Seduced by His Touch(5)

By: Tracy Anne Warren

His groin swelled with unmistakable arousal, leaving him surprised. At least bedding her, he realized, was not going to be a problem.

Abruptly he blinked. Lord above, am I really planning to go through with this? Am I really going to make her my wife?

He swallowed, his erection partially subsiding at the thought. Just because he didn’t mind the idea of tupping her didn’t mean he was eager to slip a ring on her finger. But try as he might, he could conceive of no other way out. Danvers had him trapped like a fox in a covert, hounds poised at the ready to make the kill. His only salvation was marriage—to Grace Danvers.

There were other heiresses, he supposed, with finer pedigrees and more beautiful faces. But none of them possessed the kind of dowry necessary to pay off his vowels—not and still leave enough funds for him to support a wife. Besides, if Danvers got wind he was trying to marry some girl other than his daughter, the crafty old man would call in the debt so fast that Jack might as well step into a prison cell right now.

No, it was Miss Danvers or no one.

And so, assuming he was truly determined on this course—and it would seem that he was—he would do well to begin.

First, he would need to woo her. Luckily, he had no doubt as to his abilities in that quarter. He’d been seducing women since he was a green lad, not even old enough to shave. He could have her on her back with her skirts up around her waist before she even knew what he was about. But getting her to trust him, to love him…ah, now that would be the real trick.

With most women he would use flattery and flirtation, appealing to both their vanity and their pleasure. But Grace was no ordinary woman. With her, he knew he would have to take a more subtle approach. Less than half a minute into their acquaintance, he’d sensed her reserve, as well as her insecurity. He surmised she wasn’t used to being boldly pursued by men, so any sudden, overt interest on his part would only provoke her suspicions and put her on the alert.

Instead, his approach would require a deft touch and gentle, patient persuasion. A shy doe required proper coaxing, after all. The key was to figure out what kind of inducement she liked best and be there to offer it.

He watched as she raised her teacup to her lips—unaware of his observation this time. He realized now that he’d been careless before, that despite his efforts at stealth, she had sensed his presence as she wandered among the books. If not for that other man, she would likely have fled from him. Instead, the stranger had inadvertently sent her in his direction, casting him in the guise of savior. Really, he owed the fellow his thanks. Otherwise, securing an introduction would have required a great deal more effort on his part, particularly since he and Miss Danvers didn’t ordinarily run in the same social circles. But she knew him now, and very soon she would come to know him a great deal better.

He was about to depart, when he saw a man approach Grace. It was obvious from her reaction that she knew him, a friendly smile curving her mouth as she stood to greet the newcomer.

Nearly a match for Grace in height, the man topped her by no more than an inch. His hair was sandy blond, his build rangy and loose-limbed, with features designed to neither excite admiration nor draw disdain. Judging by his attire, he was likely in trade of some sort. Or possibly in one of the professions. A solicitor, maybe, or a physician?

Who is he? Jack wondered. More importantly, who is he to Grace? Danvers hadn’t mentioned any beaux. Of course the fellow could be a relative of some variety, but he didn’t think so. No, the other man had designs on her. What kind, however, remained to be seen.

Well, no matter, Jack told himself. His sandy-haired rival wouldn’t be competition for long. And once he was eliminated from the field, Miss Grace Danvers would be free and ready to step straight into Jack’s waiting arms.

Chapter 2

“My thanks for seeing me home,” Grace told Terrence Cooke a half hour later as she walked through the front door of her father’s house in St. Martin’s Lane.

A frequent visitor to the residence, Terrence strolled inside with her. After exchanging familiar greetings with the housekeeper, who took his hat to set on the hall credenza, he and Grace went into the parlor.

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