Seduced by His Touch(8)

By: Tracy Anne Warren



“Yes?” she said, leaning up so that he had an unobstructed view of her bare breasts and the tendrils of long, dark hair that cascaded over her shoulders in a most enticing way. “Just think of all the fun we’re going to have. I can’t wait to sneak into your room. Or would you rather sneak into mine?”

“I am sorry, but there isn’t going to be any sneaking at all. At least not with me.”

“What do you mean? Of course it will be with you.”

He shook his head. “Not this time. I am afraid something else has occurred. I won’t be attending the party.”

Her smile fell away. “But I don’t understand. You always go into the country this time of year.”

“This year is different.”

Sitting up, he propped himself against the pillows. As he did, he thought about the message he’d received this morning from Danvers advising him about Grace’s plans for the remainder of the summer and fall. Considering all the implications, he set another few inches between himself and Philipa.

“I am going to Bath,” he stated on a solemn rumble.

A hearty laugh rolled from her bow-shaped, cherry-pink lips. “Bath! As in the city? Oh, you’re joshing me. Jack Byron in Bath, that will be the day. I suppose next you’re going to tell me you are journeying there for the waters.”

He lowered his gaze. “Actually, I’m going there for a bride.”

Philipa’s green eyes grew wide. “What! You’re getting married?”

“So it would appear.” Careful to make no mention of names or share the specific details of the agreement he’d struck with Danvers, he confided the basics of his situation to her.

“As you see,” he concluded, “it’s the only viable solution. I wish I could have found an easier way to tell you this, but the unvarnished truth seemed best.”

Sliding from the bed, she retrieved her cream, flowered silk dressing gown from the floor and slipped into it. Tying the fastening at her waist, she turned back. “I can’t say I am glad of the news, but I understand. Obviously, it is the prudent choice. I just never envisioned you entering into a marriage of convenience. This girl. What is she like?”

“She’s…” He broke off, finding himself oddly reluctant to talk about Grace Danvers. She’s interesting, he thought. And unusual, not at all like the women he knew. She was…complex.

Realizing the direction of his thoughts, he brought himself back to the topic at hand. “What does it matter what she’s like?” he said in a cool tone. “I am marrying her because it’s what I must do. Anything else is irrelevant.”

“Poor creature,” Philipa remarked, strolling around to his side of the bed. “But knowing you, she’ll probably fall instantly under your spell and count herself lucky to be your wife, whatever the circumstances. And I am sure, in your way, you’ll be kind, even generous, to her.”

Shifting her hip, she sat down next to him. “As for me, I know how to be patient. After all, I waited ten long, dreadful years for the death of that lecher my father forced me to wed. At least this girl will be getting a virile man in his prime rather than some dried-up goat, old enough to be her grandfather. Knowing what a fine lover you are, she is fortunate indeed. No woman would object to giving up her maidenhead to you. Would that I could have done so myself.”

“Philipa—”

“Shh,” she murmured, reaching up to feather her fingers through his hair. “Not to worry. When a suitable amount of time has passed, and you find yourself weary of playing husband, come back to me. You will always be welcome in my bed.”

Catching her hand, he brought her palm to his lips for a kiss. “You are too good, do you know that?”

She smiled and shook her head. “Good? There is nothing good about me. Unless you are talking about my abilities in the boudoir. Now, at that, I more than excel.” Divesting herself of her dressing gown again, she moved to sit astride his hips. “What do you say to one last tumble before you go? Something to tide you over in the coming days, since Bath is one of the deadliest dull spots on earth.”

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