SubmittingtotheRake

BOOK: SubmittingtotheRake
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Submitting to the Rake

Em Brown

 

Desperate to save her cousin from certain ruin with a
notorious rake, Miss Heloise Merrill impersonates her cousin and takes her
place at the infamous “Chateau of Debauchery”. Heloise intends to convince the
rake—Lord Cadwell, Earl of Blythe—to turn his attentions elsewhere. What she
doesn’t intend is to be splayed across his legs and spanked!

Deprived of his intended guest, Sebastian Cadwell intends to
provide the meddling Miss Merrill a much deserved set-down. But when his hand
connects with her lovely derrière, he finds he wants to do more than just
administer a light spanking. He wants to tie her up and hold her down. In
short, he wants her total submission.

 

Ellora’s Cave Publishing

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Submitting to the Rake

 

ISBN 9781419935602

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Submitting to the Rake Copyright © 2012 Em Brown

 

Edited by Jillian Bell

Cover design by Dar Albert

Photography: Tiplyashin Anatoly & Photostock
10/Shutterstsock.com

 

Electronic book publication January 2012

 

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.

 

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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
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Submitting to the Rake

Em Brown

 

Chapter One

 

Though the clouds shrouded the night in blackness, obscuring
all but shadows from view, the lone woman standing at the gates pulled her veil
more securely about her face with restless, trembling hands. Every little
noise—the stirring of the leaves in the trees, the scurry of some small animal,
the crunch of pebbles at her feet—made her jump. At any moment she expected her
cousin to descend upon her with eyes ablaze, denouncing her treachery and
forswearing the sisterhood they had shared these past years.

Heloise Merrill cringed and glanced down the path, both
dreading and desperate for the arrival of the carriage. Her cousin Josephine
would not understand that, were it not for the affection the two of them
shared, Heloise would not be standing on an open road by herself in the middle
of the night, pretending to be her cousin.

She tugged at her veil.

Would the footmen recognize that she was not Josephine
Merrill? Her form alone could betray her. Josephine possessed a slender body
with delicate, sloping shoulders whereas Heloise had square shoulders and flesh
to spare about her arms and waist. The veil hid her countenance—her round face,
full cheeks and rosebud mouth. Josephine had a physiognomy that tapered at the
chin, wide lips, a pert nose and slender arched brows.

The glow of a lantern approached. Heloise willed her feet to
stay and not carry her back to the safety of the home she shared with her
cousin and uncle, Jonathan Merrill, who had kindly taken Heloise in years ago
when her parents had both succumbed to consumption. Alas, her uncle would not
be home for a sennight, leaving Heloise the elder of the household. She had been
tempted to send for him immediately when she had discovered the note intended
for Josephine—an invitation to three shameless nights of profligacy with
Sebastian Cadwell, the Earl of Blythe—but even then her uncle would not have
been able to return in time. Josephine might never forgive her, but she could
not allow her cousin to throw away a life of promise on a youthful fancy for a
dangerous man—one of the worst rakes in England.

“Miss Merrill?” the driver inquired after alighting from his
perch.

After forcing herself to exhale, Heloise nodded. Accepting
his assistance with averted eyes, as if the driver might see through her veil,
she stepped into the carriage. A whip cracked the air, and the carriage lurched
forward. It would be hours before she arrived at her destination, the Château
Follet, so named for its owner, a French expatriate.

Some dubbed it the Château of Debauchery.

How many victims had the earl claimed? Heloise wondered,
unable to settle herself comfortably in the rich upholstery of the carriage
seats. Neither the driver nor the footman had sneered at her or indicated in
any way that they thought her a wanton woman. They did not even ask why she
traveled sans a portmanteau or valise. Was it because they were accustomed to
picking up women in the middle of the night for their master? Heloise shuddered
to think how closely Josephine had come to ruining herself—and that prospect
remained lest Heloise returned successful. She simply had to succeed. Her
attempts to reason with Josephine had failed.

 

“What has the Earl of Blythe to recommend himself but a
rugged countenance?” Heloise had asked.

“You would not understand, Heloise,” Josephine had
returned.

“What would I not understand?” she had pressed.

Tossing her luxuriant flaxen curls, Josephine had
replied, “The ways of a man and a woman.”

“I am six years your senior. You are but a babe at nine
and ten. I have glimpsed more of human nature than you, Josephine.”

“My dear Heloise, you may have more years than I, and I
mean no cruelty, but your experience with men is decidedly limited.”

 

Heloise had not revealed to Josephine that her experience
with the opposite sex was not as lacking as Josephine would believe. Granted,
Josephine had no shortage of suitors whereas Heloise had entertained but one in
recent years. But the dearth of suitors had not diminished her ability to
observe humankind, and she knew a rogue when she saw one. People had a tendency
to overlook the shortcomings in a man such as Sebastian Cadwell because of his
title, wealth and breeding.

When it had become clear that her disapproval of Josephine’s
choice of company was having the unintended consequence of making her cousin
even more attached to Sebastian, Heloise had attempted to reason with the earl
himself. She had requested an audience with him on numerous occasions, but he
had refused all of her attempts to engage him in conversation until she had
managed one evening to accost him as he emerged from his box at the theater.

 

“I would have a word with you, Your Lordship,” Heloise
had said hastily before he could turn to ignore her.

He had stared down at her with brown eyes so dark they
appeared black. With dark hair waving over a wide brow, the firm, square jaw of
a man who knows what he wants and a subtle cleft of the chin to denote a masculinity
matured, the earl was more imposing than she remembered. His stylish hat sat at
smart attention upon his head. His double-breasted coat with matching high
collar fit him snugly, emphasizing his broad shoulders and tall frame. Lord
Cadwell had always been considered a swell of the first stare.

“You have not responded to my written requests to speak
with you,” she added, trying not to be intimidated by his height. He seemed to
command more space than his body actually occupied. “I think it rather discourteous
of you not to have granted me an audience.”

He smiled—an unnerving curl of the lips. Sensuous lips.
Heloise snapped her attention to the matter at hand. Gracious, why was she
staring at the man’s lips?

“You would find me more discourteous, I assure you, had I
accepted your request, Miss Merrill.”

At her surprised pause, he continued, “I know what it is
you intend to speak to me of, and I had thought to spare us both from the
conclusion you would draw of me upon hearing my response.”

His words took her breath away.

“Ah, I was right,” he noted. “I can tell at this moment
you think me audacious and arrogant.”

She flushed, perturbed that he should have correctly
guessed her thoughts.

“Let us now part ways,” he suggested, “before I offend
you further.”

Heloise attempted to grab at words, to form some manner
of coherent retort, but failed. Worse still, she had not realized her mouth
hung open until he curled his forefinger gently beneath her chin and closed her
lips. Horrified, she was only too glad when he tipped his hat and took his
leave. Her heart was pounding madly—she wished from anger alone but had to
admit it was his touch that had unsettled her more. A warm wave had rushed over
her body, and she understood for the first time how Josephine could be
captivated by this man. A man she had hitherto disdained. And now considered
more dangerous than ever.

 

There would be no mouth dumbly agape this time, Heloise
promised herself as the Château Follet loomed before her. She intended to
provide Sebastian Cadwell the set-down he deserved. This time she was prepared
to do battle and emerge the victor. If she did not, she would have risked her
cousin’s affection for naught. For hours after discovering the letter from the
earl, Heloise had struggled with the idea of reasoning with Josephine again.
Surely Josephine knew that the earl would merely use her for the pleasures of
the flesh, then cast her aside as he had done with so many women before her?
But the numerous suitors that Josephine had entertained must have engendered
many a romantic notion in her young head.

Or worse, perhaps Josephine would not care.

This was the only way, Heloise affirmed to herself as she
alighted from the carriage. Waiting at the steps of the château, an abigail
named Annabelle greeted her quietly and gently.

“I will show you to your room, madam,” Annabelle said.

Heloise considered scurrying back into the carriage. Perhaps
there was another means to accomplish her goal, one that she had overlooked,
one that did not require her to be here? But when she turned to seek the
carriage, it had disappeared around the corner.

What a ninny you are, Heloise Merrill
, she chided
herself. She had heard scandalous things occurred at the home of Madame Follet,
a French widow rumored to have known the notorious Marquis de Sade in her
previous life.

The abigail showed Heloise upstairs to a room that was
surely inspired by Sade’s
The 120 Days of Sodom
. On the walls,
accompanying the gilded candelabras, hung whips, chains, lashes, collars,
shackles and other paraphernalia she could not place. Besides the customary
furniture—a magnificent bed with cornices atop its posts and a pleated valance,
a veneered writing desk, a sofa and chairs upholstered in silk, a mahogany
chest of drawers and a vanity with inlaid top—the chamber housed a mysterious
post, a wooden bench, an apparatus that reminded her of a medieval rack, and
sets of ropes dangling from the ceiling. Despite the ominous accoutrements, the
many golden candelabras and the floral silk wallpaper adorning the walls lent a
comforting warmth to the room.

“His Lordship requested this room for you,” Annabelle
explained. “It be our finest. We call it the Empress Room.”

“Is…is His Lordship here?” Heloise inquired, trying not to
stare about.

“He arrives soon, I believe, but he has arranged for your
wardrobe. Shall I assist you now into your nightdress?”

“That won’t be necessary,” Heloise responded, stepping away
before the woman could touch her.

Annabelle look puzzled.

“I shall ring if I find I need your assistance, shall I?”

Annabelle frowned, perhaps wondering if Heloise would summon
her from her bed at an inconvenient time.

“You are welcome to retire for the evening,” Heloise assured
her. She had no intention of staying for long. Once she was done with the earl,
she would request a post chaise to take her home. Taking a seat on the bed, she
waited for Sebastian Cadwell.

* * * * *

Sebastian handed his hat and gloves to one of Madame
Follet’s footmen and considered heading up to the room where Josephine Merrill
would be waiting. He paused, lacking desire. Indeed, he had had little
inclination to invite her here, but the minx had worn down his resistance. Her
determination had pleased his vanity. It had been years since he had allowed
himself to be embroiled in a relationship with one as young as Miss Josephine,
but her youthfulness belied her familiarity with men. He knew she had lifted
her skirts beneath at least two friends of his.

Not looking in upon her would be impolite. Perhaps she would
still be asleep. Would he attempt to wake her with a kiss or would he be
relieved and head to his own room for a moment of solitude?

What the bloody hell is the matter with me?
He had
never hesitated before, had never known his eros to waver. He enjoyed all
manner of women. Why not the lovely and charming Josephine Merrill? His
friends, if they knew his thoughts, would question his manhood or suggest that
old age was settling in upon him though he had turned but two and thirty
earlier this year.

“Cadwell,
mon cheri
!” Marguerite Follet greeted him.

The lady of the house, in stylish
déshabillé
and a
golden turban, looked radiant, as much a beauty at forty as she had been at
twenty.

Sebastian kissed her extended hand.

“My maid tells me your lady friend arrived,” she notified
him. “She is not what I would have ascribed to your tastes. She seems almost
virginal
.
I thought you never did virgins.”

“I don’t,” he responded resolutely.

“Ah, then there is more than meets the eye with your
mademoiselle. I think, at the least, you need have no worry from Lord Devon.”

Sebastian thought her comment strange, for Lord Devon had
been known to try his luck with all the maidens at Lady Follet’s.

“I warn you he arrived yesterday and has with him
two
lady-birds.
Twin sisters
,” Lady Follet continued. “And Anne Wesley is
here as well. I do wish Lord Harsdale would stop inviting her. I dread unhappy
people, and she is as acrimonious as they come. You would not believe what she
said to me—that you were a lover of
middling
abilities.”

He started. That had never been said of him before.

“Of course she speaks from a bitter heart. Everyone knows
how long she pined for you.”

Had Anne counterfeited the ecstatic cries—cries so loud he
had thought he might never hear properly again—when she had been with him?
Sebastian wondered. It was hard to believe. He had never questioned his
intuition when it came to the art of lovemaking. Nonetheless, he felt a stir in
his groin.

“Goodness knows there are few to equal you where
that
is concerned,” Lady Follet added with a telling flush in her cheeks. “When you
are done with your mademoiselle and have a wish to renew your acquaintance with
me
…”

Sebastian bowed, recalling with fondness the moments of
passion they had shared on occasion. “You honor me, my lady.”

A sigh escaped her lips. “I would that it be soon, Cadwell.
I fear one day you will have no use for me and my château.”

“That could never be.”

Her golden-brown eyes surveyed him with a depth he had never
felt before. “I wonder, Cadwell, that you might not someday take a mistress or
more permanent lover? Even a wife?”

“My record speaks for itself. Any woman who accepts my
invitation understands that the three nights here represent the end, not the
beginning, of an affair.”

BOOK: SubmittingtotheRake
13.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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