No Choice But Seduction Page 9

He tilted her head back. He was standing so close behind her that the back of her head touched the buckle on the belt of his trousers. And he was looking down at her with such heat in his dark eyes.

“You can’t imagine how much—”

He cut himself off. He took his eyes off her face and raised them to the ceiling instead. Katey seized the moment to bolt out of the chair. She didn’t mean to knock it over, but she was glad to see the small barrier lying on the floor between them when she turned to glare at him.

“You drag me in here, threaten me, then make improper advances! If I didn’t know you, Boyd Anderson, I would be screaming right now. That’s still an option! How dare you treat me in this high-handed fashion?”

He picked up the chair and set it aside without taking his eyes off her. Those dark, expressive eyes were slowly roaming over her curves in such a way that her stomach actually fluttered. She was reminded of their time on his ship. So often she’d caught him staring at her like this when he didn’t think she’d noticed. Grace had said he was having carnal thoughts about her. He’d had them then, and he was having them now. But now he wasn’t trying to hide them!

“It’s occurred to me that your activities here change everything,” he said in a low, husky tone. “You’re much more sophisticated than I thought, aren’t you, Katey?”

When his eyes came back to hers, she couldn’t help but blush because she understood what he was insinuating. That the blush might make him think he’d guessed correctly didn’t occur to her. But he was quick in closing the space between them. Too quick.

“Do you know how often I’ve dreamed of having you alone like this?” he said, cupping her face in his hands.

For the briefest moment, Katey was mesmerized by his touch. It was tender, it was romantic, and he wasn’t the only one who’d had such dreams since they’d first met. He was about to kiss her. She knew, deep down, that she’d be lost if he did, because she wanted him to! He made her feel excitement of the unfamiliar sort, and while she was obviously no more prepared to deal with it now than she had been on his ship, it was still thrilling beyond measure.

“I’m almost glad you’ve shown your true colors,” he continued.

That broke the spell. He was still accusing her of something she hadn’t done, and he thought he could take liberties because of it?

“Stop it!” she said, and slapped his hands away.

But his hands didn’t fall far. They went to her h*ps instead. And before she could even think to step away from him, he was pulling her closer to him. She gasped and placed both hands on his chest to shove him away, but it didn’t work! As she was pushing, she couldn’t help but notice how hard and muscular his chest was, how warm she felt pressed so closely against his big body.

Desperate to tamp down the hot swirl of sensations that were overwhelming her, she said, “I’m going to sock you! You’ve been warned.”

“Don’t do that, sweetheart. I don’t want you to hurt your hand.”

Reluctantly, he let go. But he looked amused! And while he’d released her carefully enough that she didn’t stumble back, his amusement sharpened her fury. “How kind of you, but this has gone on long enough. What are you even doing here? Judith’s a Malory, you’re not!”

Her last few words came out as a shout, she was so flustered, which made his calm reply seem like a whisper in comparison. “No, I’m not, but I have a sister and brother who have both married into that family.”

That surprised her. But it must also have reminded him of what he’d accused her of because his eyes narrowed as they gazed at her.

“How could you do this?” he demanded. “Do you even know who you’ve crossed? Malorys never forget a wrong against them. I can’t believe you would knowingly stir up this hornet’s nest.”

Her back stiffened. “Why don’t you examine what you just said? You can’t believe it because it’s not true! I had no part in this.”

“Then explain what you were doing in that room with Judith.”

“Oh, finally you’re asking what you should have asked to begin with?” she said scathingly. “I was helping her! I was on my way back from Scotland when—”

“My God,” he cut in, his expression now as incredulous as his tone, “you’re Geordie Cameron’s wife, aren’t you?”

“Who?”

But he didn’t hear her and was saying to himself, “Now it makes sense. He even said this was your idea.”

“Who?” she asked again, but again he didn’t seem to hear her.

“You’ve got one minute to explain. Tell me you’re innocent, that you were coerced, that you were convinced no one would be hurt by this.”

He was giving her a list of excuses to pick from if she didn’t have any ready for him? Was he just being sarcastic? Or was he really hoping she could give him a good reason to let her go?

“I rescued Judith,” she said quickly. “She’ll tell you.”

That should have been enough to make him start apologizing. It should at least have caused him some doubt. But she could tell by his expression that she’d said it too late, that he didn’t believe her.

“Conveniently for you, she isn’t here to corroborate that, is she?” he said curtly. “But let me tell you what is obvious. You were keeping Judith in a locked room. We heard your accomplice remind you to lock the door when she left. If you had rescued her, you would be taking her home right now, not detaining her in the same town where you arranged to exchange her for the fortune you demanded.”

Katey gulped. That sounded so, so—incriminating! “Well, before you do anything rash, let’s go find Judith,” she suggested reasonably. “I assume you’ll believe the child when she tells you I snuck her away from those people who had her and—”

“Jeremy would be back here to tell me if that was the case. Now, I gave you a chance to tell me something plausible. You haven’t.”

At which point Katey lost all patience with him. “Are you just pretending to be dense or does it come naturally to you? Why would they come back here? Judith will have already told her relative that I helped her. He isn’t going to assume as you have that I’m guilty. He surely knows the truth by now and he’ll think you do as well. So why would he come back here? He doesn’t know that you’ve been ridiculously stubborn in detaining me. If anything, he’ll assume you thanked me properly for my help and will soon be catching up with him.”

“It’s my sister’s niece you stole, Jeremy’s cousin, and her parents have been out of their minds with worry for two days now. Jeremy isn’t going to delay a single second in getting her straight home to her family. Come on.”

Chapter Twelve

KATEY’S FIRST PANICKED THOUGHT as Boyd dragged her downstairs was that he was taking her to jail. He mumbled something about letting the authorities figure it out, that he couldn’t trust his own instincts where she was concerned. So all she could think to shout at him was “Wait! Wait!”

He didn’t. And he reinforced her conclusion when he said to the wide-eyed innkeeper as they passed the man, “Caught her sneaking into my room. I’m surprised to find thieves in a nice town like this.”

Katey gasped at that accusation, but Boyd wasn’t stopping so she couldn’t let the innkeeper know who the real culprit was. He pulled her straight out the door, and his horse would have to be right there.

He tossed her up in the saddle none too gently. With his hands off her for a moment, she started to slide off the horse to the other side, but Boyd mounted behind her too quickly. With Boyd’s arms on either side of her now as he gathered the reins, she felt like she was being caged.

A deep sense of rage settled over her. Pigheaded, arbitrary, thinks-he-knows-it-all blackguard! she screamed to herself. And to think she’d liked him! Too much! How many times on that voyage with him, had she been tempted to tell him the truth, that she wasn’t really married. Ha! She’d been right to hold her tongue.

But she wasn’t holding it now. “You should have done this to begin with,” she yelled at him. “Instead of detaining me against my will. And don’t be surprised if you’re the one who ends up in jail, Mr. High-and-Mighty. When I get done telling the constable how you held me prisoner in that room, manhandled me, and falsely accused me, we’ll see who’s laughing.”

“Then I guess it’s a good thing that’s not where we’re going.”

He sounded amused, as if he was sure her threats were desperate attempts to perpetuate her lies. But if she’d been paying attention instead of railing at him, she would have noticed that he’d galloped out of town and was only now slowing down to a less grueling pace. She frowned, staring at the now familiar highway up ahead.

“Where are you taking me then?”

“To London. It was your idea,” he reminded her.

She gasped. “I never said we should go to London, I said we should find Judith!”

“And she’ll be at home. I warned you Jeremy wouldn’t waste any time taking her back to her parents. They’ll be in London long before we can catch up to them.”

“My God, I can’t believe you’re carrying this to this outrageous extreme!” she exclaimed. “All you had to do was listen to me.”

“I did,” he said, sounding angry again, “but all you did was claim to be innocent when I caught you red-handed! That, sweetheart, doesn’t work. So what was the truth? You got separated from Cameron, didn’t you? You moved Judy without telling him? Did you have a fight with him? Decide to keep the fortune all to yourself?”

Katey stared incredulously before her, hearing new charges that were so preposterous they didn’t deserve to be answered. “If you’d just use your head for what it’s supposed to be good for,” she retorted, “you’d realize how ridiculous all those allegations are.”

To which he leaned into her back to say, “I can’t think straight when you’re within touching distance, when the only thing on my mind is carrying you to the nearest bed, so I don’t dare just take you at your word, Katey Tyler. I’m sorry.”

She drew in her breath sharply. It wasn’t just his words that affected her. It was also his chest pressed against her, his arms tight on either side of her, and his warm breath against her ear. The shiver that ran through her body had nothing to do with the brisk autumn air blowing against her face.

It took several minutes for her to get her own desires under control and to drum up enough nerve to point out, “You don’t call this touching distance?”

“You noticed that, did you?” He chuckled. “But there’s no longer a bed nearby, so I think I can manage to restrain myself long enough to turn you over to the Malorys. Judith’s father can sort this out and figure out what to do…with…you.”

It wasn’t just how he tried to not end that statement. She also felt him stiffen, as if he’d just realized something he should have thought of sooner. Of course he’d already admitted he wasn’t thinking straight…

“What?” she demanded as she glanced back at him. “Did you overlook something pertinent? Like you have no right to be taking me anywhere?!”

Instead of answering her, his eyes latched onto her mouth. “You might want to keep your lips out of my view, Katey. Really. Unless—?”

“I get the point!” she exclaimed, and whipped her head back around.

The chill wind hit her in the face again due to his fast pace. But had the clouds overhead darkened? It was going to rain, she was sure of it, and he was foolishly racing them down the highway on horseback!

“This is absurd,” she grumbled. “I was going to London, but I’m not going by horseback! I demand you take me back for my coach and driver. And my maid is going to be frantic with worry when she can’t find me. And my clothes! I’m not dressed to travel like this!”

“Do you ever keep quiet?”

“Do you ever listen to anything that’s said to you?” she shot back. “I’m not dressed to ride a horse like this. My skirt—”

“Tuck it under your legs,” he suggested. But he also pressed closer to her again, leaning over her shoulder to see what she was complaining about. “Nice calves. I had a feeling they would be.”

“Keep your eyes to yourself!” she snapped, blushing, and shrugged him away from her.

“I’m trying!”

My God, she almost laughed. If she weren’t so furious with him, she probably would have. What an outlandish rogue he was turning out to be. This lust of his had been present on the voyage, but while she’d known about it, they had both had to pretend it didn’t exist. Her supposed marital status had served as a firm barrier that had helped them accomplish that. That barrier had crumbled today and he’d become entirely too bold.

She tucked her skirt tight under her inner thighs on both legs, but that didn’t help with the wind. “I’m still cold,” she complained. “I’m blocking most of this wind from you, so you’re not feeling how brisk it’s gotten. I need my coat. No, I need my coach! There is absolutely no reason to make this trip this way when I have a perfectly good coach ten minutes back.”

“No,” he said simply.

“Why?!” she wailed.

“Because I’m not letting you out of my sight. Do you really think I’d trust your driver to take us where I tell him to go? Someone will be sent back to deal with the rest of your cohorts in good time.”

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