Authors: Alexandra Ivy
As if sensing she was willing, even eager, to know more of the paradise he offered, Ian slid a slender finger into her damp heat.
She gasped, her eyes fluttering shut at the gentle invasion. With a slow thrust he pressed his finger deeper, using his tongue to suckle that pleasure point over and over.
Tension spiraled within her, clenching her stomach and halting her heart as his tongue stroked her with the same relentless pace that his finger slid in and out of her.
There was something approaching. A crucial, elusive goal that trembled just out of reach.
“Ian,” she moaned, her body bowed and her teeth clenched.
“Shh, my sweet,” he murmured, seeming to comprehend what she was pleading for as the swirl of his tongue quickened with a gentle insistence.
Lost in sensation, Mercy shoved her fingers in Ian's hair, riding on the crest between pleasure and pain. Oh . . . yes. This was what she was striving for. This breathless moment out of time.
The very world halted. Then, with a last, lingering stroke of his tongue, she was catapulted through a shower of brilliant stars, a soft cry of pure bliss wrenched from her throat.
Glorious heaven above.
That was . . . brilliant.
Ian possessed enough scruples to realize that he should feel guilty as he scooped the trembling Mercy in his arms and carried her to the bed. Not only had he intruded into her room while his mind was clouded with whiskey, but it had been with the clear intention of easing at least a portion of his smoldering frustration.
His evening at the pub had not gone at all like he had hoped. Not only had the whiskey done nothing more than fog his wits, but the women had left him as cold as an Artic winter.
He had returned to Rosehill with one thought.
To hold Mercy in his arms as she experienced her first orgasm.
Oh yes, he should be wracked with guilt.
Unfortunately his scruples were no match for his smug satisfaction as he tucked her beneath the covers and studied her dazed expression.
She looked precisely as a woman well-satisfied should look, and he took full pride in knowing that he had been the one to provide that satisfaction.
It was almost worth the raging pain in his cock.
Settling on the mattress, Ian reached out to gently push a stray curl from her cheek.
“Are you well?”
“Better than well.” She heaved a dreamy sigh. “I feel as if I am floating.”
His erection gave a sharp jerk. In this moment he would give his entire legacy of twenty thousand pounds to crawl beneath that cover and join her. Not a small sacrifice considering he was a gentleman who had always been forced to count his shillings.
“You are so exquisite,” he said, his voice husky as an unfamiliar tightness squeezed the air from his lungs.
With a content smile, Mercy pushed herself higher on the pillows, the blanket lowering to reveal the upper curves of her breasts. Ian gritted his teeth, resisting the urge to howl in frustrated need.
“I did not realize that . . .”
With an effort, Ian forced himself to concentrate on her soft, hesitant words.
“That a gentleman could do such things to a woman.”
He wanted to tell her that there were a dozenâno, a hundredâdifferent things he could do to her. Instead, he gave a faint shrug.
“Yes, well, I doubt a vicar would share such knowledge with his daughter.”
She snorted in disgust. “My father refuses to share
knowledge with his daughter. It is very frustrating.”
He moaned in genuine pain. “Please, Mercy, if you have any pity at all, you will not mention the word frustrating.”
“Why . . . ?” Her cheeks reddened with comprehension. “Oh. You did not . . .”
“No, I did not,” he wryly agreed.
She worried her bottom lip as she regarded him with her dark, unnervingly steady gaze. Then, as if coming to a decision, she took a deep breath.
“Is there something that I can do to help?”
Ian flinched, his entire body clenching with a flare of raw, savage heat.
The thought of her delicate hands on his cock, gently squeezing and pumping him to release . . . Christ, it was enough to make him come without a single touch.
“You really are going to be the death of me,” he groaned.
“Ian, I want to help.” Her brow pleated, her tone earnest. “I want to learn how to please you as you pleased me. Surely there is nothing wrong in that?”
Ian abruptly realized that the fires of hell were not solely the domain of Beelzebub. They could also be conjured by a dewy-eyed wood sprite with the smile of an angel.
He trembled as he battled back the tidal wave of sheer, undiluted lust.
“There is everything wrong.”
“Because young ladies do notâ”
Without warning, Mercy was on her knees before him, astonishingly indifferent to the fact that the blanket had dropped down to reveal her bare body.
“Stop that,” she commanded, her fingers pressing to his lips. “You sound like my parents, and I will not tolerate it from you.”
Ian was caught between amusement at being chided as if he were a schoolboy and the searing desire that was threatening to consume him.
“No.” Placing her hands on his shoulders, Mercy slowly leaned forward to place her lips against his. “Tell me what to do.”
Later he would blame his lack of willpower on the whiskey he had consumed and the lateness of the hour. After all, a renowned rake could not admit to being completely undone by a fragile virgin with no more than an awkward kiss.
“God . . .” Shaking with the anguished need to have her closer, Ian wrenched his shirt over his head and tossed it onto the floor. Then, grasping her hands, he pressed them to his chest. “Touch me. Just touch me.”
With tentative strokes she explored the taut muscles of his chest, her expression oddly enthralled, as if she were fascinated by the feel of his skin.
“Like this?” she demanded, taking a moment to toy with the hard pebbles of his nipples.
“Oh . . . yes,” he groaned, knowing that he had never experienced anything quite so amazing as her hands on his body. “Perfect. So perfect.”
He forgot to breathe as her exploration headed ever lower, the muscles of his stomach contracting with anticipation. The devil save him. Just a few more inches.
As if deliberately hoping to put him in an early grave, Mercy paused a wrenching moment at the waistband of his pants. Ian groaned, far past the point of being capable of denying the frantic desire clawing through him.
With a swift motion he was on the bed, matching her kneeling stance to be poised directly in front of her. Then, fumbling with the buttons, he managed to release the aching length of his erection.
There was another hesitation, and Ian braced himself for Mercy's shock. Why hadn't he considered her sensibilities? It had to be disturbing to be suddenly confronted by a fully aroused male.
For the first time in his life, Ian found himself uncertain in bed with a woman. Even as an untried youth he seemed to possess an instinctive knowledge of how best to please a woman. Now he hesitated, not knowing whether to cover himself or . . .
The choice was taken out of his hands. Or rather, the choice was taken into her hands.
Reaching out with a mysterious smile, Mercy allowed her fingers to skim down the length of his throbbing cock. Her touch was a mere whisper, but Ian had to swallow a shout of pleasure.
How perfectly ironic.
He had bedded some of the most skilled courtesans in all of London, but he threatened to be unmanned by the untutored touch of a wood sprite.
Her smile widened with a wicked knowledge of her own power, and, curling her fingers around his length, she set about discovering the best means of making him groan in blissful agony.
With a Herculean effort he allowed her the opportunity to explore to her heart's content, his manful pride refusing to acknowledge that he was incapable of controlling his own body.
The effort, however, was no match for the building pressure.
His entire body was stiff with a sharp, ruthless pleasure that was like fire in his loins. The beckoning climax was close. Too close.
Tossing pride by the wayside, he muttered a curse and grasped her hand, curling her fingers tightly around his shaft. He leaned forward to capture her lips as he pumped himself to a frenzied climax.
The world exploded, and for a breathless second Ian simply savored the taste of her satin lips and the heart-stopping sensation of her fingers stroking him to paradise.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ian knew with a chilling certainty that he would never, ever forget this exquisite moment in time. That the taste and scent and feel of this woman would be forever branded in his mind.
But for now he merely allowed himself to enjoy the shudders of delight that quaked through his body.
Barely aware of his actions, Ian stretched out on the mattress and urged Mercy down beside him. Then, with a tug of the blanket, he had them cocooned in welcome warmth.
No doubt he should have gathered a wet towel and washed the evidence of his climax from her tender skin, but he found himself unable to resist the need to hold her tightly in his arms as his lips brushed over her soft curls. Soon enough he would be forced to return to his cold bed. For now he merely desired to relish the strange peace that flooded through him.
A peace that was as unfamiliar as it was unexpected.
Snuggled against his side with her head tucked in the hollow of his shoulder, Mercy at last tilted her face upward to meet his slumberous gaze.
“Yes, sweet Mercy?” he murmured, breathing deeply of her vanilla scent.
“Did I do something wrong?”
He jerked in genuine surprise. “God almighty, you could not have done it more right. Why would you ask such a ridiculous question?”
“You are very quiet.”
“Ah.” A slow smile curved his lips. “I was pondering a most astonishing discovery that I have made.”
Her fingers absently trailed over his chest, her touch stirring the usual sparks as well as a most unusual contentment. As a rule he did not like having women stroke and cling to him after sex. It made him feel . . . trapped.
Mercy's touch, however, made him tug her even closer.
“And what discovery is that?” she demanded.
“I have always wondered if wood sprites possessed magic, and now I know. They are quite capable of bewitchment.”
She gave a disbelieving click of her tongue. “Obviously you are still bosky.”
“No.” His finger slipped beneath her chin, his gaze holding hers captive. “I do not claim to comprehend what spell you have cast over me, but it is most certainly a potent one.” He grimaced at the memory of his hand holding her fingers as she stroked him to orgasm. “So potent I cannot even regret that I have tutored a young, innocent virgin in pleasuring a man. No doubt the fact has lowered me yet another rung on my ladder to hell.”
Her eyes darkened as she lifted her head to glare at him in annoyance. “And what is to be my punishment?”
“What do you mean?” Ian cautiously demanded. He knew he had blundered; he just didn't know how the blazes it had happened.
“If you are to burn in hell for conceding to my demands, then I can only wonder what purgatory is awaiting me.”
He gave a shake of his head. Her father had done enough to manipulate this poor woman with a sense of guilt. He would not add to her burden.
“You are an innocent. There can be no blame for yourâ”
“I think I can decide where to place the blame, Mr. Breckford,” she interrupted.
He lifted his brow. “Can you, Miss Simpson?”
“Yes, I can, and I choose to accept full responsibility for what has occurred.”
His lips twitched. Good God, she was magnificent. A true original.
“I . . . see.”
“Do not be patronizing,” she snapped. “There has never been anything in my life that is entirely mine. I have been told what to think, how to behave, how to employ my every waking moment. I have even been told what my future will hold.” She deliberately paused. “At least give me this.”
Ian was momentarily caught off guard by her vehemence. It seemed ridiculous that she would be so determined to take blame for being seduced by a practiced rake. She was, after all, a complete innocent. Or rather she
been a complete innocent.
Then, as he gazed deep into those dark, severe eyes, he realized that she was quite sincere.
She needed to feel as if she were in command.
That he could understand. Having been born a bastard meant that his life had too often been filled with uncertainty and fear for his future. From his earliest days he had struggled to find the means to bring a measure of security to his world.
He had found that in Dunnington.
This woman was still searching for a means to overcome the constant dread of being bullied or manipulated or browbeaten into submission.
Dropping a tender kiss on her lips, Ian pulled back to regard her with a wry amusement.
“In that case I give you full responsibility, my sweet. Indeed, I am beginning to suspect that I have been shamelessly coerced. You are fortunate that I am far too weary to be properly outraged.”
She rolled her eyes at his teasing. “I doubt that there is a person born who could ever coerce you.” She held up her hand as he gave a wicked lift of his brows, his fingers deliberately brushing over her naked back. “At least not against your will.”
“You would be wrong, my sweet.”
Her disbelief was tangible in the air. “Really?”
“Really.” A pang of loss tugged at his heart. “I assure you that my old tutor Dunnington managed to lure me into hours of study with no more than a cut of the cards.”
“Cut of the cards?”