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Authors: Sabrina York

Dark Duke

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Dark Duke

Sabrina
York

 

Noble Passions, Book Three

 

Edward Wyeth, the Dark Duke of Moncrieff’s
life has been turned on its end. His well-ordered home has been invaded. By
destitute relatives. From Scotland. How on earth can he write Lord Hedon’s
salacious novels with hellions battling in the garden and starting fires in the
library? But with the onslaught has come a delicious diversion. His cousin’s
companion, the surprisingly intriguing Kaitlin MacAllister. He is determined to
seduce her. Using her desperate need for funds and her talents as an artist, he
convinces her to draw naughty pictures for his naughtier books…and he draws
her
into his decadent web.

But Kaitlin has a secret. She’s
fled Scotland—and a very determined betrothed. When Edward’s cousin is
kidnapped and held in her stead, Kaitlin is honor-bound to return to her
homeland and rescue her—much to Edward’s chagrin.

Because suddenly he can’t bear the
thought of Kaitlin marrying another man. He can’t bear the thought of losing
her at all.

 

A Romantica®
Regency historical erotic romance
from
Ellora’s Cave

 

Dark Duke
Sabrina York

Dedication

 

This book is dedicated to Carrie Jackson, whose passion for
Ethan and James compelled me to continue the series.

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

Thanks to Kelli Collins for her editing genius, and to Dar
Albert and the Ellora’s Cave art department for an awesome cover! To all the
Ellora’s Cave staff who work so hard to make these books shine, you are all
amazing.

My heartfelt appreciation to my fellow writers for their
support. Especially Kayelle Allen, Emily Cale, Karen Cote, Dana Delamar, Cerise
DeLand, Delilah Devlin, Adrienne deWolfe, Laurann Dohner, Tina Donahue, Lisa
Fox, Gabrielle Holly, Desiree Holt, Zenobia Renquist and Bernadette Walsh.

And deep appreciation to Charmaine Arredondo, Crystal
Benedict, Crystal Biby, Kim Brown, Carmen Cook, Celeste Deveney, Tracey A.
Diczban, Shelly Estes, Joany Kane, Julianne Keller, Tammie King, Angie Lane,
Lori Lyn, Joyce Ann McLaughlin, Laurie Peterson, Tina Reiter, Hollie Rieth,
Regina Ross, Michelle Wilson, Christy, Elf Fedora and Gaele—for their support
of my books and writing.

To all my friends in the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of
America, Passionate Ink and Rose City Romance Writers groups, thank you for all
your support and encouragement.

Chapter One

 

Edward Wyeth, Duke of Moncrieff, gazed at the fire crackling
in the hearth. It was a rare moment of peace and quiet in a world that had been
turned on its end.

Of course, to obtain this singular moment alone, he’d had to
hide. Here. In the small, oft-forgotten study on the third floor of his
suddenly inundated home.

Relatives.
He shuddered and took a sip of fine
forty-year-old Wyeth whiskey. Six rambunctious boys, an innocent debutante, a
flatulent aunt and a sour-faced companion.

The fire popped and spat embers into the grate. He nestled
deeper into the stately wingchair and tried to banish his gloomy thoughts.

That was the problem with peace and quiet. It had a tendency
to lead one to unfortunate reflection.

He had no business feeling dissatisfied with his life. He
was a duke, for God’s sake. His household ran smoothly—or it had until his
brood of cousins had descended. He was wealthy, healthy. The world was at his
feet. Anything he wanted was his for the taking.

Where this trickle of unease came from, he hadn’t a clue.

Surely it had nothing to do with
her
. He frowned as
visions of Helena Tully, now Countess of Darlington, flickered through his
mind. It wasn’t that he’d wanted her very much—although he had—as much as the
fact that she had married James.

James
was married. The two were deeply in love.

He should not feel this unpleasant curl of envy.

He took another sip of whiskey. And then a gulp.

Damn it all anyway. He’d never wanted to be in love.
Besotted. Stumbling around after a twitching skirt. What idiot did?

But watching Helena and James court, coo like lovebirds and
drool over each other as they awaited their wedding had burned in his gut.
Every encounter had been torment. The worst of it all had been watching them
stand at the altar in St. Paul’s, holding hands and gazing into each other’s
eyes like mooning cattle.

It was revolting. Surely he didn’t want
that
.

So why this melancholy?

Edward was alone. All alone in the world. He always had
been—until his brood of cousins had descended. No one to please but himself. He
liked it that way.

And why this nagging emptiness? As though something was
lacking in his life?

There was nothing fucking lacking.

His life was full. Damn full.

He had his hobbies—horses and boxing and of course his
writing, although that had stalled thanks to a young man’s reckless penchant
for racing curricles. He had willing women at his beck and call, all of whom
appreciated his particular tastes.

He didn’t dare think on how even that had begun to pall.

Not that he didn’t still enjoy having a willing wench bound
and squirming on his bed. He just felt so…jaded. Nothing was new, nothing was
thrilling anymore.

He had six houses, four carriages and seventeen of the most
exquisite Arabians that had ever been bred. He didn’t even bother to count the
servants.

Full. It was a full life.

And still—it was deadly dull.

He tipped back his glass and thought about heading across
the room for a refill, but couldn’t be bothered. Instead he glared at the fire
and brooded.

A snick at the door captured his attention. He turned to see
a wraith enter. No. Not a wraith. A girl, wearing a voluminous white nightgown.
Hell. His cousin’s vinegary companion—what was her name? It hardly mattered.
The chit was a mouse. A timid, shy creature with spectacles and a tight bun,
who curled up inside herself whenever he entered the chamber. He didn’t think
he’d ever heard her speak so much as a word in the two months since the Onslaught.

Gads. Would they find him even here?

He sank deeper into the chair, thankful for the ornate
wings, desperately wishing he’d refilled his glass. Hopefully she would come
and go without noticing him, without requiring him to bestir himself to
converse.

She hummed to herself as she perused the shelves on the
wall. He should probably tell her she would find nothing of interest. This
small collection held only his favorite books, ones he’d felt the need to
rescue from the main library when he’d come upon Taylor—or was it Hamish? The
two were nearly identical—using older tomes to start a fire in the umbrella
stand.

She pulled out a book and flipped through the pages, then
returned it to the shelf. And then another.

Edward forbore blowing out a sigh. He truly did not want to
be discovered—

And then she walked in front of the fire and every fiber of
his being snapped to attention. His cock stirred. For as she passed, backlit by
the flames, captivating curves were revealed to his inspection. Her hair, no
longer scraped back in that hideous bun, flowed softly over her shoulders and
down her back—all the way to her exquisitely formed bottom.

Imagine that. The little mouse. In her drab, ill-fitting
clothing. With the spectacles perched on her nose. A prim, proper pucker ever
fixed on her unremarkable face.

She had glorious curves.

Edward shifted restlessly and she froze.

Blast.

She spun to gape at him, eyes wide. Her hand flew to her
chest. She gasped. She would have done more than gasp had she known this new
position gave him an even more tantalizing view. She would have run.

“Oh. Your Grace. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know anyone was
here.”

Her voice, a lilting brogue, sent a curl of pleasure through
him. He should have guessed. His cousins had come to his home from Perth. Of
course Violet’s companion would be a Scott.

“Not at all, my dear.” Hell. What was her name again? He
couldn’t remember. “Are you looking for a particular book?”

She blinked. Glanced at the door and then back at him.
Tucked her hair behind her ear. “I-I couldn’t sleep.”

“I see.” In his experience, women who couldn’t sleep
couldn’t sleep for a reason. A little devil stirred inside him. It was an old
friend, that devil. “May I make a recommendation?”

“A recommendation?”

He smiled—a slow, knowing grin. “A book, of course.” He
could think of several she might find…illuminating.

“I don’t want to be a bother.”

“Not at all. As it happens, I too could not sleep.” He waved
to the seat by his side. “Please join me.”

“I shouldn’t.” Again she looked at the door, as though she
wanted to escape. The predator within him went to point.

“Nonsense. We’re both restless. Why not enjoy each other’s
company for a while?” Truth be told, he could listen to that voice all night.
Naturally, he’d prefer to hear it warbling in his ear as he sank into her, but
given what he knew of her, that prospect wasn’t likely.

What a damn shame.

Because for the first time in a long while, he was
intrigued.

To his delight, she sat.

No, he probably couldn’t seduce her, but he could toy with
her a bit. That would be diverting. He did so enjoy toying with innocents. He
fixed his features into an avuncular arrangement and threaded his voice with
just the right amount of indifference. “May I offer you a drink?”

“A drink, Your Grace?”

He kept from grimacing, but only just. “Please, call me
Edward.”

That puckered look appeared on her face. It occurred to him
that without it, she’d been quite striking. “I think not, Your Grace.”

“Really.
Your Grace
does get quite old.”

“You have my sympathies.” This, she offered in a manner so
dry, the words almost curled up and blew away.

What ho! The little mouse had some spark. And a sense of
humor. This was going to be fun. He picked up his glass and strolled to the
decanter by the window and poured in several drams. Then he filled a glass for
her. He launched into his tried-and-true method for inciting proper females to
misbehave.

“It really is quite fascinating,” he said as he made his way
back to his chair. He glanced at her, fully expecting her to ask what was quite
fascinating. They usually did.

She did not. She merely crossed her arms over her rather
impressive chest and observed him with an owlish mien.
Blink. Blink.
The
spectacles made her eyes look quite large. A stormy gray. Laced in feathery
ashes.

In the light of the fire, her unbound hair took on an amber
hue.

He did love a ginger. In his experience, redheads had hidden
depths. And a blazing temper. They resisted deliciously.

When she didn’t take her glass from him, he set it on the
table beside her elbow and sat. “I say, it really is quite fascinating,” he
repeated. He took a sip of his drink. And another. Still, nothing. Not one to
be discouraged by silence, he decided to continue on without her. “This new
generation of women…”

Her brow rose, but only infinitesimally.

Well, hell. This had always worked before.

Finally, she spoke. “A new generation of women?” He liked
the way her lips quirked as she repeated his words.

“Ah. Yes. Womanhood is experiencing a new age. A
liberation.” He swallowed his quivering anticipation. This was the point where
their eyes went wide and their faces lit up and the long-stifled rebel within
them awoke—

“Ballocks.”

Edward choked on his drink. Or perhaps on his surprise.

That word, in that tone, from that prim and proper mouth?
Scintillating.

And disquieting.

Clearly this was not a girl who was easily led.

No worries. He’d always enjoyed a challenge. In fact, her
intransigence spurred his resolve.

He chuckled. “And here I thought you were a shy little
innocent.”

“I’m hardly an innocent.”

Something in the tenor of her voice snagged his attention.
The fact that she didn’t consider herself an innocent was intriguing enough—how
he would love to investigate that tidbit. But with the statement came the
realization there was something more to her, something simmering beneath the surface,
something that belied her deliberately bland exterior.

Fascinating.

He glanced pointedly at her whiskey. Then pointedly took a
sip of his own. When she didn’t take his cue, he just came right out and asked.
“Aren’t you going to drink?”

“Your Grace, are you trying to get me drunk?”

Edward blanched. He’d never had a woman call him on his seductive
maneuverings.

And then he gaped. Because she picked up the cut crystal
filled with forty-year-old Wyeth whiskey and tossed it back in one gulp.

She didn’t wheeze. She didn’t tear up. She didn’t cough or
choke.

In fact, she belched. It was a dainty little belch, but a
belch nonetheless.

“Because if you are trying to get me drunk, my lord, it
won’t work.” She leaned closer and whispered, in that charming lilting brogue,
“I was weaned on whiskey. All good Scotts are.” Then she stood and shook out
her nightgown, though it hardly needed shaking out, and gave him a little
curtsey. He suspected it was offered as a travesty of respect, but he hardly
cared. Because the bow was low enough for him to get a glimpse of her breasts.

Disappointment lashed him as she turned to leave. “W-where
are you going?”

“To bed, Your Grace.” Dimples blossomed on her cheek as she
grinned. Lord, she was lovely when she grinned. “
Alone
.”

“Wait!” He jumped to his feet. He didn’t want her to go. He
wanted her to stay. He wanted— “You forgot your book.”

“Ah. My book.” She turned to the shelves and tapped her lip
with a finger.

Of a sudden, he was possessed of the urge to taste those
lips.

But she would never allow it. Not this feisty girl.

Oh, how he had misjudged her. Perhaps having his cousins
staying here wasn’t quite the dismal disaster it seemed on the face of it.

She tipped her head and surveyed him. “Were you going to
make a recommendation?”

Was he. He sprinted to the shelves and pulled out a
particular book. “You will find this one interesting.”

“Will I?” She took it from him and began to open it.

He snapped it shut, caging her hands in his. Her skin was
warm and soft. He stroked her with his thumb. “Not until you’re alone.” A
whisper.

She wriggled her hands free and peered up at him through her
spectacles, her eyes wide. “Alone?”

“Yes, my dear. And when you read it, think of me.” He leaned
closer. Her lips parted. In that moment, he noticed she had one slightly
crooked tooth. An adorable tooth. Ah. So sweet. He was but a breath away from
that kiss—

Something sharp pricked his side. He looked down and froze.

She held a knife to his ribs.

His gaze snapped to her face. He opened his mouth but no
words came out. In the whole of his life, no one had ever poked him with a
knife.

Her lips curled in a slow smile. Again, those fiendish
dimples blossomed. Slowly, she backed away. “Good night, Your Grace,” she said.
“Thank you for the whiskey. And thank you for the book.”

She was gone before he could even marshal his legendary
charm to call her back.

In something of a stupor, he sank into his chair and tossed
back his drink.

What a woman. He’d never met the like.

He had no inkling in which of his many rooms she was housed,
so he could hardly hunt for her tonight. But by God, he’d have her.

And he’d have her soon.

BOOK: Dark Duke
10.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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