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Диксон Хелен

Carrying The Gentleman's Secret

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Alex watched Lydia go with a brooding attentiveness in his eyes. Left alone with a raw ache inside him, wanting more of her, the vexing tide of mortification which had consumed him since, like a mindless idiot, he had put his proposition to Miss Brook only to be rejected, began to subside. His mind was locked in a furious combat with the desire to seek her out and beg her pardon and the urge to shrug his shoulders and forget her, but he knew that was impossible.

Everything about her threw him off balance. Her mere presence stirred emotions he hadn’t felt in a long time—not since... But as he was about to let his thoughts wander and resurrect the past, angrily he thrust them back into the darkest corners of his mind, unwilling to allow them to intrude into the present.

What had he been thinking of? He should not have tried to take advantage of her. He realised just how devastated she must have felt when she had discovered that Henry was married, the inexplicable anguish she must have been through. The girl was traumatised, vulnerable. After the way Henry had dealt with her she wanted someone she could trust, someone to sympathise with her situation, not some stranger who wanted to take her to bed.

With his hand resting on the newel post, he continued to watch her as she climbed the stairs, seeing her pause when she reached the top. He could sense the tension in her. After a moment she slowly turned and looked down at him.

* * *

With her heart pounding in her breast and deeply affected by her desire and aroused by his kiss, Lydia felt something stir within her—something she had never felt before. A flicker, a leaping, a reaching out. The memory of the burning kiss and the dark, hidden pleasure it had roused in her was something she wanted to experience once more. She remained motionless, looking down at him. His eyes captured hers, a lazy seductive smile passing across his handsome face, curling his lips, and against her will she felt herself being drawn towards him, knowing she should go on her way, but she was too inexperienced and affected by him to do that.

She allowed her captivated senses full rein. She was trapped and she knew it. She was mesmerised by him, like a moth to a flame, and she felt her heart suddenly start pounding in a quite unpredictable manner.

He was looking into her eyes, holding her spellbound, weaving some magic web around her from which there was no escape. There was a weakening in every muscle and bone in her body as it offered itself to Alex Golding. She felt an upheaval inside her and a melting in her secret parts. Her need flashed like a current, charging the air between them and there, in a hotel bustling with other people, her eyes bestowed on him a silent carnal promise as binding as any spoken vow.

Alex read the message her eyes conveyed. It was all the encouragement he needed. With a knowing smile curving his lips, he began to climb the stairs.

* * *

At the top of the stairs there was a corridor with closed doors on either side. Lydia entered one of these. Alex followed. The room was warm. It was not a large room, but it was comfortably furnished with everything the occupant needed—or occupants, as it should have been this night, had Henry’s plans come to fruition. The curtains were drawn across the window. The air was hushed and a single candle burned on a small table beside the bed.

Alex stepped inside and closed the door behind him. Lydia stood watching him, so still she could have been a statue. In the soft glow of candlelight her eyes were huge, like those of a wide-eyed kitten, luminous and infinitely lovely. Her chest rose and fell with each breath she took as her conscience chose that moment to rear up and do battle, for what she was contemplating went beyond anything she had ever contemplated before. She trembled, her desire triumphing over her better judgement. She was more frightened than she had ever been in her life and she was both appalled and ashamed that she could even consider doing such a thing after all Henry had put her through.

Without taking his eyes off her, Alex crossed to where she stood. The darkening of his eyes, the naked passion she saw in their depths, seemed to work a strange spell on her and conquered her.

Alex’s thoughts turned to what was happening between them. If what she had told him was true, that Henry had failed to coerce her into becoming his lover, it was highly likely that she was still a virgin. In which case, if he, Alex, had any scruples whatsoever, he’d walk out of that room right now. But that brief stirring of his conscience was not strong enough to deter him and, as he gazed at her lovely, apprehensive face, the feeble protest melted away.

‘Whatever scruples I was born with I lost long ago. We are not children.

We both know what is happening to us and we both know what this is leading to. I want to make love to you—and I think you want me, too. You might say my motives are anything but noble and decent and you would be right, but they are adult and natural. I will not force you. You have to want this as much as I do.’

Want? That word didn’t express how Lydia felt, how she yearned with every fibre of her being, every pulse and bone and breath she took to take what he was offering. She did not know this man, yet the physical desire she felt for him ached inside her. The intensity of feeling between them was evident, but not easily understood, although what she did know was that it offered a new excitement, as though the future held a secret and a promise.

A small insidious voice whispered a caution, reminding her that any kind of liaison with him could bring her nothing but heartache, but another voice was whispering something else, telling her not to let the moment pass, to catch it and hold on to it. She would welcome it, glory in it, if he would make love to her here, in this room—in the same bed she was to have spent her wedding night with Henry. Alex’s powerful masculinity was an assault to her senses. As if moved by forces beyond her control, she was unable to resist him, but she would not tempt fate beyond this one night.

‘Tell me what it is you want,’ he murmured, taking her upper arms and drawing her close. ‘Would you like me to leave?’

Drawing an unsteady breath, Lydia rested her forehead against his chest. ‘No—please don’t go. I don’t know what is happening to me,’ she whispered. Raising her head, she met his gaze. ‘What I feel is too strong to fight—I don’t think that I even want to. My emotions seem to be all over the place.’

Watching her closely, Alex saw something move and glow a little in her eyes, and a tiny flame of triumph licked about his heart. Completely relaxed, he smiled then, that unnerving white smile that could charm and melt the stoniest heart.

‘Am I to take it that my attentions are not unwelcome?’ He spoke softly, his voice a caress. She nodded. ‘I’m glad you don’t find me repulsive,’ he murmured tenderly.

‘No—never that,’ she replied honestly.

Alex smiled. ‘You are not only beautiful and clever, Miss Brook, but mysterious also. In truth, I will do my best to please you. I am aware of the importance of what you are doing and never having had the responsibility of being a woman’s first lover, I consider it a privilege—and a pleasure.’

His voice was low, with a husky rasp, and his eyes held Lydia’s captive, gleaming in the dim light. The effect of his intimate expression made her heart turn over. His potent virility was acting like a drug to her senses, the tug of his voice, his eyes, too strong for her to resist. Sensations of unexpected pleasure washed over her, making her want to stay, making it impossible for her to leave. What was happening to her? She had never felt like this, but she recognised the feeling. It was happiness, a feeling she had not felt in a long time and never with such warmth, such intensity.

As if her need communicated itself to Alex, with his eyes fastened to her lips he said, ‘What are you thinking? Tell me?’

With a shaking breath she raised her eyes to his. ‘I am wondering when you are going to kiss me again.’

He smiled. ‘And I am asking myself if your mouth still tastes as sweet on mine as it did a few minutes ago.’

Lydia’s heart skipped a beat and any resistance she might have had disintegrated in that moment. She felt herself melting, ready to experience whatever lay ahead. She was sinking into a deep, sensual spell.

Alex captured her face between his hands and turned it up to his. He gazed into her eyes, unconsciously memorising the way she looked, her cheeks flushed, soft and alluring. There was an enormous amount of subliminal sensuality in her every gesture and, seeing her bite her lower lip apprehensively with the decision that she had made, plucked a deep chord within him.

‘For one night I am asking you to forget everything else. Do you not find that appealing?’ he said, his light blue eyes, darkened in the muted light of the room, caressing her face. ‘And my name is Alex. Do you mind if I call you Lydia?’ She shook her head. ‘Good.

Now that is out of the way I think we should soon retire to the comfortable bed that awaits us, where neither conscience nor Henry will intrude tonight.’

Slowly he rubbed his thumb over her soft bottom lip, but the deep green depths of her eyes were pulling him inexorably in. Lydia shivered inwardly, her lips parting on a breathless gasp, and she tried in vain to see past the darkness of his magnetic, shameless eyes. Sliding his hand round her nape, he kissed her. It was a hard, drugging kiss, the kiss of a starving man hopelessly trying to sate his hunger. His arms went around her, and she melted against his chest, trembling, welcoming his lips, his tongue as it invaded her mouth.

What seemed to be an eternity later Alex put her from him and did what he had been wanting to do throughout the meal. Raising his hands, he began removing the pins from her hair, with deft fingers combing out each curl and braid until it fell in dark shining locks about her shoulders.

‘This,’ he said, glorying in the tender passion in her eyes, feeling the heat flame in his belly as he drew aside the curtain of her hair and placed a kiss in the warm, sweet-scented hollow of her throat, ‘is what I’ve been thinking of from the moment you walked into the dining room.’

As his lips trailed over her flesh, with a gasp of exquisite pleasure Lydia threw back her head and closed her eyes. ‘I cannot believe this is happening to me—that I am even allowing it to happen,’ she breathed softly. ‘I feel I must confess to having little knowledge or experience of the intimacies that take place between a man and a woman. I’m afraid that you will find me a complete novice,’ she murmured. She knew she was on the brink of the unknown and her pulses began to race dangerously. ‘I—I feel I am heading for something I cannot possibly know how to handle.’

‘Then I think it is about time you learnt,’ he replied seductively.

Again his mouth laid siege to her own, taking her lips in a fierce, devouring kiss that sent jolt after jolt of exquisite sensations rocketing through her, filling her with a fever of longing. Leaving off just long enough to divest her of her dress and undergarments with the dexterous ease of long practice, murmuring to her between kisses which he dropped on creamy flesh as each item of clothing was removed, he somehow managed to remove his own attire in the process. Lydia heard his sharp intake of breath as her body was slowly revealed to him, his eyes fastening hungrily on her naked beauty. She was gloriously lovely, and he was bewitched, helpless to resist such temptation.

Lydia was enthralled by what was happening to her—by her own nakedness and his, after he had removed his clothes unselfconsciously to reveal the muscled, well-honed body of an athlete, brown and hard and eager—and she took a moment to admire his shoulders and deep chest, matted with crisp black hair. She flushed and tried to avoid looking at his manhood, and Alex chuckled softly, charmed. Passion flared and he pulled her down onto the bed, soft and ready for them.

In the glow of the single candlelight that burnished their bodies gold, he took a moment to study her thoughtfully. Lydia felt the heat at each spot that his eyes rested on her body. He took his time, with his mouth moving lingeringly over her, and when his lips took possession of her breast she was unable to stifle a gasp. Never would she have suspected that the feel of a man’s lips on such a secret part of her body could create such incredible pleasure. He continued kissing her, enfolding, caressing, gently at first and then with increasing urgency, sliding his hand down to the curve of her waist, kissing her eyes, her throat, the rosy nipples of her breasts, his fingers burning wherever they touched. No part of her escaped and her sighs and moans fed Alex’s ardour, fuelling his passion.


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