With more than a little surprise, Vivien realized that she did indeed wish him to stay. It wasn't the wisest of decisions. She was certainly inviting trouble. But the comfort of another human being would indeed keep the nightmares at bay...and it hardly hurt that he was a large, strong male who feared nothing.

"First let me ask something," she said cautiously. "What are you wearing?"

"What do you mean, what am I wearing?" he asked blankly.

She decided to be blunt. "You aren't naked, are you?"

"I put on a robe before I came in here," he replied flatly. "Disappointed?"

"No," she said, so quickly that it drew a catch of laughter from him.

"I'm a fairly impressive sight without my clothes."

"I'll take your word for it."

"Let's have it, Miss Duvall...Shall I stay or leave?"

Vivien hesitated a long time before replying. "Stay," she said softly.

CHAPTER 7

The mattress depressed beneath Morgan's considerable weight. Vivien sucked in a deep breath and pressed her fists hard in the lee of her stomach to calm the nervous flurry inside. The covers were lifted and his long, large body slid beside hers. Immediately she was suffused with warmth as they were coccooned beneath the layer of linen and wool.

With extreme care, Morgan curved his arm around her waist and pulled her back against him, so they were pressed together spoon fashion. Vivien couldn't prevent a small gasp at the animal heat and hardness of his body, evident through the nightclothes that separated them.

"You're not afraid, are you?" he murmured at the soft sound.

"No," she replied breathlessly. "But...I'm having a difficult time thinking of you as a friend."

The arm at her waist tightened a minute degree. "Good," he said thickly.

Vivien was quiet for a time, absorbing the sensation of being held by him. She was surrounded by the scents of soap and clean male skin, and the heat that warded off the night-chilled air. Her limbs turned heavy and relaxed, and she felt her spine conform to the shape of his body. She inched backward, seeking more of the delicious contact with him. Gently his hand fell to her hip, keeping her still.

"Don't wiggle about." He sounded a bit gruff. "I'm not a eunuch."

A wave of mortification engulfed her as she became aware of the burning shape of his arousal, wedged high against her buttocks and the small of her back. "I don't think this is a good idea," she managed. "I'll never fall asleep this way."

"Do you want me to leave?"

Considering the question in confounded silence, Vivien struggled with the heedings of her conscience and the pure physical pleasure of being in his arms. Her conscience was soon to be disappointed. "Well..." she said uncertainly. "I'm not sleeping, but at least I won't have nightmares."

He chuckled. "I'm glad you trust me. I expected you to turn down my offer."

"I almost did," she replied. "But it occurred to me that if you were going to ravish me, you had a few opportunities before tonight."

"I would never force myself on an unwilling woman."

"I should imagine you rarely encounter one of those."

"Oh, there have been a few," he said dryly.

Resting quietly against him, Vivien felt his breath stir the downy fuzz on the nape of her neck. One of her bare feet touched his ankle, the brush of wiry masculine hair tickling her skin pleasantly. He was an excessively masculine creature, and the knowledge that all his strength and virility were held in check but for one word from her should have frightened her. Instead she was fascinated. Flirting with danger was an undeniably heady feeling.

"Grant?" she said softly. "Why have you never married?"

He laughed softly. "I'm not the marrying kind." He picked up the braided rope of her hair and played with the feathery ends.

"You never intend to have a wife and children?"

"What reason is there? I feel no overwhelming need to continue a damned undistinguished family line. Neither do I have great confidence in my ability to stay faithful to one woman for a lifetime. When I want female companionship, I can get it. My servants look after the household and see to my meals and my comfort. What use would I have for a wife?"

"You've never met a woman you couldn't live without?"

She felt him smile against the back of her head. "You've read too many novels."

"I'm sure you're right," she said ruefully. "Nevertheless...won't you regret it when you're old and gray, and you have no life's companion to reminisce with--"

"And no grandchildren to dandle on my knee," he finished. "Thank you, but I have no ambitions to produce offspring who will yank my whiskers and hide my walking stick behind the settee. I'd rather enjoy some peace in my old age...if I live that long."

"How cynical you are."

"I am," he acknowledged evenly. "The strange part is, you are too. But to listen to you, one would think you're an idealistic innocent."

"I don't feel cynical," she remarked after a moment. "I don't feel like anything you've told me I am."

A contemplative silence followed, while the warm pressure of his hand settled at her shoulder.

"Grant," she said with a stifled yawn, "how long before I'm allowed to visit my town house?"

"When Dr. Linley says you're fit to be up and about."

"Good. He's coming to see me tomorrow. I'm sure he won't have any objections to my going."

"Why the hurry?" Morgan asked softly. "What do you hope to find at the town house?"

"My memory." She pressed her head deeper into the welcoming softness of the pillow. "When I see my familiar possessions and all my own books, I'm positive that everything will come back to me. I'm so weary of feeling so...soblank ."

"You don't have many books," he said. "I don't recall seeing more than a handful."

"Oh." She twisted to face him, their noses nearly touching in the darkness. "Why do I like things now that I didn't like before?"

"I don't know." His breath, scented with cinnamon and the slightest hint of coffee, puffed against her chin. "Perhaps Linley will have an answer for that."

"What do you think will happen when I regain my memory? Will I change back to the way I was before?"

"I hope so," he muttered.

"Why?" she asked, hurt by the blunt statement. "You don't like me the way I am now?"

"I like you too damned much," he said brusquely. "And you're going to make it bloody inconvenient for me to..."

"To what?"

He didn't reply, only growled a curse that set her ears on fire. "I warn you, Vivien, if you're playing some kind of game with me, I'll probably end up killing you myself."

"I'm not playing a game," she replied with injured dignity. "Why would I? If I had anything to tell regarding the person who tried to drown me, believe me, I would come out with it right away. I won't be safe until he's caught, will I?"

"No, you won't. Which leads to one last point...You're not to go anywhere without me."

"Of course. I'm not stupid."

His large hands turned her over to face away from him and urged her to the center of the bed, until they were at least an arm's length apart. "Now, stay there," he said. "And mind you don't roll against me in the night, or you won't like what happens."

"There's no danger of that," she responded pertly. "This bed is so large, we may as well be in separate counties."

Somehow, against Vivien's expectations, she did fall asleep that night, and she wasn't troubled by a single dream. Once or twice she awoke and saw the dark outline of Morgan's body. There was a novel comfort in sleeping with a man, a sense of being utterly protected. Perhaps they did have their uses, she reflected drowsily, before sinking into a satisfying slumber.

It was one of the worst nights of Grant's life. Offering to stay with Vivien had been pure madness, and he had paid for it dearly. He had tried to be kind--a mistake he wouldn't soon repeat.

No, he amended sourly, trying to be honest with himself...kindness had nothing to do with his offer. He had simply wanted to hold her. His reluctant liking for Vivien, combined with a powerful physical attraction, made it impossible to stay away from her. He wanted to become the one person she would turn to, to fulfill all her needs. And that was wrong.

Why was his simple plan of revenge becoming such a muddle?

Because Vivien was warm, spirited, and unexpectedly intelligent, everything he admired in a woman. He hadn't made love to her even once, and already he knew a night, a week, a month with her wouldn't be enough. He wanted her for a long time. And he wanted her like this, without her memory, without the sophistication and vanity that had made her so repellent before.

Damn Vivien, it would be so much easier if she had stayed that way. Then he could have cheerfully used and discarded her, and laughed in the face of her annoyance, telling her she deserved her comeuppance. But that wasn't possible now. He couldn't hurt Vivien, and he would probably kill anyone else who tried.

Opening his sore, scratchy eyes, Grant stared broodingly at the slender form cuddled so trustingly against his. She had moved up against him at least an hour ago, causing his every nerve to screech in protest. His hands actually trembled with the urge to pull up her nightgown. He thought of taking her now, before she had even awakened, thrusting inside her sweet feminine warmth until he had brought them both to ecstasy. But he wouldn't abuse her trust...and he couldn't make himself push her away. So he had stayed like this, suffering and waiting, his groin hot with carnal needs he could hardly control.

Grimly he reviewed the past few hours, each one more exquisitely torturous than the last. Every movement of Vivien's body, every shift of her head on the pillow and sigh that escaped her lips, had teased and titillated him beyond bearing. He, who had always prided himself on being the master of his own passions, had been reduced to a mindless fool. All because of one small female who had already slept with half the men in London anyway. He was beginning not to care about that now, he was even making excuses for the legion of lovers she had taken. Damn them all, he just wanted to be one of them.

Her quiescent body fit perfectly against his, the hem of her nightgown twisted around her knees. Her trim ankles and calves were tucked neatly beside his own legs. She was as petite and dainty as a doll. The smell of her warm, unperfumed skin was making his blood race until he was light-headed. He pressed his scratchy jaw into the red silk of her hair, longing to unbraid the rippling locks and spread them over his own chest and throat.

As if the intensity of his thoughts had somehow been communicated to her, she sighed in her sleep, one small foot insinuating itself between his.

That was his undoing. Grant couldn't keep from touching her any more than he could stop his lungs from taking in air or his heart from beating. He settled his hand over the indentation of her waist, his thumb brushing the low edge of her rib cage. Her body was resilient and soft beneath his hand. Inflamed, he moved higher, his fingers exploring the sweet undercurve of her breast, cupping gently beneath the plump rise. Filling his palm with the soft roundness, he wondered what it was about Vivien that made her so different from any other woman he had known. It seemed as if she had been made for him alone. How many other men had felt that way about Vivien? he thought bleakly, struggling with the primitive need to put his own stamp on her, erase every kiss and caress that had not come from him.

He drew his thumb in a slow circle over the tip of her breast, and again, repeating the gentle stimulation until he felt the gathering response of her nipple. It was not enough to feel her through the fabric of her high-necked gown. He was dying to stroke her bare skin, taste it, press his mouth to every part of her. As he caught the sensitive point of her nipple between his thumb and forefinger, he heard Vivien's breathing change, the relaxed rhythm turning shallow and rapid.

There was a barely detectable motion beneath her stillness, a deep trembling that betrayed her. She was awake...she knew he was touching her...and she wasn't trying to escape him. That meant something, though whether she was holding still from shock, willingness, or just plain curiosity was difficult to ascertain. Cautiously he released her breast and slid his hand down her midriff...slowly, slowly, reaching the low plane of her abdomen and the soft springiness where fragile cotton concealed a thatch of cinnamon curls. He felt her body quiver, and her weight shifted in preparation to escape.

Lowering his mouth to the side of her throat, he worked his way up to the tiny hollow beneath her ear, whispering reassurances, telling her that he wanted her, needed her, that he would be gentle and patient. He slid his hand further between her thighs, cupping lightly, while the pressure of his erection rose hard against her hip. He allowed her every chance of moving away, if that was what she desired. But Vivien stayed with him, responding with a strange awkwardness, like an ardent, overwhelmed virgin. Breathing jerkily, she twisted in an effort to face him, her eyes tightly closed as she brought her hands to his shoulders. He kissed her, his mouth slow and searching, his tongue engaging hers with teasing strokes. She moaned and slid her hands further around his back, holding him close as he rose above her-- The door vibrated with a perfunctory knock. It was pushed open before a reply was given, the usual routine of a housemaid come to clean the grate and light the morning fire. The maid entered the room and saw instantly that the bed was occupied by two people instead of one. She stopped with a sound of dismay.

Becoming aware of the intrusion, Vivien froze beneath Grant, her blue eyes filled with panic.

Grant raised his head and glared at the housemaid. "Not now," he said curtly.

"Yes, sir," she mumbled, and fled the room, closing the door behind her.

It was not the girl's fault, of course. The servants at the Morgan household were largely unused to goings-on of this sort, as Grant was inclined to visit his occasional bed partners attheir homes rather than bring them to his. He had never demanded a great degree of privacy in his own bedroom. However, that was about to change. Savagely Grant made a mental note to tell the housekeeper that a new system was to be instituted right away.

It was clear from Vivien's stricken expression that any amorous inclinations had fled. Her body was stiff beneath his, and she was scarlet with embarrassment. Scowling, Grant rolled to his side and watched her scramble out of bed. His groin throbbed viciously with an erection that was slow to subside. If he didn't find relief soon, he would likely be crippled.

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