Submitting to Lord Rockwell

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Submitting to Lord Rockwell

Em
Brown

 

For debt-ridden Deana Herwood, losing a hand of cards to the
wealthy Lord Rockwell is bad enough. But when he proposes she settle her loss
by spending one night offering her body up to his pleasure, she finds herself
caught in a bind.

After agreeing, she discovers that his carnal appetite
includes a preference for the taboo. When she expresses her reservations, he
offers an even more outrageous proposition—he will owe her a hundred pounds if
she fails to spend at his hands. Can she win the wager, or will her body
succumb to the wicked attentions of Lord Rockwell?

 

An
Exotika®
Regency historical BDSM erotica
story from Ellora’s Cave

 

Submitting to Lord Rockwell

Em Brown

 

Chapter One

 

Deana could muster no oath strong enough to reflect the
dismay she felt when Lord Halsten Rockwell revealed his ace and queen. She
glanced at her own cards, a king and a ten, to ascertain she had indeed lost.
How was it possible? Rockwell had been losing all night.

“You owe me fifty pounds, Miss Herwood,” Lord Rockwell
stated placidly as he collected the winnings in the middle of the table. It
included a chit signed in her own hand.

She suppressed a glower, for she would not be dubbed bitter
in defeat. It was evident from his immaculate dress—a perfectly tied cravat, a
waistcoat sewn from the finest silk and a coat cut to fit his broad shoulders
in tight embrace—that Rockwell had not her situation and was not in dire need
of funds. She watched him replace a beautiful onyx ring upon his hand and found
herself regarding his rugged fingers. She had never before paid much heed to a
man’s hand—or a woman’s for that matter—but his conveyed strength, agility and
even gentleness.

Dismissing the odd warmth that flared in her of a sudden,
she glanced about the gaming hell for someone she might harry to lend her fifty
quid. But the hour was late, the patrons at her table had left half an hour
ago, and many of those remaining had debts themselves to pay. If only she had
quit while ahead, but she had derived too much satisfaction from besting a man
who possessed all that she did not—wealth, refined features and a quiet
assurance that bordered on arrogance.

“I will repay you from my next winnings,” she informed
Rockwell.

“I have a better repayment option for you, Miss Herwood.”

She raised her brows and waited patiently as he returned his
purse to his coat. He looked across the card table at her. His dark-brown eyes
reflected either the light of the candelabras or some inner merriment. His
stare unsettled her, but not as much as what he said next.

“I would have you in my bed, Miss Herwood. For one night, I
will take my pleasure of you, after which, your debt to me will be acquitted in
its entirety.”

“You would make of me a whore?” she asked when she had
collected her wits and realized that he did not speak in jest. No one would
mistake her family for members of the
ton
, but neither did her status
merit such an affront.

“Let us have no pretentions, Miss Herwood. You relinquished
your maidenhead years ago.”

Her cheeks—nay, her entire countenance—flushed to know that
he was privy to such confidence. Younger and more impulsive, she had
surrendered her maidenhead to a man she thought would care for her. A colonel
in His Majesty’s Army, he was called to service before their affair could
blossom into anything of consequence. Having lost her honor, she saw no reason
subsequently not to indulge in the occasional affair, but she had always
proceeded with great discretion. Her family had already suffered a fall from
grace when she became a regular at the gaming hell, and she would not worsen
the situation with more scandal.

Holding his gaze, she replied, “You overestimate the appeal
of your company, Lord Rockwell. I would sooner double my obligation.”

“Suit yourself,” he said with dispassion and rose to his
feet.

She considered how many hands of
vingt-et-un
she
would have to win to secure fifty pounds and the litany of woes she would hear from
her mother and aunt should she fail to bring home any income. They were a
household of women since her father passed away, and the want of a man was
never more palpable than now. If she could erase a debt of fifty pounds through
one act—one night—might she be a fool to pass upon such an opportunity? As Lord
Rockwell’s barefaced assertion indicated, she no longer had any claim to a
maiden’s honor.

But what did she know of the man? Very little. He was not a
frequent patron of her gaming hell. They had perhaps shared a card table once
before; he had not taken much notice of her then. She, however, had not
overlooked his presence, nor the women who threw themselves his way.

He possessed a countenance she would have enjoyed studying
at length, much in the way one would admire a painting or sculpture. If he
favored a lass here or there, it was difficult to ascertain, though surely no
mortal could resist such attentions for long. Years ago, she had heard that
banns would be read betwixt him and a Spanish princess or the daughter of a
Duke or some such. Admittedly, the lack of a wedding ring was one of the first
things she had noted when he sat down at her table this evening.

That he was always impeccably dressed also did not escape
her, but many a man spent money he did not possess in order to maintain the
appearance of wealth. She would not have allowed the wager to reach the sum of
fifty pounds had she not felt assured of Lord Rockwell’s finances. Unlike
others, he did not flaunt his affluence. And though down by an even grander sum
at one point, he showed no apprehension at the loss. How quickly thereafter the
game had betrayed her!

Regardless of what she knew or thought of the man, her
situation remained. If she did not accept his proposition, she was indebted to
him for a significant amount of money. His demeanor suggested if she rebuffed
him tonight, he would not necessarily renew his proposal.

“Pray, wait.”

Lord Rockwell paused and looked down at her.

“I accept your offer,” she informed him with eyes downcast.
Honor or no, she could not look at him.

He inclined his head. “You honor me, Miss Herwood.”

What a ridiculous statement, she thought, as if she had
accepted an invitation for a ride in the park with him.

“There are rooms here reserved for more, er, amorous
pursuits. Shall we retire to one of them?” she inquired, meeting his gaze this
time, then wishing she hadn’t. The contrast of dark intensity with the glimmer
of light in his eyes disconcerted her.

“That won’t do. The accommodations here are hardly adequate,”
he replied. “My carriage shall meet you here two nights hence. The wait will
deepen the anticipation.”

Anticipation? His or hers?
Perhaps his self-assurance
was arrogance after all.

“My only request,” he continued with a stern tone, “is that
you do not arrive inebriated.”

Again, she reddened. She was known to have had a glass too
many on occasion, but how did this man whom she barely knew acquire such
knowledge of her? And why should it matter to him what state she was in? Lest
he was expecting her to perform certain acts upon him? The thought made her
blush deeper.

His features softened as he lifted her hand to his lips. “
Au
revoir.

As she watched him depart, she began to regret her decision,
for she could not attribute to indignation alone the warmth she felt spreading
throughout her.

* * * * *

“Are you headed to that gaming hell again?” her aunt queried
as Deana finished her supper and prepared to leave the table. “You’ll never
find a husband if you waste your hours there in the company of cads and
rogues.”

“Leave her be,” her mother responded. “We can ill afford her
not to go. It were not as if she had any marital prospects to entertain.”

On that merry note, Deana ascended the stairs to her
bedroom. Had she known her father would pass from an untimely failure of the
heart, she would have sought matrimony earlier. While he had earned a decent
income as a barrister, they had over time eaten into what savings they had,
including funds intended as her dowry. If it were not for a flair and more luck
than not at the card tables, she knew not how they would have fared. She had to
acquit herself of her debt to Lord Rockwell or her hours at the gambling hall
would be long indeed.

Struggling with her attire, she settled first on her
plainest muslin, but vanity, and perhaps a subtle desire to please Lord
Rockwell, led her to a simple but elegant gown of batiste. She could not deny a
part of her was flattered that he wished to bed her. He had a physiognomy
pleasing to the eye, a physique that knew few rivals, and a grace to his
movements and carriage. She had relived the kiss to her hand over and over
despite herself. The firmness, the gentleness with which he had held her hand
and the deliberateness in how he had released her made her quiver. Though not
uncomely herself, she would be as naïve as a schoolroom chit to think she was a
skirt of singular interest to him. There were rumors enough of the women he had
taken to bed, and undoubtedly others that had not risen to the level of
tittle-tattle.

At the gaming hell, she drummed her fingers against the card
table before bolstering her courage with a third glass of burgundy. She played
a few rounds of faro, hoping that in the final minutes Lady Luck would spare
her the humiliation of prostituting herself for a mislaid wager. She had
assumed Lord Rockwell to be discreet, for she had not known him to confirm any
of his
liaisons
, but she had no guarantee of his confidence. Granted,
her patronage of a gaming hell had already diminished her repute, but word of
her lifting her skirts to Lord Rockwell would discharge any prospects for
matrimony—the only stable salvation for her family.

“Your carriage awaits, Miss Herwood,” a footman informed
her.

She retrieved her gloves and hat, pulling its veil low over
her face before she stepped into the carriage. By the time it pulled up in
front of Lord Rockwell’s Town home, the burgundy had calmed her anxiety and put
her in a more cheerful disposition. She had consumed three glasses of wine in
the past with no significant impacts. Despite his command that she arrive
sober, he would be no wiser. No doubt he differed little from others of his sex
and, after twenty minutes, she would find him spent, her obligation complete,
and herself returned home before midnight.

Once inside, the butler offered to take her pelisse but she
declined. He showed her into the drawing room. Compared to her address, the
room was richly furnished and its décor stately but not garish. The gleam of
the wood and the shine of the upholstery indicated the furnishings to be new or
well cared for, unlike the few pieces her family owned or borrowed. A healthy
fire kept the room warm and the candelabras on the silken walls gave it light.
A small elephant carved from ivory caught her eye. She picked it up from the
end table and admired the detailing and its two ruby eyes.

“Do sit, Miss Herwood.”

She bobbled the figurine before clutching it tightly to her
chest to keep it from falling. She turned in the direction of the rich tenor.

Lord Rockwell stood at the threshold, appearing as dapper in
his banyan as he did in full dress. Quickly she returned the elephant to its
home. The thought that she had nearly dropped what was no doubt an expensive
item made her tremble. God knew what she would owe him then.

“Two and twenty thousand rupees,” he answered as if she had
asked the price. “It belonged to a Hindu rajah.”

“It’s beautiful,” she murmured.

“Sit, Miss Herwood.”

His imperial tone contrasted with the more courteous manners
he exhibited at the gaming hell. Perhaps he fancied himself a rajah in his own
abode. Though tempted to defy him, she sat down upon a settee, noting that tea
had been set upon the table before it. He sat opposite her and poured her a
cup, which she accepted gratefully, for she would not know what to do with her
hands otherwise. She took a sip of the fragrant Darjeeling, ignoring his
penetrating gaze.

“You’re inebriated,” he stated with a frown.

Damn. How the bloody hell did he discern that?
Caught, she opted to mask her embarrassment with childish insolence.

“I had myself a glass,” she admitted with a dismissive
shrug, avoiding his stare by focusing on her tea. “I am no child, Lord
Rockwell, and you are not my guardian.”

“Indeed. If I were, you would certainly not be spending your
time in a gaming hell.”

“And if I were yours, you would not be making indecent
propositions to ladies you hardly know.”

His brows rose but his eyes glimmered with amusement.

“Such insolence can be tamed,” he said almost to himself,
then offered her the plate of biscuits. “You will require sustenance to soak up
the effects of the wine.”

She hesitated. The wine was giving her courage, but perhaps
it was best she had all her wits about her with this man.

“The servants have all retired for the evening. You’ve no
need to conceal yourself.”

“You will forgive me if I fail to trust to assurances alone
that our transaction, if you will, shall remain private.”

After a moment of thought, he went to the writing table and
retrieved paper and pen. After a quick scrawl, he affixed his seal and handed
her the note.

“You may redeem this if the confidence of this night is
broken,” he told her.

She choked on her tea upon seeing the amount he had penned.
Five hundred pounds!

“Do you make such offers to all the women you take to bed?”
she could not help asking.

His expression darkened and she regretted her impudence.

“Consider yourself unique, Miss Herwood.”

There was a peculiar strain to his voice. She took another
sip of the tea to avoid his gaze. Of course the other women willingly lifted
their skirts to him. She wondered if she would have done the same had she not
lost to him.

“When do we, er, begin…?”

“Our ‘transaction’?”

“Would you prefer a more romantic term?” she replied archly.

“Not at all. I have always observed you to be practical and
devoid of the silly sensibilities and nonsense that permeate others of your
sex.”

He had observed her before? Should she be flattered by this?
She began to wonder if he had deliberately chosen to sit at her card table the
other night.

“We will conduct our matter when you are in full possession
of your faculties,” he continued, pouring her more tea, “that you may fully
appreciate its aspects.”

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