“What I find interesting,” Hugh said, “is that your sister is so determined that we should be left alone together. With the door shut,” he added meaningfully.

“She did accuse me of fancying you.”

“Oh, she did, did she? What was your reply?”

“I believe I avoided making one.”

“Well played, Lady Sarah, but I am not so easily subdued.”

Sarah inched a little closer to his side of the sofa. “Is that so?”

“Oh, no,” he replied, reaching out to take her hand in his. “If I were to ask if you fancied me, I can assure you that you would not escape so easily.”

“If you were to ask if I fancied you,” Sarah said, allowing him to tug her closer, “I might not wish to escape.”

“Might?” he echoed, his voice dropping to a husky murmur.

“Well, I might need a little convincing . . .”

“Just a little?”

“A little might be all I need,” she said, letting out a little gasp when her body came into contact with his, “but I might actually want quite a lot.”

His lips brushed hers. “I can see that I have my work cut out for me.”

“Lucky for me, you never struck me as the kind of man who shies away from hard work.”

He smiled wolfishly. “I can assure you, Lady Sarah, that I will work very hard to ensure your pleasure.”

Sarah thought that sounded very nice, indeed.

Chapter Sixteen

Sarah wasn’t sure how long they kissed. It might have been five minutes, it might have been ten. All she knew was that Hugh’s mouth was very wicked, and even though he had not removed or even rearranged a single item of her clothing, his hands were cunning and bold.

He made her feel things, naughty things that started in her belly and oozed through her like molten flame. When his lips were on her neck she wanted to stretch like a cat, arching until every muscle in her body was warm and supple. She wanted to kick off her slippers and run her toes along his calves. She wanted to curve her back and press her hips against his, then allow her legs to grow soft and pliant so that he could settle between them.

He made her want to do things no lady would ever talk about, things no lady should even think about.

And she loved it. She had not acted on any of these urges, but she loved that she wanted to. She loved this sense of abandon, this insane desire to draw him closer and closer until they merged. She had never wanted to even kiss a man before, and now all she could think of was how perfect his hands had felt on her bare skin the night before.

“Oh, Hugh,” she sighed as his fingers found the curve of her thigh and squeezed through the soft muslin of her dress. He rubbed his thumb in lazy circles, each motion bringing him closer to her most private area.

Dear God, if he could make her feel like this through her dress, what would happen when he actually touched her skin?

Sarah shivered at the thought, stunned by how excited she was just from thinking about it.

“You have no idea,” Hugh murmured between kisses, “how very much I wish we were anywhere but this room.”

“Anywhere?” she asked teasingly. She ruffled one of her hands through his tawny hair, delighting in how easy it was to muss.

“Somewhere with a bed.” He kissed her cheek, then her neck, then the tender skin at the base of her throat. “And a locked door.”

Sarah’s heart leapt at his words, but at the same time, his comment awakened a sliver of common sense. The door to the little drawing room was shut, but it wasn’t locked. Sarah didn’t even think it could be locked, and more to the point, she knew that it shouldn’t be locked. Anyone who tried the door and found it barred would immediately want to know what was going on inside, which meant that unless one of them wanted to brave the twelve-foot drop out the window, there would be just as much scandal as if someone had simply walked through the unlocked door.

And while Sarah had every intention of marrying Lord Hugh Prentice (once he asked, which he would, and if he didn’t, she would make him), she didn’t much fancy a marriage-inducing scandal mere days before her cousin’s wedding.

“We have to stop,” she said, without much conviction.

“I know.” But he didn’t stop kissing her. He might have slowed a bit, but he didn’t stop.

“Hugh . . .”

“I know,” he said again, but before he pulled away, the door handle turned decisively, and Daniel strode briskly in, saying something about looking for Anne.

Sarah gasped, but there was no way she could right the situation in time. Hugh was more than half on top of her, there were at least three hairpins on the floor, and—

And, well, Hugh was more than half on top of her.

“What the devil?” Daniel stared with frozen shock before his natural quick thinking set in and he kicked the door shut behind him.

Hugh got to his feet with more speed than Sarah would have thought possible under the circumstances. Freed of his weight, she sat up, instinctively covering her breasts with her arms, even though her frock had not even a single button undone.

But she felt exposed. She could still feel the heat of Hugh’s body against hers, and now Daniel was staring at her with an expression of such fury and disappointment that she could not meet his eyes.

“I trusted you, Prentice,” Daniel said in a low, menacing voice.

“Not in this,” Hugh replied, and even Sarah was surprised at the lack of gravity in his tone.

Daniel started to lunge at him.

Sarah shot to her feet. “Stop! It’s not what you think!”