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A nibble of Lord Stanhope's Improper Proposal:
(copyright 2010, Cerise DeLand, All rights reserved.)
Felice had tried conversation with him.
Adam sat silent in the coach to Dover, gazing out at the graying landscape and brooding. But now, here at the inn, she was determined to brave his mood and make the consummation of this marriage a joyous night. A good beginning to a stunning match and domestic bliss. A counterpoint to the scandalous series in the Tell-Tale by Miss Proper.
She pushed that errant thought aside quickly, skimmed her hands down her negligee and ran the brush through her long waves once more. Beneath the Italian chiffon, she felt her nipples bead. Her heart raced and her cunny swelled.
This night will be better than those with Wallace.
Her first husband had known nothing of subtleties. Not in art or music, books or cards. And certainly not in the finer points of making love.
But Adam Stanhope does.
Rumor said he did. Living in the Orient, he was reputed to have learned the exotic sexual practices of the Chinese. His mistresses put it about that he was agile and demanding. Her friends in the Risque Society applauded her daring marital catch and told her Adam’s exotic physical practices could make a woman howl in fulfillment. Certainly, too, he must have benefited from his two brothers’ tales of their legendary prowess with women. Jack’s preference was for titled ladies whose husbands did not serve them well. Wesley’s reputed taste was for a certain tea merchant’s daughter. Felice thirsted to taste such delights herself.
“Felice?” Adam called through the door. “May I come in?”
“Of course.” Hurry.
She turned. The sight of him made her mouth water.
For a man who spent most of his days indoors, he retained the muscular physique of a man who indulged in horses and fencing. His midnight hair was thick and curly, perhaps more so than her own. His thick eyelashes fringed lightning-bright blue eyes that sparked and sent shocks of delight down to her core. She smiled, suppressing a grin that their children, if they were fortunate enough to have any at her late age, would definitely be black–haired devils. His sultry gaze fell down her body and gave her pause.
“You look lovely.”
She smiled more broadly.
“The ivory and lace do you justice,” he told her, securing the sash of his dressing gown and turning toward the window. Hands behind his back, he looked out over the Channel waters and flexed his shoulders.
She went to stand behind him. His cologne wafted over her senses. The sage and anise aroused her need to have him take her in his arms.
“Thank you for the lovely nosegay. And my wedding ring,” she said and paused to feel the circle of tiny diamonds around her finger, “is more stunning than I thought.” She was tempted to say, I don’t need diamonds, but stopped herself. His Great Aunt Amaryllis had cautioned her not to be self-deprecating to him. “Adam hates that in anyone, especially a woman,” the lady had warned.
“Adam, I know we have not had much time to become reacquainted, what with Parliament in session, but I am eager to begin. Our friendship was a solid one when we were young and—”
“Listen to me, Felice.” He whirled on her, his large, electric-blue eyes caressing her lips, her throat and falling to her cleavage and her pointed nipples. He inhaled and focused on her mouth. “I want you to know how grateful I am that you agreed to marry me.”
“Gratitude is wonderful, but there must be more.” More that you feel for me or you would not have asked. She reached out to touch her hand to his.
“How true.” He rubbed her fingers for a moment then jerked away. “But with us, this arrangement we have is different.”
“Yes, we were friends long before this. Trusted each other with our secrets. Read each others’ little stories. Knew what the other wanted from life.”
He stared at her. “We were children, Fee. We acted like ragamuffins and tore up the countryside with our antics.”
She chuckled. “Some marriages are based on less. Ours will be founded in more.” She extended her hand to cup his cheek.
He clasped her fingers. “Don’t, Fee. Please. This is hard enough.”
Her spine stiffened. He didn’t want her? She was comely. She knew it. Squire Forester had asked for her hand last year. Months before, Sir Harold Spencer had offered. She might be thirty and a widow, but she was not ugly. Her body was svelte, her breasts perhaps too large. And aye, her hair was black as hell and not the pale froth so popular. Her skin was flawless. Most of all, she had a mind she used to write epic poems, though indeed she earned a pittance for her labors. Her invention of Miss Proper was a new ploy and her forthcoming series loosely alluding to him, a ruse—a terrible necessity to satisfy her debts. Still, she had married him, welcomed this offer because she wanted him. Not his money. Not his name. Not his position. No, she had always adored him. And never had thought to have the chance to live with him. So when the offer came, she’d grabbed it. “Whatever are you talking about, Adam?”
“You know I respect you, Fee.”
“Of course, you do. I like your spirit, your conversation. I even like your poetry.”
I doubt you’ll like my prose. She arched a brow. “Romantic nonsense, you called it when I first began.”
“You are much better at it now than at twelve, and it has made you a penny or two.”
“Writing is a poorly paid profession. My father paid his published authors the same as I earn today for each copy of my works.” She tried for levity, but the fact that she had made more in an advance on a political scandal sheet series about him made her cold with worry. She shivered, so far from the fire and, too, so far from the warmth she had expected of him on their wedding trip. She backed toward the flames of the fireplace.
“Christ! Felice, don’t stand there.” His gaze flowed down her form and stuck on the juncture of her thighs.
She looked down her body. Silhouetted by the dancing red conflagration behind her, her body seemed almost bare of the transparent silk.
“Out with this, Adam. What are you telling me?”
“I married you for convenience.”
So, Dear Reader, will he be able to accomplish this tiny task?