LADY STARLING’S STOCKINGS
Lady Solange Starling catches spies easily. But one moonlit evening, she spots a daring man who once saved her from death—and stole her heart. A man, who even in his youth, carved his place in her life and her reverie.
Monsieur Noir, he calls himself. And so he is, a man living in shadows, dark and dangerous to all he encounters. Now he demands he join her to find one of Napoleon’s dastardly agents. But can Solange work with Noir without taking him into her arms~and her bed? And if she spends one daring night in Noir’s strong arms, will she be able to part from him and ever live again?
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A nibble of my newest cherry?
Excerpt, Copyright 2011, Cerise DeLand. All rights reserved.
Evening, October 5, 1815
The evening seemed eternal! Solange read Byron and fretted. Sent two hot bricks up to her maid Cora, brought low by the rain today to her bed in the upstairs servants’ quarters. Then she wrote to her Aunt Minette, James’s mother, and walked the floor. She even played a vicious and solitary game of chess and threw the board, pieces and all, across the room. Still, Noir did not come.
If she could not relieve herself from the anxiety of holding her secrets, she would look like the ravages of hell at breakfast. Why did he not appear? Her visit below stairs had been most profitable. Her visit with James, minutes later in his study, much more so. Noir must learn it all.
Yet, what detained him? Where are you, Etienne? Are you reluctant to come tonight? Afraid I might not welcome you? Or need you?
Clutching her dressing gown around her, she marched to her boudoir window three stories above the Via Espana. No one walked out at this small hour of the morning. The rain broke into torrents, lightning crashed and a downpour obscured the details of the other houses along the boulevard.
A sleek black coach trotted past her door, only to pause at the garden. Had a figure emerged from the cab? She wiped the moisture from the glass, but her vision became no clearer. Her hands upon the latch, she satisfied herself that her balcony doors were indeed unlocked and accessible from the garden terrace.
Climbing into her bed, she lay on her back, folded her hands like a day-old corpse and waited for Noir.
Many minutes later, she heard the latch on the French doors give and the pounding of the deluge become louder as someone entered from the balcony and shut out the sounds of the world. Exhausted but satisfied he had arrived, Solange called to him from the bed.
In the flashes of lightning, she watched his powerful silhouette stop and scan the room. “Do not stand there and drip on my carpet, mon cher.” She flung back her covers. “The night is ugly and we both need warmth.”
“Solange, no,” he murmured, pleading for reprieve from the intimacy she offered.
“Come, Noir. I will not leave this bed.”
Cursing, he divested himself of cloak, boots, coat and stock. Striding to her side, he slid in beside her. Once this close, she knew he would do as he had always done when this near to her. He encompassed her in his arms and she lifted her bare leg to curl around his hips and welcome him to her. He did not object, neither did he move.
“You are chilled,” she murmured, a frisson of delight traveling her spine.
“I am never ill.”
“How well I recall. You could eat nothing, hunt for game or scout for soldiers all day and never tire.”
“To weaken is to lose,” he told her, his lips to her forehead, his tone grim. “You went out with Giorgio today.”
“I did,” she offered simply, replaying the tone of Noir’s voice, listening for the jealousy she sought like a starving child.
“What did you learn?”
Her palm upon his chest, she caressed his well-hewn muscles. Then with an indifference she used like a knife, she said, “He wishes to have me as his own.”
Noir snorted. “Bastard. Of course he wants the lovely English woman. So does every man worth his salt in this city.”
Wondering if Noir would admit to counting himself among those men, she snuggled into him and kissed his throat. The aroma of his musk met her nostrils, the fragrance balm to her soul and spur to her desire.
He cupped her nape, holding her still. “You refused him?”
She sighed. “You and I both suspect him of treachery. We have tried to learn his actions and failed. It seems the best course. I concluded I should accept him.”
Noir pulled back, their gazes locked as the lightning struck to illuminate the room. “You do not wish the man.”
“I wish only to complete my work.”
Noir’s arms tightened. “Such sacrifice is not required.”
“Of course it is. You know it. Recount what you have lost since the Terror. Your entire family. Your lands and your–”
His body went rigid. “I did not relinquish those. They were taken from me.”
“And what do you sacrifice to gain any of it back?”
“Do I work for that?” he asked as if he had never before considered it.
“You live in the shadows,” she persisted. ”Running spies in foreign cities. How do you live? Where? Why have I not seen you–” she tempered her tones of sorrow, “–not seen you in years?” She pressed a tiny kiss to the corner of his mouth.
He flinched. “You have no idea what I have given to the cause of restoration of my rights.”
She heard the bitterness in his words. “I can imagine, mon cher. I can help you and you must not forbid it.”
“Not to give your body to a man who will not respect you! No!”
She tore from his grasp and rolled to her feet. Naked, she rejoiced when the storm obliged her with another bright strike of lightning. Noir drank her in, like wine for his soul. “You cannot stop me, Etienne.”
“Darling Solange, he is not worthy to touch you.” He sprang from the bed and came round to press her to the wall. “How can you expect me to sanction such an act?”
Her heart leaped at his words. Would that he could stop her and make her his alone. “We must learn who aids Murat in this house. Time grows short. If Murat invades and wins back Naples, Bonaparte can return to the Continent!”
“To hell with Bonaparte!” He took her by the shoulders. “The British sail him off to St. Helena.”
“He escaped them six months ago. He could again!”
“Never!” Noir gave her a shake. “I will not let you take that Italian crow to your bed!”
“You have no say!” she incited him., even as her body flooded with delight.
“I do! I have earned a say. Once, twice and now…”
“Now, what?” She wrenched to be free of him.
“After last night?”
At the memory of their passion, her heart raced. Her nipples hardened. Her pussy pounded, gushing with joy that he would recall them together on her bed. Still, she knew to provoke him or lose the moment. “We shared nothing!” she flung at him. You saw to it.
“We could not!”
“No? You left me wanting, needing–“ She pushed at him, all the hurt she’d experienced fueled her movements. “After all we are to each other and all these years of yearning, you left me, Etienne.”
He yanked her close. “How could I make love to you?”
“How could you not?” she demanded.
“I cannot have you!”
“Who forbids it?”
“My conscience! What if we loved and tomorrow escapes us?”
“Mon cher,” she mourned, “it always did.”
He stared at her, hunger and remorse in his stance and in his eyes, desire. “Why do you think I never came to you before this? Why do you think I ran a courier between us? Why?”
She raised her chin and arched her brows at him.
“I did not want to see you. Not face-to-face. I could not. From afar, I saw enough.” His face fell lax with sorrow. “You were so lovely. Yet you appeared so forlorn. Even as a debutante, you roused men. And as a bride to that idiot Starling, you dazzled. Other men spoke of you. Wished for you. Rejoiced when Starling died, thinking like fools they might attract you.”
“What could you care?” she tossed at him, needing his own declarations of desire.
“Care? I cared. I pined like a boy. Wanted you like a man.” He clamped her so close, she melted at the pressure of his cock against her belly. “As you grew older, after you were widowed, I knew your life and I knew if we met again what would happen between us.”
“Did you? Sure of your charms, are you?” she taunted him, roiled he had purposely stayed away and yet had longed for her.
He crushed her against him. This time, his cock rode her cleft and she whimpered. “No coyness for me, my pet. You and I came to care for each other long ago. When survival depended on trust and mutual responsibility.”
The proof of his desire was a torment and she undulated against him. “Still you deny us both any pleasure.” She wrapped her arms around his waist and cuddled so near she could be absorbed into his skin. “The finest bliss I ever knew was with you. The exhilaration of escape. The thrill of victory against all those hundreds who hunted us. The years between our meetings have been so fraught with the perils of ordinary living. And no affection. Or love. How can you refuse the opportunity to seize bliss?”
His expression, so bleak, so stern, shattered. “The devil knows. I do not.”
Hope you will read all of Solange and Noir’s story--and then try my other Regencies.
RENDEZVOUS WITH A DUKE, #2 Regency Romps
LADY VARNEY'S RISQUE BUSINESS, #1 Regency Romps
HIS DELECTABLE COOK (Be Warned: A Very Sexy A Quatre!)
And Coming soon: THE STANHOPE CHALLENGE: A REGENCY QUARTET, 4 Brothers, 4 Love Affairs, One Family Curse!
See www.cerisedeland.com for a full list!