Say You Love Me Page 15

She peeked at him under her lashes. "You don't mind?" "Hardly. Tempers run high in my own family, so I'm used to it." Then he smiled. "And I don't believe I'll be provoking yours often."

She smiled back at him. What a nice roundabout way to say that he'd be giving her no reason to find fault with him. She was glad then that she'd gone to a little extra effort to make their evening special, Although looking at him, how she could have thought that anything to do with him would be sordid, she didn't know.

It was just the sinful aspect of what they were going to do, she supposed, but she really ought to get over thinking of it that way. She'd made a bargain. She'd kept her family off the streets by doing so. She ought to be infinitely grateful that Derek Malory was the one who'd bought her.

She imagined that many women would consider her lucky.

Maybe after that night, she would too. But there was still the night to get through-or rather, what was going to happen upstairs. And it was time. They had enjoyed a very nice dinner. She had even bolstered herself with the wine. She could delay it a bit more, but that wasn't going to make it easier, was only going to increase her nervousness.

So, blushing, she said, "If you don't mind, I will retire now to change into something-cooler-to sleep." "Good God, yes! That is, please do."

She blinked unaware until that moment just how eager he was to bed her. Knowing that he was so eager caused a warmth inside her that was actually pleasant-and had her blushing even more furiously.

She stood up to leave. "I will see you shortly, then-upstairs."

He caught her hand as she passed and brought it to his lips. "You're nervous, m'dear. You needn't be. We're going to have fun together, you and I, I promise you."

Fun? He thought of lovemaking as fun? Imagine that. But she could only nod. Words wouldn't escape her tight throat. She wanted to cry for what she was about to lose. She wanted to get it over with. She wanted to shoot her Uncle Elliott for putting her in this house, where she was about to have a wedding night-without the wedding. And deep down, she wanted to taste Derek Malory's kisses again. Good God, she didn't know what she wanted anymore.

KELSEY DONNED THE NEGLIGEE WITH TREMBLING FINgers. She had known she wouldn't feel comfortable in it, and she didn't, but she stubbornly refused to take it off.

It was indecent by itself, not due to any transparency but because the sides were split clear to her hips, revealing more leg than she'd ever shown to anyone. It was made of soft pale blue silk, sleeveless, the bodice in a deep V, the straps mere ties that could be undone easily.

If not for the robe in the same soft silk, she wouldn't have dared to wear it. But the robe covered her legs and arms.

There was still a bit of her br**sts showing, even with the robe belted closed, but under the circumstances, she supposed that was appropriate.

She was standing by the fire, combing her hair, when the knock came at the door. The words wouldn't come to tell Derek to enter. He obviously felt he didn't need them, because the door opened, and there he stood, his eyes coming directly to her, widening a bit, darkening ... "We really have to work on those blushes, Kelsey," he said in an amused tone.

She lowered her eyes, the heat in her cheeks feeling hotter than the fire behind her. "I know." "You look-beautiful."

He said it as if that wasn't quite the word he wanted to use, as if he were a bit in awe. And he was standing in front of her within moments, taking the comb from her hand, setting it aside, lifting a lock of her long hair to his cheek, then letting it drift back to her waist. "Absolutely beautiful," he repeated.

That drew her gaze up to him, and the look in his green eyes, so admiring, warmed her even more. His being so close, though, was causing her to feel other things, a tickling in her belly, a tightening in her breasts. Even the smell of him, spicy, was thrilling her senses. And she found herself staring at his mouth, almost willing him to kiss her, remembering how much nicer it had been before when he was kissing her, how she wasn't self-conscious then, how her thoughts had scattered, giving her some peace.

The belt of her robe came undone-with his assistance. Her blush started again as the thin silk pooled at her feet. But she heard his indrawn breath, felt his eyes slowly traveling the length of her.

His voice was exceedingly husky when he said, "We will have to buy you more of-those," and a hand indicated the negligee. "Many more."

Must we? She thought she'd said it aloud, but the words hadn't come out. And she was too tense now, waiting ... waiting.

And then his hands were gently cupping her cheeks. "Do you know how much I've been looking forward to this?" he asked her softly.

She had no answer for him. She didn't need one, because he'd no sooner said it than he was kissing her, seriously kissing her, parting her lips, his tongue delving, tasting, dueling with hers. He'd moved closer. Her br**sts now touched his chest. And she was getting weak with the need to lean against him, until she finally gave in to the urge.

He groaned at that sign of yielding and lifted her in his arms, carried her to the bed and laid her gently there, then leaned back to gaze at her while he removed his coat and cravat. Her eyes met his and went no further. Her lips parted, trembled, but she couldn't look away, so intensely sensual was his gaze, so mesmerizing.

She hadn't extinguished the lamps in the room. She wished she had, she was so self-conscious. She wanted to dive under the covers too, but didn't, remembering what May had said about men liking to gaze at a woman's body, and she might as well have been na**d already, the soft silk molded so clearly to her skin in her prone position. But it was so hard lying there, waiting for him to join her.

She couldn't know how enticing she was, with her black hair spread out over the pillows, her knees bent just so, so that one slim leg peeked out of the blue silk. With her full lips parted, she seemed to be begging for the return of his mouth. And those black-lashed, turbulent gray eyes, fearful-surely not. But they somehow made Derek feel like a bloody Spartan about to ravish a village maid. Strange feeling, and it did absolutely nothing to tamp down his raging desire.

From the moment he entered the room and saw her in that skimpy ensemble, he became thick and turgid. He tried to think of other things, but nothing helped. He wanted her too much, that was the problem. And he wasn't even sure why.

He'd bedded other women more beautiful. But there was just something about Kelsey, the feigned innocence perhaps, those silly, ridiculous blushes that she could summon at whim, maybe the fact that he'd bought her ... he didn't know, but he wanted to jump on her and savor her simultaneously, which of course was impossible. it was a hard choice to make, and didn't et anv easier when he joined her on the bed and touched her again. Silken smooth she was, and soft in all the right places. And he was nearly undone when he released her shoulder ties and slowly peeled down the blue silk to reveal her breasts, which puckered immediately under his hot gaze. Again, he felt the urge to bury himself in her then and there, and he simply couldn't think of anything to cool his ardor short of a cold bath, which would be ridiculous under the circumstances.

He should have had more wine with dinner. No, she should have had more, then she might not mind if he simply pounced on her. Maybe she wouldn't mind anyway? Damnit, he minded. He wasn't some untried, wet-behind-the-ears youth with no control to speak of. He would take his time, even if it killed him.

He began kissing her again, deliberately, concentrating. But he couldn't keep his hands from wandering. Her br**sts were plump and firm, quite the handful. It wasn't long before his mouth worked its way there, and her gasp of pleasure was the sweetest music.

He was touching her all over. Kelsey had to repeatedly remind herself that he had that right. And his mouth, the things it was making her feel. She was afraid her fever was coming back.

His hand tried to part her legs. She held them tightly closed. He chuckled, just before he kissed her again, so passionately that she quickly forgot about her legs-and his hand slipped between them. She nearly arched off the bed. Never could she have imagined anything so shocking-and so wildly thrilling-as what he was doing with his fingers.

All thoughts gave way to sensation that was so intensely pleasant that the ache steadily building inside her wasn't noticed until it fully caught up with her, overwhelming her. She moaned deep in her throat. She arched toward him. She pulled at him. She didn't understand.

And all semblance of control deserted Derek in that moment. He moved between her legs. He lifted them. And in the next second, he was deep inside her, his penetration so swift that there was no time to stop for any barriers. He vaguely noted there had been one, but what it was didn't quite register, not when he was surrounded by such tightness, such exquisite heat, such primitive pleasure. It was so sweet he nearly came with that single thrust, but a moot point, since the next thrust sent him over the edge.

When clear thought managed to work its way back into his pleasure-dazed mind, Derek sighed. Had he thought he'd gotten far beyond his first pathetically eager experiences of lovemaking as a lad, when he'd been concerned only with his own pleasure and had no control whatsoever over his responses? He gave himself a mental snort. A fine demonstration he'd given of control this night.

He didn't even know if the dear girl had come to her own pleasure, he had been so consumed with his, but it was considered quite tactless to ask. Of course, if she hadn't, he was more than game to rectify that. In fact, the very thought hardened him to fullness again. Amazing. But then she did have an incredibly tight sheath gripping him ... "Can you-move to the side-please?"

His weight. What a dolt, lying there savoring his pleasure while he was crushing the poor girl. He leaned up to apologize, taking his weight from her chest, if not the rest of her, but the words didn't make it past the shock of seeing her tears, her woebegone expression, and the realization that he had come upon a barrier that had prevented full access. It had been there less than a second, but it had been there. "Good God, you were a virgin!" he blurted out.

Her blush was immediate. "I believe that was mentioned at the auction."

He stared at her incredulously. "My dear girl, nobody bloody well believed that. Purveyors of flesh are notorious liars, after all. And besides, you were sold in a whorehouse. What in the bloody hell would a virgin be doing in a whorehouse?" "Obviously being sold outright, and as stipulated," she said quite stiffly. "And I'm sorry I didn't have Lonny rid me of my virginity before the sale. I wasn't aware that it would be a liability." "Don't be absurd," he replied gruffly. "It's just a surprise-that needs a bit of adjusting to."

A bit? All those blushes had been real, not contrived. All those innocent looks quite appropriate.

A virgin, and his first, if he didn't count the kitchen maid at Haverston who had gone on to spread her favors with every footman in the house. No wonder Ashford had wanted her so much and had been so furious when he didn't get her-more blood to add to his sick pleasures.

A virgin. And the full implicatibn suddenly hit him with a wave of possessiveness the likes of which he'd never felt before. He was her first lover, the only man to have touched her, and not only that, he owned her. She belonged to him.

He smiled at her suddenly, brilliantly. "There, you see? Already adjusted." He was hard and aching to have her again, but he carefully, slowly eased out of her instead. "I've made quite a muck of it, your first time. Acted like an untried youth m'self, wanting you so much, but that can only have made it worse for you. When you've recovered, I'll see to giving you the same pleasure that you gave me. But just now, we'll see to your wounds."

Before she could protest, he was lifting her in his arms again and carrying her into the bathroom. He set her down there and wrapped a large towel around her while he drew her bathwater and adjusted it, adding salts and suds and perfumes as the tub filled. It was all she could do to keep her eyes off him, because he hadn't covered himself, was still completely and unself-consciously na**d.

When he moved to put her in the water, she held up a hand. "I can manage from here-" "Nonsense." And he flicked the towel aside and lifted her again, lowering her carefully into the steaming tub. "I've gotten in the habit of bathing you, after all, and it's rather a nice habit to get into."

Kneeling there at the side of the tub, he washed her, everywhere. Her skin remained pink the entire time, and not from the steamy heat. And then he was lifting her out again, drying her, and carrying her back to the bed, where he put her under the covers this time and, joining her there, drew her snugly into his arms.

She was able to relax then, realizing that there would be no more pain-or pleasure-that night. Even their na**dness didn't disturb her, merely added to the warmth that was putting her to sleep.

She'd almost nodded off when she heard, "Thank you, Kelsey Langton, for gifting me with your virginity."

She didn't point out that she'd had little choice in the matter. And it hadn't been as bad as it could have been with anyone else. There had even been a great deal of pleasurebefore the pain.

So in the same formal tone, though with a half yawn, she replied, "You're quite welcome, Derek Malory."

She didn't see his smile, though she felt him pull her just a tad closer. Her hand drifted up to rest on his chest, hesitantly at first, then without worry. She could touch him now, whenever she liked. After this night, she had that right-just as he had the right to touch her-and amazingly, she was pleased by it.

Imagine that.

KELSEY AWOKE THE NEXT MORNING ALONE, DEREK having left sometime in the middle of the night. He was quite thoughtful, sparing her the embarrassment of facing him bright and early, still in bed, still na**d. She wondered if that was going to be his habit. Quite possibly, to be discreet. It was a nice neighborhood, after all, that he'd put her in. And he did seem to be concerned with discretion.

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