London, Mivart’s Hotel, March 17th, 1816.
Rowena’s soft footfall made him look up. He swallowed at the lovely vision of his wife in her long, silk dressing gown of a rich burgundy colour. He knew that ensemble very well since he had helped her choose it at Améline’s.
“Shall I retire to my own chamber, Alex? You seem unwell,” Rowena offered shyly. Damnation, but he must have spooked her with the brooding gaze he knew all too well never left him entirely.
Alex jumped up and grasped her hands. “By Jove, no! Stay, I beg you.” Banishing all secondary musings, he led her to their bed and made her sit down. He drew his shirt over his head in one movement and tossed it aside, revelling smugly in the widening of his wife’s eyes. He came to stand before her and gently eased the dressing gown from her shoulders. Only a flimsy nightgown held up by narrow straps remained. The fabric did not hide anything, much less the shape of her luscious breasts with their hardened nipples.
She was breathing hard now, and Alex pushed her onto her back on the bed, and while her bare feet remained on the floor, he gently spread her thighs.
“Are you very tired, Rowie?” he breathed, looking into her wide, chocolate eyes. She shook her head, and he bent over her to chastely kiss her full, rosy mouth. She moaned and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.
He grabbed her wrists and pulled her arms up to place them above her head. Oh, she was exquisite when she looked at him in that startled, yet aroused way. “Leave them there, Rowie,” he purred, then used his thumbs to slowly shove her gown up to her waist. She shivered and arched her hips up to him.
“Shh … steady, my sweet.” Caressing the silken skin of her outer thighs, he soothed and at the same time, aroused her. A bewitching combination, he knew. He drew her nearer to his hard shaft and began rubbing it against her swollen, wet womanhood, wrenching small, keening cries from her. Ah, she was so ready for him, but he would not yet give her what she craved.
“Rub yourself against me, Rowie,” he coaxed. “Pleasure yourself, my beauty.” He knew all too well that she had never done that in her life. Although she had given birth, his wife was still so very innocent.
Rowena heard what Alex said but could not fathom it. How was she supposed to do as he asked? Nobody had ever told her that a woman could bestow pleasure upon herself. She could only do as he told her and put her feet firmly on the floor, so that her hips were off the bed. A hot flush of shame engulfed her but she could not stop herself. The thick, soft and warm member of her husband fitted so perfectly against the tender cleft of her womanhood that a sob of pure pleasure escaped her. She let her hips rise and descend against her husband’s manhood in a rhythm as old as time. She sobbed in relief as she felt his hands under her bottom to support the straining muscles of her thighs. The conflagration of her climax was so intense that she did not register when he entered her. Her gulf of pleasure did not stop for minutes, not even until a second wave overwhelmed her, fractions of seconds after her husband spilled inside her.
It was not before she was on the brink of oblivion that she realized Alex’ fingers had heightened her climax with fingers caressing and teasing the very spot from where bliss originated.
Trembling from exertion, Alex carefully withdrew from Rowena’s slick body. Sweet heavens, but this kind of gratification was going to be his undoing. Never, ever had it been so good.
He left the bed and drew the covers up over her. He should not let her sleep in his bed, he mused. Soon little Emma would need her, so he would carry her to her own room; for now, he needed to catch his breath, and also his composure.
What the devil was happening to him? He had always been able to master his basic instincts well enough. Even in his younger days, he had always succeeded in controlling them enough not to be swept away completely. Until now, blast and bugger.
He threw his shirt over his head, struggled a bit to stick his arms in the sleeves, so damp was he from their lovemaking. Then he went to stand before the window and peered out into the dark London night. Not even the street lanterns were able to pierce it enough to see by. He hated London, and always had. The foul fog that crept from the Thames, the filth everywhere, even in Mayfair’s distinguished streets, the bustle and rumble day and night, the throng of people filling the streets with their shouting, and finally, the Ton, with its hypocrisy and cruelty. Maybe he truly was a recluse, only capable of thriving in the country.
A small gasp from the bed made him turn that way. His wife was awake and quietly weeping. A fist clenched around his heart and sent him flying toward her. He spooned around her warm, naked body and took her in his arms.
“What ails you, Rowena? Have I harmed you in any way? Tell me.”
“Oh, Alex, I cannot stop thinking about Roderick. I always knew he resented me, from when I was a little girl, but now it seems that he also hates me.”
Alex recalled the baronet’s vicious words to Rowena with a surge of anger. “Does Daveston have a town house here?”
“Yes, in Curzon Street. Father inherited it from his uncle together with the title. My great-uncle never married, although he was my great-grandfather’s oldest son. So the title passed to my father, as my grand-father died young. Why do you ask, Alex?”
He gave her a hard, relentless smile, which chilled her to the bone.
“It is always wise to know the whereabouts of your enemy, Rowena. I will endeavour to uncover all his weaknesses, too. It will prepare me for the battle between us.”
“The … the battle?”
“Yes … oh, yes. Your half-brother dared to challenge me, Rowena, so I need to be vigilant. You, on the other hand, need not concern yourself. You are safe with me. I won’t let anything harm you. I protect what is mine.”
Rowena swallowed the tears clogging her throat when his words, uttered in a deep, ruthless baritone voice, penetrated her entire being. A feeling of immense safety filled her very heart and soul. She realised all too well that protection was not love, but it came very close. She might have to be content with that, yet it did not bother her. Her love for him was large enough for them both.