Authors: Tamara Gill
Tags: #Tamara Gill, #Historical Erotic Romance, #ton, #Erotic Romance, #Historical, #London
"She is my wife, brother. Do not mock what I suspect you yourself yearn for."
His brother made an exasperated sound. "Do you not tire of this 'Lord Scandal' game you play?"
Sedley scoffed and winked at a passing debutante, grinned when she blushed scarlet and scuttled off like the big bad wolf was after her. "Your wife, brother, does not like me. Therefore, I believe I'm entitled to my opinion of her." He paused. "And why would I want a wife? Not a more heinous notion for a man such as myself."
"Heinous, yes, but one you would welcome nonetheless," Thomas said, clasping his brother's shoulder. "Tell me you are not going to continue this dalliance with Lady Marshall. She is only one month into her year of mourning. This disillusioned life and disgraceful reputation you have earned must end. One day you will sleep with the wrong woman."
Sedley watched his younger sibling walk off with a mix of envy and vexation.
Damn his insightfulness. He sculled the last of the amber liquid. It was time to leave.
Finish the life of Scandal, which, surprisingly, never sat well on his conscience.
Tomorrow eve, when Anna arrived with those ridiculous cards he had printed, he would turn her away. And the rotten-to-the-core Lord Scandal would be no more.
Instead, Lord Sedley, Earl of Moorabbin, would grace the ton for the first time as a gentleman. And this time, not to find a conquest but to procure a wife.
Miranda sat in the gloomy carriage and looked up at the imposing Georgian home before her; a flickering flambeau lit the distance from her carriage to the door.
Nerves skittered along every line of her body, and at the slightest sound from outside, her apprehension over the night to come, left her jumpy and tense.
Not for the first time, she wondered what she was doing here. The Lady Miranda Fitsimmon did not sleep with men who had not vowed to love and to cherish her before God. And yet, here she was, before Lord Scandal's townhouse, frozen with fear.
She took a calming breath and nodded for her reliable footman to open the door. With her hood well secure about her face, she walked up the short flight of stairs, and, shutting her eyes, knocked.
The door opened immediately by a silent butler, who bowed and opened the door wider. Miranda, not wanting passersby to see her, took the opportunity to enter quickly.
The butler asked her to be seated and took the card she held out to him. The elderly retainer walked—or perhaps
was a more apt description—toward the library. Miranda sat on a settee placed beside the spiralling staircase and waited.
Would his lordship turn her away? Laugh at her and call her a fool for wasting his precious time, like he had all those years ago when she went to beg his forgiveness for her hasty actions? Her mistake?
"This way, m'lady."
The butler's loud command jerked her from the memory of her humiliation.
Miranda pulled the cloak tighter about her body and prayed no one could tell she wore only the indecent silk shift beneath. No dress or strays. Just what God had bestowed on her and little else.
Each step she took toward the library felt like a step toward sin. And in reality, that was not far from the truth. Tonight, Miranda would sleep with a man not her husband. Enjoy a virile gentleman of the ton who was renowned for pleasuring his women. From what Anna had said, sex could be most enjoyable.
Miranda had yet to experience anything that would cause her to agree with such an assessment.
"Sit, Lady Cameron," Lord Scandal said, in a tone that—considering the nature of the tryst—in no way hinted at the desire one would think lurked under his superfine coat.
Miranda sat and had no opportunity to correct his lordship on the use of her friend's name before he spoke again.
"There is a matter I need to discuss." He stood before the fire with his back to her. The room, with only one lit candle, was full of shadows. Yet his lordship's tone is what skittered unease down her spine.
"I have made a decision that Lord Scandal is retiring from circulation. My desires, wants, and needs now arc toward a different life." He turned and met her disbelieving gaze. "I apologise, Anna, for wasting your time this eve."
Miranda nodded and wondered if she could accomplish her departure without revealing her identity. For years, she had craved Lord Sedley's touch, wanted to feel his large, masculine hands roam over her flesh. Taste his kisses on her lips. Finish what they had started so long ago. But her decision to act had come too late. Again.
"My Lady, are you well?" Lord Scandal asked, worry in his tone.
Miranda controlled her disappointment. "Of course, Lord Sedley. There is no need to apologise for wishing a normal life. We must all grow up eventually."
Sedley frowned at the choice of words from Lady Cameron's lips. Not normally a woman known for her acceptance of others, her words rang false, and so too did the tone in which she spoke them. Had he not known better, he would wonder if Lady Anna sat there, at all.
He took a step nearer to the woman who graced his library. The scent of roses wafted across the room; another hint the woman before him was not who her card said she was.
"Push your hood back. I wish to see you," he said, using a tone meant to soothe and yet an order just the same.
The woman stiffened, and, if anything, pulled her cloak tighter about her chin. "I should leave." She stood and walked toward the door. Without turning she said, "I wish you all the best, Lord Scandal, in whatever direction your life takes. You deserve to be happy. Goodnight."
He made the door at the same time she did and reached over her shoulder, slamming it shut. The scent he had not smelt for an age intoxicated his senses.
Brought back the callow youth he'd once been before a disreputable life and scandal shadowed his every step. Before a mistake, not of his making, ruined his life.
Sedley pulled the hood from her head and breathed in the scent of her hair, summertime fruits, as he'd suspected. Instead of the chignon she favoured, this night she wore it loose about her slender neck, pulling his gaze over her shoulder toward her bountiful breasts.
He swallowed, and unable to resist, curled his hand about her luscious curves, welcomed her sigh and the warmth of her back as she leant into his embrace.
Need thrummed hot and heavy in his blood. He wanted her, craved her like no other, and tonight, he would make her his as he ought to have done years ago.
His choice was wrong; he knew with every fiber of his being he should let her leave, move on with her life. But he could not, and his conscience pinched over his decision. Had he not vowed to give up this life, finish having meaningless sex with women he hardly knew? He wanted a wife. A woman of his own. A family. Miranda deserved more than a tumble in his sheets. Sedley ran his gaze over her profile, creamy white skin, straight nose, and succulent lips. At one time, he had wished for her to be his wife—not that he harboured such ideals anymore. Few would wish for a husband as tarnished as he.
"You should leave," he said, with no intention of allowing her to do so.
Miranda stiffened in his arms, her throat working in an almost audible swallow.
"Let me go then," she said, her words edged with steel.
His mind fought an inner battle over doing what he knew to be right and allowing himself one night with the only woman he had ever loved. After this eve, she might walk out his door and not look back. His arms tightened about her waist, the temptation too much to forego. He would have her, this once.
Before she married someone else.
And Miranda was here, was she not? To sleep with him, fuck him like all the others. The image of her legs tangled with his while he drove deep into her hot sex, her breasts rocking with every stroke, made the breath whoosh from his lungs. And Sedley lost the battle to deny himself this night. He wanted her with a raw need that went beyond physical contact. No longer would he allow any excuse to keep them apart. Family, marriage, money, or reputation. Now that he knew who stood before him, he'd allow nothing to stand in the way of having her. Of loving her.
Miranda . . . .
"Where are you going?" he asked as he skimmed his free hand over the silk chemise she sported. She gasped, and heat shot to his groin, making his cock strain against his skin-tight breeches. Unable to resist her bottom, he pushed his manhood between the globes.
"I thought . . . you said you wished for me to leave." Miranda answered on a moan when he tweaked her nipple.
"I said I wanted Lady Cameron to leave. I did not mention Lady Miranda Fitsimmon." Sedley nuzzled her neck and kissed the small freckle beneath her lobe.
"I don't want you to leave." Never had he spoken truer words. And oddly enough, it did not scare him.
Miranda turned in his hold and met his gaze. Her wide, blue eyes searched his, for what, he wasn't sure. Perhaps the truth? He fought his devilish side that wanted to taunt the woman who had betrayed him for another, and yet the new Lord Sedley could not. He would not live another day without her.
"Why?" she asked, skimming his jaw with her fingertips. One sliding over his bottom lip as if she'd never seen a more delectable sight.
"Because I want you. Tonight." Always, although he could not voice such a word. In time, he would court her, win her love and marry . . . .
But for this night, he would seduce her. The one woman he had always wanted. Had once loved.
Miranda should leave. For all of Lord Sedley's reassuring words and ardent touches, she was playing with fire. And her heart.
"This was a mistake," she said, settling the hood about her face and stepping back. The thought of all those women he had bedded raised her hackles. Every one of them had used his lordship for enjoyment, to while away the banality of society.
He was sport for them and nothing more. It should have been she who warmed his bed. Loved him with her heart and soul. Oh, it was an irrational, stupid reflection, but one she had nonetheless.
"You don't want me?"
The unsure note in Sedley's question caused an ache to settle in her chest. Of course, she wanted him. Had wanted him from the first day she had met the dark-eyed, handsome gentleman on a picnic at Richmond. She studied his immaculate attire, the crisply starched cravat. Such a gentleman on the surface but what hid beneath? Hard as such a realisation was to admit, she no longer knew. She met his gaze, and the desperate yearning she saw there crumbled to ash her resolve to leave.
Unable to deny herself this night, Miranda leant up and kissed him. Life was too short to make another mistake, one she might regret forever. His lips, soft at first, turned punishing, ravished her mouth with an abandonment she welcomed and mimicked. His tongue teased her own, his teeth nibbling on her lips. He drank from her as if his life depended on her favours. She knew her future could possibly hinge on what happened this night between them.
She gasped and chuckled when his strong, muscled arms lifted her and carried her to a settee made for coupling. He skittered his hands over her body, leaving fire in their wake. Miranda undulated beneath him, moaned when he touched her most private part, circling the little nubbin hidden in her wet folds.
"Do you like that?"
Miranda clasped his hand to ensure he did not stop. His knowing chuckle against her neck then lower on her chest heightened her desire. She ran a hand through his short locks and shut her eyes. Never had she known such pleasure. Such care and petting were never part of her couplings with her dearly departed husband.
departed. All consideration of her past sexual experiences dissipated when his lips sought her nipple through the silk of her gown, and he kissed her.
"Yes, I like it." Her nails scraped his skull when he left her sex to run his hand down her leg. "I always welcomed your touch." He clasped the hem of her gown and slid it upward. The cool air of the library served only to add heat to her body as he slid the silk toward her waist. His callused hand pushed her leg outward, and he kneaded the delicate skin of her inner thigh.
Moisture flooded her core when his hand grazed her sex without any material impediment, and Miranda thought she might dissolve into tiny fragments of bliss.
So long since she'd felt this fire. This need thrumming through her blood. His fingers resumed their stroking before one, then two, entered her in one fluid move.
Sedley groaned. "So tight. I'm looking forward to breaking you in to my size, Miranda." He leant over her and met her gaze. His eyes, shadowed by the longest lashes she'd ever seen, looked at her with longing and maybe . . . regret. "You're as tight as a virgin."
She wrapped one leg about his hip and pulled him down for a kiss, wanting all and everything he could offer her. His tongue teased her own before his lips skimmed her chin, neck, breast . . . .
"What are you doing, Sedley?" Miranda sat up on her elbows and looked at him in horror as his kisses ventured farther down her body. Sedley nuzzled her navel, his eyes glinting up at her with wicked intention.
"Call me Merrick." He kissed her upper thigh. "You once loved calling me by my given name."
Miranda bit her lip when two fingers delved into her aching center, moving with an expertise that tantalized and left her senseless while his gaze remained glued to hers. "If I recall correctly, my lord," she panted, "you refused me such a liberty on my nineteenth birthday."
Sedley nuzzled her sex, and heat prickled her cheeks. "I give you leave to call me thus again. It's been too long since I've heard my name uttered by your lips."
Miranda flopped on her back when he slid his tongue down between her folds and flicked her nub. She clasped the pillows strewn about her, but nothing could stop her moan when his mouth blinded her to everything but this decadent pleasure.
"I want you so much," he said, kissing her stomach, then taking her sex once more to tease.
With wanton abandonment, Miranda let her legs fall open to allow him his way. Tension coiled within her, and grasping for stability, she clasped his head and grinded her body up against his face. All thoughts of propriety and decorum fled as Merrick pushed her into unexplored territory of sensations she had often heard talk of but never had experienced. Desire and need unlike anything she had known assailed her. His tongue swirled, flicked, and a heat spiralled throughout her body.