Devil in Winter Page 51

“You need to go to bed,” he continued, his own breathing not quite steady as he eased her closer. His gaze drifted slowly from her face to the round outline of her br**sts, and back again, and a low, humorless laugh escaped him. “And I need to go there with you, damn it. But since I can’t…Come here.”

“Why?” she asked, even as he secured her against the edge of the table and let his legs intrude amid the folds of her skirts.

“I want to torture you a little.”

Evie stared at him with round eyes, while her heart pumped liquid fire through her veins. “When you—” She had to clear her throat and try again. “When you use the word ‘torture,’ I’m sure you mean it in a figurative sense.”

He shook his head, his eyes filled with light smoke. “Literal, I’m afraid.”


“My love,” he said gently, “I hope you didn’t assume that the next three months of suffering was to be one-sided? Put your hands on me.”


“Anywhere.” He waited until she had hesitantly placed her hands on his shoulders, over the fine wool weave of his coat. Holding her gaze, he said, “As high as the fire in me burns, Evie, I will stoke it in you.”

“Sebastian…” She strained a little, and he pinned her more firmly against the table.

“It’s my right to kiss you,” he reminded her, “whenever I want, for as long as I want. That was our bargain.”

She threw an agitated glance around the room, and he read her thoughts easily.

“I don’t give a damn if anyone sees us. You’re my wife.” A smile chased across his lips. “My better half, to be certain.” Leaning over her, he nuzzled into the fine tendrils that strayed over her forehead. His breath was hot and soft on her skin. “My prize…my pleasure and pain…my endless desire. I’ve never known anyone like you, Evie.” His lips touched gently at the bridge of her nose and slid down to the tip. “You dare to make demands of me that no other woman would think of asking. And for now I’ll pay your price, love. But later you’ll pay mine…over and over…” He caught her trembling lips with his, his hands cupping the back of her head.

He was a man who loved kissing, nearly as much as he loved the act of intercourse itself. The kiss began as a gentle brush of dry, closed lips…the pressure increasing until he had gained the soft opening of her mouth…and then she felt the subtle intrusion of his tongue. Her head tippled back helplessly in the cradle of his palms, the sudden hammering of her heart sending the blood rushing through her veins, making her feel weak and hot. He took more of her, kissing her at every possible angle, searching deeply.

One of his hands eased over her front, passing lightly over her br**sts, his thumb searching in vain for the point of her nipple through the thick padding of her corset. Craving the feel of her bare skin, he moved his fingers up to her throat, stroking the rapid throb of her pulse. His mouth slid from hers and traveled along her neck until he found the tender pulse point. Evie stiffened her legs, her hands gripping his shoulders to bolster her failing balance. With a low murmur, Sebastian gathered her more firmly against his body and sought her lips again. She could no longer hold back the pleading sounds in her throat, her mouth working frantically to draw in more of his taste, more of the warm male silk of his mouth, more—

The awkward sound of someone clearing his throat caused Evie to break the kiss with a gasp. Realizing that someone had entered the main room, Sebastian pulled her head against his chest, his thumb caressing the flushed curve of her cheek. He spoke to the intruder coolly, while his heart thumped strongly against Evie’s cheek.

“What is it, Gully?”

Jim Gully, one of the club’s gaming room staff, replied breathlessly. “Sorry, milord. Trouble downstairs. The carpenters got a bottle o’ blue ruin from somewhere, and all three are howling drunk. They started a quarrel into the coffee room. Two ow ‘em are at fisticuffs already, whilst another is breaking the dishes at the sideboard.”

Sebastian scowled. “Tell Rohan to handle it.”

“Mr. Rohan says ‘e’s busy.”

“There’s a drunken brawl downstairs and he’s too busy to do anything about it?” Sebastian asked incredulously.

“Yes, milord.”

“Then you take care of it.”

“Can’t, milord.” He held up a bandaged finger. “Busted my knuckle during a fight in the alley last evenin’.”

“Where is Hayes?”

“Dunno, milord.”

“Are you telling me,” Sebastian asked with dangerous softness, “that of the thirty employees who work here, not one of them is available to keep three drunken sods from tearing up the coffee room when they should be restoring it?”

“Yes, milord.”

In the furious pause after Gully’s reply, the sounds of shattering porcelain and furniture hitting the walls caused a vibration that elicited a faint tinkling rattle from the overhead chandeliers. Incomprehensible bellowing accompanied the racket as the fight escalated. “Damn it,” Sebastian said through gritted teeth. “What the hell are they doing to the club?”

Evie shook her head in confusion, staring from her husband’s wrathful countenance to Gully’s carefully blank one. “I don’t understand—”

“Call it a rite of passage,” Sebastian snapped, and left her with long strides that quickly broke into a run.

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