Tender Rebel Page 34

Before she lost her nerve, Roslynn abruptly left her room. Across the hall, she knocked sharply on Anthony's door. The deed done, her presence known, her apprehension returned. Her second knock was so soft only she could have heard it. But the first knock had done it.

Willis opened the door, took one look at her, and silently left the room, leaving the door open for her to enter. She did, hesitantly, closing the door behind her. But she was reluctant to find Anthony in there. She stared at the bed instead, empty but turned down. Her cheeks flushed with color; her palms began to sweat. And then it hit her suddenly what she had come for—to make love to Anthony. Her heart began to pound, and she hadn't even looked at him yet.

He was looking at her. His breath had caught and held at the sight of her in her white silk negligee, the material clinging provocatively to the soft curves of her body, the robe she wore open, of the same thin silk except for the long sleeves, which were transparent, revealing her bare arms beneath. Her hair was loose and flowing in red-gold waves down her back, making his fingers itch to get into it. And she was barefoot.

It was the bare feet that made Anthony consider why she had come to him. Only two reasons came to mind. Either Roslynn was a fool to think she could torture him with her scanty attire and escape back to her room untouched, or she was here to end his torture.

Whatever her reason for seeking him in the privacy of his room and giving him this tantalizing view of what she had been withholding from him all week, he wasn't about to let her leave now. Whether she had set her own trap or was here to end their estrangement, his days of celibacy were over.

"Roslynn?"

There was a question in his voice. He wanted to know why she was here. Hell's teeth, was she going to have to spell it out? Wasn't it obvious? Willis had understood just by her presence, dressed as she was, and that was embarrassing enough. But Anthony was going to make her say it. She should have known this wouldn't be easy.

She finally turned toward the sound of his voice. He was sitting in the overstuffed lounge chair that he had once threatened to tie her down in. She was embarrassed further, remembering that, and remembering that he had forced her to sit there while he had changed clothes that day. Staring at him, watching the way his inscrutable eyes moved over her, she couldn't get any words out.

But her heart continued to pound, harder now that she'd seen him. He was wearing the same silver-blue robe over loose trousers that he'd worn the night they'd first made love, which brought more memories to heat her cheeks and turned that nervous knot in her belly to something entirely different.

"Well, my dear?"

Roslynn cleared her throat, but it did little good. "I—I thought that we might…"

She couldn't finish, not with his eyes locked to hers.

They were no longer inscrutable, but quite intense, though with what emotion she couldn't tell.

Anthony lost patience, waiting to hear what he wanted to hear. "Mightwhat? There are numerous things you and I might do. What exactly did you have in mind?"

"You promised me a child!" she blurted out, then sighed with relief to have it out in the open.

"You're moving back in here?"

Hell's teeth, she'd forgotten about the rest. "No, I… when I conceive, there won't be any reason—"

"For you to share my bed?"

The sudden anger in his expression gave her pause, but she had made her decision. She had to stick with it.

"Exactly."

"I see."

Those two words had such an ominous ring to them, Roslynn actually shivered. Nettie had warned her he wouldn't like it, but she could see by the tight set of his jaw and the frigid blue of his eyes that he was quite furious. And yet he didn't move from the chair. His grip might be a little tighter on the brandy snifter he held in one hand, but his voice remained soft as he continued—soft and menacing.

"This was not our original agreement."

"Everything has changed since then," she reminded him.

"Nothing has changed, except what you imagine in your suspicious little mind."

She cringed. "If you won't agree—"

"Stay right where you are, Roslynn," he cut in harshly. "I haven't finished analyzing this newest condition of yours." He set his glass down on the table next to him and clasped his hands over his waist, all the while never taking his eyes off her. And then calmly again, or at least with self-restraint: "So what you want is the temporary use of my body for breeding purposes?"

"You needn't be vulgar about it."

"We'll treat the subject as it deserves, my dear. You want a stud, nothing more. The question is whether I can be detached enough to give you only what you want. It would be a new experience for me, you see. I 'm not sure I 'm capable of performing in a purely perfunctory manner."

At the moment, he was. He was so angry with her he wanted nothing more than to turn her over his knee and thrash some sense into her. But he would give her exactly what she was requesting and see how long it took her to admit it wasn't what she wanted at all.

Roslynn was already having doubts. He made it sound so—so animalistic. And perfunctory? What the devil did he mean by that? If he was going to be indifferent about it, then how could he make love to her?

He himself had said that it couldn't be done unless desire was involved. Of course, that was when he had told her he wanted no other woman but her, and that had all been lies. But even now he said he wasn't sure he could do it. Hell's teeth! He had been after her from the beginning. How could henotdo it?

He broke into her thoughts with a quiet command. "Come here, Roslynn."

"Anthony, perhaps—"

"You want a child?"

"Yes," she answered in a small voice.

"Then come here."

She approached him, but slowly, and a little fearfully now. She didn't like him this way, so controlled, so cold. And she knew his anger was still simmering just below the surface. Yet her heart was accelerating with each step that brought her closer to him. They were going to make love. How didn't matter. Where didn't matter, though she spared a glance at the empty bed before looking back at the chair. And then suddenly she remembered Anthony's threat the night George and Frances had been here, that he owed her a lesson in a chair. Roslynn stopped cold.

Unfortunately, she stopped too late. She was close enough to Anthony for him to reach out and drag her down onto his lap. She turned to sit sideways, to face him, but he wouldn't let her, maneuvering her the way he wanted, which was sitting straight, with her back to him. The position only made her more nervous because she couldn't see his face behind her. But perhaps that was his intention. She just didn't know what to think at this point.

"You're stiff as a board, my dear. Need I remind you this was your idea?"

"Not in a chair."

"I haven't said we'll do it here… but then I haven't said we won't. What does it matter where? The

priority is to first discover if I'm up to this endeavor."

In the position he had placed her, sitting forward on his thighs, she had no way of knowing that he was already up to any endeavor, and had been since she'd walked into the room. She felt him gather her hair in his hands, but again, she didn't know he pressed the silken locks to his lips, to his cheek, couldn't see his eyes close as he savored the feel of her hair against his skin.

"Anthony, I don't think—"

"Shh." He pulled her head back by her hair as he leaned forward to whisper into her ear. "You do entirely too much thinking as it is, my dear. Try a little spontaneity for a change. You might like it."

She held her tongue as he slipped her robe off her shoulders, his hands traveling down her arms, pushing the sleeves down to her wrists and then off, then retracing the path back to her shoulders. He continued touching her, on her shoulders, her neck, but she quickly became aware of the difference between this time and the last time. Even last night in the carriage when he had caressed her bare arm was different from this. Then she had felt his ardor like a hot brand. Now she sensed nothing, only complete indifference, as if touching her were simply a matter of course. Perfunctory—oh, God!

She couldn't bear it, not like this. She started to get up, only to have a hand grip each of her breasts, pulling her back against him.

"You're not going anywhere, my dear. You came here with your damnable conditions, and I agreed to them. It's too late to change your mind—again."

Roslynn's head fell back against his chest. His hands hadn't remained still while he spoke. They had begun kneading, squeezing, drawing a fullness into her breasts.Hemight not be feeling anything, but she certainly was. And she couldn't seem to help it, to stop the warmth from uncoiling in her belly, making her limbs grow languorous one moment, tensed in anticipation the next.

She no longer cared if he was lacking ardor. Her own senses had taken over. It was too late to change her mind. He said it was too late. And it was a means to an end, wasn't it? She had to keep that in mind.

Moments later, she had very little in mind. His hands were roaming the front of her body, stroking gently, roughly, but in no way indifferently now, though she had ceased to notice the difference. Even the silk of her negligee gliding up her legs was a heady caress. And then one hand touched the triangle of hair he had bared and became still.

"Open your legs for me," he commanded, his breath filling her ear with warmth.

Roslynn stiffened for a brief moment, but the words had sent a thrill clear down to her toes. Breathlessly, heart slamming against her chest now, she parted her knees the barest fraction. His hand remained motionless on her titian curls, though the other one slipped up under her negligee, raising it even higher as he sought her breasts, this time without the silk to separate her from his teasing fingers.

His command came again. "Wider, Roslynn."

Her breath caught in her throat, but she obeyed him to the letter this time, moving her knees across his own, until her legs dropped down of their own accord along his outer thighs. That still wasn't enough for him. He parted his own knees, forcing her legs open even wider, and only then did his hand glide lower to insert a single finger inside her.

Roslynn moaned deep in her throat, her back arching away from him, her fingers digging into his jacket behind her head. She wasn't aware of what she was doing, but he was. Each gasp of pleasure she emitted was like a flame licking at his soul. That he was still in control of his own raging passions at this point was beyond his understanding, but he wouldn't be for much longer.

"It doesn't matter, does it?" His question was calculatedly cruel, to keep his anger alive. "Here? On the bed? On the floor?"

She heard the question. All she could do was shake her head no.

"At this moment, I could make you break all your bloody conditions. You know that, don't you, sweetheart?" She was incapable of answering, except with a whimper. "But I won't. I want you to remember this was your choice."

Roslynn didn't care anymore. All that mattered now was the fire he had ignited in her. Anthony didn't care anymore either. She had pushed him past his limits.

Without warning, he moved her forward on his legs to ready himself, then lifted her, positioned himself, and dropped her hard. Her soft cry was ambrosia to his ears. Her hands moved up to grasp his head, the only part of him within her reach. He still had her entire torso at his disposal, and he caressed every inch while she lay back against him, savoring the fullness inside her.

He gave them that brief moment, before recalling that this was not an act of love, but one for a specific purpose only. Damnation take her and her bloody conditions. He wanted to kiss her, to turn her around and take her with all the tenderness and passion he felt for her. But he wouldn't. She had to look back on this with disgust, to admit that she wanted more from him than a child.

With that in mind, he took her hands and placed them on the arms of the chair, leaned forward until she was sitting straight up, then leaned back himself, leaving her astride him, her hair cascading down across his belly. She glanced around, expectant. He knew she was waiting for him to begin, to lead her, that she didn't know the first thing about the many positions available for lovemaking, or that in this one she was in command.

Deliberately, he said, "You wanted the use of my body. You have it. Now ride me." Her eyes widened, but he didn't give her a chance to protest. "Do it!"

She turned back to face forward, her cheeks flaming. But there was that fullness inside her that had to be answered. And if he wouldn't do it…

It was easy, once she found her rhythm. It was easy because it felt so wonderful, and she was in control, able to set her own pace. She could rock gently back and forth, or she could lift herself up, to slam down hard if she wanted, or to glide down with exquisite slowness. Her whims, her control—until Anthony took over.

He had no choice. She had caught on too quickly, was doing too good a job on him, and he knew damn well he wouldn't be able to wait for her to cl**ax. He shouldn't wait. He should leave her wanting. After all, it wasn't necessary for her to experience pleasure to get with child. But he couldn't do that to her, whether she deserved it or not.

He sat up, locking an arm around her waist to keep her still while his other hand slid into the soft folds of

her lower lips to find the little nub of her pleasure. He brought her to the very pinnacle, then let her go to finish on her own. and she did, riding him so hard and fast that the rolling spasms enveloped them both within mere seconds of one another.

She collapsed back on him in the chair, exhausted, blissful, and he allowed her a few moments, allowed himself the pleasure of wrapping his arms around her—for those few moments. But then he sat up and helped her to her feet.

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