“You didn’t lose control,” she whispered.

“I did, during parts of it.” His voice was that of a man who had just awakened after a long sleep. He began to gather the disparate streams of her hair into a single river. “Did you plan this?”

“You’re asking if I deliberately set out to seduce you? No, it was entirely spontaneous.” At his silence, Beatrix lifted her head and grinned down at him. “You probably think I’m a hussy.”

His thumb edged the swollen curve of her lower lip. “Actually, I was thinking about how to get you upstairs to the bedroom. But now that you mention it . . . you are a hussy.”

Her grin lingered as she nipped playfully at the tip of his thumb. “I’m sorry for having set you off earlier. Cam is going to work with the horse from now on. I’ve never had to answer to anyone before—I’ll have to get accustomed to it.”

“Yes,” he said. “Starting now.”

Beatrix might have protested his autocratic tone, except there was still a dangerous glint in his eyes, and she understood that he was chafing just as she was. He wasn’t comfortable with any woman having such power over him.

Very well. She would certainly not be submissive to him in all things, but she could yield to him on a few points. “I promise to be more careful from now on,” she said.

Christopher didn’t smile, precisely, but his lips took on a wry curve. Carefully he deposited her on the settee, went to his discarded clothes, and managed to find a handkerchief.

Beatrix lay half curled on her side and watched him, puzzling over his mood. He seemed as if he were back to himself, for the most part, but there was still a sense of distance between them, of something withheld. Thoughts he wouldn’t share, words he wouldn’t speak. Even now, after they had engaged in the most intimate act possible.

The distance wasn’t new, she realized. It had been there since the beginning. It was only that she was more aware of it now, attuned to the subtleties of his nature.

Returning, Christopher gave her the handkerchief. Although Beatrix would have thought herself to be far beyond blushing after what she had just experienced, she felt a tide of scarlet cover her as she blotted the sore wet place between her thighs. The sight of blood was not unexpected, but it brought home the awareness that she was irrevocably changed. No longer a virgin. A new and vulnerable feeling came over her.

Christopher dressed her in his shirt, surrounding her in soft white linen that retained the scent of his body.

“I should put on my own clothes and go home,” Beatrix said. “My family knows I’m here with you unchaperoned. And even they have their limits.”

“You’ll stay the rest of the afternoon,” Christopher said evenly. “You’re not going to invade my house, have your way with me, and dash off as if I were some errand you had to take care of.”

“I’ve had a busy day,” she protested. “I’ve fallen from a horse, and seduced you, and now I’m bruised and sore all over.”

“I’ll take care of you.” Christopher looked down at her, his expression stern. “Are you going to argue with me?”

Beatrix tried to sound meek. “No, sir.”

A slow smile crossed his face. “That was the worst attempt at obedience I’ve ever seen.”

“Let’s practice,” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck. “Give me an order and see if I don’t follow it.”

“Kiss me.”

She pressed her mouth to his, and there was silence for a long time afterward. His hands slipped beneath the shirt, tormenting gently until she pressed herself against him. Her insides felt molten, and she weakened all over, wanting him.

“Upstairs,” he said against her lips, and picked her up, carrying her as if she weighed nothing.

Beatrix blanched as they approached the door. “You can’t take me upstairs like this.”

“Why not?”

“I’m only wearing your shirt.”

“That doesn’t matter. Turn the doorknob.”

“What if one of the servants should see?”

Amusement flickered in his eyes. “Now you’re worried about propriety? Open the damned door, Beatrix.”

She complied and kept her eyes tightly closed as he carried her upstairs. If any of the servants saw them, no one said a word.

After bringing Beatrix to his room, Christopher sent for cans of hot water and a hip bath, and a bottle of champagne. And he insisted on washing her, despite her cringing and protesting.

“I can’t just sit here,” she protested, straddling the metal tub and lowering herself carefully, “and let you do something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself.”

Christopher went to the dresser, where a silver tray bearing champagne and two fluted crystal glasses had been set. He poured a glass for her, and brought it to Beatrix. “This will keep you occupied.”

Taking a sip of the cool, bubbly vintage, Beatrix leaned back to look at him. “I’ve never had champagne in the afternoon,” she said. “And certainly never while bathing. You won’t let me drown, will you?”

“You can’t drown in a hip bath, love.” Christopher knelt beside the tub, bare-chested and sleek. “And no, I won’t let anything happen to you. I have plans for you.” He applied soap to a sponge, and more to his hands, and began to bathe her.

She hadn’t been washed by anyone since she had been a young child. It gave her a curious sense of safety, of being nurtured. Leaning back, she idly touched one of his forearms, trailing her fingertips through a froth of soap. The sponge drew over her slowly, her shoulders and breasts, her legs and the creases behind her knees. He began to cleanse her more intimately, and all sense of safety vanished as she felt his fingers slipping inside her. She gasped and floundered a little, reaching for his wrist.

“Don’t drop the glass,” Christopher murmured, his hand still between her thighs.

Beatrix nearly choked on her next swallow of champagne. “That’s wicked,” she said, her eyes half closing as his exploring finger found a sensitive place deep inside her.

“Drink your champagne,” he said gently.

Another head-spinning sip, while his invading touch moved in subtle swirls. Beatrix lost her breath. “I can’t swallow when you do that,” she said helplessly, her hand gripping the glass.

His gaze was caressing. “Share it with me.”

With effort, she guided the glass to his lips and gave him a swallow, while he continued to stroke and tease her beneath the water. His mouth came to hers, the kiss carrying the crisp, sweet flavor of champagne. His tongue played in ways that made her heart thunder.

“Now drink the rest,” he whispered. She gave him a dazed look, her h*ps beginning to rise and fall of their own volition, churning the hot soap-clouded water. She was so hot, inside and out, her body aching for the pleasure he withheld. “Finish,” he prompted.

One last convulsive gulp, and then the glass was removed from her nerveless grip and set aside.

Christopher kissed her again, his free arm sliding beneath her neck.

Gripping his bare shoulder, Beatrix tried to bite back a moan. “Please. Christopher, I need more, I need—”

“Patience,” he whispered. “I know what you need.”

A frustrated gasp escaped her as his touch withdrew, and he helped her from the bath. She was so enervated that she could barely stand, her knees threatening to fold. He dried her efficiently, and kept a supportive arm behind her back as he led her to the bed.

He stretched out beside her, cradled her in his arms, and began to kiss and caress her. Beatrix writhed like a cat, trying to absorb the lessons he was intent on teaching her. A new language of skin and hands and lips, more primal than words . . . every touch promise and provocation.

“Don’t struggle for it,” he whispered, his hand stealing between her straining thighs once more. “Let me give it to you . . .” His hand cupped her and pressed. His fingers entered, teased, played. But he withheld what she wanted, murmuring for her to relax, give in, let go. There was both fear and relief in giving it to him, yielding every part of herself without reserve. But she did. She let her head fall back on his arm, her body turning pliant, legs spreading. Instantly the cl**ax welled, her flesh contracting, all awareness distilled to that secret inner place he stroked.

When Beatrix finally recovered, emerging from the opulent haze, she saw a glow of concern in his eyes. He was looking at her na*ed side, his hand passing lightly over the large purple bruise from her fall earlier in the day.

“It’s nothing,” she said. “I nearly always have something bruised or scratched.”

The information didn’t seem to reassure him. His mouth twisted, and he shook his head. “Stay here,” he said. “I’ll be back in a moment.”

The instruction was entirely unnecessary. Beatrix had no intention of moving. She crawled farther up to the pillows, letting her cheek press into the down-stuffed linen casing. She sighed and drowsed until she felt Christopher join her on the bed.

His hand settled on her hip, his palm slick with some kind of unguent. She stirred as a strong herbal odor drifted to her nostrils. “Oh, that smells nice. What is it?”

“Clove oil liniment.” Carefully he rubbed the balm into her bruise. “My brother and I were covered in the stuff for most of our childhood.”

“I know about some of your adventures,” Beatrix said. “John told them to Audrey and me. The time the two of you stole the plum tart before dinner . . . and the time when he dared you to jump from the tree limb and you broke your arm . . . John said you were incapable of refusing a dare. He said it was easy to make you do anything, simply by telling you that you couldn’t.”

“I was an idiot,” Christopher said ruefully.

“ ‘Hellion’ was the word he used.”

“I took after my father.”

“You didn’t, actually. At least, not according to John. He said it was unfair that you were always cast as your father’s son, when you weren’t really like him.” Beatrix rolled easily as Christopher nudged her onto her front. His strong, gentle hands rubbed the balm into her strained muscles, the hint of clove oil imparting a mild cooling sensation to her skin.

“John always tried to see the good in everyone,” Christopher murmured. “Sometimes he saw what he wanted to believe rather than what was truly there.”

Beatrix frowned as he worked her shoulder muscles, easing the tension into softness. “I see the good in you.”

“Don’t harbor illusions about me. In marrying me, you’re going to have to make the best of a bad bargain. You don’t understand the situation you’re in.”

“You’re right.” Beatrix arched in bliss as he massaged the muscles on either side of her spine. “Any woman would pity me, being in this situation.”

“It’s one thing to spend an afternoon in bed with me,” Christopher said darkly. “It’s another to experience day-to-day life with a lunatic.”

“I know all about living with lunatics. I’m a Hathaway.” Beatrix sighed in pleasure as his hands worked the tender places low on her back. Her body felt relaxed and tingly all over, her bruises and aches forgotten. Twisting to glance at him over her shoulder, she saw the austere lines of his face. She had an overwhelming urge to tease him, to make him play. “You missed a place,” she told him.


Levering herself upward, Beatrix turned and crawled to where Christopher knelt on the mattress. He had donned a velvet dressing robe, the front parting to reveal a tantalizing hint of sun-browned flesh. Linking her arms around his neck, she kissed him. “Inside,” she whispered. “That’s where I need soothing.”

A reluctant smile lurked at the corners of his lips. “This balm is too strong for that.”

“No it’s not. It feels lovely. Here, I’ll show you—” She pounced for the tin of balm and coated her fingertips with the stuff. The rich scent of clove oil spiced the air. “Just hold still—”

“The devil I will.” His voice had thickened with amusement, and he reached for her wrist.

Fleet as a ferret, Beatrix twisted to evade him. Rolling once, twice, she dove for the belt of his robe. “You put it all over me,” she accused, giggling. “Coward. Now it’s your turn.”

“Not a chance.” He grabbed her, grappled with her, and she thrilled to the sound of his husky laugh.

Somehow managing to clamber over him, she gasped at the feel of his aroused flesh. She wrestled with him until he flipped her over with ease, pinning her wrists. The robe had become loosened during their tussle, their na*ed flesh rubbing together.

Sparkling silver eyes stared into blue. Already breathless with laughter, Beatrix became positively lightheaded as she saw the way he was looking at her. Lowering his head, he kissed and licked at her smile as if he could taste it.

Christopher let go of her wrists and rolled to his side, exposing his front to her.

Beatrix gave him a questioning glance. Her fingers waggled slightly. “You want me to . . . to touch you with this?”

He was silent, his gaze daring her.

Shy but curious, she reached down and grasped him cautiously. They both jumped a little at the feel of it, coolness and heat, the frictionless glide of oil and silk and intimidating hardness. “Like this?” she whispered, stroking gently.

An indrawn breath hissed through his teeth, and his lashes half lowered. He made no move to stop her.

She drew the pad of her thumb over the smooth, dark head in a sleek circle. Curling her fingers around the heavy, stiffening shaft, she slid them down, marveling at the feel of him. He let her fondle and explore him at will, while his skin turned fever colored, and his chest rose and fell ever more rapidly. Mesmerized by the power of him barely contained beneath her hands, she spread her fingertips and trailed them down his h*ps and the front of his thighs. She stroked the rock-hard muscles of his legs, scratched lightly through the scattering of glinting hairs, then glided back to his groin. Delicately she cupped the weight of him below, played with him, gripping both hands around the rigid length.

A guttural sound came from his chest. He shoved the sleeves of the robe off his arms, pushed the garment aside, and clutched her hips. Her heart pounded as she saw the tautness of his features, the primitive intent of his gaze. She was brought over his lap, his shaft opening her, pressing into the stinging softness. A whimper broke from her lips as he pushed her fully down, compelling her to straddle him, to take all of him. He reached a new place inside her, and it felt sore but at the same time so unaccountably good that her flesh throbbed tightly in response.


***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com