The Brazen Bride(9)

By: Stephanie Laurens

Muriel and Buttons—Miss Lillian Buttons, the children’s governess—had rooms on the first floor, in the opposite wing to Linnet’s large bedchamber. The children had rooms in the extensive attic, on either side of the playroom and schoolroom.

As the manor house of the estate encompassing the southwestern tip of Guernsey, Mon Coeur was a small community in its own right, with Linnet, Miss Trevission, its unquestioned leader. Indeed, she was more a liege lord, a hereditary ruler; that was certainly how her people saw her.

Perhaps noblesse oblige, that sense of responsibility for those in her care, was what so drove her to ensure the stranger lived.

Halting by the bed, Linnet looked down at his face. Willed his lashes to flutter, willed him to open his eyes and look at her again. She wanted to see his lips curve again; they had before, in a wholly seductive way, but she suspected he’d been delirious at the time.

Of course, he just lay there. Placing a hand on his brow, then sliding it down to the curve of his throat, she confirmed he was still far too cold. He was literally comatose, and nothing they’d yet done had succeeded in warming him sufficiently.

Drawing back her hand, she huffed out a breath. She’d intended to sleep on the daybed before the windows, but … her bed, the manor’s master’s bed, was wide—designed for a couple where the man was large. Of course, if she was going to warm him up, she’d need to sleep close, rather than apart.

Swinging away, she crossed to her chest and hunted out her thickest flannel nightgown. One eye on the bed, she stripped out of her warm gown, her woollen shift and fine chemise, then pulled the nightgown over her head.

Her patient hadn’t stirred, hadn’t cracked an eyelid.

Quickly letting down her hair, she slid her splayed fingers through the mass, shaking the long tresses loose. Lifting her woollen robe from its hook on the side of her armoire, she donned and belted it—another layer of armor against any attack, however feeble, on her modesty.

Approaching the bed, she inwardly scoffed. No matter who he proved to be, she’d been managing men all her life; she harbored no doubt whatsoever that she could and would manage him. Just like the others, he would learn. She ordered, they obeyed. That was, and always would be, the way of her world.

Lifting the covers, she checked the bricks and, as she’d suspected, found them already cooled. She removed them, stacked them by the door, then returned to the bed.

Calmly lifting the covers, she slid into the familiar softness, to the left of her fallen angel. Laying her hands along his bandaged side, she gently pushed, persevered until he rolled over on his undamaged right side. Quickly shifting nearer, she spooned around him, using her body to prop his in that position.

Reaching over and under him, she wrapped her arms about as much of him as she could. Then, because his back was there and convenient, she laid her cheek against the smooth, cool skin. She doubted she would sleep, but she closed her eyes.

She woke to a sensation of floating. Her wits were slow, reluctant to surface from the pleasurable sea in which they, were submerged. A curious warmth suffused her, tempting her to simply relax and let the tide of tactile sensation sweep her on.…

It took many long minutes before her mind assembled enough coherency to sound any alarm, and even then some part of her questioned, unable to believe, unable to perceive any danger—not in this.

Not in the long, rolling swells of pleasure that something, some being, sent smoothly sliding through her.

But then a hard palm and long, hard fingers closed about her bare breast—and she came awake on a shocked gasp of sensual delight.

Wits reeling, waltzing to a tune she had never before encountered, she had to open her eyes to orient herself. To convince herself that yes, somehow their positions had changed, that both she and her fallen angel had turned, and now he was spooned about her, his chest to her back.

His hands on her body.

His erection nudging between her thighs.

She knew perfectly well she should leap from the bed—now, right now, before his wandering hand and the pleasure his touch wrought laid seige to her wits again.

But … his hand, his fingers, stroked and caressed, played and teased, and she closed her eyes on a sigh.

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