Authors: Julie Johnstone
Tags: #historical romance, #love, #regency romance
Dancing With A Devil
Cover Design by Lily George
Copyright © 2014 Julie Johnstone
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without written permission.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.
For more information:
For my friend Anne Durward who from the very first book I wrote supported and encouraged me. You are a special woman, my friend, and I count myself lucky to know you.
Table Of Contents
The Duchess of Primwitty’s home, London, England
In the midst of a most thrilling adventure
The Year of Our Lord 1818
Lady Audrey Cringlewood refused to fall victim to the same fate her mother had. This was precisely why when the Marquess of Davenport crooked his long finger at her, she squared her shoulders and followed the notorious rake into the Duchess of Primwitty’s guest bedchamber. He moved with such easy grace, she found it hard to look away from him, so when he stopped suddenly, she was unable to do the same. She bumped into his broad back, and her face and neck immediately heated. “I’m terribly sorry.”
Lord Davenport turned. A slow smile tugged at the corners of his firm sensual lips, then spread into a wicked grin. “You never need apologize for colliding with me,” he said, stepping closer and reaching around her. The door behind her shut with a soft swish, followed immediately by the click of the turning lock.
Her stomach fluttered as all her senses leaped to life. Before she could decide what she should do, Lord Davenport trailed his fingers from behind her back, across the curve of her hips and up her bare arms. Gooseflesh rose and spread across her skin. The marquess curled his fingers around her shoulders and gently pressed her against the door. Her breath hitched in her throat as her back made contact with the wood and his hooded green gaze locked on her.
Her pulse jumped and under the heat of his assessing stare, she squirmed only to meet with an immovable object. Make that two. She blinked and glanced to the left and right. He had caged her in with his arms. Powerful ones, judging by the way his navy kerseymere waistcoat strained over the swell of muscles underneath. “Is there a reason you have trapped me?”
His eyes darkened to a deep lush green that bespoke of a man who never did anything without a reason. “Would you like there to be?” A teasing note tinged his deep voice.
Audrey swallowed hard, her throat suddenly very dry. If she were sensible, she would slip out of his hold and demand he court her properly. But she suspected making demands on Lord Davenport would get her nowhere. She had to make the man realize he wanted to court her, and think the idea had been all his own. “Yes,” she whispered.
A satisfied light came into his eyes. He leaned close, his golden whiskers shining in the candlelit room and his scent, a heady combination of damp earth and rain, filled her nose. She sighed with pleasure. This was the closest he had come to her in the weeks since they had met and been flirting.
His gaze softened and he raised his hand to her cheekbone to slide one finger along the edge of her jawbone. “Before this goes any further, to be absolutely clear, I do not seduce innocents.”
Audrey tensed at the pronouncement. So he thought her experienced? That made sense given he had first met her when she was trying to help his cousin, Lady Whitney Rutherford, infiltrate the secret hellfire club, The Sainted Order. Audrey was not a fool. She had considered that his playful banter and looks of the past several weeks might simply be foreplay to his trying to seduce her, but they had been alone several times and he had not made one improper overture toward her.
What to do now? If she confessed her innocence, he would undoubtedly walk away from her without a backward glance. If she chose her words carefully, though, she would not be lying and would hopefully receive the kiss she was sure would change her life. The moment his lips left hers, she would be forthright about her position.
She tossed her hair over her shoulder and pursed her lips. “It’s good to know you are a man of such high honor.”
A chuckle rumbled from his chest. He cupped her chin, his strong fingers making her feel safe as they cradled her face. His dark thick lashes veiled his eyes for a moment before they swept up to reveal his intense shimmering gaze. “You surprise me.”
Do I?” Her heart skipped a precarious beat. Since she had run away from her father’s home and only narrowly escaped being dragged back there by deceiving him, Audrey had begun to surprise herself with the lengths she would go to in order to avoid being forced to marry for anything other than love.
The devilish grin on Lord Davenport’s lips twisted into a humorous smirk. “You do.” He shifted slightly, the heat of his body enveloping her and his massive shoulders blocking out the bedchamber behind him. “Surprise me again.”
I beg your pardon?” The breathless question made her wince, but at least she had managed to get coherent words out.
Tell me exactly what you want from me.”
What she wanted was to know if the attraction between them was as real as she thought. The kind of desire that would lend itself to a marriage of love and not one of inconvenient convenience. She never wanted to find herself in the same position her mother had, preferring to end her life with a lethal dose of laudanum rather than live with her cold husband another day. She was not lying to Lord Davenport in the strictest sense, given what she was about to say was true. “I want you to kiss me.”
Light reflected from the overhead candelabra. It glimmered over his fair skin and the elegant ridge of his perfectly sloped cheekbones. She studied him, not believing she had admitted her heart’s desire to this man. Scandalous as it may be, she would do it again. Everything about him lured her in―including the small white three-inch scar that ran down the length of his right cheekbone. Maybe one day she would learn how he had received it. With shaking fingers, she reached up and touched the jagged line. He barely twitched in response, but his jaw flexed.
Well, Lord Davenport―”
Ah-ah,” he interrupted, a glint of humor flashing across his face. “If you tell a man you want him to kiss you, you should address him by his Christian name. I insist you call me Trent.”
A devilish streak rose up in her. “Maybe I should call you Sin, as your cousin does.”
I’m tempted to let you, but alas, you have to have saved my life in order to call me that.”
Audrey blinked in surprise. “And your cousin saved your life?”
Yes, when I was younger.”
His lips twitched with amusement, but his gaze had grown guarded. “I do not divulge the secrets of my past.”
She opened her mouth to question him more but then thought better of it. From all she could tell, he was a very private man, and if things went as she hoped, she would learn all his secrets eventually. Fighting her curious urge, she said, “Are you going to kiss me or not? I do not believe it will take your cousin long to figure out we have both disappeared from the courtyard, and since I met you, she has become more like a pesky chaperone than a companion in adventure.”