vaporous images sprang up anyway, making her feel gauche, inept, and ignorant. As if he knew the direction of her thoughts, he led her to the side of the bed.
Not knowing what he wanted or expected from her, she could only watch as he slowly removed her shoes and stockings. Her chemise remained the only article of clothing and he seemed to be debating whether or not to remove it.
Perhaps he expected her to remove it? She looked to the open draperies allowing so much light into the room. Then again, he’d seen most of her body already in the orchard. For that very reason, she stood and brazenly opened her chemise enough to let it slip from her body and pool about her feet. That action seemed to stun him.
Determined to convey a sense of worldliness, she kept her arms at her sides and waited for his slow, heated inspection to conclude. His breathing sounded labored and he swallowed hard; his nostrils flared slightly like an animal on the scent of its prey.
He moved toward her—one step, two steps. A hairsbreadth apart when he turned her about and kissed the curve of her shoulder, one hand flat against her belly while his other hand cupped one of her breasts. He groaned low, pulling her back against his chest, the hard ridge of his still confined erection pressing against her naked skin.
“You do not play fair, my sweet,” he whispered into her ear.