Devil in Winter Page 79

The mention of his adored wife brought a glow to the earl’s eyes. “I would say she is no more determined or strong-willed than you,” he replied, and added with a swift grin, “She merely happens to be noisier about it.”


While Westcliff went to talk with Sebastian, Evie retreated to her room for a soothing bath, adding a liberal splash of perfumed oil to the water to soften it. After a long soak her skin was moist and fragrant with the scent of roses. She donned one of Sebastian’s velvet-lined silk robes, rolling back the sleeves several times. Curling up in a chair before the hearth, she brushed her hair while the housemaids removed the bath. One of the maids, a dark-haired woman named Frannie, remained to tidy the room. She turned down the bedclothes and ran a warming pan between the sheets.

“Shall I…shall I prepare your room, milady?” the maid asked cautiously.

Evie ducked her head a little as she considered her reply. It was well-known among the servants that she and Sebastian had maintained separate bedrooms even before the illness. They had yet to share a bed together for a night. Although she was not quite certain how to brooch the subject to Sebastian, she knew that after all that had transpired, she did not want to play games with him any longer. Life was too uncertain to waste time. There was no guarantee that Sebastian would be faithful to her. She had nothing but hope—and the instinct that although the man she had initially married was not deserving of such faith, the man he was becoming just might be.

“I don’t think so,” she said to the maid, continuing to draw the brush through her hair. “I will stay in this room tonight, Frannie.”

“Yes, milady. If ye wish I’ll—”

Frannie broke off, the thought forever going unfinished, as they both became aware of Sebastian’s tall form entering the room. He stopped just inside the doorway, resting his back against the wall as he silently contemplated his wife. Despite the warmth of the fire, gooseflesh rose all over Evie’s body, and an erotic shiver chased down her spine.

Sebastian’s posture was relaxed, his collar open, his black necktie hanging loose. The hearth light danced over his elegant form and cast a golden glow over features that might have belonged to some ancient god of idolatry. Even though he had not yet regained his full vigor, he radiated a dangerous male potency that made her knees weak. It didn’t help that he remained utterly silent, his glinting gaze slipping over her with unnerving slowness. Helplessly recalling the feel of his satiny skin beneath her fingers, and the hard muscles beneath his loosely tailored clothes, Evie colored.

Frannie hastily gathered up Evie’s discarded gown and hurried from the room.

Sebastian continued to watch Evie as she set aside the brush and stood with an inarticulate murmur. Pushing away from the wall, he came to her, his fingertips coming to her upper arms and tracing over them through the thickness of the robe. Evie’s heart began to pound, and her skin tingled beneath the layers of velvet and silk. She closed her eyes as he eased her closer, and his lips touched her eyebrow, her temple, the crest of her cheek. Such light caresses, while his intense arousal—and her own—seemed to enfold them in a burning mist. They stood together for a long time, barely touching, simply feeling each other’s nearness.

“Evie…” His whisper stirred the tiny wisps at her hairline. “I want to make love to you.”

Her blood turned to boiling honey. Eventually she managed a stammering reply. “I-I thought y-you never called it that.”

His hands lifted to her face, his fingertips exploring delicately. She remained docile beneath his caress while the scent of his skin, fresh and clove-like, drugged her like some narcotic incense.

Reaching to his own throat, Sebastian fumbled beneath his shirt and extracted the wedding band on the fine chain. He tugged it, breaking the fragile links, and let the chain drop to the floor. Evie’s breathing hastened as he reached for her left hand and slid the gold band onto her fourth finger. Their hands matched together, palm to palm, wrist to wrist, just as they had been bound during their wedding ceremony. His forehead lowered to hers, and he whispered, “I want to fill every part of you…breathe the air from your lungs…leave my handprints on your soul. I want to give you more pleasure than you can bear. I want to make love to you, Evie, as I have never done with anyone before.”

She was now trembling so violently that she could hardly stand. “Your w-wound—we have to be careful—”

“You let me worry about that.” His mouth took hers in a soft, smoldering kiss. Releasing her hand, he gathered her body closer, applying explicit pressure against her shoulders, back, hips, until she was molded completely against him. Evie wanted him with a desperation that almost frightened her. She tried to catch his gently shifting mouth with her own, and pulled at his clothes with a fumbling urgency that made him laugh softly. “Slowly,” he murmured. “The night is just beginning…and I’m going to love you for a long time.”

Evie, whose legs were wobbling, tugged harder at his coat. “I can’t st-stand up much longer,” she said plaintively.

She saw the flash of his grin as he shrugged out of his coat, and heard the passion-roughened timbre in his voice as he said, “Go lie on the bed, love.”

Evie obeyed gratefully, crawling onto the mattress and half reclining as she watched him shed the rest of his clothes. The sight of the white bandage crossing the hard musculature of his stomach reminded her of how close she had come to losing him. She felt her face tighten with emotion. He was so infinitely dear to her…the prospect of sharing this night with him filled her with a happiness that felt like anguish. His weight depressed the bed, and she rolled to face him, their bodies separated only by the dressing-gown. She reached up to touch the dark blond fleece on his chest, her fingertips sinking through the coarse curls to the hard flesh beneath.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies