Devil in Winter Page 76

“There’s a speck in my water.”

Padding barefoot to the bed, Evie picked up his half-full drinking glass and viewed it critically. “I don’t see a speck.”

“It’s in there,” Sebastian said grumpily. “Must we debate the matter, or will you fetch some clean water?”

Biting back a reply with remarkable self-control, Evie went to the washstand, emptied the water into the creamware bowl, and poured a fresh glass for him. She brought it back, set it on the table, and looked at him expectantly. “Is that all?”

“No. My bandage is too tight. And the loose end is tucked in at the back. I can’t reach it.”

It seemed that the more demanding he was, the more annoyingly patient Evie became. Bending over him, she murmured for him to turn a little, and he felt her gently loosening the bandage and retucking the ends. The glance of her fingertips on his back, so cool and delicate, caused his pulse to throb sharply. A stray curl slid silkily over his shoulder. Resting on his back once more, Sebastian fought with the desperate joy he felt at her nearness.

He glanced wretchedly up at her face…the beautiful bow-shaped mouth, the cream-satin skin, the irresistible sprinkling of freckles. Her hand settled lightly on his chest, over his thumping heart, and she toyed with the wedding band on the chain.

“Take it off of me,” he muttered. “The damned thing is annoying. It gets in the way.”

“In the way of what?” Evie whispered, staring at his averted profile.

Sebastian could smell her skin, the scent of warm, clean woman, and he shifted on the mattress, his senses sharpening with awareness. “Just take it off and put it on the dresser,” he managed to say after a ragged breath.

Ignoring the command, Evie half sat on the mattress, leaning over him until the ends of her unbound hair feathered over his chest. His body was motionless, but he quaked inwardly as he felt her draw a finger along the edge of his jaw. “I gave you a decent shave,” she observed, sounding pleased with herself. “I may have missed a spot or two, but at least I didn’t cut your face to ribbons. It helped that you were so still.”

“I was too terrified to move,” he replied, and she made a sound of amusement.

Unable to keep his gaze from hers any longer, Sebastian brought himself to look into her smiling eyes…so round, so astonishingly blue.

“Why do you ring that bell so often?” Evie whispered. “Are you lonely? You have only to say so.”

“I’m never lonely.” He said it with cool conviction. To his dismay, she did not draw back, and although her smile turned quizzical, it did not fade.

“Shall I go, then?” she asked gently.

Sebastian felt treacherous heat rising inside him, unfurling, spilling, spreading everywhere. “Yes, go,” he said, closing his eyes, hungrily absorbing the scent and nearness of her.

Evie stayed, however, the silence spinning out until it seemed that the pounding of his heart must be audible. “Do you want to know what I think, Sebastian?” she finally asked.

It took every particle of his will to keep his voice controlled. “Not particularly.”

“I think that if I leave this room, you’re going to ring that bell again. But no matter how many times you ring, or how often I come running, you’ll never bring yourself to tell me what you really want.”

Sebastian slitted his eyes open…a mistake. Her face was very close, her soft mouth only inches from his. “At the moment, all I want is some peace,” he grumbled. “So if you don’t mind—”

Her lips touched his, warm silk and sweetness, and he felt the dizzying brush of her tongue. A floodgate of desire opened, and he was drowning in undiluted pleasure, more powerful than anything he had known before. He lifted his hands as if to push her head away, but instead his trembling fingers curved around her skull, holding her to him. The fiery curls of her hair were compressed beneath his palms as he kissed her with ravenous urgency, his tongue searching the winsome delight of her mouth.

Sebastian was mortified to discover that he was gasping like an untried boy when Evie ended the kiss. Her lips were rosy and damp, her freckles gleaming like gold dust against the deep pink of her cheeks. “I also think,” she said unevenly, “that you’re going to lose our bet.”

Recalled to sanity by a flash of indignation, Sebastian scowled. “Do you think I’m in any condition to pursue other women? Unless you intend to bring someone to my bed, I’m hardly going to—”

“You’re not going to lose the bet by sleeping with another woman,” Evie said. There was a glitter of deviltry in her eyes as she reached up to the neckline of her gown and deliberately began to unfasten the row of buttons. Her hands trembled just a little. “You’re going to lose it with me.”

Sebastian watched incredulously as she stood and shed the dressing gown. She was naked, the tips of her br**sts pointed and rosy in the cool air. She had lost weight, but her br**sts were still round and lovely, and her h*ps still flared generously from the neat inward curves of her waist. As his gaze swept to the triangle of red hair between her thighs, a swell of acute lust rolled through him.

He sounded shaken, even to his own ears. “You can’t make me lose the bet. That’s cheating.”

“I never promised not to cheat,” Evie said cheerfully, shivering as she slipped beneath the covers with him.

“Damn it, I’m not going to cooperate. I—” His breath hissed between his teeth as he felt the tender length of her body press against his side, the springy brush of her private curls on his hip as she slid one of her legs between his. He jerked his head away as she tried to kiss him. “I can’t…Evie…” His mind searched cagily for a way to dissuade her. “I’m too weak.”

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