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Authors: Kinley MacGregor

Master of Seduction

BOOK: Master of Seduction
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Kinley MacGregor
M
ASTER
O
F
S
EDUCTION

For Ken, the precious wind beneath my wings.
Je t’aime toujours
.

Contents

O
NE

Black Jack Rhys is the fiercest pirate to ever roam…

T
WO

The following night, the noisy tavern was filled with smoke…

T
HREE

Lorelei’s heart hammered in fear and yet as she stared…

F
OUR

Without thought of the British or the fight, Jack ran…

F
IVE

Jack’s laughter rippled in her ears. “Jack Rhys down on…

S
IX

Jack studied himself in his dressing mirror as he tied…

S
EVEN

Lorelei woke early to the sound of someone knocking rather…

E
IGHT

For several hours, Lorelei had been sketching Jack’s room in…

N
INE

Astern frown creased Jack’s brow as he took her words…

T
EN

Two weeks went by as Lorelei grappled with her confusion.

E
LEVEN

I should say not,” Lorelei answered emphatically as she placed…

T
WELVE

Lorelei waited quietly in her room until she was sure…

T
HIRTEEN

Lorelei pulled back from Jack, aghast at his confession. Could…

F
OURTEEN

Oripping wet and furious, Jack watched as fire consumed the…

F
IFTEEN

It was on the tip of Jack’s tongue to tell…

S
IXTEEN

What on earth had made Kit think she loved him?

S
EVENTEEN

Jack felt as if he’d been punched in the gut.

E
IGHTEEN

Jack didn’t dare look back. He could feel Lorelei’s eyes…

N
INETEEN

Jack stood in the door of his father’s bedroom as…

The diary of Lady Ashton, 1775

B
lack Jack Rhys is the fiercest pirate to ever roam the raging seas. Every sailor alive fears to mention his name aloud lest it summon him up from the very bowels of hell
.


Tis said to see his ship is to see your death, for he gives no quarter, shows no mercy. Once his prey is spotted, he is relentless in his pursuit and will not cease until he claims his prize
.

Jack Rhys is a man possessed of a mysterious legend. A man possessed of numerous talents
.

Tonight, I have met said man and discovered for myself just how hypnotic a creature he is. Aye, he is fierce and wild and untamed, but more than that, he is a spectacular specimen of manliness. And though I ache to have him for my own, I know only too well that no woman shall ever claim him
.

With a sigh in my heart, I have resigned myself to the fact that I spent but one glorious night with the Master of Seduction. For one moment in time I held the unattainable, and tasted the full delights of my gender. There is no other man who can come close to matching Jack Rhys and so I end this small entry with the same sad note that I ended last night
.

Farewell, Jack Rhys. May you always avoid the gallows
.

 

Charleston, South Carolina, 1780

 

T
his was her night of supreme triumph.

Lorelei Dupree smiled in satisfaction as Justin Wallingford whirled her about the crowded dance floor. After all these years of waiting, of knowing deep inside her heart that he was the only man for her, she had finally heard his proposal.

And what a proposal it had been. Wearing his immaculate British uniform, Justin had tapped on his wine glass with his monocle until he’d held everyone’s undivided attention. Then the haughty, much sought after lieutenant had begged for her hand in the presence of Charleston’s social elite.

Oh, but it was a glorious evening. She would treasure the memory for the rest of her life.

As the music finished and she left the dance floor on Justin’s arm, Lorelei caught the pleasure in her father’s smile. In his mid-sixties, Sir Charles Dupree, the most renowned Tory in Charleston, still held the striking handsomeness that had marked his youth. With his powdered wig rolled in the latest fashion, and wearing his dark blue jacket with the heavy gold embroidery, he looked quite dashing.

“I shall fetch us a cup of punch,” Justin offered before leaving her side. As he made his way through the crowd, several men clapped him on the back and nodded in her direction.

Lorelei paused before her father. “You’re looking smug this evening,” she teased.

His smile widened. “And you, little Lori-Angel,” he said, taking her extended hand and bestowing a fatherly kiss on the backs of her knuckles, “are as breathtaking as your mother.”

She blushed at his compliment.

He kept her hand in his and held it tightly. He’d done that much tonight, as if fearing her coming marriage would somehow separate them. But Lorelei knew better. Nothing could ever come between her and her beloved father. He was her Saint George who had slain every evil dragon that had haunted her childhood.

“How is it Justin has left you free for this dance? I thought you had promised it to him alone?” he asked.

She raised her white lace fan to her face and whispered behind it, “I’m afraid I’m the one to blame, Father. My toes needed time to recuperate.”

He laughed. It was common knowledge that Justin, a man of numerous talents, had never mastered the art of dancing.

“If you’ll please excuse me,” she said, reluctantly withdrawing her hand, “I see Amanda and Annabeth heading out to the balcony. I must speak with them.”

“Ever as you wish, sweetest.” That had always been his answer to any request, large or small.

Lorelei gave him a quick peck on the cheek before she skirted through the groups on the edge of the ballroom floor to seek out her friends.

The cool breeze outside was fragrant with magnolias as it whispered through the sculpted shrubs that surrounded the balcony. Crickets and frogs sang to the night while Amanda, Annabeth, and Martha fanned their flushed cheeks in the privacy of the ivy-covered balcony.

Annabeth was the daughter of the local magistrate. Fair of face, she was pleasingly plump and had a cheerful disposition. Tall and thin with brown eyes, Martha had been Lorelei’s very first friend. And the ever beautiful, perfectly coifed Amanda was either Lorelei’s closest friend, or her worst enemy, depending on the mood they were in.

“Oh, Lorelei,” Annabeth breathed as she joined them. “You’re so lucky to have Justin dote on you so.”

“Aye,” Martha agreed. “I think he’s the most handsome man at the party.”

Lorelei looked to where her fianceé stood inside with a group of other British Regulars. His father had commissioned Justin’s lieutenant’s rank just last year.

He
was
a handsome man. Tall of frame and slight of build, he had laughing blue eyes and was probably second only to her father when it came to indulging Lorelei’s whims. The two of them had known each other all their lives and she looked forward to spending the rest of her life with him.

Amanda poked her arm with her closed pink fan. “Be warned, Lori,” she said, her tone dire. “My mother told me a woman only has a month after the wedding before her husband tires of her and seeks another conquest. What will you do when Justin no longer responds to your charms?”

Lorelei laughed and brushed Amanda’s words aside with a cheerful reprisal. “Not respond to my charms? Surely you jest. There’s not a man born I can’t wrap around my little finger.” She lifted up her hand and quirked her pinkie finger to illustrate her point.

Amanda rolled her eyes. “You have a high opinion of yourself,
Miss
Dupree.”

Lorelei recognized the swipe Amanda was taking by reminding her of her less than noble heritage compared to Justin’s impeccable lineage. The fact that Lorelei’s mother had been born of a notorious, illicit affair was more than well known.

Not one to be insulted, even subtly, Lorelei arched a brow at the fragile blonde. “It may be arrogant to you,
Lady
Amanda, but I know the secret of how to handle a man.”

“Oh?” Amanda asked, her face a mockery of a surprised expression. “Then, please,” she said, extending her arms as if to receive a great gift of enlightenment. “Do tell us this incredible secret.”

Annabeth and Martha stopped fanning themselves and leaned closer in their eagerness to hear Lorelei’s every word.

Lorelei smiled mischievously, then let fall her greatest weapon. “The secret is you must treat a man like a dog.”

Annabeth gaped. “A man is like a dog, you say?”

Lorelei brought her hand up to her lips to remind Annabeth to keep her voice down. Though Lorelei and her friends were alone in the shadowy alcove of the balcony, anyone could walk within hearing range. Most especially one of their nosy chaperones.

“You’re telling us that we are to treat a man like a lapdog?” Annabeth repeated, careful this time to keep her tone low enough for only their group.

“Exactly,” Lorelei repeated. “In order to keep a man loyal, you have to treat and train him very much like you would a pampered pet.”

“Who told you this?” Martha demanded.

Lorelei knew her eyes must be twinkling with her mirth. “My mother told me the secret when I was but twelve. ’Twas the same secret her mother had given her. And it works. I tell you, I’ve had nothing but success with the method.”

“My mother says petulance and pouting work best for bending a man to your whims,” Amanda contradicted.

Lorelei bit back the reminder that Amanda’s father was a known lecher who kept two mistresses in town. Unlike Amanda, she would never be so cruel as to embarrass her friend with such a statement. “Fine then, you use your method and I’ll continue mine.”

Martha glanced inside the open doors to where Justin stood in a regal pose as he lectured the soldiers in his group. “I’d like to hear more of this theory,” she said to Lorelei. “After all, you’re the only one to ever attract the notice of Justin Wallingford.”

“Aye,” Annabeth agreed.

Lorelei cast a quick glance inside to make sure no one could hear, then drew her friends closer. “Very well, remember what we were told as children about dogs. Never show them any fear. They can smell it and it makes them mean. Men are the same. They know when a woman is afraid and they use it to control you.”

“Yes, but some of them are vicious by nature,” Martha said.

“As are some dogs!” Annabeth added, pleased with herself that she had caught the metaphor.

Lorelei nodded. “And as with a pet, you must make sure you establish from the beginning exactly who is in control.”

Amanda smirked. “Everyone knows the man is in charge. Why bother?”

“The man doesn’t have to be.”

Annabeth’s blue eyes widened. Martha’s mouth fell open and Amanda fluttered her fan in annoyance.

“What are you saying, Lori?” Annabeth whispered. “That
we
are in charge?”

“That’s scandalous!” Martha gasped. “Whoever heard of such?”

“Who runs the household?” Lorelei asked, ignoring Martha’s question.

“We do, of course,” Martha and Annabeth answered in unison.

“And who makes sure the man is kept comfortable, served his favorite foods, and such?”

They exchanged puzzled looks.

“The wife, correct?” Lorelei prompted. “She makes sure her husband is treated with the proper regard and she is the one who sees after his care, just like you would do a treasured pup.”

Annabeth frowned. “I suppose that’s true.”

“Thank you,” Lorelei said. “Now, if you wish to train a man to listen to you, you never shout, you whisper. They take extra special care to listen to a quiet tone, while they automatically shut out loud ones. And just like you would a dog, when he comes at your bidding, you reward him. That way, he’ll always come instead of ignoring you or putting you off.”

“This is ridiculous,” Amanda spoke again. “Justin would die if he heard any of this from you, and I shan’t listen to anymore of this nonsense.” Snapping her lace fan closed, she lifted her head haughtily and returned to the party.

Lorelei shrugged away her rancor. “No matter what she thinks, I tell you there’s never been a man born I can’t handle. You’ve seen it yourselves. When it comes to men, I could write a book of lessons.”

Annabeth sighed forlornly, her large bosom heaving with the weight of it. “I wish I knew how to handle a man.”

“As do I,” Martha chimed in. “I always get flustered whenever one comes near me.”

Martha looked past Lorelei’s shoulder and her pale face flooded with color.

Lorelei turned her head to see Justin standing in the open doorway with two cups of punch in his hands. The light from inside shadowed most of his face, but even so there was no mistaking the half-peeved, half-shocked look on his face.

“Excuse me,” Martha and Annabeth said as they gathered their skirts and rushed back to the party.

Justin arched a brow at Lorelei as he sauntered onto the balcony and placed their cups on the narrow ledge.

“A dog, am I?” he asked, humor dancing in the blue depths of his eyes.

Instead of being mortified, Lorelei laughed. “Here, Fido, come, sit.”

He dutifully sat on the marbled railing where she’d patted her hand, then gave a soft canine whine.

Her smile widening, she gave him a quick pat on his powdered wig. “Good boy.”

He reached out and pulled her into his arms. “Give me a kiss, wench.”

Shaking her head, Lorelei placed her hands on his biceps and removed his arms from her. “Absolutely not.”

He sighed and became instantly peevish. He reluctantly released her. “Why not?”

“There’s a party inside, you cad. Someone might see.”

He scoffed, then scooted off the railing. Reaching out, he took one of her curls between his fingers and rubbed it with his thumb. “You’ve caused quite the scandal by not wearing a wig tonight.”

She pulled back from his grasp so that her hair was removed from his hand. “’Tis the latest fashion,” she said defensively. “I read that no one will be wearing a wig by this time next year.”

“Don’t be so testy. I think your hair is quite pleasing.”

“Thank you.” She took her citrus punch from the railing and sipped it.

Justin grew quiet for a moment while the music and voices swirled around them. When he spoke, she had to strain to hear him. “Do you have an answer for me yet? Will you help me catch a pirate?”

She cradled the porcelain cup in her hand. So, that was what had been on his mind this night. His stupid wager against Roger Tilden about which of them could capture the nefarious Black Jack Rhys. It was a foolish wager in her opinion, not that Justin ever asked her opinion, mind you.

But far be it from her not to participate in such an adventure. “Do you have to ask? You know how much I love intrigue.”

His face relaxed. “Then tomorrow night. I’ve already arranged everything with the tavern’s owner. We’ll tell your father I’m taking you to the play.”

She tried to look stern with him, but she had a terrible feeling she failed miserably to hide the gleam in her eyes. “How did you know I would go along with your mad plan?”

“As you said, I know how much you love intrigue and I knew you were only making me wait for your answer to torment me with your usual grace.”

“Lori? Justin?” her father’s deep authoritative voice broke them apart. “Don’t you think it’s time to return inside?”

Lorelei snapped open her fan with a flick of her wrist as Justin offered her his arm. Side by side, they stepped into the ballroom.

To her immediate consternation, Justin led her to the dance floor, where he set about trampling her feet. It seemed an eternity had passed before the song ended and she could send him for more punch.

 

M
organ Drake paused in the doorway of the grand party with his notorious friend by his side. The people here tonight, most especially the British Royal Navy, which hunted Black Jack Rhys on a regular basis, would be stunned to learn he was in their midst. But then Jack thrived on danger. He defied death at every turn with a bitter, taunting laugh.

BOOK: Master of Seduction
10.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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