Page 9

She pulled away with wide-eyed horror. “Did I hurt you?”

Incapable of speech, he shook his head rapidly. She swallowed hard and his cock leapt in his hand. Licking her lower lip, she opened her mouth and tried again, this time engulfing the whole of the crown.

“Suck,” he gasped, his head falling so that he hovered over her, watching as her cheeks hollowed and she tugged with soft suction. His legs trembled and he groaned a low, tortured sound.

Encouraged, she took him deeper, her tongue swirling in tentative exploration. Her mouth was stretched wide to accommodate his girth and the sight was enough to wipe his brain of any rational thought.

“I’m going to move,” he bit out. “Don’t be frightened.” His hips began to thrust forward, fucking her mouth with gentle, shallow strokes. Her eyes widened, but she didn’t pull away or protest, instead she responded with less and less hesitation.

Watching her, Marcus was certain he’d passed on to his reward and been given the realization of his deepest longing. He was afraid to believe it was Elizabeth who serviced him so well.

“God, Elizabeth …”

Releasing his cock, he dropped his hand between her legs and caressed her through the open folds of her sex. She moaned and he stroked with more intent, determined to concentrate on her in an effort to hold off his own imminent release. Slick and hot, she melted into his touch. She felt so good, like satin, and he grit his teeth as he slipped a finger inside her. Tight as she was, she’d be a snug fit. His chest ached. His sac weighed heavily, then drew up. He stepped back on shaky legs, his cock slipping from her mouth with a soft, wet pop.

She worked her jaw and licked her lips, her violet eyes dark and questioning.

His voice like gravel he whispered, “It’s time.”

Elizabeth shivered. Marcus had always looked at her as if she were a meal laid before a starving man. At the moment however, his gaze was … desperate. The tip of his cock leaked profusely, and she swallowed, her mouth flavored with his essence.

He’d felt so different from what she’d expected. She’d thought herself beyond the innocence of a virginal girl. Now she realized how little she knew. With the thick, pulsing roping of veins that etched his erection she’d imagined he would be hard, textured. Instead the skin had been as soft as the finest silk, slipping over her tongue in a rhythm that awakened a matching pulse between her legs.

The act was not what she had expected, not at all. She’d thought she’d feel used, nothing more than a receptacle for his lust. But he was devastated, she could see it and she’d felt it in the way he trembled. The way his voice had grown so hoarse. There was power to be had in possessing a man’s passion.

“Release me,” she ordered breathlessly, wanting to see how far she could take this.

He shook his head and pushed the back of the chair onto its hind legs. Caught off balance, she screeched until he stopped. It was then she understood his aim. Resting the top of the chair against the nearby damask-covered wall angled her perfectly, presenting her spread sex to his cock. His grin stole her breath, filled as it was with wicked promises. He reached between them and pressed his erect shaft down, bending his knees until he breeched her. He stroked up and down, coating her with the semen that continued to dribble from the flushed head.

She couldn’t hold back the half-sob of anticipation. The blatant, deliberate teasing had her sweating and gasping for air. She ignored the voice that urged her to fight, choosing instead to enjoy him … just this once.

“Do your arms pain you?” he asked, never ceasing his movements, soaking her with the evidence of his excitement.

“You pain me.”

“Should I stop?” From the catch in his voice, she knew the thought was torturous.

“I shall shoot you if you stop.”

With a groan, he positioned and thrust deep, forging through her in a relentless drive. She writhed against the invasion, the size of him far too much for her long unused flesh. The tip of him rubbed inside her, stretching her, stroking her far better than his magical fingers had done.

Both hands to the wall, Marcus gasped as he slipped deep. “Ah, Christ.” He shuddered. “You’re hot as hell and tight as a fist.”

“Marcus …” She whimpered. There was something undeniably erotic in the way he took her, still partially dressed with his boots on. It should have offended her. But it didn’t.

All these years she’d spent consoling the women discarded by her father and listening to the gossip of women left disillusioned by Marcus’s inconstancy. How had they failed to see their own influence? Marcus had nearly killed a man with his bare hands, yet here he stood before her, weakened in his need.

He pulled out, his head down bent. “Watch me fuck you, Elizabeth.” His powerful thighs flexed beneath his breeches as he pressed back inside. She gazed, eyes riveted to the sight of the thick, proud shaft slick with her cream withdrawing, only to return in a painfully slow glide.

Her arms ached, her legs stretched uncomfortably, and her tailbone was growing numb from bearing the brunt of her weight, but she didn’t care. Nothing mattered beyond the apex of her thighs and the man who rutted there.

“This is trust,” he said, his hips pumping his cock into her with a precise, unfaltering rhythm.

Trust. Tears slipped past her lashes as the divine torment continued, his skill undeniable. He knew just how to stroke her, dipping with bent thighs to rub his cock in just the right spot to pleasure her to madness. She was panting with it, and then begging for it. Her blood roared, her nipples peaked so tightly beneath her garments they ached. “Please …”

Marcus was panting too, his chest heaving so forcefully it shook the sweat from his hair to drip onto her face. Her heart swelled at the intimacy.

“Yes,” he growled. “Now.” He dropped one hand between her legs and rubbed gently. Like a spring coiled too tightly, she broke free with a sharp cry. Her back bowed and Marcus moved in slow, deep strokes, drawing out her pleasure, keeping her taut and breathless and tearful beneath him.

“No more …” she cried, unable to bear another moment.

He thrust his cock deep and held it there, allowing the fading ripples of her orgasm to milk him. He sucked in a sharp breath and then began to shudder with such force the chair back tapped against the wall. He groaned, a long, low, pained sound as his cock jerked inside her filling her with his seed.

Gasping, he finally stilled. He tilted his head and stared into her eyes. The frank bemusement in the emerald depths soothed her somewhat, lost as she was in her own devastation.

“Too fast,” he muttered. One of his hands left the wall and cupped her cheek, his thumb following the curve of her cheekbone.

“Are you mad?” She swallowed hard to ease the hoarseness of her voice.

“Yes.” He pulled away slowly, carefully, but she still winced from the loss. With great care he unhooked her legs from the arm of the chair and helped her to her feet. Weakened, she crumpled against him. He caught her up, and carried her to the bed.

Laying her on her side, Marcus untied her hands, rubbing her shoulders and arms when they tingled as the blood returned. Then he reached for the bow at her throat.

Elizabeth pulled back. “I must leave now.”

Chuckling, Marcus took a seat next to her. He bent low to tug off his boots, removing a blade hidden there and setting it on the nightstand. “You are exhausted, and can barely walk. You are in no condition to seat a horse.”

Elizabeth’s hand drifted across his back, a finger swirling curiously around the bullet wound scar that marred his hard flesh. Turning his head, he kissed her fingertips as they traveled over the top of his shoulder, stunning her with the tender gesture. He stood, quickly doffing his breeches and she looked away as heat flared within her, staring out the window at the afternoon sky partly-hidden behind filmy sheers.

“Look at me,” he said gruffly, a plea hidden under a rough command.


“Elizabeth, there is no shame in wanting me.”

Her mouth curved ruefully, the view of the window fading from her perception. “Of course not. Every woman does.”

“I am not thinking about other women, you shouldn’t be either.” He sighed with the exasperation one would display over a recalcitrant child. “Look at me. Please.”

She turned her head slowly, her heart hammering in her chest. Impossibly broad shoulders tapered to a rippled stomach, lean hips, and long, powerful legs. Marcus Ashford was perfection, the scars that marred his torso only serving to make him human and not some ancient god.

She’d intended to keep her gaze high, but she was unable to stop herself from looking lower. Long and thick, his impressive erection made her swallow hard.

“Heavens. How can you … ? You’re still …”

He gave her a wicked smile. “Ready for sex?”

“I am exhausted,” she complained.

Marcus tugged at the tie at her neck, using her distraction with his cock to lift her shirt over her head. “You don’t have to do anything.” But when he reached for her chemise she slapped his hand away, needing some barrier, however sheer, between them.

He strolled with casual ease to the corner and went behind the screen, returning a moment later with a damp cloth. He pushed her back into the pillows and reached for her knee. She rolled away.

“It’s a little late for modesty, wouldn’t you say, sweet?”

“What are you about?”

“If you come back here, I’ll show you.”

Elizabeth thought for long moments, guessing his intent and not certain if she could grant him that level of intimacy.

“My body has been inside yours.” His voice was low and seductive. “Can you not trust me to bathe you?”

The hint of challenge in his tone decided her. She turned onto her back and spread her legs with more than a hint of defiance. His lopsided smile made her blush.

Gently he swept the cloth across her curls before parting her with reverent fingers and cleansing her folds. Sore as she was, the cool dampness felt wonderful and she breathed a soft sound of pleasure. She forced herself to relax, to close her eyes and release the tension brought on by Marcus’s proximity. On the verge of drifting to sleep, she shot up with a startled cry when molten heat drenched her sex.

She stared down the length of her torso with wide eyes, her heart racing to see Marcus’s dark smile.

“Did you just … lick me?”

“Oh yes.” Tossing the washcloth carelessly to the rug, he crawled over her with potent grace. “I see I’ve scandalized you. Since you’ve already suffered enough today, I shall grant you a short reprieve. But be prepared to accept my future attentions in whatever manner I choose.”

Shivering as his furred chest brushed across her chemise-covered nipples, Elizabeth sank farther into the pillows, overwhelmed by the sheer force of his presence.

This she knew—the feeling of a hard male body atop hers. But the feelings that rioted within her were all new. She had welcomed Hawthorne to her bed as she should, she’d appreciated his haste and solicitousness. Aside from the first painful time, the rest had not been unpleasant. He’d been quiet, clean, careful. Never had it been raw and primitive as it was with Marcus. Never had it caused this gnawing, aching need and heady desire. Never had it resulted in a blinding flash of pleasure that left her sated to her soul.

“Easy,” he murmured against her throat as she rubbed impatiently against him.

Her husband’s body had been a mystery, known to her only as a shadowy form that ventured into her room under the cover of darkness and a warm hand that pushed up her night rail. Marcus had begged her to look at him, had wanted her to know him and see him as he was, in all his glory. He was magnificent naked. The mere sight of him was enough to make her wet between her legs.

She refused, however, to be the only one left shaken from this afternoon dalliance.

“Tell me what you like, Marcus.”

“Touch me. I want to feel your hands on my skin.”

Her hands roamed across his back, down his arms, discovering scars and lengths of muscle so hard they felt like stone. Marcus moaned as she found especially sensitive areas, urging her to linger. His body was a tapestry of textures—soft and hard, fur and satin. He closed his eyes, his arms supporting his weight above her, allowing her to explore him at her leisure. The rigid length of his cock pulsed against her thigh, the warm trail of moisture it leaked telling her how much he enjoyed her unschooled touch.

This was power.

Groaning, he lowered his head, his silky hair drifting across her breasts filling the air around her with his scent. “Touch my cock,” he commanded gruffly.

Taking a breath of courage, Elizabeth reached between their bodies and stroked the silken length, amazed at the hardness and the way it jumped under her touch. It was obvious he found pleasure in the caress, the crests of his cheekbones flushing, his lips parting with panting breaths. Encouraged, she experimented. Rough and soft, quick and teasing, she attempted to find the rhythm that would drive him to madness.

“Do you want me?” he asked. He stayed her hand by covering it with his own and she frowned in confusion. Then his hand drifted lower, catching her knee and spreading her wide.

“I’m surprised a libertine such as yourself needs to ask,” she retorted, refusing to give him the capitulation he requested.

With no further warning he thrust into her, sliding through swollen tissues until there was no farther he could go.

She whimpered in surprise. Lovemaking in the bright light of day was something she wondered if she could ever learn to accept. She looked up at him, eyes wide.

Pinning her with his hips, Marcus gripped the straps of her chemise and rent the garment in half to the waist.

“You think you can build barriers between us with words and clothing?” he asked harshly. “Every time you attempt it, I will take you just like this, become a part of you so that all your efforts will be for naught.”