Susannah dares. But then it's a matter of the happiness of her rest of her life at stake...
My mid-week tease
This close to him, she could smell his citrus cologne and a hint of tobacco, mixed with what she privately called ‘the essence of all-man’. Earthy, musky and powerful. How many women would admit to being aroused by a sense of power in a man? It made her skin tingle and her pulse race in readiness for whatever should happen. So few men seemed to possess it to the degree she scented on Tony, which was a shame for womankind. The wonderment of what might occur was the perfect aphrodisiac. But then how many women admitted their sexuality? Not enough, if one listened to the gossip at soirees.
Her stomach muscles clenched as she waited for his answer. Behind her the tick of the long case clock sounded over-loud, and the hiss of a coal as it slipped in the grate set her nerves one notch higher. Susanna dug her fingernails into her palms. The pain served to remind her why she was there. Eventually, just as she thought she'd give in and blurt her request out, he lifted her chin. The skin on his finger pads was roughened. No lazy lord, then? It gave her heart.
"Subservient?" The grip tightened slightly, so she had no option but to look at him.
Susannah chose to misunderstand him. "My lord, I'm no servant." The amused look on his face gave her no idea if he believed she understood him or not. "But I have a service to beg of you."
"Oh I like begging," he said, and Susanna bit her lip to stop the laugh that wanted to escape.
So she had heard. It had been one of the images that helped her through many a self-given orgasm.
"When someone else does it to me, of course," Tony continued. "Therefore, beg away."
Whilst she knew there was no option but to speak to him before they met formally, Susannah had no idea it could be so much fun. Was this what they called verbal sparring? If so she was engaged with an expert. "Then I beg of you, my lord. This evening don’t be coerced into dancing with me. And on no account at any time offer for me."
The look of incredulity on his face was enough to make her giggle. The way his fingers tightened on her chin was not.
"My lord, bruises," she managed to say. To speak clearly with one's chin held so, was not easy. "That hurts."
Tony blanched, and removed his hand. "My apologies, my lady. It wasn't my intention to mark you, or cause you pain."
Did she really hear him speak? She was certain she had.
"Not yet, like this." His voice was low but…No, surely not. She must be hearing things. Marking in such a manner wasn't something she'd heard associated with him. Marking in a sensual, erotic way was a different matter. However to admit to it? It seemed the stories were true. Would she ever experience such delights with him? Susanna could only hope and dream that one day she might.
He studied her chin intently, and ran his finger over the spot he'd held. "No marks, though you were right to reprimand me. Your skin will color easily, I think?" Susanna surmised his statement was intended to soothe. It did the opposite, and made Susanna hard-pressed not to lean into him and demand he show her how. One day.
"Somewhat, my lord. It is the curse of a redhead. Fiery temper and easily bruised. And a stubborn streak. One that begs you to heed me."
"What makes you think I'm going to offer for you?" Tony sounded genuinely interested. "I am my own man. I can't be coerced or forced into something I do not desire."
"Your mama, my mama, your need for a wife, my need to be one—or so I'm told. I'm three and twenty, and about to be so far back on the shelf, I'll be missed when they dust. I don't wish to marry, but do they understand? Of course not, they only see me as slipping into the lonely life of an old maid."
"Do you see it differently?"
"Oh yes. Give me one good reason why I should wed someone who neither cares for me out of the ordinary, nor wants me as anything other than a brood mare?"
He tilted her head up to his once more. This time his touch was gentle, and his fingers stroked her skin. That caress set her nerve ends tingling. Stupid, that is no more than he would give to a sister.
"You think I’d be like that?" Tony ran his finger from her throat to her mouth and circled her pursed lips, as if beckoning her to nip. Book reading was all well and good, but she wanted to know what would really happen if she did. Reading or hearing about sex secondhand wasn't enough. Not yet, though. Not if her plan worked.
"I don't know, my lord. But according to our respective Mamas that is what I should expect. They seem to think I'd be pleased."
"And you're not?"
"No. If that is what's in store as a wife, then I wish to remain single, remove to the country and, and have cats."
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