Home > The Duke (Victorian Rebels #4)(9)

The Duke (Victorian Rebels #4)(9)
Author: Kerrigan Byrne

Dangerous, because she didn’t want him to stop.

He’d awakened something, some wicked need, and she knew that feeling anything but revulsion with him would only intensify her shame later.

He blinked her into focus, scrutinizing her with his unsettlingly astute eyes for someone in his state, while his hands steadied her at her waist. “I assume you don’t have many … customers who care to give you pleasure.”

Imogen bit her kiss-abraded lip before answering carefully. “I … can’t say that I have.”

His eyes warmed, melting the copper to a smoldering liquid. He pressed his nose against hers before kissing her lightly in an affectionate gesture that nearly undid her.

“Do you want to know why I chose you tonight? Why I paid the twenty quid? I mean, other than your exotic beauty, of course?”

He was being a flirt, but Imogen still couldn’t stop the pleased blush from claiming her flesh.

“Your eyes.” He reached up, running a thumb beneath where thick kohl liner accentuated the shape. “While they are lovely, they are tired. Strained. You looked as though you’ve had a rather difficult go of things.”

Imogen swept her lashes down, disturbed that she’d given away so much. She pressed her lips together against the tide of tears his kindness threatened to unleash, and swallowed them down, nearly forgetting their intimate pose for a moment.

“I’ve had a rather trying week,” he muttered. “I’m certain you’ve heard about it.”

She nodded, a pang of sympathy permeating her own misery.

His finger trailed down her cheek, to her jaw, and across the bare expanse of her chest, encouraging her to look up at him again now that she’d composed herself.

Lord, but she’d never accustom herself to the beauty that assaulted her each time she saw his face.

“I came here tonight hoping to drink enough to forget…” His own eyes became suspiciously liquid, and he took his own moment to grapple with his composure. His voice was huskier as he continued, deeper, if at all possible. “I want us both to enjoy this indulgence. This oblivion. I want this night to be a reprieve … because the dawn brings everything back, doesn’t it? Duty does not allow for sorrow or weariness. I’ll have to go to—” He caught himself in time, clenching his teeth against words that would escape him. “It doesn’t matter where I’m going. What I’m saying is that the world will churn on, despite what we’ve lost. Despite what we’ve gained … what we want or—don’t want, in any case.”

Brimming with empathy for the naked grief in his eyes, Imogen brought her hands to his face, cupping his hard jaw. The man had lost his family, and even the coldest soldier or spy had to mourn in his own way.

“Take your pleasure, Cole,” she whispered. “Don’t worry about mine.”

He was right about one thing, no one else ever did.

He breathed out on a shudder. “Here.” Grasping her hand, he guided it down between their bodies until he wrapped her fingers around the surprisingly hot flesh of his cock. Her small hand barely fit around the velvety skin encasing the rod of steel beneath.

Her eyes widened in alarm. What did he want her to do with it?

“Now you see,” he said on a breathless groan. “It’s better that I make you come. That I make you ready. Even the most experienced … ladies have difficulty sometimes.”

Imogen swallowed her apprehension and pulled her fingers from around him.

Though she appreciated that he’d done his best to avoid referring to her as a whore.

His arms snaked around her as he pulled her close. “Let me,” he commanded, and stole her breath with another kiss. “Let us share pleasure, as though we were lovers instead of strangers.”

He didn’t explore or caress her body again. Merely delved into the fine nest of hair between her legs and stroked into her folds with merciless fingers. Imogen gasped and trembled, but it was he who sucked a labored breath through his clenched teeth.

His other hand held her fast, again gripping the flesh of her hip while his rough-skinned fingers turned slick as her body coated them in desire. A lightning-quick pleasure speared her as he trailed past a cluster of sensation. He didn’t linger there, but slipped over and through the folds with light, playful gestures.

Her belly became tight as an aching, pulsing void of need opened up within her womb. Unbidden, her hips followed his clever fingers, seeking after that first, arousing stroke again with undulating demand. He fondled and separated her, teased and tantalized her, all the while keeping her mouth occupied with his questing tongue.

Her breath came in gasps, then pants, and then little mewls of wordless delight as he finally stroked at the right spot again, and once again, until her fingernails bit into his shoulders as an insistent, burning pleasure began to seize upon her.

“Cole?” she whimpered, clutching at him, almost afraid of whatever it was that locked every muscle from her sternum down into uncontrolled pulses.

“Yes,” he growled into her mouth. “Fucking come for me. That’s it.”

The gathering storm broke upon her with scream-provoking intensity. Tears sprang to her eyes as she curled around him, her thighs clenching his as though she rode a powerful steed rather than wave after wave of unimaginable pleasure. Convinced there was magic in his hands, she opened her mouth to tell him so, but all that escaped her was a low cry. Or maybe nothing. She couldn’t tell. Or remember. Or care.

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