I just love this day of the week, when I can decide what to tease you with. It's particularly hard for me at the moment because I have several new books to chose from. What a great place to be in eh?
Anyway I pondered and decided that as the lovely Doris O'Connor has a tease from my latest book, Seducing the Rake as her #MidWeekTease this week (thank you Doris) I would nip back to The Scandalous Proposal of Lord Bennett.
To have and to hold?
Reluctant debutante Lady Clarissa Macpherson has never forgotten the forbidden kiss she shared with notorious rake, Lord Theodore ‘Ben’ Bennett, all those years ago. Even now, he’s the one man who sets Clarissa’s pulse racing and her skin tingling – no matter how hard she tries to ignore it!
Yet, when Ben rescues her from the unwanted advances of a drunken Lord at a society ball, she finds herself in a most scandalous predicament – engaged, to the most eligible bachelor in London!
Wedded? It appears so, but bedded? Clarissa demands more from her marriage than simply surrendering to her new husband’s sexual desires, especially when she realises she’s falling deeper in love with him every single day. Ben must prove that she’s the only woman for him – and surrender his heart!
Yet resisting her new husband’s delicious seduction may prove the hardest thing Clarissa has ever done…
and your #MidWeekTease
‘My lord, enough. I don’t need entertaining. You look as if a sleep would be beneficial. How long until we change horses?’
He glanced out of the window. Evidently he knew the route well. ‘About an hour, why?’
‘I think you should nap. You may have slept last night, but I’ll wager it wasn’t restful.’ The same went for her, but Clarissa didn’t think she’d be able to relax until she was in her own room, and her own bed. Alone. Heavens, she might sleep with her mouth open, or snore as loud as him. She might not want his advances – liar liar, may your tongue not fall out – but nor did she want his pity or, worse, his loathing. Now she wanted his silence so she could collect her thoughts.
He stared at her for long seconds. It was like being back at Miss Nunnery’s school for young ladies, where Clarissa had been thought of as a generally biddable young lady, albeit with a stubborn streak. How the two coexisted she had no idea, but evidently that was her make-up.
Finally, just as she was ready to blurt out and own up to whatever alleged misdemeanour was hers, Ben yawned once more and nodded.
‘Thank you. I admit, I am beginning to flag.’ He stretched his long, pantaloon-clad legs out across the coach and put one ankle over the other. Then, with a deep sigh, he folded his hands over his chest and closed his eyes. As far as Clarissa could tell he was asleep within seconds. If only she could be so lucky.
She averted her eyes from the interesting bulge, which sat snugly across the front of his torso. It reminded her of a cucumber she’d seen in her father’s greenhouse at their country estate. That thought made her snigger. A cucumber, indeed. In reality the bulge could, she guessed, be much more interesting. Cucumbers had never featured highly on her enjoyment list. They tasted bland at best. Clarissa forced herself to glance away and looked out of the window, at streams and trees and cattle in the fields. At this time of the year, the Great North Road out of the city was busy, and the first hour had seen them run the gauntlet of pie sellers, post boys, stagecoaches and phaetons. Now, several hours into their journey, the traffic had dwindled to a few carts, one or two solo riders, and once, the mail coach going south. Their coachman had pulled over when the yard of tin was heard, and Clarissa had marvelled at the speed at which the mail passed them. No wonder people said you needed to hold on to your hats if you travelled by post.
A particularly bumpy stretch of road made her grab on to the strap. The heavy rain of recent weeks had washed much of the surface away. That, followed by several days of sunshine, had turned the road into ruts of hardened mud. The gossip was that this stretch of road was soon to be attended to. Soon couldn’t come fast enough.
She stared doubtfully at her husband. He lay loose-limbed in a semi-upright position and swayed from side to side in time with each rolling movement of the vehicle. If they weren’t careful, he’d end up on the floor. Clarissa wasn’t sure what to do for the best. Leave him to the vagaries of the road, or try to wedge him in the corner?
One lurch, more vicious than those before, took the decision out of her hands. Ben swayed and slid across the seat in her direction. His hands found her waist and his head her lap. With a self-satisfied murmur he hooked one hand into the material covering her breasts, and settled himself, using her as a pillow.
Clarissa wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. She looked down onto the dark curls, and at his face, which looked so boyish in sleep, and her heart melted. How long had she had this tendresse for him?
Since forever it seemed, and he was oblivious.
He was her husband, so she supposed she’d better accept what crumbs she had and make the best of it. After all, knowing Ben, it wouldn’t be long before he tired of her, the country, and the bucolic life, and hightailed it back to London. The thought didn’t please her. She might have railed against the marriage, but her papa had said exactly what she herself thought. If she had to marry, then she could do a lot worse that marry Ben. Except … She sighed. She suspected what she wanted from marriage and what Ben did were poles apart. Such as him wanting to live mostly in London. That was her idea of hell. It was a situation she would need to consider carefully, weighing up all the eventualities, if she declined to accompany him.
With that thought uppermost, she wedged herself securely on the seat, held him close, and closed her eyes to think about the strange last few months.
A chuckle and warm breath blowing over her neck and cheek woke her. Something was tickling her ear.
Spiders. She struggled to release her limbs, which seemed tangled in the arachnid’s web.
‘Clary, wake up. We’re at the Swan. Come on now.’ The spider pinched her ear. It stung.
Spiders don’t pinch, they bite. They don’t talk and they would not call me Clary. She opened her eyes to look straight into the concerned ones of Ben. The normally bright grey irises were dark with what looked like desire? Surely not? It had to be mere concern over her agitation.
‘You started to struggle and mutter about being caught.’ He winked. ‘My head was removed from the most comfortable pillow ever in no uncertain manner and you batted at me as if I were the devil incarnate.’
‘Spiders are the devil incarnate. I must have been dreaming. Spiders on a log and … oh.’ She remembered just what the log in question had been. But that was a dream, surely?
‘Sometimes in that dreamlike state between wakefulness and sleep we do things we otherwise might not,’ Ben said and laughed. ‘As I used you for my pillow. And you …’ He raised one eyebrow, and tilted his head to one side in a gesture of query.
‘And I let you,’ Clarissa said.
To catch all the other #MidWeekTease offerings
love R x