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The Governess Game Tessa Dare 2022/8/3 13:55:24

With a huff, he crossed to the bar, grabbed the wine bottle, and plunked it down solidly among the “for” arguments. “It would not be bad.”

“Or maybe . . .” She reached out and nudged the bottle back toward the negative side. “Maybe you don’t want me. I know you could have your choice of lovers.”

“Bloody hell.” His hand closed over hers in an iron grip, keeping the bottle in place. “You know that’s not the source of my hesitation. I haven’t wanted any woman with the fierceness I’ve been wanting you. Not in . . .”

She clung to the end of that sentence by her fingernails. Not in what?

Not in weeks? Not in months? Not in years, decades . . . a lifetime?

Instead of finishing the thought, he left her hanging. Impossible man.

He released her and ambled to the other side of the room. “Alex, lovemaking is something you should explore with a husband. Or at least with someone you love.”

“But you’re not married. You’re not in love.”

“No, and I don’t intend to be.”

“Then why are liaisons acceptable for you, but not for me? It can’t be because I’m a woman. You take women as lovers all the time.”

“Not inexperienced women.”

Inexperienced? Now that was too much. She’d endured more in her lifetime than he could possibly imagine.

“You don’t know what I’ve experienced in my life. Just because I’m a virgin, that doesn’t mean I haven’t lived. I’ve earned the right to make my own choices, thank you.”

He rubbed his face with his hand.

Alex went to him. “I know there’ll be no promises,” she whispered. “I don’t expect them.”

“You should expect them.” His arm tightened around her waist, and his intent gaze swept her face before settling on her lips. “You deserve them. I’ve been shameless, letting you squander your first tastes of passion on me. Someday you’ll meet a man who has it within him to promise you the world. And the moon and stars and a few comets, too.”

Curious that he should mention comets. At the moment, her heart threatened to burst from her chest and blaze a flaming arc across the sky.

“Well . . .” She made a show of looking about the room, craning her neck to search the corners. “Unless you see that man standing about, I’m content to be with you.”

Undeterred, she swept a touch along his cheek, treasuring the dark growth of whiskers there. Then, turning her hand over, she laid the backs of her fingers to his neck. In her best attempt at playing the seductress, she traced them downward in one long, sinuous, unbroken caress, past his Adam’s apple and down through the notch carved at the base of his throat.

By the time her fingers reached his breastbone, she’d reached the end of her bravado, too.

His heart pounded fiercely beneath her touch. Breath rose and fell in his chest. The rest of him remained so quiet and still, Alex’s insides began to quiver with doubt.

Please, she silently begged. Take the reins. Make the next step. Don’t force me to crawl farther out on this limb.

After an eternity, it seemed her choices were to act or spend the rest of her life staring numbly at the dark, flat circle of his nipple.

She summoned the last of her courage and lifted her head. “Cha—”

His mouth fell on hers before she could even complete the syllable. As his hand fisted in her hair and drew her into the kiss, sweet relief melted through her bones.

Breaking away, he loomed over her, filling her vision with his raw, masculine presence. She couldn’t see anything else at all.

When he spoke, his voice was so perilously deep it needed a fence and a warning signpost. “If it’s a lesson in pleasure you truly want . . .”

“Then it’s a lesson you’ll get.”

Oh, thank heaven that worked.

In a single, fluid motion, Alex found herself swept off her feet and deposited on the bed. He laid her down on her back, and then he joined her, stretching out on his side and propping himself on one elbow.

“As I told you, there are a great many ways.” He nuzzled her neck and ran his fingertips from her wrist to her elbow. “Perhaps you’ve discovered one or two of the ways yourself. In bed, in the dark, with your hands beneath your shift. Or in that orange-flower-scented bath, with no shift at all. Exploring all your body’s secrets, learning where the pleasure gathers and how it breaks.”

She nodded, dizzy with sensations.

“It’s different,” he murmured, “when the touch belongs to another. Anticipation lays a fuse through your veins. The slightest caress is a spark.”

Good Lord. That was one lesson Alex didn’t need. He’d scarcely touched her, and she was ready to explode.

His hand settled on her belly. “If you wish me to stop at any time, you’ve only to say it. Do you understand?”