She swallowed and looked down at the artichoke petals piled neatly on the side of her plate. Her center certainly felt like it was melting, growing soft and wet just from the rasp of Mr. O'Connor's voice. Why should a man already devilishly handsome also have a voice that could charm birds from the sky? It simply wasn't fair.
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... You are the closest I will ever come to heaven, either here on Earth or in the afterlife, and I will not regret it, not even at the cost of your tears. So I go to my grave an unrepentant sinner, I'm afraid. There is no use in mourning one such as I, dearest... -Simon to Lucy in a letter before the last duel.
Griffin leaned across the desk, his arms braced on the now-clear top, and stared into Wakefield's outraged eyes. "We seem to be under a confusion of communication. I did not come here to ask for your sister's hand. I came to tell you I will marry Hero, with or without your permission, Your Grace. She has lain with me more than once. She may well be carrying my child. And if you think that I'll give up either her or our babe, you have not done nearly enough research into my character or history.
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He watched her retreat, his eyes lazy, and his body unmoving. A trickle of blood seeped slowly from the corner of his mouth. He let her get nearly out of the room before he spoke, "I may not have the right, Silence, me love," he drawled so soft she nearly didn't catch the words. "But I would've listened to ye. I would've believed ye.
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She very much feared that if she stayed with Maximus, this awful taint - this terribly wrong act - would, day by day, year by year, wear at her until she was no more than a ghost of her former self. She saw need when she looked into his eyes, but was there any love as well? Had she discarded Penelope's friendship for a man who didn't, in the end, truly care for her? For she loved him, she realized now, in this brightly lit garden, of all places, with his future wife, her cousin, by her side. She loved Maximus totally and completely, with all of her bitter, broken heart, and she did not know if it was enough for the two of them.
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He built a tower to try and be closer to her and walled himself inside.' She stared at him for a moment as if waiting for something. 'And?' He glanced at her, puzzled. 'And, what?' She widened her eyes. 'How does the story end? Did the sorcerer win his Moon Maiden?' 'Of course not, ' he said irritably. 'She lived on the moon and was quite unattainable. I suppose he must've starved or pined away or fallen off the wall at some point.
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Why?' he whispered as he leaned over her, supported on one arm. 'Why must ye be the one that haunts me dreams? I've seen ye weepin' night after bloody night since the day I sent ye from me palace with yer dress half undone. If I had it to do over again, I'd cut me own right hand off rather than hurt ye so. Will ye never be able to forgive me, Silence love?' 'I already have, ' she replied, cradling his cheek in her hand. 'Long, long ago.
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He grunted and stirred, withdrawing from her. She only had a moment to be disappointed and then he flipped her to her back and rose over her, powerful and male. He casually parted her legs with his knees and thrust into her again, hot and hard. She gasped at the swift invasion, the lovely feeling, and then his face was next to hers, his big palms cradling her cheeks. 'What I want, ' he drawled, 'is ye. Nothin' else.
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There, there, sweetin', ' he murmured into her hair. 'He loved me, he truly did, ' she gasped. 'I know he did, ' Michael said. 'And I loved him.' 'Mm-hmm.' She raised her head, glaring angrily. 'You don't even believe in love. Why are you agreeing with me?' He laughed. 'Because'-he leaned down and licked at the tears on her cheeks, his lips brushing softly against her sensitive skin as he spoke, 'ye've bewitched and bespelled me, my sweet Silence, didn't ye know? I'll agree that the sky is pink, that the moon is made o' marzipan and sugared raisins, and that mermaids swim the muddy waters o' the Thames, if ye'll only stop weepin'. Me chest breaks apart and gapes wide open when I see tears in yer pretty eyes. Me lungs, me liver, and me heart cannot stand to be thus exposed.' She stopped breathing. She simply inhaled and stopped, looking at him in wonder. His lips were quirked in a mocking smile, but his eyes-his fathomless black eyes-seemed to hold a great pain as if his strong chest really had been split open.
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She swallowed, watching as the servants and Harry and Bert trooped out of the room. Lad, apparently not the brightest dog in the world, sat down next to Mickey O'Connor and leaned against his leg. Mr. O'Connor looked at the dog, looked at the damp spot growing on his breeches where the dog was leaning, and sighed. 'I find me life is not as quiet as it used to be afore ye came to me palace, Mrs. Hollingbrook.' Silence lifted her chin. 'You're a pirate, Mr. O'Connor. I cannot believe your life was ever very quiet.' He gave her an ironic look. 'Aye, amazin', isn't it? Yet since yer arrival me servants no longer obey me and I return home to find me kitchen flooded.' He crossed to a cupboard and took down a china teapot, a tin of tea, and a teacup. 'And me dog smells like a whorehouse.' Silence glanced guiltily at Lad. 'The only soap we could find was rose scented.
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Humph.' She peered down suspiciously as he parted the leaves to reveal the choke. 'That doesn't look very tasty.' 'That's because it isn't, ' he said. 'Pay heed: the artichoke is a shy vegetable. She covers herself in spine-tipped leaves that must be carefully peeled away, and underneath shields her treasure with a barricade o' soft needles. They must be tenderly, but firmly, scraped aside. Ye must be bold, for if yer not, she'll never reveal her soft heart.' He finished cutting away the thistles and placed the small, tender heart on the center of her plate. She wrinkled her nose. 'That's it? But it's so small.' 'Ah, and d'ye judge a thing solely upon size alone?' She made a choking sound.
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At her gesture Michael cursed and caught her hand, falling suddenly atop her. She stared up at him wondering what bedchamber faux pas she'd committed. He groaned at her look. 'I'll let ye pet and play all ye want-after. Now I need'-he pushed her chemise to her waist, parted her thighs, and settled between them-'to be inside ye.
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Silence rose and crossed to the connecting door and knocked. The door was opened almost at once. Michael leaned a shoulder against the doorjamb, a wicked smile playing about his sensuous lips. He was so very big this close-every time it surprised her and made her breathless. 'Well, now, and when did ye decide to start knockin' at me door?' Silence fought to keep her face from flaming as she remembered the last time she'd peeked through Michael's door. She swallowed. 'We're bored.' 'Is that so?' Michael glanced down. Silence followed his gaze and saw that Mary had crawled over to investigate. The baby grabbed a handful of her skirt and stood up. She kept one hand on Silence's skirt and popped two fingers from the other into her mouth as she stared solemnly at Michael. 'She looks a rare treat, ' Michael said softly, watching the toddler. Silence smiled down at Mary. 'She does indeed.' She glanced up and her heart squeezed at the gentle look on Michael's face. As if she understood she was the subject of conversation, Mary lifted her arms-to Michael. 'Up!' Michael arched an eyebrow. 'Mouthy little thing, ain't she?' But he bent and lifted the toddler.
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Silence cleared her throat, fearful her voice would come out a croak. 'Is she asleep?' He blinked as if he, too, were waking from a dream, and glanced down at Mary Darling. 'Aye, I'm a-thinkin' she is-she's stopped fussin' at me.' Silence felt a huge smile of relief spread over her face. 'She was fussing? Oh, how wonderful!' He shot her a look, one eyebrow arching. 'Ye've taught the child to bully me, too, now?' 'Oh, no, ' she said hastily, embarrassed. Did he really think she bullied him? What a silly notion!
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As I said, I don't expect you to understand-' 'And I don't, ' he cut in. 'Ye ask how I can live a life that I know will end with the hangman's noose. Well, at least I am alive. Ye might as well have climbed inside yer husband's coffin and let yerself be buried with his corpse.' Her hand flashed out before she'd thought about it, the smack against his cheek loud in the little courtyard. Silence had her eyes locked with Michael's, her chest rising and falling swiftly, but she was aware that Bert and Harry had looked up. Even Mary and Lad had paused in their play. Without taking his gaze from hers, Michael reached out and grasped her hand. He raised her hand to his lips and softly kissed the center of her palm. He looked at her, her hand still at his lips. 'Don't take to yer grave afore yer time, Silence, m'love.
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He sat and looked at her. 'How is Mary Darling?' 'Fast asleep after playing and having a bath, ' she said. 'The nursery is lovely.' 'I'm glad you like it.' 'Rose and Annie are obviously practiced nursemaids, and what is even better, they seem to like Mary, and she them.' He grunted. 'It would take a hard heart to turn away from my Mary Darling.' A smile curved the corners of her lips. 'You didn't seem too enamored of her when you first met.' 'She has a forceful personality, as do I. We just took a bit to get to know one another.
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He watched her retreat, his eyes lazy, and his body unmoving. A trickle of blood seeped slowly from the corner of his mouth. He let her get nearly out of the room before he spoke, 'I may not have the right, Silence, me love, ' he drawled so soft she nearly didn't catch the words. 'But I would've listened to ye. I would've believed ye.
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I must be getting back to my rooms, ' Silence said and stood. Mick frowned with displeasure. 'Why?' 'Because of Mary Darling.' He shrugged. 'One o' the maids is watchin' her.' 'But if Mary wakes she'll want me.' 'Why?' he asked again, biting into a sweetmeat. This discussion wasn't to his fancy, but sparring with her was. 'Because, ' she said slowly, looking at him as if he were lack-witted, 'she's only a baby and she loves me.' 'Babies, ' Mick pronounced, 'are a great trouble.' She shook her head, not bothering to reply this time, and started marching to the door.
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I'll never look at you in any way but complete admiration.' He stroked her hair soothingly. 'You will never be a millstone about my neck. Rather you're the sunshine that brightens my day.' He swallowed. 'Don't you see? You brought me into the daylight. You've embraced parts of me that I was never able to let see light. Don't make me retreat again into the night. (Winter Makepeace)
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She smiled as she poured tea into his cup. 'I hope you find your rooms comfortable?' 'Quite.' He took a too-hasty sip of tea and scalded his tongue. 'The view is to your liking?' He had a view of a brick wall. 'Indeed.' She fluttered her eyelashes at him over the rim of her teacup. 'And the bed. Is it soft and... yielding?' He nearly choked on the bite of cake he'd just taken. 'Or do you prefer a firmer bed?' she asked sweetly. 'One that refuses to yield too soon?' 'I think'-he narrowed his eyes at her-'whatever mattress I have on the bed you gave me is perfect. But tell me, my lady, what sort of mattress do you prefer? All soft goose down or one that's a bit... harder?' It was very fast, but he saw it: Her gaze flashed down to the juncture of his thighs and then up again. If there hadn't been anything to see there before, there certainly was now. 'Oh, I like a nice stiff mattress, ' she purred. 'Well warmed and ready for a long ride.
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It hardly mattered. She was tired of waiting for him to acknowledge who he was. Tired of donning a false mask of gaiety when she was so much more-felt so much more-beneath. No one had ever noticed her mask. No one but him. If he couldn't or wouldn't make the first move, then damn it, she would.
Shhh.' He put a finger to her lips. 'Hear me out. I cannot deny that I would've liked to have made babies with you. A little girl with your hair and eyes would've been the delight of my life. But it is you that I want primarily, not mythical children. I can survive the loss of something I've never had. I cannot survive losing you. (Winter Makepeace)
He shoved his hips against her, reminding her of what they had just done, and said, 'I had never bedded a woman before you. I made that plain. Did you think I let you seduce me lightly? No, I did not. You made a deal with me the moment you gave me entry into your body.' 'I made no such deal!' Her eyes were angry-and frightened-but he would not let her make him back down. 'Precious Isabel, ' he whispered. 'You made a deal with your heart, your soul, and your body, and you sealed it with the wash of your climax on my cck.' She blinked, looking dazed. He'd never used such words before, especially not with her, but their bluntness was necessary.
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But you must be awash in a sea of compliments, my lady. Every gentleman you meet must voice his admiration, his wish to make love to you. And those are only the ones who may voice such thoughts. All about you are men who cannot speak their admiration, who must remain mute from lack of social standing or fear of offending you. Only their thoughts light the air about you, following you like a trail of perfume, heady but invisible. (Winter Makepeace)
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She threw one leg over his and straddled his lap, then reached under herself and found him again. He tore his mouth from hers. 'Wait.' 'No.' She looked him frankly in the eyes. 'I don't care if you spill at once. I need you inside me now.' His beautiful eyes widened and then narrowed. 'You'll not always hold the reins, my lady.' She smiled sweetly. 'Naturally not, but I do now.
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There was no sound, but she felt a movement, a shifting of the air in her room, the warmth of another presence. Isabel opened her eyes. He was there, at the foot of her bed, a single candle in his hand, dressed only in shirtsleeves, waistcoat, and breeches. 'Forgive me, ' he whispered as he set the candle down. 'I could not stay away.
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Griffin, please, ' she whispered. 'Do you want me?' he asked. 'Yes!' She tossed her head restlessly. She'd explode if he didn't give her release soon. 'Do you need me?' He kissed her nipple too gently. 'Please, please, please.' 'Do you love me?' And somehow, despite her extremis, she saw the gaping hole of the trap. She peered up at him blindly in the dark. She couldn't see his face, his expression. 'Griffin, ' she sighed hopelessly. 'You can't say it, can you?' he whispered. 'Can't admit it either.
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But Sir Alistair's gaze was different. Those other men had looked at her with lust or speculation or crass curiosity, but they hadn't been looking at her really. They'd been looking at what she represented to them: physical love or a valuable prize or an object to be gawked at. When Sir Alistair stared at her, well, he was looking at her.
The lengths to which you're prepared to go to please a housekeeper make me wonder about the servant situation in Scotland. Good help must be thin on the ground.' Vale widened his eyes and took a drink. 'She's more to me than a housekeeper, ' Alistair growled. 'Wonderful!' Vale slapped him on the back. 'And about time, too. I was beginning to worry that all your important bits might've atrophied and fallen off from disuse.' He felt unaccustomed heat climb his throat. 'Vale...
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When you've tired of me, ' she said softly, precisely, 'Apollo will still be my brother. Will still be there for me.' 'I'll never tire of you, ' he said, knowing with every thread of his soul that he spoke the absolute truth. 'Then prove it.' He knew what she asked with such an open and vulnerable face. Something within him shriveled and died... he'd been on the rack too long for a penance he wasn't sure he could ever entirely pay. 'You know... ' His voice was hoarse, the croaking of a dying man. He licked his lips. 'You know why I cannot.
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Rebecca held her head high and swanned across the hallway, but as she neared the footman, she could see quite plainly that his gaze was not where it should be. She stopped dead and slapped her hands over her bosom. "Its too low, isn't it? I knew I shouldn't have listened to that maid. She might not mind her boobies hanging out for all to see, but i just can't-" Her brain suddenly caught up with her mouth. She removed her hands from her bosom and slapped them over her awful, awful, awful mouth.
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Lucy swayed in shock. A gust of wind moaned through the conservatory and blew out all but one of her candles. Simon must have done this. He'd destroyed his fairyland conservatory. Why? She sank to her knees, huddled on the cold floor, her one remaining flame cradled in her numb palms. She'd seen how tenderly Simon had cared for his plants. Remembered the look of pride when she'd first discovered the dome and fountain. For him to have smashed all this . . . He must have lost hope. All hope.
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He grunted and stirred, withdrawing from her. She only had a moment to be disappointed and then he flipped her to her back and rose over her, powerful and male. He casually parted her legs with his knees and thrust into her again, hot and hard. She gasped at the swift invasion, the lovely feeling, and then his face was next to hers, his big palms cradling her cheeks. "What I want," he drawled, "is ye. Nothin' else.
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Griffin, please," she whispered. "Do you want me?" he asked. "Yes!" She tossed her head restlessly. She'd explode if he didn't give her release soon. "Do you need me?" He kissed her nipple too gently. "Please, please, please." "Do you love me?" And somehow, despite her extremis, she saw the gaping hole of the trap. She peered up at him blindly in the dark. She couldn't see his face, his expression. "Griffin," she sighed hopelessly. "You can't say it, can you?" he whispered. "Can't admit it either.
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A smile flickered across Coral's face. "Have you ever noticed that once you have had a taste of certain sweets""raspberry trifle is my own despair""it is quite impossible not to think, not to want, not to crave until you have taken another bite?" "Lord Swartingham is not a raspberry trifle." "No, more of a dark chocolate mousse, I should think," Coral murmured. "And," Anna continued as if she hadn't heard the interruption, "I don't need another bite, uh,night of him.
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I'll never look at you in any way but complete admiration." He stroked her hair soothingly. "You will never be a millstone about my neck. Rather you're the sunshine that brightens my day." He swallowed. "Don't you see? You brought me into the daylight. You've embraced parts of me that I was never able to let see light. Don't make me retreat again into the night. (Winter Makepeace)
I pretty much started out writing full time. I was an at-home mom and when my youngest entered kindergarten, I started writing. I was 35, and before that I really hadn't written at all. Which means, I guess, that a) it's never too late to start a writing career (or any career you really want) and b) it's OK to get to your mid-30s and still not know what you want to be when you grow up.
Now, now," said Vale in a sickeningly sweet voice reminiscent of a nursery nanny. "I already gave him a drubbing for courting Emmie."Reynaud raised his eyebrows. "You did?""He did not," Hartley said even as Vale nodded happily. "I threw him down the stairs."Vale pursed his lips and looked skyward. "Not my recollection, but I can see how your memory of the event may've become hazy.
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