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BOOK: Nan Ryan
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The Livingston sisters vehemently agreed. They went on and on about the dirty Yankee and the foolish widow until the carriage rolled to a stop before their once grand, but now run-down home a mile outside Spanish Fort.

When Niles Loveless left the pair, they waved madly, calling out to him to give their fondest regards to his sweet wife, Patsy. Smiling, nodding, promising he would, he drove away with them chattering gaily about what a fine, handsome gentleman Niles Loveless was.

“What a devoted, loving husband he is to Patsy,” trilled Caroline.

“Yes. And such a doting father to his two little boys,” added Celeste, the younger sister.

Holding hands, the sisters hurried up the flagstone walk to the house, still talking about the kind, upstanding Niles Loveless.

Niles Loveless continued on his way, the high-stepping blacks prancing proudly northward. When he’d driven another mile, Niles turned the big brougham off the main road and into a private drive, its entrance guarded by matching stone statues imported from Italy.

His destination within sight, Niles grew anxious to reach the big two-story dwelling at the end of the long pebbled drive that wound its way through the thick tall pine trees. For the first time since leaving town, he applied the whip, sending the horses into a fast trot. He circled the big white house and pulled to stop in the rear.

He bounded eagerly down, leaving the carriage to a waiting groomsman. Inside the manicured yard, he strode hurriedly toward the shaded veranda, climbed the back steps, crossed the wide porch, and let himself in the back door.

He was smiling with pleasure and anticipation by the time he closed and locked the door behind himself.

“Honey, it’s me,” he called, and started through the silent, spacious house, disrobing as he went.

He hung his planters hat and grey linen waistcoat in the marble-floored entrance hall. The matching gray vest was dropped on the carpeted stairs along with the gray silk cravat. Gold studs scattered as he stripped off his white shirt.

“Darling, where are you?” he called, reaching the wide upstairs landing. “Daddy’s looking for his baby girl. Daddy’s taking off his belt …” His grin broadened as he pulled the smooth black leather belt from the loops of his trousers and walked to the end of the cool, quiet corridor toward the last door, which stood open.

Eagerly he stepped into the open doorway, his face flushed, his broad chest heaving with excitement. And then he saw her across the dim bedchamber. She was seated at the dressing table calmly stroking her long dark hair with a gold-handled brush.

She wore a sweetly demure dress of pale yellow organza with frilly short sleeves and full ruffled skirts. On her small feet were slippers of soft yellow kid leather. Her full pink lips were naked of rouge, as was her lovely, flawless face. From across the dim bedroom she actually looked like a dewy-eyed young schoolgirl of no more than fourteen or fifteen.

Niles started toward her, dragging the tip of his long leather belt back and forth across the deep carpet in a menacing manner. She quickly tied her long, flowing dark hair back off her youthful-looking face with a yellow satin ribbon, folded her small pale hands in her lap, and waited.

“Has my angel been a good little girl today, or must Papa punish her?” said Niles Loveless, approaching the seated woman.

She tossed her head and giggled. “I’ve been ever so good, Papa. I don’t deserve a spanking.”

“Are you sure?” He reached her. He paused, stood directly before her in a wide-legged, arrogant stance, continuing to flick the belt back and forth, back and forth.

Hands folded in her lap, feet crossed at the ankles, she lifted wide, innocent eyes to his and said, “Yes, Papa, I’m positive. I’ve behaved myself all day. Some days I’m a naughty girl and deserve a spanking. But today I deserve a present for being so good.” Coyly she tilted her head to one side, licked her pouty lips, and lowered her heavily lashed gaze pointedly to his straining crotch.

Niles Loveless’s wide smile turned to a salacious leer, his heart pounded in his naked chest, and hot blood coursed through his veins.

He said, “I’ll give my angel a little present if she’ll promise to give me something in return.”

Smiling, she leaped up off the velvet vanity stool, clapping her hands and jumping up and down like an excited little girl.

“I will! I will!” she promised. “Give me my present. I want my present.”

He laughed, wrapped a broad hand around the back of her neck, pulled her close, and kissed her. When the kiss ended, he brushed his mouth back and forth across her parted lips, purposely tickling her cheeks and chin with his thick, bristly mustache. He knew how she enjoyed having him tickle her—all over—with his mustache.

“Baby has to find it if she wants her present,” he said, biting her bottom lip with his sharp white teeth, then lifting his head.

In a cloud of frothy yellow skirts and swishing glossy hair, she danced excitedly around the big man, patting and feeling his pockets with probing, playful hands. Giggling when he groaned and gasped and shuddered. From deep down inside the right trousers pocket, she found and withdrew a glittering diamond-and-emerald necklace.,

Squealing with delight, she hugged the tall blond man and whirled swiftly about so he could fasten the necklace behind her swanlike neck. She laughed giddily, pleased with her little present.

Almost as pleased as he was with what she promptly gave him in return.

Yanking the leather belt out of his big hand, she began flicking it back and forth just as he had done. She ordered him to finish undressing. When he stood naked in the shadowy room she teasingly looped the belt around his lean flanks and drew him close.

She put out the tip of her pink tongue and licked her lips wetly.

She asked, “Just exactly what kind of present does my big ol’ sweet sugar daddy want from his baby girl?” She leaned to him and began licking his furred chest, making a wet, titillating little trail down the center of his torso to his tight belly, then slowly back up and around each straining brown nipple. “Tell me so that I can be a good little girl and my sweet papa daddy won’t have to bare my little bottom and spank it.”

His breath now coming in loud rasps, his naked body trembling with sensation, he murmured raggedly, “You know. Baby knows what I want.”

She simpered and nipped his kiss-wet chest with sharp white teeth and lifted her head to look up into his passion-heated eyes. “If Papa won’t say it aloud, Papa won’t get his present,” she whined in baby talk.

And so, knowing that it excited her to have him talk dirty almost as much as it excited him, Niles told her in the most graphic of language just exactly what he wanted her to do to him.

And momentarily he was sighing with deep carnal pleasure as he sat naked on the velvet vanity stool with her kneeling between his spread legs. She looked so cute, so sweetly innocent in the youthful yellow dress and matching hair ribbon.

Naughtily she held his heated gaze as she flipped her long dark hair back off her face, sank back on her heels, and bent to place her soft, unrouged lips over the pulsing tip of his straining erection.

There was nothing remotely innocent in the way she expertly made love to him with practiced lips and teeth and tongue, but it was sweet indeed. She drove him half crazy before finally bringing him to total fulfillment.

A half hour later a completely sated Niles Loveless was drawing his gray trousers back on while she fingered the diamond-and-emerald necklace at her throat. Making small talk, she asked if he’d heard the shocking news.

“You mean about Helen Courtney and the Yankee bastard?” he said, buttoning his pants.

“Mmmm. Won’t he spoil your plans?”

“I’m sure that’s what Helen thinks.”

“Well, darling, with a man’s help on the farm, mightn’t she be able to produce a decent autumn harvest? Make enough money to pay the taxes and hold on to the—”

“I’ve no intention of allowing that to happen. I want that land, all of it. I am going to have it.” He smiled then and added, “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m quite adept at getting what I want.”

“I had noticed,” she said, smiling. “Have you seen the Yankee in town? What’s his name?”

He shrugged. “I haven’t seen him. Haven’t even heard his name, but whoever he is, I have plans for him. Within two or three weeks, I’ll see to it that he’s left Alabama or is in the county jail. Either way, Helen will be amenable to my buyout offer before this summer ends.”

“You’re so clever, darling,” she praised. Then, “I’ve heard the Yankee’s quite handsome. There’s sure to be gossip about the two of them way off out there alone.”

“Of course there’ll be gossip, as well there should.” He shook a finger in her face. “You’re to have nothing more to do with Helen Courtney, you hear me? I won’t have people talking about you, dear.”

“Niles, you’re so protective, so solicitous.”

With the tip of his little finger Niles touched the diamond-and-emerald necklace resting in the hollow of her throat. “I wouldn’t be displeased if you mentioned to some of her friends you suspect Helen and the Yankee are … well …”

“But of course, darling.” Her smile turned to a petulant pout. “Must you get dressed? We’ve only begun to relax.”

He grinned and pinched her cheek. “While I agree that the three R’s are more important than anything else in life, I really must hurry.”

She gave him an innocent look. “Readin’, ’ritin’, and ’rithmatic? They’re the most important thing in life?”

“No, pet,” he said, and again drew her into his embrace. “Rum, riches, and rapture.”

She laughed and said, “Well, darling, you have riches. Stay and I’ll give you rum and rapture.”

“It’s tempting, but I really do have to go. The little wife’s giving an important dinner party for Senator Riggs—at my request. I promised Patsy I’d get home early.”

“Mmmm.” Yasmine sighed, locking her wrists behind his back. “Then I suppose I’ll be seeing you again in a few hours.”

“Oh?” His hands cupped her delicate rib cage. “You coming to Patsy’s dinner party, my sweet?”

She smiled wickedly. “I wouldn’t dream of missing the gala, darling,” she purred.

Then Yasmine Parnell, the respected, glamorous, dark-haired thirty-three-year-old wealthy widow said to the esteemed, blondly handsome thirty-seven-year-old family man Niles Loveless, “After all, Patsy’s one of my dearest friends.”

Chapter Ten

K
urt Northway walked toward the corral as the first pale tinges of light streaked across the eastern sky. Perched on the corral fence’s top plank, a towhee twittered his happy greeting to the new day. And from a budding peach tree far out in the fruit orchard, a mockingbird was singing.

Shirtless in the cool gray dawn, Kurt began to whistle softly, adding his own salutation to the coming sunrise. He felt surprisingly rested and fit, although he’d slept no longer than usual. Typically he had lain awake long past midnight, but this time it was from more than his normal restlessness.

It was amazement.

His son, the unreachable five-year-old, had for the past few days—since Sunday afternoon and the new swing—begun to talk and even to laugh with Jolly Grubbs. Jolly seemed to possess a special brand of magic that worked wonders on the withdrawn Charlie. Before Sunday, Kurt had never heard his son laugh. Now the wonderful sound echoed in his ears.

Feeling lighthearted for the first time in ages, Kurt approached the corral looking forward to his daily ride astride the powerful Raider.

Raider looked forward to it as well.

The big sorrel began to neigh and whicker even before he caught sight of Kurt. The stallion, restlessly prancing around the confines of the small dirt-bottomed corral, knew that his master would soon be there.

Raider whinnied loudly and trotted forward to greet him when Kurt appeared in the pale dawn light to throw open the gate.

“How about it, boy?” Kurt said, stepping inside and stroking the stallion’s sleek neck affectionately. “You ready to run?”

Raider neighed and blew and shook his great head up and down as if he understood perfectly what his master said. And perhaps he did. Kurt had talked to Raider as an equal from the day the prized stallion was given to him as a newborn colt.

The excited stallion now nudged at Kurt’s bare chest with his velvet muzzle, ready and anxious to begin their daily romp. He playfully bit Kurt’s bare shoulder. Shoving the stallion’s head away, Kurt stepped around him and headed for the tack room.

Knowing Raider was following closely on his heels, Kurt said, “Now, you’re not going to believe this, Raider. Charlie has actually been laughing and talking.”

His big head poking through the open doorway, Raider snorted skeptically.

“I know. I told you you wouldn’t believe it,” Kurt said.

He took the bridle down from the peg, slipped the bit in Raider’s mouth, and eased the restraint up the horse’s head, gently pushing Raider’s erect ears outside the leather straps.

Then, fastening the buckle on the jaw strap, he said into Raider’s pricked ear, “Hey, I didn’t claim he talks and laughs with
me.

Raider bared his teeth. Kurt smiled and slapped the stallion’s cheek, backing him out the door. He followed with the worn saddle, threw it on Raider’s back, and tightened the cinch under the stallion’s belly.

Raider turned his head and gave his master an impatient look. His big sleek body quivered all over and his long tail swished back and forth. The penned stallion was tired of wasting time. He wanted to run.

Kurt grinned, looped the long leather reins over the horse’s head, put a booted foot into the stirrup, and swung easily up astride the big blooded beast. Raider immediately went into motion, prancing out of the corral, turning to the path that led directly to the large tree-rimmed pasture to the north.

The long, narrow path bordered the vegetable garden on one side, the fruit orchard on the other. The sound of the mockingbird’s sweet song grew louder as the stallion passed the neat rows of tall fruit-bearing trees flanking the path.

Holding the reins loosely in one hand, Kurt turned a fleshly shaven cheek to the gentle breeze that blew in off the bay. In a sudden burst of high spirits, he laughed happily into the wind that washed over him like a cool clean stream. He was tempted to burst into song, to sing at the top of his lungs until the whole wide world awakened.

BOOK: Nan Ryan
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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