The Duke's Perfect Wife


Page 31


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Foolish, foolish Eleanor. She'd never had power over Hart, and that very day, he'd proved it.
He was proving it again. He kissed down to her décolletage, his breath heating her bare skin, his hair like rough silk. She found her unbound hand coming up to stroke his hair-she hadn't told it to do that.
He would unmake her. Again.
Hart, no. Let me go.
The words wouldn't come. Hart kissed her throat, lips lingering, searing like a brand. She was hot from dancing, cold from their brief moment on the terrace, and burning inside.
Hart's body fitted against hers. Hart Mackenzie, again in her arms, where he belonged.
He raised his head, his golden eyes dark. "I've missed you, El."
I've missed you. I've missed you so much it's breaking my heart.
Hart kissed her again, and Eleanor knew she'd surrender. Tonight, she'd let him have her, never mind the cost. It frightened her how easily she was going to succumb.
The glove wrapped around their wrists made her shiver. More so when Hart lifted her bound hand and pressed a kiss to the inside of her wrist.
He followed that with a lick and then a gentle bite. He nipped her again, then he raised his head. "El, I want…"
"I know."
"No, you don't. You can't." He shook his head. "You are innocence itself, and I am evil incarnate."
She smiled, her heart beating faster. "You are a bit devilish, I admit."
"You have no idea what a man like me wants."
"I have some idea. I remember the summerhouse. And your bedroom upstairs, and at Kilmorgan." Three times she'd been Hart Mackenzie's lover; three times in her life she thought she'd die of happiness.
"That was innocent. I was holding myself back, because I didn't want to hurt you."
Hart was holding himself back now. Eleanor saw something desperate in his eyes that she didn't understand. She longed to reach it but couldn't.
"I tell myself that you're precious and breakable," he said. "But you have a fire in you I want to touch. I want to show you my evil games and bring that fire to life, to teach you what that fire can be."
"That does not sound like so bad a thing."
"It could be, El. I can be very bad."
"I'm not afraid," she said, still smiling.
Hart's laugh was laced with heat. "That is because you don't truly know me."
"I know more than you think."
"You tempt me every time you look at me. You with that fan." Hart picked it up from the laundry table and threw it across the room.
Eleanor put her hand out in protest. "Good heavens, Hart, if you've broken that… Fans are expensive."
"I'll buy you a new one. I'll buy you a cart full, if you promise me never to use it like you did tonight-telling me and every man in the room that you wanted to be kissed."
Her eyes widened. "I did no such thing."
"You kept tapping the confounded thing to your lips and looking coy over it."
"I did not."
"It made me want to take you, right there in the ballroom. I want to take you now. I want you bare on this table, and I want…"
He checked his words, and Eleanor's pulse raced. "You want what?"
Hart looked at her with eyes that were molten. "I want everything. To be your lover in all ways. I want to come to your bedroom every night and teach you things that will shock you. Best lock your door, El, because I don't know how long I can stay away."
His smile held sin, the man she'd known before finally shining out. But he was right; even all those years ago, Hart had held himself back. Eleanor had sometimes caught a glimpse of intense hunger when he looked at her, which he'd quickly mask.
"I told you, I'm not afraid," she said. "I'm not a virginal young lady, needing shelter and protection. After all, I'm the one who told Ainsley she should run away with Cameron."
"Did you, minx?"
"She came to me for advice, since I had experience with a Mackenzie."
Hart smoothed Eleanor's hair, his touch becoming tender. "I want you. It's what I've wanted every day since I met you. It's always been you. And that's why you need to get off this table and get away from me. Now."
"But…"
Hart dragged her up to him for another kiss that forced her mouth to open to his. His teeth scraped her lips, but her body rose to his, and her mouth responded, tangling and stroking with his.
He released her suddenly, and she fell back onto the soft laundry, breathless, her lip throbbing where he'd bruised it.
He made her feel loosened, freed. She drew her hand down his arm, thrilling to feel the muscles like steel beneath his coat.
Hart leaned to whisper into her ear. "You need to stay far away from me, Eleanor Ramsay. You say you don't need protection, but that is exactly what you do need. From me."
He kissed her again, a hard kiss, demanding. All at once, she felt him free her wrist, the glove sliding away to land on her chest. Hart kissed her lips one more time as he lifted himself away from her and got to his feet.
Eleanor sat up, clutching the glove, trying to catch her breath. Hart ran his hand through her curls, then bent down for one more kiss.
Hunger blazed in his eyes, one so fierce Eleanor knew she should be frightened, but she wasn't. Hart wanted her, even after all these years, and that made her warm and excited.

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