Seven Nights of Sin...coming soon from your favorite bestselling historical romance authors! Preorder your copy today!
Luscious By Sabrina York
When Deveny Hargrove rescues a waif in a rainstorm in the middle of nowhere, he has no idea that she represents his long-awaited chance at vengeance. When she offers him her virginity—in an attempt to escape an unwanted society marriage—he has to agree. To his surprise, very little of his motivation stems from punishing her brother.
The fact is, Matilda Paddington represents his chance at revenge...or redemption…but his choice could destroy them both.
Read an excerpt!
It was a dismal day for a homecoming, but as there would be no one at home to greet him, at least it was fitting.
Dev Hargrove slumped lower in the hard seat of his rented coach and stared out at the passing fields, sheeted in rain as they were. It pattered against the window and thundered on the roof. He was very glad to be inside.
Even so, the damp made his leg ache.
He’d been recuperating at Wickham’s estate in Cornwall when the message—informing him that his every living relative had died—had come. That, and the summons.
The irony was rich. In oh so many ways. First, his uncle and his cousins had been safely ensconced in the bosom of their homeland, gleefully tupping wenches, racing curricles and drinking their livers green. While Dev, on the other hand, had been on the continent, dodging cannonballs, drinking cold swill from a tin cup and diving into trenches to avoid pesky rifle shots. Yet they had died.
The other irony carried much more pain. Years of it. A lifetime.
He’d been born to the second son of a lord, a man whose family not only disliked Dev’s mother—as she came from the lower classes—they had repudiated her as well. And with her, her son. After Dev’s father had died, his uncle had gone out of his way to divest them of any inheritance, leaving them little more than beggars.
It was only through the grace of his mother’s people that Dev had been able to attend Eton and Cambridge. And even that had been a nightmare.
Because his cousins had been there to torment him, urging the other young men to do the same.
And young British lords, cattle that they were, did.
It hadn’t been until he procured the coin to buy his commission that he’d really found his place in the world. Earned the respect he craved.
He’d always been a nobody before then. The poor boy. A mongrel.
And now, here he was, in a dowdy carriage, heading along mud-slogged lanes toward London. To claim a title.
He should be nervous, stepping into a world he barely knew, but he wasn’t.
One had to care to be nervous, and he did not.
He didn’t care about much of anything.
The coach slowed and Dev peered out the window to see why. He had to squint to make out the form on the side of the road.
Wrapped in a blanket and hunched against the incessant battering of the rain, the figure moved slowly, stepping cautiously. Even as he watched, the coach wheel hit a puddle, sending a tremendous wash of water through the air, spattering the traveler.
The shrouded head whipped around and, as the coach passed, their gazes clashed. Dev had the brief impression of delicate features, large eyes and a rounded mouth, opened in shock.
Good God, it was a woman. Out here. In the middle of nowhere. In the pouring rain.
Without thought, he knocked on the roof and the coach pulled to a stop.
He could not, in good conscience, leave her here, in a storm, not after his coach had utterly drenched her. He opened the door. Surely invitation enough, but he had to poke his head out and wave to the wayfarer before she took his meaning.
“Get in,” he called. “We will give you a ride.”
Still, she hesitated, looking to the left, then to the right down the road…as though some other coach might miraculously appear. He understood her reserve. A woman should always be cautious in such situations, but he was a war hero. Surely she could trust him?
Although, in her defense, he didn’t look much like a war hero with his scraggly beard and rumpled clothing.
“It’s all right,” he said. “I promise to deliver you safely to your destination.”
He had no idea why a puzzled look crossed her face, but his words seemed to do the trick and she accepted his invitation, bracing herself on the bar and climbing the steps. He did not help her—she didn’t need it, and an outstretched hand might be perceived as a threat to a frightened woman—but he did shift positions, allowing her the forward-facing seat as a gentleman did.
At least, he was fairly certain he’d heard something of the like.
As she closed the door behind her and sat, Dev fished a couple blankets from beneath his seat. “You’re wet,” he said with a gentle smile.
Her response slayed him. She glanced up at him and for the first time he got a good look at her. And bloody hell. She was gorgeous. A delicate heart-shaped face framed by unruly damp curls, enormous violet eyes with a thick fringe of lashes, arching dark brows and—good glory—dimples.
Dimples. They exploded on her cheek as she grinned. It was an engaging, mischievous grin and it made something deep within his belly shift.
He’d promised to keep her safe, but all he wanted to do was pounce upon her.
“Well, it is raining,” she said, accepting the blankets from him.
Her voice was soft, musical, a whimsical lilt. It made shivers walk along his spine. Oh, she was a lovely girl, this sodden wayfarer. But a mystery.
He’d always enjoyed a mystery.
“And why, pray tell, were you walking along the side of the road in a downpour?”
She didn’t answer at once. She removed her wet blanket, and then her pelisse—one of quality, he had the presence of mind to note—and wrapped one of the dry blankets around her shoulders.
It was beneath him to notice her bosom, but he excelled at disregarding society’s expectations. And it was an excellent, attention-grabbing swell. Her waist was nipped and her hips were full. All in all, quite a luscious package.
She used the other blanket to tousle her hair in an attempt to make her curls wilder still. As she did so, she surveyed him from beneath her lashes. And damn, they were long.
“Can I trust you?”
He blinked. No one had ever asked him that question and he wasn’t certain how to answer. For one thing, could he be trusted? He hardly knew.
“Trusted for what?”
“Why, not to return me from whence I came.”
“Did you come from Bedlam?” It was a logical question. She had been walking in the rain.
Her laugh was lovely. It made the tiny hairs on his arms rise. Something else stirred as well. How he would love to hear her laugh, just like that, as he buried himself in her—
“No. But I have run away.” She raked his person with what he could only assume was meant to be a merciless survey. She was like a ferocious kitten, this one. “You look like the type of man who might return me to my brother.”
Ah. She had not run from a husband. He was not certain why relief trickled through his veins. Or was it lust?
“I shall not return you to your brother.” This, he pledged with his hand to his heart and she seemed to believe him.
She gushed a sigh. “Oh, thank God for that.”
“So now, will you tell me why you were traipsing along the road in a storm?”
“I most certainly was not traipsing. I never traipse. And I already did tell you.” She cocked her head to the side. “Are you not paying attention?”
“I thought I was.” But clearly he had missed something.
“I was running away.”
“You were hardly running. Surely, you can understand my confusion.”
To his shock, his dry wit amused her. For so many people, his jests were like pigeons, soaring over their heads and occasionally loosing a rain of aviary excrement. But she got his humor. He saw it in her eyes.
He decided he liked her. He liked her very much.
“All that aside, I was indeed fleeing.”
“And what were you fleeing?”
She leaned closer. Her scent, tangled with the smell of rain, danced to him, curling through his olfactory process and making his mouth water. She smelled divine.
“Well, a fate worse than death, of course.” She sniffed and buffed her hair a little more. “Why else would I brave this weather?”
“A fate worse than death?” In his understanding, this phrase had one meaning and one meaning only. Something settled in his chest, a hard and furious ball. “Did your brother…” God, he couldn’t say it.
She peered at him when he didn’t finish the thought, blinking several times like a sparrow. “Did he what?”
Dev swallowed heavily. “Did he…accost you?”
He’d kill the man, whomever he was. Kill him with his bare hands.
“Oh good God, no.”
He nearly collapsed with relief. He’d killed enough people on the battlefield. He didn’t really want to kill any more. That part of his life was over.
“He is forcing me to wed.”
“Oh.” It was an effort to keep back his bark of a laugh. Was that all?
“Don’t say, oh. The man he wants me to spend the rest of my life with is a complete and utter stick.”
“Yes.” She crossed her arms and shook her head. Curls tumbled.
It should be illegal for those curls to roam free. Dev longed to gather them up and tie them into a queue so they did not distract him so much with thoughts of…other uses.
Yes. He was a perverted soul for even having the thought. This girl was pure as the driven snow. Without asking he knew she was a virgin. Probably a lady. And the stick her brother wanted her to marry was probably a lord of the realm.
“So you’ve run away.”
“And where are you going?” Where did one go to escape a fate worse than death? When one was a woman in this age where women were so dependent upon men?
She pressed her lips together.
“That’s all right,” he said. “You don’t need to tell me.”
Contrarily, she did. “I have an aunt living in London. She will help me get it done.”
Myriad questions assaulted him at the same time. He grasped the first and foremost. “Get what done?”
“Why, lose my virginity of course.”
“Then no man will want me.”
Oh, how untrue that was.
“And this aunt will help you, um, divest yourself of this unwanted virginity?”
“Naturally. She’s quite avant-garde. After her husband died—he was twice her age, you know—she decided never to marry again. She lives a truly blissful existence attending parties and balls and answering to no one.” She leaned closer once more. Her eyes sparkled. “She has lovers.”
“Never say it.”
“She most certainly does. A legion of them. She will be able to advise me on how to proceed.” She nodded, probably to herself, as she made her point with enviable insouciance. “By the time my brother finds me, the deed will be done and my suitor will run for the hills.” She sat back and fixed her hypnotic gaze on him, apparently waiting for some response.
He had to work one up. “But what if your brother finds you before, ahem, the deed is done?”
“Would he not immediately suspect you have gone to your aunt?”
Her face clouded a bit and he felt a tremendous regret for having caused her dismay. But she tapped her lips as she reflected on his suggestion, and he forgot to think about being regretful.
Her lips were…lush. Lovely.
He had the sudden urge to kiss them. Or perhaps it was not so very sudden an urge.
He knew the desire to give her what she wanted.
It was a pity he was a man of some principles. Deflowering virgins, especially those he had rescued from a raging storm, was over the line. Even for him. Even if they wanted it.
She was an innocent. She had no idea what she was asking for.
There were many men who would be gentle in a situation like this, but many more who would just take what they wanted. There were men in the world with dark desires. He’d met them in his travels… He couldn’t bear the thought of this precious creature finding herself in a horrific situation with one of them. He couldn’t bear the thought of her first time being painful or frightening or worse.
He had the sudden inclination to return her to her brother, even though he had promised he would not. She needed someone to protect her from the predators—and her brother, the dolt, whoever he was, was clearly not up to the task.
While he had been thinking, so, apparently, had she. Her eyes widened and a smile quirked her lips and she said the most heinous thing he had ever heard.
“Oh. You could do it.”
He sputtered for a bit, then burbled, “Who, me?”
“You are quite handsome.”
“Is that a criteria?”
“And you are a gentleman.”
“How on earth do you know that?” He roared the question, because seriously, how the hell would she know that? Also, he was not a gentleman. Decidedly not. He was a savage and little more.
Aside from that, she could have crawled into anyone’s carriage. For all she knew, he made it a regular habit to cruise country lanes in search of vulnerable women to molest.
She tipped her head to the side and smiled. It did not calm him. “Because you gave me your seat. That’s what gentlemen do.”
“You cannot offer yourself to the first man who offers you a seat!”
“Oh pish,” she huffed. “You are hardly the first.”
The blood drained from his face. “What?”
“To offer me a seat, silly.”
Damn and blast. The woman was a menace.
“I am not taking your virginity.” Was he really protesting so vociferously? What on earth was wrong with him? “I don’t even know your name.”
“Well that is remedied easily enough. I am Tildy Paddington. Well, my real name is Matilda, but everyone calls me Tildy because, apparently, Matilda is too much of a mouthful, but you know what I mean.”
She continued discussing the origin of her name, but Dev heard nothing but a faint buzzing in his head.
He narrowed his eyes and took in her features, the slant of her eyes, the slight upturn of her nose, the crooked curve of her lips. And he saw those features on another face. One who had persecuted him for years through Eaton and Cambridge.
He’d been one of the worst.
He’d made Dev’s life a living hell.
And now, here, a chance to pay him back by claiming something he valued.
He thrust out a hand. “Well, Tildy Paddington, my friends call me Dev. It is delightful to make your acquaintance.”
She slipped her fingers into his—he ignored the sizzle that shot through him as their skin touched—and he kissed her hand. He made the buss slow and languorous, a taste of the night to come.
Because he was going to do it.
He was going to debauch Charles Paddington’s sister.
And he was going to enjoy every moment.
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/free-teaser-books/ Get updates and alerts from Sabrina here: HotSheet Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/bj8tKb.
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