Read Forbidden Online

Authors: Susan Johnson

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BOOK: Forbidden
Susan Johnson




Affaire de Coeur


From the majestic plains of
to the glittering ballrooms and bedchambers of 1890s
comes a sensual story of smoldering passion, and a love destined to break every rule…




He was raised in the gilded lap of luxury. Etienne Martel.

the magnificently virile Duc de Vec, notorious rake, expert sportsman—and the most celebrated lover in all of

. But from the moment he saw the incomparable

Daisy Black, he knew he would never desire another.




She was born half a world away: Daisy Black, a proud

beauty, exotic and untamed—and determined to fight for the rights of women in a land ruled by men.

Yet the instant she felt the heat of de Vec's jungle-green gaze, she knew she was lost. Like some haunting promise of paradise he drew her in, fanning the names of her desire until all she could think of was lying in his arms.




Now, caught up in a dance as old as time, Etienne and Daisy have eyes only for each other. But soon, they'll find their happiness threatened… by a society rocked by their scandalous love… by the woman Etienne calls wife.







"[Susan Johnson] is one of the best."

Romantic Times











Available wherever Bantam Books are sold













"I don't want you to touch me, Etienne," Daisy said in a small, breathless voice. "I want to forget you and last night, I want to go back to
and continue forgetting you, I want to find someone else," she went on with new heat in her voice, "who doesn't have a wife, someone who lives where I live and cares about my people. Someone—"

He'd moved with predatory speed when she mentioned finding someone else, convulsed with unspeakable jealousy, and his mouth stopped her flood of words, covering hers with a punishing kiss of possession and fury. He pulled her tightly into his body. "You're lying," he murmured, his mouth lifting from hers for a brief moment. "Tell me other men can make you tremble, tell me other men can make you breathless, tell me damn you, because I haven't slept a peaceful night in weeks and I want to hear the truth."

Daisy wasn't cold anymore, her clothes were beginning to warm from the heat of her skin, from the heat of Etienne's body pressed hard against hers. And what was truth was coiling in the pit of her stomach, flame hot and spreading with every pulse beat.

"You know already," she quietly exploded, "but here's the truth if you want me to say it. I want to make love to you. I want you to make love to me. I want us to make love to each other. Is that clear enough?"



Books by Susan Johnson


Love Storm

Pure Sin

Seized by Love


Silver Flame






























A Bantam Book / September 1991

All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1991 by Susan Johnson.

Cover art copyright
1991 by Marc Wit

Insert art copyright
1991 by Ken Otsuka


ISBN 0-553-29125-4


Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada


Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group. Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words "Bantam Books" and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in
Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marco Registrada. Bantam Books. 1540 Broadway.
New York
New York





To Hazard

And his children,

Who walked in both worlds

With One Spirit…









, May 1891


The knock on the door was insistent and sharp.

Violating the hushed heated quiet of the room…

Disturbing the placid ambiance of golden morning sunlight flooding through the open balcony doors…

Breaking the Duc de Vec's concentration.

His long dark hair swung in a silken ripple as his head turned momentarily toward the sound. A pulsebeat passed before his mind was sufficiently distracted from the carnal urgency on which it was currently focused.

With full awareness came decision.

He ignored the knock, the driving motion of his lower body and the whimpering cries of the flame-hot woman beneath him more compelling.

"I'm dying, Etienne…" The female voice was a whisper of sound trailing away at the end into a low moan of pleasure, her small hands at the base of his spine exerting a fierce impassioned pressure, encouraging each downthrust, restraining the extent of his withdrawal.

He broke her grip with a small movement of his powerful thighs. "I'll make it better," he murmured, Isme's selfishness too shortsighted for her to realize with more leverage he could add enchanting dimension to her "dying." Withdrawing until he almost left her sleek hot passage, he waited a tantalizing millisecond before filling her again. Just short of the extreme, pleasurable limit Isme was waiting for with trembling need, the second urgent rapping on the door resounded in a familiar, prearranged rhythm and Etienne groaned.

… leaving." The aroused woman in his arms voiced her objection in breathless throaty remonstrance, her hands gripping him again, the fire between her thighs voracious, her hips rising, reaching for the ravishing delight he offered… so… agonizingly close.

His blatantly rigid manhood swelled further, as though quickened by the second knock on the door and the need for haste, or by the pressing need of the importuning female sweetness rising to take him in more completely, more deeply…

He shifted a little to allow better purchase for his legs, experienced a provocative stirring friction against the honeyed silkiness holding him tight, and with his own urgent hunger overwhelming prudent consideration of other commitments, murmured in a husky rasp, "It's all yours, darling…" Holding her naked scented shoulders lightly so she couldn't move, he slid forward that small critical distance she wished and he wished and made the world disappear for a delirious, pulsing moment.

Since the Duc de Vec hadn't tripled the thousand-year-old de Vec fortune on imprudence and
disregard for practicalities, when the first drenching rush of sensation diminished marginally, he found himself swiftly glancing at the small jeweled bedside clock.

Damn, his valet Louis's timing could have been better.

And his business manager Legere's nerve could stand some bolstering.

The action on the
wouldn't peak for perhaps another ten or fifteen minutes, experience and a gambler's instinct affirmed, allowing him a few moments more to indulge his heated libido. Luckily so, for his attention was riveted by the impassioned woman clinging to him with such feverish strength.

Isme's silken thighs were slick with sweat, favoring a vel-vety ease of penetration, and he felt the small silver
bell in her vagina again as his downstroke sank in deeply, her small suffocated scream one of pleasure, her arousal so intense, her pale flesh was suffused rosy pink. She'd taken instantly to the Japanese equivalent of "Burmese bells" when he'd introduced her to the uniquely erotic sensation some months ago and he smiled as she breathed in sighing ecstasy, "Oh God…"

Not exactly, he facetiously thought, but he too was nearing a carnal state of deliverance and this time—the clock and Louis's rapping signal reminding him of responsibilities—better be his final climax of the morning.

Feeling Isme's first tiny convulsions along the sensitive pulsing of his engorged veins, he met the orgasmic Comtesse Guimond with his own carnal paroxysm, pouring into the hot moist interior of the voluptuous woman, arching his back against the explosive delirium of pleasure. The dark bronze of his muscular body was sheened in perspiration, his hair damp on his temples and neck, his powerful chest rising and falling, trying to restore air to his lungs.

Isme's breathing echoed his own and they lay in warm proximity, overcome and quenched and breathless. When she lifted her pink lips to him some moments later, normalcy having returned to their pulsebeats, he kissed her in obliging gratitude. "Thank you for riding with me this morning," he murmured, his breath warm against the softness of her mouth. Raising his head, he smiled down at her, the stark beauty of his face framed in the dark silk of his hair, his grin as provocatively scandalous as his reputation.

"I wouldn't rise that early for anyone else…" Isme breathed, sated and purring, her heavily lashed lavender eyes half lidded in languorous contentment. "… or go to the trouble of dressing at dawn."

"And then undressing," the Duc softly declared, his smile wolfish. "I'm indebted then to your… exceptional interest." His voice was a teasing murmur, and while he genuinely appreciated her unusual effort, unfortunately, he concluded with an inward pragmatic sigh, the
wouldn't wait any longer. Much as he enjoyed the Comtesse's hot-blooded passion, with his railroad stocks in imminent jeopardy, he had to be out of bed, dressed, and tending to business in under five minutes.

Propping his weight on one elbow, he swept his hair behind his ears in a swift practiced gesture while his gaze shifted to the bedside clock once more. Would Bouchart call? His dark winged brows formed into a mild frown.

"Am I keeping you?" Isme's lovely eyes narrowed slightly.
's current reigning beauty was only familiar with adoration.

"I'm afraid I'm late for the office. Legere is about to have an apoplexy over the trading frenzy on the
." The Duc de Vec smiled again, the flash of his teeth startling white in the dark tan of his face. Withdrawing from the warmth of her body, he kissed her on the rosy sheen of her cheek. "I'm sorry, darling… Louis is going to be knocking again in just a moment." Half sitting up, he leaned back on his elbows, his firm, toned torso muscles rigidly defined in his casual reclining posture, a sense of restlessness minutely evident, his vivid green eyes shuttered against the legitimate haste impelling him.

"Tell him to go away. I want you to make love to me again… in the way I like best… the
sporting in the… Sin…"

"Cinnabar Cleft," he helpfully added.

"That way."

Etienne had become an expert of sorts on the Taoist classics dealing with the art of the bedchamber while on an anthropological expedition in
years ago, and Isme had been enchanted with his repertoire—as had a good number of other women in his past.

"I dreamt of you last night," she went on, "and of our outing on your sailboat last week. I couldn't sleep thinking of the enormous size of your…" Looking down at his erection, still remarkably roused despite the past hours they'd played at love, her gaze came up to meet his. She smiled, an anticipatory smile, tempting as Eve, undaunted by his commitments. "You must stay," she softly insisted with pampered self-indulgent purpose. "Louis will wait, Legere certainly can wait." A business manager was substantially less important in the hierarchy of staff. One's comfort depended on one's personal servant, after all. But they all could wait.

Isme was very lush, Etienne thought, a magnificent golden blonde bounty of female seduction. Unfortunately, she was also spoiled in that arrested adolescent way of most aristocratic females he knew who thought only of themselves… raised in a society that expected them to be merely ornaments and pleasure objects. And she was, indeed. Very lush. Very ornamental. Extremely pleasurable.

"I wish I could," he quietly replied. And if Germain Frères hadn't started buying up stock yesterday, artificially raising the price of new issues of southern railway bonds, he would have gladly indulged her and himself in the bargain. But Germain Frères would be disposing of their purchases very soon. He intended to sell at that precise peak moment before… realizing enough profit, if all went well, to buy controlling interest in the new railway line to

"Stay with me, Etienne. Entertain me." Her breathy tone was an invitation—practiced and potent and rarely ineffective.

"I'd love to, Isme… some other time." When it won't cost me fifty million francs, he politely refrained from adding. Kicking aside a tangle of white linen sheet, he slid his legs over the side of his bed, and rose in swift muscular grace.

"I shall pout if you go," she declared, lying in curvaceous splendor in the shambles of his bed, her pale skin glowing from her exertions and arousal, the nipples on her heavy breasts peaked in seeming expectancy. "And make you pay…" she petulantly declared, watching him walk away from her across the dark green silk of his carpet. "And you should cut your hair, Etienne," she pettishly went on in the tone of an aggrieved wife. "You look like an Arab brigand."

Glancing back at her from the threshold of his dressing room, her wifely tone struck a chill down his spine. At age thirty-nine, if he'd wanted his hair cut shorter, he wouldn't be wearing it long. Taking in the flushed pink and white loveliness of a woman known for her beauty and prowess in bed, he gently said, "Don't pout, darling. I detest pouting women."

"And I detest talk of business." Isme's voice was acerbic as she pushed herself up on one elbow, her beauty marred by the scowl on her face. "How incredibly boring you sound, Etienne. The
will still be there in an hour or two."

"I'm sorry I bore you." The Duc de Vec didn't take personal offense at Isme's remark. He only found it typical of her style of female.
typical, too predictable also, and perhaps at base, like her estimation of his interest in the
… boring. With one hand on the polished gold handle of his dressing room door, he urbanely offered what conventionally mitigated unhappy scowls on the faces of women acquaintances. "Let me buy you a trinket at Chaumet's. Pick out something for yourself on your way home. In payment, as you put it," he added with a lazy smile, "for my boorish leaving of you."

"I shall be terribly expensive, darling." Her small moue hinted at a tantrum. "And I shan't come over for a week, to teach you a lesson."

"I'm devastated." His grin was less than devastated. It was, instead, wicked and sinfully attractive.

"Damn you, Etienne!" The Comtesse was sitting up in bed now, glowering at the tall powerfully built nude man about to exit the room. "Are you really leaving?"

The Duc inhaled marginally as the mantle clock chimed the hour and on a soft exhalation, said, "Really."

Reacting with the volatile temperament for which she was famous, Isme leaned over, snatched up a small porphyry bust of Cleopatra Etienne kept on his bedside table, and, raising it high above her tousled blonde head, gave every indication of using him as a target.

At the moment the missile left her hand, he slipped into his dressing room, slamming the door a fractional second before impact. With explosive violence, the small porphyry sculpture smashed into the cherry wood paneling, disaster evident in the brittle sound of fragments skidding down the door. The Duc winced inwardly at his loss.

"The Comtesse is unhappy?" Louis's calm, restrained voice suggested a familiarity with female theatrics in his master's apartment.

"Apparently," Etienne said dryly, wondering if Roussel could find him a replacement for his favorite Cleopatra. He'd had the elegant sculpture since adolescence, charmed by the Egyptian Queen's exotic beauty as well as the poignancy of her losing struggle against
. Shaking away sentimental reverie a second later, in light of the brutal reality facing him at the
, he briskly asked, "How high has the stock gone?" Isme was dismissed for more important matters having to do with fifty million francs of his money.

"At Legere's last call a minute ago, the price had risen to 220 francs," Louis answered. "I was about to interrupt you, regardless of the state of your er… activities. Legere is wild."

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