Seducing His Lordship
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by Brenda Williamson
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Historical Fiction
Description: Handsome Lord Laramore is everything Lady Carmody wants in a husband, except in the two years of their arrangement, he's never tried to bed her. She's determined to seduce him, until he shows his inner beast. Can she handle his animal lust? Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Dubious consent.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: August 2009
64 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [127 KB]
Reading time: 77-108 min.
Gabriel glanced up from his ledger at the sound of glass shattering on the marble floor outside his study. "Now what?" he grumbled, irritated by the interruption. Repeatedly, he had gone over the calculations, never getting the same total. Banking bored him. Normally, he let his solicitor handle his accounts, but when the man showed concern over the growing mound of statements from every store in London, he was compelled to have a look. He'd discovered for himself the extent of his wife's extravagant spending habits.
Rising from his seat behind his desk, he poked the pen back into the holder next to the inkwell. A few drops splattered on the ledger.
"I'm sorry for the disturbance, Lord Laramore." His manservant apologized from the doorway.
"Silas, what is going on out there?"
"Her ladyship has arrived, and I think she'd like you to join her in the foyer."
"Lady Laramore? Here? Today?"
"Yes, milord, and she has--"
"Well, isn't that fortuitous to have her show up at the same time I needed to speak to her." Gabriel moved around his desk. "I have a few choice words to say. You might not want to be around when I do."
"Yes, milord, however, I feel obligated to remind you that--"
"Not now, Silas." Gabriel marched out of the room, into the spacious foyer, ready to confront the spendthrift he'd married. They had never taken up residence under the same roof, since a marriage of convenience didn't require it. He certainly didn't know all he might about her, but her excessiveness could one day be the ruin of him if he didn't put his foot down. She had presented herself as a sensible and simple lady during their brief courtship. Her manners were impeccable, her lifestyle far from extravagant. Yet, the growing pile of bills from creditors showed him just how badly he had misjudged her.
The sight of Carmody, Lady Laramore, slowed his stride. Regret for marrying the exquisite creature vanished in that moment. As if an angel descended from the heavens, she stood in the glowing ray of sunlight fanning the room from the glass dome in the ceiling. Beneath the straw hat adorned with yellow ribbons, her hair spilled over her shoulders and shone with the sparkling vibrancy of spun gold. God had designed her to perfection.
He took a deep breath. The twenty feet that separated them didn't prevent him from inhaling her unique, perfumed scent. From the fateful year of their meeting until now, he'd never forgotten the exhilarating rush to his senses.
Marriage was an event he hadn't looked forward to until he caught the sight of her dancing at one of the social events of the ton. Enchanted immediately by her elegance and beauty, he fell in love. Unfortunately, his situation dictated that he keep feelings out of the nuptial contract.
"Lady Laramore." He bowed his head in greeting, breaking the spell blocking his prior thoughts. "Tell me you don't mean to burden me with your spending until I'm in the poor house?"
"Good afternoon to you as well, Lord Laramore. It's nice to see you are in excellent health." Her brow rose in a perfect arch as she reprimanded him for his rudeness with a terse glance.
"What are you doing here?" He reined in his annoyance before it took control. Women had a way of ending up the winners in a heated debate. Staying composed best suited his plans. If he was going to keep the future of his finances on solid ground, he had to curb his wife's spending habits.
"I should ask the same of you." Carmody pulled off her white gloves.
An expression he took as frustration darkened her features.
"I live here." He advanced, his anger dissipating completely by the cause of Carmody's wrinkled brow. "Are you all right?"
Obviously, the breaking glass had done more than nick the marble floor. It had inflicted injury to his wife. Blood spiraled down the back of her hand and dripped from her palm.
"No, I'm not all right." She used the ruined glove to dab at the cut near her middle knuckle. "I couldn't get my key to work in that old lock. When I knocked on the glass, I apparently hit it too hard. Why in heaven's name is that door bolted anyway?"
Without a convenient and suitable answer, Gabriel didn't respond. He glanced at Silas, wishing the man would overstep his position and lie.
"I have a towel and water." Another servant hurried in, toting a bowl and clean cloth and began attending to Carmody's wound.
Gabriel watched with worry. She'd have a scar on her flawless skin. While he'd not consider it an imperfection, she might. Anything that could distress her affected him.
"Ouch," she squealed at the first touch the woman made to clean the cut.
"Here, give me that." Gabriel took the rag and held Lady Laramore's slender hand.
He moved in close to her rather than making her extend her arm. It gave him a chance to inhale the fragrant reminder of what had captured his attention when they first met. He ministered to her with gentle care, wiping lightly, inspecting the severity of her cut as well as the soft texture of her fingers lying across his palm. He hadn't seen her in a long time. To have an opportunity to stand close and inhale her pleasing scent was a golden moment. Roses and lavender drew his thoughts to the day they married. Her minted breath had barely whispered over his lips in a kiss sealing the deal. Two years had passed since the ceremony, six months since he had seen her at his London house while they exchanged residences.
"Everyone, leave," he ordered the servants, sensing their stares were too intense upon him. Never having seen him and his wife together, they made him feel self-conscious about his actions. Was he showing too much concern? Not enough? Did they wonder and talk about the odd marital relationship? Of course they did.
"Milady?" The woman who had brought the bowl of water hadn't left like the others.
"I'm fine, Frances." Carmody used her unscathed hand to wave the woman away. "You can go."
Gabriel paused in his meticulous cleansing of his wife's hand and dared a quick look at her. Her expression hinted at amusement instead of irritation. Did she think him a buffoon for his concern?
"You were going to tell me what you were doing here." Her warm breath caressed his cheek.
"Like I said, I live here." He let her hand slip free from his grasp and stepped back. "What is it that brings you here?"
"We agreed, don't you remember? I would have Laramore Manor for the season."
He looked out the window. "Is it that time of the year already, milady?" he asked as if he didn't know.
"Yes, it's that time of the year. Do you sit here with your head in a cloud all winter, Lord Laramore?"
If only he could. Instinct had given him signals--inherent warning signs to avoid females. Those traits he wished to keep secret were his enemy. Carmody stood within his reach, and he knew now he had chosen to ignore the time of year with purpose. The opportunity to confront her about the debts was nothing compared to the chance to be near her. He hungered to pull her into his embrace and kiss her with every measure of desire to express his lust.
"Our agreement was that I use the house for the spring and summer, just as I did last year." She took the cloth from his hand. "It's important that I entertain, and the house in town is too small for me to have dinner parties grander than the occasional intimate ones."
"Intimate?" The word hit a raw spot in his thoughts.
"It is upon my head to carry on the reputation of our name, milord. Laramore is as prestigious a family as I make of it. You of all people should be the one concerned. How would it look upon your ancestors to have the last of the Laramores considered lazy, unsociable, and worse, forgettable?"
While he wasn't lazy, unsociable did have a place in his life just so he would be unmemorable. Unaffected by that part of her comment, his focus locked onto the first point--the last of the Laramores. There was only one solution to that, and his body had been pressuring him for weeks, just as it had every year, to resolve the matter.
Carmody continued chattering, either ignoring or not hearing him. "I assume you'll be leaving today. If not, I would think it very discourteous of you to..."
Gabriel stopped listening and stood back to examine the lines of his wife's body. More beautiful than ever, she captivated him. Petite frame, trim waist, ample breasts--a goddess constructed for making love. His dreams often brought her to him in his bed where he explored the regions of her feminine softness without really knowing any details. It made him wonder. Were her nipples plump like grapes, and did her skin taste as sweet as milk? Did her abdomen have a softness he'd enjoy against his nose when he nuzzled the area with kisses? Perhaps she'd be ticklish in that region, giggling with delight so her belly quivered. What about her bottom? Was it firm, rounded, and suitable for squeezing? He had no favorite area, and then with further thought, he desired them all with an equal fervor.
While his sexual appetite was as healthy as any man's, Gabriel had felt constrained in passing years to shut himself off from the ton. Unfortunately, when he was a bachelor, he had too many well-intentioned acquaintances who felt it their duty to find him a wife. By marrying Carmody, he no longer had to play the interested chap to the bevy of females who wanted to be his lady. The idea he'd enjoy having a wife grew on him the more he'd gotten to know Carmody in those months before the nuptials. Only his feelings for her scared him, making him revert to his original plan--stay out of the limelight of social events and keep his distance from his wife.
"Excuse me." A thin man with a youthful face stuck his head around the door and shattered Gabriel's daydream. "Am I late?"
The stranger stopped his wife's tirade of why she should have use of the manor. Her face lit with joy. The scene instantly set Gabriel on edge, raising his hackles to the point a low growl rumbled deep in his throat.
"No, Reginald. Come in, darling." Carmody rushed to the man, as the rustle of her silk gown danced along the polished floor. "Watch the glass, dear. It seems I've caused a mess from a struggle I had with getting in the house."
She grasped Reginald's hands and pulled him forward. The man bowed to her tug, not only accepting a well-placed kiss to his cheek, but also reciprocating with an equally generous smooch that landed too close to the corner of Carmody's mouth.
Gabriel lifted a brow at the informality between the two. His wife's actions and endearment suggested intimacy. Who the devil was this man? Did Carmody dare to flaunt her lover under his nose? His snarling protest worked at release, and he swallowed hard, clenching his jaw to restrain the sound climbing toward escape.
He scrutinized Carmody's movements, looking for reasons to dissuade his thoughts from the obvious. However, the hug she offered the fop put forth a familiarity he didn't like. Bad manners were compounded when Reginald's arm went around Carmody's waist and he pulled her close to whisper something in her ear. In response, she held his arm and giggled. Her laugh intimated deep affection. The sentiment stabbed Gabriel with the ferocious jealousy of an animal.
"Lady Laramore?" Gabriel interrupted, demanding an introduction by his tone.
"Oh yes, forgive me." Carmody twirled around to face him. "Reginald was just letting me know he had one of the servants put my special case of port in the pantry."
"You've taken up drinking?" Gabriel questioned.
Every curve of his wife's sensuous body attracted his gaze, even the angle of her jaw where he imagined nuzzling his nose under her ear as he kissed a mark of possession on her neck.
"Of course not, milord." She turned to the man hanging on her. "Mr. Reginald Kent, I'd like to introduce you to my husband, the Viscount of Laramore."
"Lord Laramore, it's a pleasure." Reginald bowed slightly, his steady gaze oozing with more arrogance.
Carmody continued to cling to the man's arm in a blatant gesture of cozy friendliness. She appeared to be clueless at how her actions disturbed Gabriel.
"Milord, Reginald has been helping me plan a small dinner for tomorrow night as an early start of the Season."
"Ah, the reason for the port wine." Gabriel clasped his hands behind his back and reined in his primitive urge to snatch his wife out of Reginald's grasp. It should be his arm securely surrounding her trim waist.
"Lady Laramore has a very creative mind, and her ideas for the affair are quite wonderful," Reginald gushed. "You are indeed a lucky man to have her as your wife."