The Flighty Fiancee(5)

By: Emma Shortt

If only I could persuade her to direct some of that charm at me.

“Lady India?”

She turned, and Bartholomew bit back a curse as her smile slipped from one of genuine pleasure, to that which would have been taught by her governess—had Lord Grayson employed one—as soon as she could bob a curtsy. A social smile, lacking in any warmth at all. Bartholomew gritted his teeth to stop the words he so desperately wanted to say.

“My Lord?”

What would it be like to have her sigh his name, her hair in wild abandon around her shoulders, her cat’s eyes glinting with lust? Bartholomew gritted his teeth and took a deep breath. “May I accompany you into the ballroom?”

Looking around her, Lady India gave no doubt to anyone watching that Bartholomew was the last person she wanted to lead her in. But the presence of her hosts was enough to remind her of her duty and so she slipped an arm through his. “Thank you, my Lord. Though I must confess I am at a loss as to why you insist on accompanying me into every single ball I attend.”

“I know my duty to my betrothed, Lady India.”

Too well. How long had he waited for her? To run his hands up those endless legs, to taste the freckles running down her neck? How many nights had he spent pumping his own prick, thoughts of her filling his mind? Imagining her rosy lips wrapped around his head, her dusky nipples on his tongue…. He closed his eyes and thought about that day nearly a year ago when he’d approached Lord Grayson with an offer for her.

At twenty and one, late to her debut after many years traversing the world with her eccentric father, India was already a perfectly formed beauty. One look at the Grayson’s welcome home dinner had been enough for Bartholomew to know that she was his. He had stood at the front door, dumbstruck, as India wound her way down the stairs. Her skin still darkened from the Indian sun, her fiery curls glinting in the light. His cock had hardened to the point of pain and he’d hastily removed his hat to cover his strained breeches. He wanted her immediately, knew he had to have her. She was always meant for me.

“Duty,” India replied, pulling his thoughts back. “Such a tiresome word.”

“But one we must all abide by,” Bartholomew said. “Our place in the world demands it.”

Did she roll her eyes? He frowned, images of putting her over his knees and spanking the fire out of her filling him. There was no doubt she needed taking in hand. Lady India was becoming more and more difficult to manage as the weeks went by, and day by day he regretted his decision to wait for her. Hell, you’ve regretted it since the second you agreed to it.

Of course Lord Grayson had been more than happy to hand Lady India over to a man of Bartholomew’s rank and fortune, would have allowed them to marry immediately—the moment Bartholomew had made his offer. But Bartholomew hadn’t wanted to deprive India of a chance to enjoy all the things young girls her age looked forward to. She may have seen most of the world but he’d wanted her to experience a London season, to be swept off her feet by all the delights the capital had to offer. And she’d been so sweet during the beginning of the season, Bartholomew recalled. The wide eyed wonder, the laughter—he’d drunk it all in and it had taken every ounce of control at his disposal to treat her with the respect and courtesy she deserved. Oh, he’d teased her and played with her. Hoping to stoke the same desire he felt in her, but he hadn’t gone beyond the bounds of that—mindful of her innocence. But as the season moved apace something changed. The exuberant, merry girl he’d fallen for was replaced by a brittle beauty, and he was at a loss to understand why, or how to snap her out of it. She no longer responded to his teasing, or encouraged his attention.

His instincts had said to marry her there and then, to seal the deal. But the decision had been made, a promise to wait until the end of the season, and Bartholomew tried, where possible to abide by his promises.

Now several weeks remained, and watching her—simmering by his side—Bartholomew didn’t know if she was ready. But he was. He honestly didn’t think he could wait much bloody longer. There were only so many times he could take himself in hand, pumping himself to satisfaction, before frustration reached boiling point.

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