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Authors: Susan Gee Heino

The Earl's Intimate Error

BOOK: The Earl's Intimate Error
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Praise for Other Works by Susan Gee Heino

“Heino delivers witty, funny, sexy pure reading indulgence. She revises old characters, creates new love stories, adds a dash of mystery, and provides delicious sensuality that will have fans clamoring for more.”

—RT Book Reviews
“Every page turns into a delight from this fantastic author who has an extremely quick wit. Not only is this book a great find for the romance readers out there who simply love historical novels, but it’s also filled with the twists and turns that adventure fans crave…[Heino] definitely has a gift, and readers will be glad that this author has chosen to share that gift with the rest of us.”

—Night Owl Romance
“Heino builds this playfully melodramatic and unquestionably giggleworthy Regency romance out of disguises, secrets, and complicated relationships…The hilariously over-the-top, twist-after-twist storytelling is reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan, and Heino easily capitalizes on the endless comic potential of gender and mistaken identity.”

—Publishers Weekly

Other Titles by Susan Gee Heino

Passion and Pretense

Temptress in Training

Damsel in Disguise

Mistress by Mistake

Miss Wheaton’s Whiskers

Yuletide Lies

Miss Farrow’s Feathers

The Earl’s Christmas Delivery

The Earl’s Intimate Error
Susan Gee Heino

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Text copyright © 2014 Susan Gee Heino All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.

Published by StoryFront, Seattle
www.apub.com

Amazon, the Amazon logo, and StoryFront are trademarks of
Amazon.com
, Inc., or its affiliates.

eISBN: 9781477873878

Cover design by Inkd

I
t was unbelievable, impossible, outrageous, and even somewhat offensive. The bedraggled creature he’d allowed to take his horse—his horse, for God’s sake—was a
female
? Incomprehensible and infuriating.

“Oh, he’s marvelous!” the dripping wench rattled, pink-cheeked and grinning.

She hopped nimbly down from Vesuvius and shook out her chestnut hair. Thick waves of weather-dampened ringlets spilled over her shoulders. Where the devil was the cap she’d been wearing? That’s what had fooled him, no doubt. The hussy had all that glorious hair hidden when he’d first seen her. Plus, she’d been dry then.

The rain, however, had started up while she’d been riding and had wetted her clothing. Thoroughly. Leaving little doubt as to the gender of the person inside. By God, she had bosoms! Nice, round, womanly ones. Hellfire, how had he missed those?

Lord Woodleigh gritted his teeth. Just what sort of stable did this Canton fellow keep? Female stable hands? What folly.

Then again, Woodleigh rethought the man’s innovation as the wench bent gracefully at the middle to grab up a cloth and began rubbing Vesuvius’s slick coat. He was reminded he’d sent his mistress off packing with another man nearly two months ago. This female’s fluid motions—and tight, wet apparel—were nothing short of torturous for a celibate man.

Perhaps she handled more than just horseflesh for her master. Now that would be a convenient sort of employee, indeed.

He allowed himself to appreciate the view as she ran the cloth over his animal’s long legs. Yes, a very useful and convenient employee. Did she serve her master exclusively, he wondered, or was she the type who welcomed good English coin from anyone? He was, after all, on holiday and looking for whatever might provide distraction from the unpleasant task that awaited him back in London.

As the girl worked over Vesuvius, he had to admit he was more than a little bit jealous of the horse.

“He was an excellent ride,” the girl said over her shoulder as she worked. “Powerful, but a very smooth gait.”

“I’m glad you approve,” Woodleigh replied. “Not everyone appreciates a powerful mount.”

“Oh, I do. Most definitely.”

“He can be somewhat of a challenge, though.”

“Yes, I could see that in him. He wouldn’t take my commands at first.”

Woodleigh chuckled. Indeed, he’d never known the animal to take commands from anyone easily. Generally the thoroughbred misbehaved for all but himself, but under this young woman’s soothing touch the beast was as docile as a plow horse. Woodleigh could well understand it, though. He’d be in no hurry to escape her capable, busy hands if it were his own body they traveled over with such purpose and assurance.

“But I kept him in hand, sir. Wouldn’t give him his head until he had earned it,” she continued.

Woodleigh choked just a bit. Damn, but did the girl hear herself speaking? Surely she was not completely oblivious to how her words might be perceived. She must be purposely toying with him. And he liked it.

“I saw you blew him out at the end,” Woodleigh commented, wondering just how far she would go with this.

“I tried, sir, but he’s not finished yet, I’m afraid. Quite the stamina, this one.”

“I keep myself fit. Er, that is…I keep my horses well fit.”

“You do a fine job of it, I can see.”

“I do a fine job of whatever I put my hands to, I assure you,” he said, hoping at last she might give up on the horse and turn some of her attentions on him.

He was disappointed. She simply moved from Vesuvius’s left side to his right. Woodleigh had to trail her or risk losing his view.

She would be a delightful armful, this one. Long and lean, but well formed in all the areas that mattered most. Her confidence around horseflesh only added to her allure, and surely Woodleigh could guess she was no timid maid, not if she went tramping about in wet trousers, handling stallions like babies. Yes, she would be a most memorable tumble, to be sure.

Yet she still worked at the horse, completely ignoring the man. Other than her tantalizing words, she gave no indication at all that she’d noticed Woodleigh’s interest. That was unusual for him.

He was an attractive man; scores of women had told him so. He was accustomed to their suggestive glances and sly flutter of fans, the whispered suggestions when no one else was about. Truth be told, he’d not had to approach a woman in some time now. Generally they came to him. And then he saw to it they came
for
him. It had proved a mutually beneficial arrangement over and over again.

He decided he could use a mutually beneficial arrangement just at this moment. He’d watched her long enough. It was time to reward her for her expert care of his horse. She could show him what other things she might expertly care for.

“You have a winning way with passionate beasts,” he said, moving closer so she would not miss the promise behind his words. “Perhaps you would like for someone to return the favor.”

“Thank you, sir, but I…”

As she spoke, she turned from her labors, tossing the cloth over her arm and finally, for the first time, really noticing him.

“I…oh. Oh!”

“I should think you might take a chill after being caught in the rain,” he said, watching her eyes go wide. “Perhaps you want to consider getting out of those clothes?”

Those eyes, he discovered, were extremely blue. How fortunate for him that he was rather partial to blue. And soft chestnut curls. And plump rosebud lips that parted just slightly as she seemed to only now become aware of what they had been discussing. A most fetching look for her.

Indeed, he could safely say he was rather partial to all of this young woman’s looks, and all her parts. At least the ones he’d encountered so far. It was quite likely he’d feel something similar for the rest of them, too. He could hardly wait to prove that theory. A nice empty stall with fresh bedding beckoned just inside the barn doors. He could have her in there and be teaching her a thing or two about riding in fewer than five minutes.

Not that stamina wasn’t one of his better features, too.

“But you mean…you think that…”

Clearly she was out of breath at the thought of his attentions. Well, he’d seen that before. Hell, he’d come to expect it. It wouldn’t be long before he’d have her finding her voice, though. No doubt she’d find lots of enthusiastic things to say while he worked her over.

“I think we could be very good for one another,” he said. “A well-matched team, I would judge.”

His high praise must have been too much for her. She simply blinked those blue eyes and stared. He hadn’t thought her mutton-headed, but perhaps she was. Well, that hardly mattered. He didn’t want her for conversation, anyway. Everything else about her indicated she’d be an excellent lay.

He reached out to touch one of her dampened curls. Soft, yes, just as he’d imagined. He rubbed the lock between his fingers. Wayward strands escaped from him and sprang back into place, hanging about her shoulders, teasing him to touch them again. By God, he’d been a fool to let a silly cap and some baggy breeches hide all this from him. He must learn to be more observant, clearly.

His hand brushed her cheek, and he felt her exhale, slowly, carefully. Her breath was warm and moist against the skin of his wrist. He wondered how her breathing would feel against his neck, his shoulders, his lips. A remarkable feeling, he had no doubt.

She stood motionless for him, so he let his touch and his gaze wander. From her face, his fingers trailed down her neck, to the creamy skin showing where her damp shirt sagged open. He could almost picture the delights hidden there. Slowly he shifted his gaze up to meet her eyes. She would see the desire he felt; she would know he’d not disappoint her.

What would he see in hers?

He frowned. What did he see in her eyes? She was an unusual minx, this one. He did not see breathless anticipation, eager willingness, or even flattered gratefulness. Those blue, blue eyes seemed to be saying…well, he couldn’t precisely decide.

“You want to bed me right now, sir?” she asked after a pause.

Ah, so she was waiting to discuss terms. Very well, he supposed he could spare a few moments for that. It wasn’t as if he’d be wanting her any less after a brief tête-à-tête.

“I think you know it would hardly be a waste of your time.”

“So sure of yourself,” she replied. “You would have at me right here, in the barn?”

“I’ll have you like you’ve not been had.”

“No doubt. And we’d come out with hay in our hair and dust on our…clothing?”

“I assure you, there’d be dust everywhere.”

“We’d roll in it and make all manner of animal noises?”

“Most definitely.”

“You might take more than a minute about it?”

“Assuredly.”

“You’d have me in ways I never knew a woman could be had?”

“More than once, most likely.”

“Then I’d swoon from the bliss of it all, I suppose?”

“If that’s how you like it.”

“And you’re not put off that I’m wearing men’s clothing or that I’m dripping with rain?”

Hell no, he wasn’t. And her blasted conversation was making him even less put off by the minute. He couldn’t seem to quit staring at her lips, the way they moved, how her tongue tripped over her words, and how her eyes flashed with excitement. By God, the only thing being put off now was his need to possess her.

“No man ever wore those clothes to such an effect, miss. What do you say? Vesuvius can wait here. An even greater eruption is waiting indoors.”

He doubted she had enough classic education—or any at all—to understand his clever reference, but he chuckled at his own wit. Perhaps he could explain it to her so she might enjoy the reference. They could chuckle together. Among other things.

She wasn’t chuckling yet, though. “Did you say ‘eruption’? Good God, sir. You would compare yourself to a
volcano
? Truly, even for a man that is the height of presumption.”

So she did have an education. All the better. He enjoyed a woman with a brain as well as beauty. But no more of this. He wanted her and he was tired of her teasing. It was time they get on to business.

“Perhaps that remains to be seen,” he admonished. “It is not presumption if it is proven to be true. Now come, let me take you inside.”

“Your sweet talk sweeps me off my feet, sir.”

“I do whatever it takes to please.”

And right now he decided that kissing those perfectly pink lips would definitely please them both. He was only inches from her, so it was no effort at all to pull her into his arms and capture her, to bring her lips into submission, and convince her this was every bit the right thing to do. She tasted sweet, like the promise of future delight. He wanted more.

At first her body was stiff, as if she needed further convincing, but it took only a moment for that to subside, for her arms to encircle his neck, and for her lips to respond with supple eagerness. He pulled her tight against him, memorizing the soft curves and gentle motions she made. He’d been right; every fiber within him screamed that this body would fit his to perfection.

He moved her toward the barn, in through the doorway, and into the shadows. Her kisses held fury now, as if she’d been starved for just what he provided. She devoured him with passion to match his own. Just as he knew she would. He pressed her against the rough wooden wall. It was doubtful they’d make it into the stall. At least for this go around.

“Sir…” she breathed when he shifted position just enough for her to drag in a rough breath. “This is highly irregular.”

“I know,” he replied with another chuckle. “I’ve never had to work around two sets of breeches before.”

“No, I mean…”

But he didn’t quite get to know what she meant. He bent to examine her breast, to suckle a nipple through the transparent fabric of her shirt. No shirt would have been even better.

“Oh my!” she said, or it was something to that effect. Mostly it was a pleased-sounding release of air through her lips.

Damn, but he did like those lips. He went back to them when he felt her sag in his arms from too much attention to the nipple. Perhaps he would do well to move just a bit slower with this one. She responded like lightning for him, and he’d already promised this would take more than a minute.

“My God, you are ripe like a strawberry,” he cooed into her ear.

“Please stop talking, sir,” she replied, breathy. “Don’t ruin the moment with your drivel.”

But it was too late. He was suddenly aware of the unmistakable sound of throat clearing. Loud masculine throat clearing. Hell. They’d been discovered, and this could very likely mean trouble was at hand.

Especially since his hands were full of her breasts at the moment, and they didn’t seem to care very much about throat clearing.

“What the hell’s going on here?”

He still couldn’t quite get his hands to let go of the perfectly firm, rounded breasts, but he turned to find his host bearing down on him from behind. Ordinarily Mr. Edward Canton was not a threatening figure, being paralyzed and confined to a wheeled invalid chair, but the expression on the man’s face right now was downright terrifying. As was the gun in his hands.

“Ah, there you are, Mr. Canton. It seems you have a most competent groom here,” he said, realizing at the time it was a ridiculous thing to say, but not having the wherewithal to come up with anything better.

From Mr. Canton’s deadly expression it seemed he was fully acquainted with his groom’s level of competence. And didn’t much approve of sharing that knowledge. He raised the gun to an uncomfortably effective firing position.

“Take your hands off my daughter, sir.”

“Your
what
!”

“Papa, you can’t shoot him,” the chit said. “He’s an earl.”

“He’s a bloody seducer! Step away from her, sir.”

Woodleigh thought it best to comply. He was still just a bit unsure what had transpired. One thing he knew, he needn’t be embarrassed by any unsightly bulge in his breeches. Canton’s gun had successfully chased that well away.

“This…this person is your
daughter
?”

BOOK: The Earl's Intimate Error
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