Heat Level (4)
new dawning bookfair
Air. I need air. She moved to the window and flung it open, thrusting her face into the night. Cool air helped. Still, her head swam. She ducked inside and backed to the bed then flopped. Jorge Grauwolf, what have you done to me? She put a hand to her chest and took breaths as deep as her corset would allow. It wasn't enough. Her vision went weak, causing the canopy over her bed to waver.
"Allow me," said the one person who could only make her situation worse.
She lifted her head from her bed's counterpane. He stood in her room by the open window. He'd removed his coat and vest, and his cambric shirt gaped to reveal his tanned, bared chest. A halo surrounded him, and she fought for breath as darkness began closing in.
"I can't—" She gasped.
He came to her in an instant. His large hands took her shoulders and rolled her. Sure fingers went to work on the hooks of her gown. In seconds, he had the stays of her corset loosened.
She fisted the bedspread and sucked a gulping breath. The room came into clear view. Bending her chin to her chest, she inhaled deeply until her head stopped spinning.
"Did Youel touch you?" he asked, his words clipped but quiet. "Is that why you said my brother was dangerous?"
"Absolutely not. What a question." She pushed against the counterpane, but her arms buckled. The mattress sagged, and his cool fingers curved across the nape of her neck.
"How dare you?" she whispered, appalled by both her weakness and his audacity.
"How dare I come to your aide?" Humor laced his tone.
He was a rake. Only a libertine would steal, uninvited, into a lady's bedroom in the middle of the night. And where was his anger from a second ago? "You may be a nobleman, but you're no gentleman." She slapped at his hand and found the strength to push to a sitting position. "Get out."
"Ungrateful chit." Not a bit of irritation joined his words. He actually sounded amused.
A flame flared in her belly, and she dared her first real look at him tonight. Laughter danced in his silver eyes. His black hair had come loose from its tie and reflected her gas lighting with a crisp sheen. His skin stretched taut across thick muscle and contrasted with the pristine white of his shirt. Jorge was the image of male beauty unlike anything she'd ever seen.
And what did she look like? Her pristine gown wilted at shoulders and bodice. She'd just about fainted, which meant she likely had not a bit of color in her face. She put a hand to her hair and swallowed a moan of dismay to find it listing to the right. She had no choice, and pulled out two long pins. Her curls fell where they may.
He licked lips shaped like an archer's bow. "I don't believe I've ever seen anything as gorgeous as you right now."
A rush of wicked excitement set her heart to pounding. You're handsome and arrogant and alone with me on my bed. "Get out." Somehow, she didn't mean the words quite as much this time.
He slid a finger into her sleeve and drew it downward, baring her shoulder.
She clenched her teeth against an indignant cry. The last thing she needed was Trudi waking to find a man in her room. "Jorge Grauwolf," she managed in a breathy voice. She clutched her bodice and made to stand. Halfway up, her brain lost focus and her knees gave out. She collapsed…into his arms.
He spread his thighs, settling her hips between. His fingertips found her thin silk chemise under the untied stays of her corset and wreaked havoc with her senses. He put warm lips to her ear and whispered, "You stir my appetite more than any succulent morsel that has ever tempted me."
She inhaled sharply and tried not to imagine what he had in mind. Tried not to picture lying beneath him as she had so many times in her dreams.