A Wicked Way to Win an Earl (29 page)

Ah, so eager. He did enjoy it when they begged. “No worries, pet. I'll take care of you.”

He lowered his head and crushed his lips against hers. He could have tried for at least a modicum of finesse, but this was by no means Alicia's first time alone in a dark, deserted library with an amorous gentleman. She knew what was coming.

But instead of devouring him as he'd expected, a
strangled whimper escaped her and she jerked back, away from him. There was no place for her to go, of course, as she was trapped between the door and his body, but she squirmed to break contact with his mouth.

Alicia, a shy virgin? That was doing it a bit brown, but if she wanted to play games, he'd act the part of the lustful rake to her chaste, innocent young lady. He placed his palms on either side of her face to hold her still and ran his tongue across the dry, closed seam of her lips.

She didn't open them. Robyn swept his tongue insistently against her mouth, but the delectable lips remained closed. What was Alicia playing at? She'd been keen enough to get him in here, and he'd been keen to come in part because he'd expected to get his tongue inside her mouth.

He swept it across her lips again. No luck, but all the same Robyn felt a flutter of desire tickle low in his belly. The moment she denied him the pleasures of her mouth, he found he could think of nothing but how to get his tongue between her lips to surge into her slick heat.

It was something new anyway.

He didn't often have to make an effort to get inside a woman, her mouth or any other part of her. Women made no secret of their attraction to him, and Robyn felt it was impolite to refuse their advances. He took his pleasure where it was offered. Widows, actresses, opera singers, a mistress here and there—they were all delightful diversions in much the same way a visit to Tattersall's or a jaunt down Rotten Row diverted.

Predictable. Simple. Fleeting.

But challenging? No. Women weren't challenging, and hadn't been since he'd been a randy fifteen-year-old lad agonizing over a saucy, buxom maid at his family's seat in Kent. She'd led him a merry chase until at last he'd managed to pin her against a stone wall in a remote part of the rose garden. He'd taken her right there, his breeches around his
ankles, the sun on his back, his head swimming with the scent of roses.

He couldn't recall her name now, but to this day the scent of roses and the texture of rough stone still made him hard.

The maid had been the first in a succession of ladies who'd fallen into his arms like pins hitting the turf on a bowling green. Alicia, however, showed not the slightest inclination to hit the turf. She remained stubbornly, temptingly upright.

Christ, he was jaded. Jaded and debauched, because the idea of overcoming her token resistance aroused him. He would
make
her open for him. He would coax her, render her so dizzy with passion she would have no choice but welcome him into her mouth. The flutter of desire he'd felt in his belly unfurled and grew until it became a conflagration.

Robyn slid his tongue away from the seam of her lips. He'd have it inside her before they left this room, but he could take his time getting there. He teased his mouth across hers, nibbling at one corner, then the other. He slipped his tongue deftly across the perfect curve of her lower lip to tease her, then he discovered the faint bow of her upper lip. The tip of his tongue darted into the tiny gap again and again, until he thought he'd go mad if she didn't open her lips.

She made some small sound then, some faint whisper of . . . surrender? He burned with anticipation, but her lips remained closed. Her hands still clutched at his coat, but with each soft touch of his mouth he felt the tension ease from her, one vertebra at a time, until her back relaxed against the door.

Robyn slid his hands between the door and her body to stroke the arch of her lower back, right where it swelled into what promised to be a luscious backside. After a few moments her fists opened and she laid her hands flat on his chest.

Yes.
That was it. He smiled against her mouth.

He would not have believed a practiced siren like Alicia could work him into such a frenzy. He'd had dozens of women just like her before. She was no innocent, but damned if she didn't have him imagining she was. He was wild to get into her mouth and find out if she tasted as perfect as she felt. Would she be sweet, like honey, or rich, like new cream?

He'd thought only to have a frolic with her, but perhaps a more permanent arrangement was in order? She was married, of course, but that made no difference to him. He'd had married lovers before.

For God's sake
. He hadn't even kissed her properly yet.

He laid his hand against her neck and pressed light, feathery kisses against her cheeks, then another on the tip of her nose. They were gentle, playful kisses—not at all the kind of kisses he'd normally share with a woman like Alicia. Or
any
woman, come to that, since the women he favored were all different versions of her.

At some point he'd begun to pretend it wasn't Alicia at all. Not very gallant of him, but it kept the illusion intact. The innocence of her lips under his, feigned though it was, touched him somehow. He was almost reluctant to end the moment at all.

Almost.

Then, without warning, as if she sensed a change in him, she wrapped her arms around his neck. Robyn froze, afraid she'd retreat again, but then she gave a low, breathy sigh and melted into him. The blood pounded through his body. He wanted to crush her against him and take her mouth roughly then, but he held himself back and instead let just the tip of his tongue graze her lush bottom lip.

Once.

Her lips opened.

Robyn had the strangest urge to sink to his knees, but if he did, he'd take her down to the floor with him, and they
no longer had time for
that
. But
this
—he'd been wild to get inside her mouth since she'd opened the door and he'd seen her white-gloved hand.

White gloves? Robyn stilled as he conjured an image of Alicia as she'd looked from across the drawing room. Petite but curvy, dark hair swept on top of her head, gray, catlike eyes aglow with wanton invitation. A dark blue gown and long black gloves fit tightly to her slender arms. Hadn't she had a diamond bauble of some sort on her wrist?

Well, maybe she'd worn the diamond bracelet on the other wrist? The one that hadn't opened the door? Yes, that must be it. And perhaps she'd simply changed into white gloves on her way to meet him in the study? Yes. Yes, of course, she'd want to change her gloves on her way to an illicit assignation.

He was still trying to convince himself this was a perfectly reasonable explanation when a hesitant tongue brushed against his. With that one shy stroke, every thought fled Robyn's head but one.

She tasted like wild strawberries.

“Delicious,” he murmured, his voice as rough as a cat's tongue, and so husky he hardly recognized it. He stroked the soft skin of her jaw as his tongue twined with hers, then slipped two fingers under her chin to tilt her mouth up to his to deepen the kiss.

A low, pained groan broke from his chest when at last he was able to take her mouth fully. His tongue touched her everywhere, lost in her sweet, tart taste. She met each glide and stroke and thrust, and he wanted to roar with triumph.

Maybe they did have time for
that
, after all.

He swept her into his arms and backed away from the door. He'd intended to lay her across Lord Barrow's desk, but he only made it as far as the settee. He dropped down onto it, his lips still joined with hers, and dragged her on top of him, across his lap, his throat dry, pulse jumping in his neck, ready to devour her.

Jesus.
It's just a kiss.
A kiss, like any other kiss he'd shared with countless other women.

But it wasn't the same, and somewhere in his passion-fogged brain, Robyn recognized it. This kiss was different. He hadn't lost control with a woman since he'd turned sixteen, but now his body shook with the need to get inside her.

He cupped her cheek to urge her mouth closer to his and dragged his palm down the front of her neck and over the smooth, warm skin left bare by her low-cut gown. He traced his fingertips to the very edge of the neckline, where the smooth silk met the soft skin of the tops of her breasts.

Oh, God
. Such a light touch, but he could feel the faintest throb of her heart under his fingers.

Her pert little backside pressed against his groin, his tongue twined with hers, and he was about to fill his hand with her soft breast. Had this not been the case, Robyn might have noticed it when she stilled on his lap. He might have felt just the merest whisper of a retreat.

As it was, he didn't notice a thing until she withdrew her tongue from his mouth, and then every part of his body howled with the loss. He couldn't fail to notice when she went stiff and unyielding on top of him and began to struggle in earnest to get away. It cooled his ardor just enough to enable him to think clearly.

Damn it
. Something was wrong.

The white gloves. He was certain Alicia had been wearing black gloves and a high-necked gown. He'd noted the style because it was an unusual choice for Alicia, whose breasts were forever spilling from her bodices. There was something else, as well. Just now, when he'd swept her into his arms, her head had rested under his chin. Alicia was petite; her head wouldn't have reached farther than his shoulder.

Well,
someone's
head had rested there, for he'd buried his face in her hair to draw in as much as he could of her
intoxicating scent. He was damn sure he'd just run his fingertips over the bare skin of
someone's
neck and bosom, as well. Even the finest silk wasn't that soft and supple. Or that warm. And her scent—that grass-in-the-sun, daisies-in-a-meadow scent. Alicia was charming in her way, but no woman of her experience could manufacture a scent like that; a scent of such pure, distilled innocence.

He really
wasn't
kissing Alicia. The shyness, the hesitation, the reticence—it wasn't feigned. He hadn't the faintest idea who he
was
kissing, but he was quite sure she was an innocent. A responsive, eager, passionate innocent, but an innocent nonetheless.

He'd better stop at once, as kissing and fondling an innocent had transformed more than one merry bachelor into a far less merry husband.

At once
. That meant
immediately
, or
right now
, as in
this very second
.

She pushed against his chest again, harder this time.

Bloody, bloody, bloody hell
.

His innocent temptress was determined to escape him. She writhed and flailed and tried to twist off his lap. She'd flee as soon as he released her; that much was certain. She'd flee and he'd never get a close look at her. He'd never know who she was and he wouldn't be able to find her again.

Unthinkable
. Find her he would, innocent or not.

Robyn tightened his arms around her. He had to know who she was.

Then
he'd let her go.

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