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Authors: Katherine Kingston

Daring Passion

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Daring Passion

Katherine
Kingston

 

Book 2 in the Passions series.

 

What’s a lady to do when her father and the suitor she
favors can’t get together on the terms of the dowry, and neither is willing to
give an inch?

Take matters into her own hands, of course. Even if it means
taking a risk with her intended, her reputation and her future…

 

Ellora’s Cave Publishing

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Daring Passion

 

ISBN 9781843602958

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daring Passion Copyright 2002 Katherine Kingston

 

Cover design by Syneca

 

Electronic book publication 2002

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or
distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without
the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including
infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is
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(http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print
editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of
copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

 

The publisher and author(s) acknowledge the trademark status and
trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned
in this book.

 

The publisher does not have any control over, and does not assume
any responsibility for, author or third-party Web sites or their content.

Daring Passion
Katherine Kingston

 

Chapter One

Anno Domini 1356

 

Lady Anne paused before the closed door, chewing her nails
and trying to still the pounding of her heart. She had to renew her resolve
before she made a move that would forever change the course of her life.

There was no help for what she must do, and little enough
for herself in this quest. The plan might backfire on her and blight her life,
but her future loomed bleak if she didn’t do something to influence it herself.

She quietly lifted the latch. The door squealed on its
hinges as she pushed it open.

She cringed a moment before she went in. The man in the bed
must know she was there. He couldn’t have slept through the noise the door had
made. But he lay still and quiet, giving no indication he was aware of her
presence.

She moved quickly to the side of the bed, making her way
mostly by feel and memory in the darkness. She’d helped prepare this chamber
for honored guests often enough to know the space well. At the far end of the
room a few dying embers yet glowed, remains of the fire that had blazed
earlier. Though visible still, they provided little illumination in the room.
That was good. The darkness served her need.

She wore only a light robe. It whispered softly as it fell
from her shoulders and puddled on the floor. The feather bed gave when she put
her hand on it. She ran her fingers across the surface of the linen cover until
they encountered warm, bare skin. She touched him lightly, hoping not to
startle him.

Instead it was she who jumped when a large hand clamped
around her wrist and a cold, steel point pressed against her breast. She gasped
with shock.

“My lord, I mean you no harm,” she said in what she hoped
was her most soothing voice.

“Who are you?” a gruff, low male voice asked. “What
devilry’s afoot?”

“No devilry, sir. I have no weapon, no tinctures, nothing to
do you any harm.”

“I ask again. Who are you?” The blade moved not a fraction
from its position at her breast.

“A gift, my lord. One offered for your comfort
and…entertainment.”

“Who bestows so unexpected a boon upon me?”

“My Lord D’Auberon.”

“And why did he not apprise me of this boon earlier? Why
send you now?”

“He… I believe my Lord D’Auberon thought you would value the
surprise. Please remove your blade, my lord. I pose no threat to you.”

“I reserve my doubts on that score, madam,” he said. “Come
closer.”

She moved toward him until she reached the edge of the bed.
A sliver of moonlight edged into the room through the window to her right,
letting her see him better. It wasn’t reassuring. The knife lay at his side,
but Lord Richard Hartwell had an intimidating presence even when he lay prone. She
knew him for a tall man, a physically imposing figure based on his height and
breadth of shoulder. He wore no nightshirt. A vast expanse of broad chest
narrowed from his shoulders down until it disappeared under the sheet pulled up
to his waist.

At dinner earlier, he’d worn his dark hair pulled back in a
club held by a leather thong. Now it lay loose around his head. Anne fought an
urge to sink her fingers into the straight, thick mass. It looked invitingly
soft. Then she met the stern, intent gaze of his eyes. In the shadowy light,
they looked dark, although she knew they were blue. Whenever they had rested on
her these past few days, they’d glowed with a fire of either heaven or hell—she
knew not which—in their depths.

She moved to the right to place herself between the ray of
moonlight and the bed, hoping he hadn’t been able to see her as clearly as
she’d seen him. She doubted he could.

He reached out and found her arms. His hands trailed down
the skin to her palms, assuring himself she held no weapon. Then he skimmed
along the side of her body, starting just below her armpits and trailing down
her sides to her hips. Wherever he touched, he left trails of tingling skin and
a few ribbons of a hotter fire.

She shivered as his big hands cradled her hips. She reached
out to touch his chest. Muscle quivered under her questing fingers. His skin
was warm and resilient.

Something made her heart beat more rapidly and her breath
begin to pick up speed. Fear, no doubt. He could crush her with one hand, did
he so will, and he might just when he learned who she was and why she did this.
But if it were fear, it seemed to be affecting him too. He gasped a sharp,
harsh sound when she moved the hand resting on his chest, and the tip of one
finger touched his nipple.

“It appears you have no weapon, as you said, madam,” he
conceded after his breath had resumed its rhythm. “Yet, do I mistrust—” He
broke off sharply. She’d run her fingers along his throat, up the jaw and over
to his lips. He finished with a muffled oath that appeared to be a concession
as well as an expression of annoyance.

She moved a finger to his lips. “Hush, my lord,” she said.
“There’s no harm to you in what I do.” She moved the finger gently, brushing it
back and forth across his mouth. His lips parted and his tongue rasped across
the end of her finger. It sent warm tingles racing down her arm. Her breath
caught in surprise at the pleasurable feeling.

His cheeks were bristly with whiskers when she cupped them
in her hands. It tingled in her palms and sent a wave of heat rushing over her
skin. With the tip of one finger, she traced the line of his temple and jaw.
She’d never touched a man in such a way before. The strength of the bone and
the feel of his flesh set off a fluttering in her stomach.

Anne wanted to lean down and kiss him, but her married
sister had warned her not to. She’d said Anne would risk losing control of the
situation if she kissed him too soon.

“Use your hands for as long as possible,” her sister had
advised. “Rub and caress to drive him wild.” Juliana had gone on to give Anne a
graphic explanation of how and where to touch him for maximum effect. For Anne
the details had been quite astonishing. She was eager to see the reality of
what had been described.

She let her hands roam down along his throat, feeling the
beat of his pulse in the hollow at the base. He tensed and she wondered if he
expected her to wrap her hands around his neck and squeeze. Surely he’d realize
she wouldn’t dare. She couldn’t hope to match her strength against his. After a
moment he relaxed. Muscles in his shoulders and arms rippled as she stroked
them.

She spread her hands across his chest, resting the palms of
her hands on his nipples. His breath caught in a sharp gasp. The tips beaded
up, just as hers did when a chill hit. But his sat atop a layer of hard muscle
rather than on the soft pillows of breasts as hers did. She liked the feel of
his chest, the suggestion of strength beneath the skin.

When she rubbed in gentle, circular motions, he made a sound
deep in his throat that was half growl and half groan. His breath caught again
when she stroked her fingers across the nipples. Almost, he sounded as if he
were in pain. She strained to see his face in the darkness. His features were
drawn tight, mouth clamped shut and eyes narrowed.

Her sister had warned he’d act as though he were in pain,
but in truth it was intense pleasure that looked like pain. Anne couldn’t
imagine how that could be, but she assumed her sister knew the truth from
experience. Here she saw it confirmed, for surely he would have stopped her if
what she did hurt him. Her sister swore ladies could also find such pleasure.
Anne found that even harder to believe.

She explored further, moving her hands down his chest and
across his flat stomach, again marveling at the tight, hard muscle. No soft
belly on this knight. He seemed to be holding his breath as her fingers reached
the edge of the sheet covering the lower half of his body.

She drew a deep breath, steeling herself to encounter the
most alien and intriguing aspect of a man. A bulge just below the edge of the
sheet gave hint that what she’d find should meet or exceed any expectations she
had from her sister’s description of the differences between men and women.

Even so, she stopped in awe and astonishment when she
flipped the cover down to his knees.

It was huge. How could it be so? How did a man hide so large
a thing under his breeches and show so little bulge? Yet the evidence of his
size stood before her, a long, solid tube of flesh jutting out from the base of
his belly. She remembered what her sister had said of the things a man and
woman did together and was even more perplexed. How could such a thing ever fit
inside her? Surely it would tear her asunder.

Fear shuddered through her. But wasn’t this what marriage
was about? And women survived it. Many even enjoyed it. Her sister admitted to
finding pleasure in the intimacies with her husband.

Anne put aside her qualms to resume her mission, wondering
when the interruption would occur. Though she and her sisters had planned it
carefully, the timing would be tricky. She hoped they’d come before this went
too far.

A soft quiver shot through him when she placed her hand on
his belly again. She brushed downward, avoiding the bulge, running her hand
along his hip to his thigh. His body felt very tense, the muscles all tight.
The hard ridges of them lined his thighs as she trailed her fingers down to his
knee.

When she slid her hands up, she moved around to the insides
of his legs. His breath grew faster as she worked her way higher. The muscles
in his legs bunched into iron-hard masses. Once or twice he jumped and groaned
as her fingers struck some especially sensitive area. A sweet little indent in
his right thigh, halfway up, might have been made for her fingers, and he
seemed to enjoy caresses there. She lingered for a moment or two to explore the
power she had to move him, before continuing.

She paused as she neared the tops of his legs, gathering her
courage for her next move, an unimaginably intimate touch. It felt as though
she reached a turning point. She could still withdraw now, run away, claim it
was all a mistake. But once she touched him
there
, she couldn’t go back.

Did she want to do this? Lord Richard intimidated her, in
truth. He was so big, so strong, so handsome. He could break her with one hand.

Yet he excited her, too. On the few occasions they’d met,
he’d been courteous and polite, but a gleam burned hot in his blue eyes every
time he looked her way, as though he wanted to hold and possess her completely.
Those eyes promised something she could barely imagine.

But there was more to the man than that. He was strong,
intelligent, and a natural leader of men. Plus he had a sense of humor and a
wicked wit she found intriguing.

She drew a deep breath and rested her hand on his erect
cock. It was almost as much effort to make herself think the word for his male
part as it was to touch it. When she ran her fingers down it, he jumped as
though she’d struck him and sucked in a hard, sharp breath.

“Madam—” The word was half groan. “Have you any notion what
you do to me?”

“I hope so, my lord,” she answered.

If he only knew how much she hoped so. She dared not
consider too closely the possible result should this scheme not work out as she
planned. It would succeed. It must. As she touched him and drew a response from
him, a peculiar possessiveness grew in her. This man was meant for her, and she
for him.

But where were her sisters? Surely she was compromised
enough by now.

With no sign of rescue in sight, she had to go on. Forcing
herself to follow her sister’s advice, she ran her hand lightly up and down the
length of his cock. It bucked under the caress of her fingers as though it had
a life of its own. The flesh was like silk, sleek, smooth and hot. He sucked in
a breath and muttered a few quiet words she couldn’t understand.

At the base of his shaft, the large, round masses of his
balls also drew her fingers. The feel of them was so odd, the opposite of his
cock where the soft, smooth surface covered a harder interior. The balls were
rough and hairy, but when her hand closed over them, she found them soft and
giving, surprisingly vulnerable. She cupped them carefully, stroked, rolled,
and squeezed lightly.

She let her hand stray back up his cock to the end. The
flesh was so invitingly soft and smooth there. She circled it with her fingers,
brushing them along the ridge around the tip. She stroked from the base of his
shaft to the top and then down again. It throbbed in her grasp and bounced once
or twice as though in eagerness to fulfill its mission. Anne wound her hand
around it and pumped up and down. He grunted something halfway between prayer
and curse. When a drop of fluid leaked from the end, she wiped it off and
smoothed it across the skin.

He jumped and groaned so loudly she was sure she must have
injured him.

“By the saints, madam,” he grated through clenched teeth.
“Come here.”

A hand clenched around her wrist and pulled her toward his
head, continuing the pressure until she was drawn partly onto the bed, her
torso lying beside his, breasts pressed to his chest and her face only inches
from his.

“My lord,” she protested.

“Aye, madam?”

“You’re… Have you no patience?”

“A saint’s in this case, to have waited so long already.”
Then his hand was on her face and his fingers brushed across her lips.

She let out a soft “oh” when unexpected tingles radiated
from where he touched her mouth. It sent shivers racing through her. His hand
slid down to her throat, but his mouth clamped over hers. For a minute or two
he did nothing but slide his lips gently from side to side across hers. She had
no idea lips could feel so much or make the rest of her body so hot and tense.

When his tongue brushed across them, though, she discovered
she’d only just started to learn what depth of sensation her mouth could hold.
She parted her lips to draw a surprised breath and was even more shocked when
he pushed his tongue between them.

BOOK: Daring Passion
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