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Authors: Karolyn Howard

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BOOK: Devil Disguised
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His hold eased slightly, yet he remained against her. She whispered, “What are you doing?”

His right arm was still around her waist as his left fingers began to trace the ruffles along the bodice of her gown. Glancing down, she watched his fingers delicately skim along her cleavage. Her breath hitched.

His gaze followed his delicate touch and she felt her skin ignite from the heat of the contact. His voice was low, seductive when he replied, “I told you. You are a
mystery and I am trying to understand every beautiful part of you. I need to figure out if you are an angel or a devil in disguise.”

Inhaling sharply, the sensations of her body held her in stunned silence as his fingers brushed the tops of her breasts and skimmed along her neck before he gently cupped her cheek. His brown eyes darkened to midnight as he lifted her chin and his mouth descended on hers. His lips were gentle and coaxing as he teased her mouth with delicate caresses before sliding his tongue over her lips. Her lips parted, welcoming his kiss as his tongue slid over hers.

Holding her nape, his tongue tasted and teased with expert precision. She opened more, allowing the kiss to deepen, unable to deny the kiss was everything that she imagined it would be and more. The strength of his passion mixing with the gentleness of his touch had her captivated. He was like a powerful wave crashing over her and she wanted to drown in his embrace.

Guiding her backwards, she felt his arousal against her stomach as he pressed her against the bookshelf. She threaded her fingers into his thick hair and he released her mouth to trail kisses along her neck. Lost to the sensations, her body reacted easily to his touch and she pressed shamelessly against him. She moaned in pleasure when he brought his lips back to hers. He shifted and started to lift her skirt, the cool air of the room brushing her legs. The image of him holding and touching Charlotte invaded her mind, the similarities fresh in her memory.

She pulled back and tried to catch her breath as she pushed against him. Sliding along the bookshelf, she
put distance between them. Surprise registered over his features. He was breathing heavily and his eyes remained black with desire.

Her body was on fire with need, but she slowly backed away from him. “I need to leave,” she breathed, shaken.

“Lily, wait.”

She shook her head and darted out of the room. Running as fast as possible, she heard Duncan following at her heels. He was almost upon her now, but turning quickly at the top of the stairs, she entered her room and slammed the door in his face.

UNCAN PUT HIS
head against the door to Lily’s room. He raised his hand to knock, but threaded his hand through his hair instead and stepped back. What the hell had just happened?

Shaking his head, he walked to his room as desire still raged in him. Closing his bedroom door, he pounded his fist against it as he looked down at his body’s undeniable response to her kiss. He cursed. He should have never drank so much wine this night, it made him reckless enough to accuse Lily of insensitivity to terrible tragedies and then kiss her senseless. In truth, he had wanted to kiss her from the first moment he saw her. She set a fire in him that he could not put a damper on and tonight he could barely control.

Could she really have anything to do with the terrible things that happened to those close to her? Lily appeared innocent in so many ways, but then she became a seductress before his own eyes when she ate her dessert in a
far more provocative manner than Charlotte. She had even told him she knew what occurred between a man and a woman.

Pressing his hands against his head, he fought against the thoughts plaguing his mind. He did not trust most women, but somehow he was beginning to trust Lily. Maybe it was because she slammed the door in his face, twice, or maybe because his friend Charles adored her. His friend was convinced someone was out to harm her and then there was that strange incident in his own home. Simon never even found footprints outside. Had she been the one to make the noise? She appeared genuinely frightened when he found her, nearly naked in her white nightgown.

He flung himself back on his bed as the image of her body so temptingly visible through her thin nightgown assailed him. Then her kiss. Her passion surprised him, but then it seemed everything about her was unexpected. Staring at the ceiling, he continued to wrestle with his scattered thoughts until he drifted into a restless sleep.

Duncan woke later than usual the next day and after dressing and eating, he went to see Eleanor.

“Good morning, El.” She sat up straighter in bed as he entered the room.

“Duncan! Where have you been? I am losing my mind staying in bed, but the doctor said it is best for the baby. Thank goodness for Lily!”

He smiled and sat at the edge of the bed. “I am sorry. I have been busy doing things around the estate, but that is no excuse for not seeing my sister.”

She narrowed her eyes and said, “No, it is a terrible excuse. Do you have a better one?”

“A better excuse?”

“Mmm hmm.” Her eyes danced with mischief.

“El, what in heaven are you talking about?”

Eleanor flung herself back on the pillows behind her. She looked at the ceiling as if for divine inspiration and muttered, “Men.” After taking a deep breath she said, “Lily, I am talking about Lily. I think you have avoided me because she has been in my company so much.”

Duncan stood up and said, “Ridiculous. I have been busy with the running of the estate.”

“If you say so.” Eleanor smoothed her bed covers.

He began to pace. “All right, fine, maybe I have been giving the two of you time to get to know one another.”

“That is still no reason to avoid her,” Eleanor replied.

Duncan disliked that tone in his sister’s voice that reminded him so much of their mother. He knew he had to give in a little or his sister would continue to badger him, but he did not want to tell her he just had a very pleasant time with Lily.

He tugged on his coat sleeves. “I avoid Lily because we have nothing to discuss. She prattles on and on about London, which you know annoys me. She is here temporarily because I owe a favor to Charles, nothing more. I am glad she is able to keep you company, but I have no desire to spend much time with her.”

He swallowed hard, trying to ignore the lie he had just spoken. His stomach seemed to drop when he saw his sister pale. Eleanor opened her mouth and then closed it abruptly as she looked behind him. He turned to see Lily standing in the doorway. To his surprise, she did not turn and run away, but instead walked regally into the room.

A forced smile spread across her lips as she looked at his sister and said, “Good morning, Eleanor.”

Turing to face him Lily said, “I have not mentioned London to you since my first day here. I thought we had a pleasant dinner together yesterday, but apparently, I am mistaken. I am more than happy to dine alone. Just inform Simon of your preference so he can let me know. Until then, I think I will be spending time in my room today in order to send overdue responses to the many letters I received from my friends in the city I cannot speak about. Excuse me.”

With a quick bow, she left the room.

He turned back to Eleanor as she exclaimed, “Duncan, go after her!”

Every instinct in his body told him to do just that, but instead he shook his head. “I am sorry, El. I will not chase after her.”

Eleanor looked distraught. “But, Duncan.”

He closed his eyes and held up his hand. “But, I will make sure Simon tells her to join me for dinner.”

“Please do.”

Duncan walked over to the bed and placed a kiss on Eleanor’s forehead. “I will.”

He met his sister’s worried gaze and added, “I do hope she joins me.”

Eleanor squeezed his hand and said, “Good. I hope she does too. I like her, Duncan.”

“I know you do.” Duncan nodded at his sister and turned to leave. He could not tell his sister he liked Lily too and far more than he should.

SOFT KNOCK SOUNDED
as Lily put down the book she had been reading and said, “Come in.” Simon entered and made a quick bow. “My lady, the earl requests your presence at dinner this evening. Shall I tell him you will be joining him?”

She looked at Simon and debated about making a sarcastic remark, but Duncan’s servant was very loyal and she guessed that he did not have the sense of humor necessary to enjoy the comment. She replied, “Of course.”

Simon nodded and left. Lily stood and began to choose something to wear for dinner. She thought about not joining Duncan for dinner, but quickly dismissed that as impractical and childish. She had already avoided him long enough. Her mother always taught her that the best way to keep people from talking about you was to meet them head on. If you ran and hid from the gossips, they would find that food for their tales. If you held your head high and showed everyone that nothing they say would
hurt you, eventually they would no longer say anything vicious about you.

She checked herself in the mirror and stood up taller. The words she heard Duncan speak to his sister had stung. She actually thought he was attracted to her and kissed her as if he desired her and no one else. Last night she felt a connection with him, but maybe that was only imagined. She would not let him frazzle her now. As her parents would do, she would hold her head up high to meet those who would put her down. Squaring her shoulders, she turned and left her room to go downstairs.

BOOK: Devil Disguised
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