Love's Misadventure (The Mason Siblings Series Book 1) (25 page)

?” Lane’s eyebrow quirked upward.

He cursed the jealousy that burned in his gut and tried to ignore it. Anna’s calling another man by his Christian name should not bother him this much.

She waved away his question. “I do not see how it is such wonderful news, Lane.”

“How could you not?” Lane clasped her hand in his. “This is our baby, Anna! Our baby that is growing inside you at this very moment.” He placed his other hand on her abdomen then kissed her again.

“While that is true, I am still promised to Anthony.”

Lane straightened, determinedly suppressing the cutting insult to
’s name. “Break the engagement. Marry me.”

Her eyes welled with sadness, and, he thought, fear. “I cannot.”

Something was not right. Her despondent gaze revealed her true feelings; she could not hide them from him any longer. “Why?” he pressed. “What is he holding over you?”

Her face crumpled, her tears spilling over her lashes as she shook her head. Her intoxicating blue eyes were so pained, Lane’s chest ached with sorrow for her. But he had to know the truth. “Was it he who abused you, Anna? Was it Lord Boxton?”


* * *


Anna’s tears fell without abatement, leaving hot paths burning down her cheeks.
You cannot tell him, Anna! Think of what Anthony will do to your family if you reveal it!

She sobbed helplessly as Lane pulled her into his arms. She wanted desperately to tell him. She wanted help to find a way out of her predicament.

“Please, Anna. It is clear to me that you are unhappy with your engagement to Lord Boxton. Is he holding something against you?” She hiccoughed, and he squeezed her tighter. “I only wish to help you.”

Her resolve dwindled almost instantly. She would prove completely useless as a spy, like the one in the novel she had most recently been reading.

His concerned, chocolate-brown gaze and dishevelled countenance were too much. She moaned as more tears streamed from her eyes. “I do not wish for you to be hurt!”

Lane’s mien sharpened, and he straightened; he had the look of a hound scenting a fox. He pulled back to grip her shoulders in his gentle hold. “Has he made threats? Is that what he holds against you?”

Anna could not hold it in any longer. The burden was too great to bear. She nodded, then wiped at her cheeks and eyes with Lane’s kerchief. “Yes,” she confessed. “It was Anthony, and yes, he is blackmailing me.” She sighed. “I have thought for so long on the matter, and I have yet to find a solution that does not end in my marrying Anthony, my loved ones’ deaths, or my neck in a noose.”

Lane heaved a sigh of obvious relief and stiff fury. “How did he make the threats, Anna? What were they, specifically?”

She toyed with the handkerchief in her hands. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. “The morning that I had requested a rendezvous in the cherry blossom orchard, Anthony came to see me. He stated that he had made inquiries as to my whereabouts in my absence from London. He…called me some decidedly distasteful names, then threatened my reputation.”

“Which you did not fall prey to,” Lane stated confidently. “You would never allow the threat of ruination stop you from doing as you pleased, particularly when you knew that I had already proposed marriage.”

She nodded slowly, careful not to make herself dizzy once more. “You are correct. I informed him that nothing he said or did would induce me to marry him.” Lane’s form wavered before her as her eyes once more blurred with the threat of tears. “Which is when he struck at my heart.”

He noticeably swallowed. “Your heart?”

She nodded again. “He withdrew a pistol, waved it about, and informed me that if I did not agree to marry him, he would kill my family…and you
” One tear slid down her cheek, and she brushed it away. “Since then, he has taken great pleasure in proving the power he could have over me.”

Lane’s jaw tightened, and his gaze hardened.

“I asked him why,” she continued, “but he would not give me a reason other than the fact that he

Lane shook his head. “Monstrous men such as Lord Boxton often have no reason other than desire. A desire to possess, conquer, or control.”

Anna felt the weight that had settled upon her chest lighten with the relief of confessing her troubles to Lane. She had missed him more than words could express.

“Anna.” He held her hands in his. “I promise you that I will do everything in my power to help you, while simultaneously ensuring the safety of your family.”

Anna could not find the words to properly express her gratitude. Instead, she flung her arms around his shoulders and squeezed him tightly. “Thank you.”

Goodness, but he smelled delightful. Like warm spring air, soap mixed with horseflesh, and the lingering scent of his favourite cigars. She buried her face in the crook of his neck, her tears drying as fresh arousal took its place.

It had been so long since she had experienced his fevered touch, so long since she had received anything but pain from a man not in her family. She wanted Lane to touch her. She wanted him to be inside her, to make her feel something other than dread, sadness, and agony.

She trailed her lips up his neck to the sensitive area behind his ear. The deep rumble of Lane’s groan vibrated against her chest.

Lane withdrew and stood, putting his noticeable erection at her eye level. Anna smiled and rose to meet him.

“Anna,” he choked out. “I am not certain… I am… I do not know if this… Oh,
.” He crushed his lips to hers, wrapping his arms tightly around her.

In the interest of haste, Anna reached between them and set to unbuttoning Lane’s bulging trousers. Her late-night imaginings of this moment paled in comparison to the sheer
pumping molten heat through her.

Lane walked her backward until she had her back pressed against the wall. As Lane’s falls opened and his throbbing manhood lay in her palm, Anna realized that he had been working on the ties of her gown, which now hung off her shoulders and below her thinly clad breasts. Lane reached for the ties of her chemise, his mouth hot on hers as she smoothed her hand around his shaft.

He pulled the neckline of her chemise below her breasts and bent to cover one with his mouth.

A moan slipped from between her lips before she could hold it back. He suckled and licked, then tugged her nipple in a bite, sending a bolt of need through her.

Frustrated with Lane’s breeches hampering her access to him, Anna shoved them down his legs. With one hand wrapped around his rigid length, she explored his sac with the other.

Lane groaned, the sound coming from deep within his chest. “Hell and blazes, Anna,” he choked.

Before she could ask if she’d hurt him, he bent to grasp the hem of her skirts and lifted them, exposing her drawers.

He pressed her harder against the wall. “Wrap your legs around me,” he grunted as he lifted her off the ground. He groaned his approval. “Link your ankles about my back.” Lane reached between them to open the slit in her drawers. “My God, you’re wet for me… You drive me to distraction,” he breathed. “I cannot resist you.”

He impaled her with his pulsing manhood.

!” she moaned breathily. “Lane… You have…no idea how
that feels.”

Sweat beaded on his brow. “I do, sweetheart,” he ground out. “I do.”

Anna wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips to his, slipping her tongue inside to play with his in an arousing, jousting imitation of the intimate act they now performed.

Lane growled deep in his throat as he pumped his hips. One hand drifted up the side of her body to cup her breast, while his other gripped her bottom, moving her in sync with his thrusts.

Her pinnacle approached suddenly, the passion of the moment taking hold of her. “Oh, Lane!” It wound tighter and tighter until it exploded in a swirling dance of colour behind her eyelids. “I love you!” she burst out, unable to halt the impassioned words at the height of orgasm.

Lane’s lips curled back in an erotic grimace. He held her tighter as he pumped frantically. “I love you…too!” He abruptly stilled, his face flushed and his member pulsing within her as he spilled his seed.

For a moment, they remained where they were; their damp foreheads pressed together, one of Lane’s hands palming Anna’s breast, his other grasping her bottom, while Anna clung to him, wishing never to let him go.




Chapter 30



Charles sat in his tall, wingback chair, his hands fisted on the knobbed armrests as he seethed with rage.

Thomson exchanged an apprehensive glance with Brown, both of whom had come bearing unhappy news. Charles did not know which to address first. Either of the evils would do, he supposed.

His gaze flicked up at Thomson. “You say that they were last seen outside of Dover, but their trail has run cold?”

“Yes, sir.”

Charles tapped the armrest with his index finger as he thought. “Alert the inns on the roads back. Have them alert us if they catch sight of them. I
have those bastards found.” He sent Thomson a curt nod. “Thank you, sir.”

He hated making the men feel awkward in his presence. He was not their superior, after all, but an equal.

Thomson nodded and sped from the room as Charles turned his gaze on Brown.

His insides twisted. “It isn’t true… Tell me, Brown, that it isn’t true,” he implored.

Brown’s young face distorted with regret. “I am afraid so, sir. The madam at Madam Bordeau’s flash house confirmed it. He picks th’ young women and h—hurts them.” He wrung his hat in his hands as anger reddened his face. “Beats them to within an inch of their life, but the magistrate don’t care on account o’ them being whores.”

Charles’ blood roared through his veins. “And the

“True, as far as I can tell. They always rendezvous in public places. Don’t rightly know why.”

“I have my suspicions,” Charles rumbled with disgust. “Thank you, Brown.”

“Of course, sir.” The young man bent in a short bow and fled the room.

He needed to speak with Anna. He’d given Lane enough time to attempt to glean information from her, but now he had information of his own. He supposed he could give them another moment…

Charles tapped the armrest of his chair, his mind whirling with possibilities.


Regretfully, Lane withdrew from Anna’s sweet haven and lowered her feet to the ground. “Blazes, Anna. You are amazing.”

He pulled his riding breeches up his legs and tucked his shirt into them, doing up the buttons of his falls.

A beaming smile lit her flushed face as she righted her skirt and covered her glorious breasts. “Thank you,” she said breathlessly. “You are rather magnificent, yourself.”

Pride rushed through him, and he returned her smile with a toothy one of his own. “Shall I fasten your laces?”

She nodded and turned her back to him. Though his fingers still shook with the aftereffects of their lovemaking, he managed to fasten her sky-blue day dress. Her alluring scent wafted to him, and he gave in to temptation and pressed his nose to the back of her neck.

“Mmm,” he moaned, scattering kisses up her spine. “I adore the way you smell.” He inhaled deeply. “Lemons.”

Gooseflesh bumped her skin and with a light laugh she turned to face him. “I bathe with lemon water. It is my favourite.”

“It has driven me mad for years.” He gave her a quick kiss.

She tilted her head, her gaze searching. “Has it truly?” she asked uncertainly.

Lane’s heart flipped over. “I must ask you something, Anna.”

Before she could respond, he led her to the settee and gestured for her to sit. He lowered himself beside her as Anna fruitlessly attempted to repair her fallen coiffure.

Lane felt abruptly nervous. He took a deep, quavering breath and held it. “Did you mean it?”

Without breaking his gaze, she nodded, swallowing. “Yes. I know that you may not—”

Lane let out his breath in a relieved
. “I do,” he blurted, clasping her hands in his. “I have loved you for many years, Anna.”

Her eyes widened. “You have?”

He dipped his head. “I was not aware of it until recently, but yes, I have loved you since we were very young. My marriage proposal to you, those many weeks ago, was out of love, not merely a desire to preserve your reputation.” He shook his head in self-derision. “I should have told you. It was my curst fear that you did not return my affections that stopped me.”

“Oh, Lane.” She smiled warmly at him. “I would never have given myself to you had I not loved you.” She lowered her gaze to their clasped hands. “I, however, know how men are with their affections; young men being what they are—”

“Not I.” Lane cursed himself for his quick tongue and juvenile blush.

Anna’s brows drew together in a frown. “Pardon? Surely you have had relations with women before.”

Lane’s damnable blush deepened. Blazes, he had not blushed since he was in short pants. He cleared his throat. “I have attempted the act of lovemaking on
occasions. But never have I once been able to complete the act.” His hands tightened on hers. “Not until you. You changed my life, Anna.”

A slow smile grew on her lush lips.

Despite the embarrassment riding him, Lane felt compelled to return her smile. He fingered the lump in his waistcoat pocket.
This is the moment

“What do you suppose we should do about Lord Boxton?” Anna chewed on her bottom lip, interrupting Lane’s thoughts.

Disappointment wound through him at the loss of the moment, but he pushed past it. He would find another.

“I have a thought,” he said, “but I am not yet certain that it would work. I think our best course of action would be to speak with Charles on the matter, that is, if you are willing to reveal the truth about Lord Boxton.”

She nodded her head. “I believe that I am.”

As though only just now noticing the tea service, Anna reached over and selected a sandwich, taking a bite.

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