Devil in Winter Page 58

Daisy felt gooseflesh rise all over her body. All her senses warned that she had better put a stop to this unnerving conversation, and flee his presence with all due haste. “How interesting,” she muttered, and turned blindly in the circle of his arms, hunting for the edge of the hidden door. To her dismay, he had closed it, and the door was now skillfully concealed in the paneled wall. Panicking, she pushed at various places in the wall, trying to discover the mechanism that would open it.

Her moist palms flattened on the paneling as she felt Rohan lean against her from behind, his mouth close to her ear. “You won’t find it. There is only one spot that will release the catch.”

His hot breath touched the side of her throat, while the light pressure of his body warmed her wherever it touched.

“Why don’t you show it to me?” Daisy suggested in her best imitation of Lillian’s sarcastic drawl, dismayed to hear that she sounded only unsteady and bewildered.

“What favor will you give in return?”

Daisy strove for indignation, even as her heart clattered against her ribs like a wild bird in a cage. She turned around to face him, launching a verbal assault that she hoped would drive him back. “Mr. Rohan, if you are insinuating that I should…well, you’re the most ungentlemanly man I have ever encountered.”

He didn’t budge an inch. His animal-white teeth flashed in a grin. “But I do know where the door is,” he reminded her.

“Do you want money?” she asked scornfully.


Daisy swallowed hard. “A liberty, then?” Seeing his incomprehension, she clarified with reddening cheeks, “Taking a liberty is…an embrace, or a kiss…”

Something dangerous flickered in Rohan’s golden eyes. “Yes,” he murmured. “I’ll take a liberty.”

Daisy could hardly believe it. Her first kiss. She had always envisioned it as a romantic moment in an English garden…There would be moonlight, of course…and a fair-haired gentleman with a boyish face would say something lovely from a poem just before his lips met hers. It was not supposed to happen in one of the basement rooms of a gambling club with a Gypsy card dealer. On the other hand, she was twenty years old, and maybe it was time for her to start accumulating some experience.

Swallowing again, she fought to control the reckless meter of her breathing, and stared at the part of his throat and upper chest that was revealed by his partly opened shirt. His skin gleamed like tautly stretched amber satin. As he drew closer to her, his scent invaded her nostrils in a drift of luxurious masculine spice. His hand lifted gently to her face, the backs of his knuckles accidentally brushing the tip of her small breast along the way. It had to be accidental, she thought dizzily, while her nipple contracted tightly beneath her velvet bodice. His long fingers slid around the side of her face, tilting it to an upward slant.

Staring into the dark pools of her dilated eyes, he drew his fingertips to her mouth, stroking the plush surface of her lips until they were parted and trembling. His other hand slid behind the back of her neck, caressing at first, then grasping lightly to support the weight of her head…which was a good thing, since her entire spine seemed to have dissolved like melted sugar. His mouth came to hers with tender pressure, exploring her lips with repeated brushes. Warm delight seemed to leak into her veins, flowing through her until she could no longer resist the urge to press her body against his. Rising on her toes, she gripped his hard shoulders with her hands, and gasped as she felt his arms slide around her.

When at last his head lifted, Daisy was mortified to discover that she was clinging to him like the victim of a near-drowning. She jerked her hands away from him, and retreated as far as the wall would allow. Confused and ashamed by her response to him, she scowled up into his pagan eyes.

“I didn’t feel a thing,” she said coolly. “Though I suppose you deserve credit for trying. Now show me where the—”

She broke off with a surprised squeak as he reached for her again, and she realized too late that he had taken her dismissive remark as a challenge. This time his mouth was more demanding, his hands cupped around the back of her head. With innocent surprise, she felt the silken touch of his tongue, a sensation that sent writhing sweetness all through her. She shivered as he searched her mouth intimately…as if the taste of her was something delicious.

Finishing the kiss with a last coaxing nuzzle of his lips, Rohan pulled back to stare into her eyes, silently daring her to deny her attraction to him.

She mustered the last few shreds of her pride. “Still nothing,” she said weakly.

This time he hauled her fully against his body, his dark head lowering over hers. Daisy had never thought a kiss could be so deep, his mouth feeding slowly on hers, his hands pulling her up and against him. She felt his feet pushing between hers, his chest hard against her small br**sts, his kisses teasing, caressing, until she quivered like a wild creature in the support of his arms. By the time he released her mouth, she was limp and passive, all her consciousness focused on the sensations that drew her toward some unknown end.

Opening her eyes, Daisy looked at him through a haze of sensuality. “That…that was much improved,” she managed to say with dignity. “I’m glad I was able to teach you something.” She turned away from him, but not before she saw his quick grin. Reaching out, he pressed at the hidden catch on the door, and opened it.

To Daisy’s discomfiture, Rohan went with her into the dark passageway and accompanied her up the narrow stairs, guiding her as if he could see like a cat in the dark. When they reached the top, where the outline of the reading room door was visible, they paused in tandem.

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