I set the delicate china cup on its saucer, lest I spill any of the amber fluid with the sudden trembling of my hands. My heart increased its speed under the layers of bodice and corset of my dress. “I beg your pardon, Captain?” My palms dampened under the lace gloves I wore. “A proposal?”
The captain shifted forward in his seat. He was a mere few feet away on the settee and I could feel his energy, simmering and raw, enclose me as he moved. A lock of his hair, the color of black silk fell over his high forehead, lending him an air of danger. His exterior was that of an English gentleman, commander of the tea clipper that was carrying me to my fiancé in Ceylon. His tailored captain’s coat, breeches, and polished boots belied the coiled beastly power raging within him. “Aye,” he answered softly. His voice sent tendrils of heat into the bodice of my dress and beyond my control, my nipples hardened against my corset. “I can protect you from entering into an arrangement I know you dread.”
My heart pounded. Somehow, the man before me had come to understand that my impending marriage was an arrangement for other than love. And he was right. My marriage to Charles Grimley was purely one of social and financial advantage to my father who had not managed the family estate properly in the last ten years. “How did you know?” My voice escaped in a whisper as the heat in my bodice slipped down through my belly, into the crevice between my thighs.
He raked his hair back with one large strong-looking hand and I suppressed the wicked desire to have that same hand cover my bare breast.
“I’m not a stupid man, my dear.” His lips spread into a smile. “Anyone who gave half a care could see how sad you look, how you imagine a lifetime of enslavement to a passionless cad, which I happen to know Lord Grimley is.” He leaned back, studying me, a knowing look playing in the chocolate brown pools of his eyes.
I imagined he knew the sensual effect he was having on me.
“In our afternoon conversations these past two weeks, I’ve listened to you, to the details of your life you’ve chosen to reveal,” Captain Bramwell went on, “and you spoke of your first husband, God rest his soul, with affection in your voice, but not with passion.” He paused and bore his dark gaze into me again. Spikes of heat shot along the slit of my sex. He was making me want him with a force I’d never known before, and I suspected such was his intention.
He moved closer to me, so close, the clean scent of his shaving soap wafted enticingly in the air around us, along with a deeper, more masculine scent that roused me to such a fury, I began to tremble. In my twenty-six years of life, I’d never had a conversation of this nature with a man, and found it releasing something from deep inside me, something a lady of my breeding should never release. I wanted desperately to run my fingertips along his clean-shaven jaw, to feel the light roughness of his male skin against my tender fingertips.
“So what is your proposal, Captain?” I could barely speak above a whisper for the blood raging in my ears, coursing through my body, engorging my inner sex. My body grew languid and pliant, moisture seeping from between my thighs, preparing me for his possession. At least, that’s what I desired.
His sensually masculine lips curved in a wicked grin. “Finally, you ask the right question,” he breathed. His voice had fallen to a husky tenor. He leaned in closer, his breath a warm caress on my skin. “My proposal is this. You give yourself to me. Whenever I want you, you let me have you without hesitation, and when we arrive in Ceylon, I’ll make certain not to deliver you to Lord Grimley. Not only that, you will be a free woman, free to choose your own course with my assistance to carry it out.”
I gasped and stared at him, my mind swirling. My breathing grew shallow and my skin tingled hotly as one emotion after the other ran through me, the foremost being the desire for such freedom. I splayed my hand over my chest. The second most, fear of what he could possibly ask of me in return. “Why?” I breathed. “Why are you saying this to me?”
His grin faded and his eyes darkened, glowing with desire. He reached out and picked up a wisp of my auburn hair, feeling it between his fingertips. Releasing my hair, he brushed the same fingertips across my cheek, over my mouth, the pad of his index finger pushing into the seam of my lips. Before I realized what I was doing, I flickered my tongue on his flesh, tasting its salty roughness.
He smiled and pushed his finger deeper into my mouth. I danced my tongue around it, and began suckling and pulling on it, a fever raging between my legs. I’d never behaved like this in my life. I’d known only garden parties, balls, servants and lying back to perform my wifely duties. Not the erotic heat that Lucius Bramwell deliberately stoked in me. He pulled his finger from between my lips and skated his hand downward, rubbing it in deliberately, firm circles over my right breast. His touch sent waves of fire right through the wool serge of my dress. My nipple peaked under his ardent caress and my chest heaved with arousal.
“Mrs. Lynley, does this answer your question? Don’t you think my powers of observation would discern the hungry tigress underneath your prim, lady’s exterior? Don’t you think I’d want some of that for myself?” He moved closer to me on the settee, leaned over me and brushed his lips across mine. “Answer me.”
His musky scent filled my nostrils and I felt drunk as if I’d had too much champagne. “Yes,” I breathed, my eyelids fluttering closed and his hand ventured underneath my skirts, his fingertips teasing the sensitive swollen flesh of my sex over the flimsy linen of my drawers.
“Yes, what?” he whispered.
“What am I to call you?”
His eyes glittered dangerously and I felt a moment of fear followed by another surge of seep arousal. “Lucius.” He looked down at my, lightly pinching the fleshy lips below between his fingertips. The sensation rippled through me and I fell back against the cushions. “Yes, Lucius,” I breathed.
“Yes. I know that’s what you want.”
“It is.” My hands began working the fastening of his breeches. The deliciously hard bulge in front pressed against my thigh, rousing my desire to feel him, to take him in my mouth, to have him sheathed deep inside me. I graze my palm over the effulgence, eliciting a groan from deep inside him.
He lay back. “Take me in your mouth,” he ordered in a husky voice.
Crazed with hunger now, I slipped to my knees and opened his breeches. He lifted his hips so I could lower them down. I pulled open the tie on his drawers and freed his erection from its confines of clothing. His member was large and hard, springing from a base of silky thick hair. My mouth watered at the sight and I smoothed my hand over the shaft, the skin satiny smooth, ridged with veins. I closed my mouth over the head, running the tip of my tongue along the crest of it. The captain groaned and surged more deeply into my mouth, sheathing himself in the warm moistness. I slid my tongue and lips up and down on the silky hardness, my hair coming free of its pins.
I felt his hand lace into my hair, pulling me further onto him. He tasted deliciously musky and his moans filled my ears. I grew wild and devoured him with the growing hunger he’d released from deep inside me. When I glanced up, he was watching me pleasure him, his dark eyes dusky, his face flushed from my ministrations.
To my surprise, he did not let me continue and withdrew his cock from my mouth. “Undress,” he ordered. “I’ll have you now.”
The hard urgency and mastery in his tone sent slivers of heat through me and I felt the wetness seeping rapidly from my sex. He watched me undo the buttons of my dress and peel off layer after layer of petticoat, chemise, drawers and corset, until my full breasts with hardened rosy nipples were exposed to his view and his gaze raked over them and downward over my auburn thatch of curls, now glistening from my musk.
Reaching out a hand, he tugged me back onto the settee, his eyes glowing with hunger. I stared back at him, running my tongue across my lips, loving the freedom he’d already given me to surrender to my deep desire.
“Open your legs,” he ordered in a voice tight with lust.
I obeyed and he dipped his large fingers into my sex, spreading the lips open, feeling the glistening pearl of my desire, and gathering my musk onto his fingertips. He spread the cream onto my lips and leaned down. “Please, taste yourself,” he said.
I licked my lips, tasting my own tangy flavor. The satisfaction in his gaze shivered through me, rousing me further. I moved to sit up and help him undress, but he pushed me back down. “Perhaps I should call in some of my men,” he said, his tone feral and dangerous. “Let them have a taste of you as well.”
His words stoked the already raging fire. “Whatever you say, Lucius,” I breathed, my hips writhing under his gaze, desperate for more.
To my delight, he pulled my legs apart and leaned his face downward, burying his mouth in my sex. His tongue stroked my clitoris in languid strokes and he held me down firmly with his strong hands while he had his fill. When he took the small bud between his lips and tongue and suckled hard, I exploded. The waves of bliss ripped through my entire sex, into my belly and I cried out, my fingers winding into the velvety soft richness of his hair. He licked and sucked my clitoris until every bit of pleasure was wrung from it and then lifted his face, my musk gleaming on his lips and chin.
He raised himself up over me and pressed his lips to mine, at the same time yanking off his coat and shirt with such force, I heard the buttons clatter to the wooden floor. Eagerly, I laved his skin clean of my juices with my tongue, spreading my legs wide apart to take his cock deep inside me, my fingertips raking through the thick mat of dark hair on his now exposed chest.
In one firm hard stroke, he sheathed himself deep within my sex and braced himself on the edges of the settee, grinding against me with the same firmness with which he’d held me down. His powerful thighs flexed as he took his pleasure, perspiration gleaning on his forehead.
His mastery roused my hunger once again and I threw my head back, my breasts thrusting upward toward him. His hot mouth closed over one nipple, sucking it greedily while he moved inside me. The intensity brought me once again over the edge, and the spasms of anther orgasm shimmered through my sex, my muscles tightening around his cock.
He groaned, the velvety sound tight from deep in his throat. His body jerked and I felt his warm seed filling my womb. He moaned as the last convulsion of his climax moved through him and he collapsed gently on top of me, breathing heavily, his erection still hard inside me. “My darling,” he murmured into my hair, one large hand entwining in my unruly hair. “I knew you were for me the moment I saw you.”
I smiled, languidly caressing his hair and his broadly muscled back. “Thank you, my love,” I whispered. He had asked of me only that I gave myself to him completely, body and soul. I knew then, that when the moment came that I could choose my course, as he’d promised, I choose to remain with him.