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An Unsuitable Husband
By Ros Clarke, Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Rima Jean
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Ros Clarke
All rights reserved.
The heavy thud of the beat blocked out all other rhythms. Every thought, every breath, every heartbeat drummed in time with the music. Theresa Chartley set her drink down and threaded her way through the crowds to the middle of the dance floor. Bodies on all sides formed a tiny cocoon, sheltering her as she gave herself over to the beat. The strong, deep pulse soothed her like nothing else could, giving her mind time to rest and the stresses in her subconscious a chance to seep away while she moved instinctively. In the music, she could be fully in the moment and it was bliss.
Half an hour later, she made her way back to the table and grabbed her bottle of water. She scanned the dark room to check on the friend she had come with. Julie's distinctive white-blonde hair was easy to spot through the mass of people on the floor. Theresa watched her friend wrap herself around a guy so that their two bodies moved together perfectly. Briefly, Julie raised her head and caught Theresa's eye. She winked. No rescue required there.
Theresa hadn't come to the club to meet a guy. She'd come to forget about meeting guys. She'd called Julie on the way home from her parents' house and arranged an evening designed to block out her mother's latest insane plans. Melanie Chartley's mission in life was to see her daughter married. She wanted the village church in June, decked with pink roses and white lilacs. She wanted Theresa in an ivory silk gown and all the men in top hats and tails. Mostly, Theresa suspected, she wanted a reason to boast to all her friends. For years, Melanie had dropped hints, subtle and not so subtle, but since Theresa's thirtieth birthday, she'd stepped up the pressure and now she'd decided to take action. Next weekend, Theresa was expected to visit her mother so she could meet Hetta Black's son.
"He's a few years older than you, darling," Melanie had told her over the phone, "but still very handsome. And you mustn't mind about the children. They're away at boarding school most of the time."
"Children?" she'd repeated in horror.
"Oh, didn't I say? He's a widower, poor thing. But he's been very brave about it, and now the children are old enough, he's looking for someone new."
"He won't be looking for someone like me."
"Don't be silly, dear. You can be quite pretty when you make the effort."
Theresa had closed her eyes and counted to three. "I meant that he won't want a wife with a career like mine. I frequently work fourteen hour days, and I don't have time for shopping, cooking, or chasing around after teenage children." She didn't have the energy to invest in that sort of relationship, either, but that was beyond her mother's ability to comprehend. Short, self-contained flings with minimal emotional involvement suited Theresa best. Messy, complicated long-term commitments scared the hell out of her, especially the kind that came with a ring and a legally-binding promise.
"Well, naturally you wouldn't continue with your job when you're married."
She'd hung up. There was no chance of convincing her mother and no point having the familiar argument all over again. She'd call later in the week and make sure lunch was cancelled. And pray that Timothy Black found someone more suitable very soon.
But here in the club tonight, there was no reason to think about her mother and her suitable widowers. No need to think about anything. Just feel the music. Just feel the moment. She swayed her hips, letting the rhythm of the beat sink into her until she could feel it pulsing through her veins. She threw her head back, closed her eyes, and let herself dance as though no one was watching.
It took her a while to notice the guy. He was behind her, but he was matching his moves to hers. She could feel his breath in warm, soft ripples against her neck. His hips just brushed against the curve of her bottom. His shoulder occasionally bumped into hers, but when his hand slid around her waist, there was no mistaking it. No mistaking the delicious shudder of sexual attraction that shot straight through her, either. Her body knew he'd make love with the same perfect timing.
They danced for hours, her back against his chest, mirroring and matching and making love with their fully clothed bodies. Eventually, the dance floor was almost empty, but Theresa didn't want to be the one to break their connection and she sensed he felt the same. The club was a protected bubble away from reality. As soon as they stopped moving, the magic would dissolve.
He didn't break the rhythm when his lips brushed against her ear. "My place?"
Julie had left with her guy hours earlier. Theresa leaned back against his chest. She wasn't in the habit of hooking up with random men in clubs. On the other hand, whoever this guy was, he wouldn't be dragging her off to see the vicar and expecting her to say "I do" any moment now. "Why not?"
He spun her round and pulled her in so they were face-to-face for the first time. She slid her arms around his neck and pressed herself deliberately along the length of his body. His eyes gleamed for an instant and then darkened as he bent and claimed her lips.
Maybe it was the recklessness of kissing a stranger, maybe it was the hours of foreplay on the dance floor, or maybe it was just him. Whatever it was, Theresa had never experienced such a rush of desire from a simple kiss. One of his hands rested lightly against her bottom and the other curled into her short hair. She squirmed into his touch, silently urging him to stroke and explore and push her senses further out into the stratospheric levels of lust he'd already evoked. But his kiss remained steady and somehow that just made her long for more.
The cab ride was agonizing. Buckled in on opposite sides of the back seat, he stretched out his arm so his fingers rested on the nape of her neck. She didn't dare move closer. Taxi sex was really not on her agenda, even on a reckless night like this. She just hoped he lived somewhere nearby, because the beat of the music was still throbbing in her blood, and her breath was still coming as fast as if she were dancing hard. Touching without looking had been incredibly arousing. Looking without touching was unreasonable torture.
He had dark hair, slightly longer than her mother would consider respectable, curled over his collar and flopped on his forehead. Visible stubble shadowed his strong jaw but did nothing to disguise the sensuality of his full lips and wide mouth. Hooded eyes regarded her with smoldering lust that made her breath hitch. She turned away in an attempt to take hold of herself.
"Not long now, chérie."
She hadn't noticed the accent in his brief, murmured words earlier. "You're French?"
"Indeed." He leaned lazily back against his seat but his fingers ceased to trace patterns at her neck.
"Is it true what they say about Frenchmen?"
"That depends what they say."
God, that accent was sexy, especially when delivered in his deep, husky voice.
"That they make the most incredible ..." She paused, and he raised an eyebrow at her. "... food."
He laughed. "Sadly not, chérie."
She'd bet he had plenty of other skills to make up for any deficiency in the kitchen.
"Are you hungry?"
She met his gaze and her mouth went dry. "Oh, yes."
He waited patiently by the cab while she texted his address to Julie.
"She'll come looking if she doesn't hear from me tomorrow. Just to warn you, she's a former national karate champion."
"I'll bear that in mind."
"Good." Theresa wasn't prepared to take any foolish chances, even if he was the sexiest guy she'd met in months.
"Any other urgent calls you need to make?" He stepped closer.
"Not right now." She slipped the phone into her pocket and moved towards him.
He grunted and reached for her. Theresa lifted her face, but he didn't take the hint. Instead, he bent his head to her neck and scraped his teeth against her skin.
He soothed her pain with soft lips and a rougher tongue, tasting and teasing until she forgot the difference between pain and pleasure. Theresa slid her hands into his hair and tugged his face up to hers, pulling hard enough to hurt him back. She knew what she wanted from him and was prepared to fight for it. His lips landed on hers in a clash of tongues and teeth, which gradually subsided into something more tender, subtler, and oh lord, even more arousing.
"We need a room," she murmured against his mouth. "Now."
He swung her into his arms, ignoring her surprised cry. "Faster," he said, by way of explanation. He strode towards the glass doors of his luxury apartment block and nodded briefly at the concierge on the way to the lift. As the door slid across, Theresa levered herself out of his grasp and slid down his body.
"Two minutes," he said.
Warning or promise, she wasn't sure. The men she normally went out with preferred more verbal foreplay than this. But then, the men she normally went out with didn't have sexual magnetism like they were the North Pole. She couldn't have stopped touching him if she'd tried.
Two minutes was long enough to undo the buttons of his shirt. Long enough to flip the cotton aside and gaze at the silken muscles beneath. Long enough to reach for his belt and deal with the buckle. She let her hand slide down, tracing the hard curve of his erection.
"Two minutes, huh?" She grinned up at him. "I was hoping it would last a little longer than that."
His lips tightened. "I'll make you wish you'd never said that."
She shivered under the intensity of his gaze. "Can't wait."
The lift pinged and the door slid back. He walked out, leaving Theresa to follow the short distance to the door of his apartment. She kicked off her heels while he dealt with the card key.
He stood aside to let her in. The lights came on automatically, giving a warm glow to the large space. She dropped her shoes and stepped forward to get a better look at his home. It was an interior designer's dream, all sleek, shiny surfaces with chrome fittings and black mirrors. The walls were all but bare, with only the vast flat screen TV breaking up the flat white paint. Expensive, unique pieces of furniture had been chosen with exquisite precision, but not, she would bet money, by Emile.
He gestured to the floor-to-ceiling window that made up an entire wall. "It has a nice view."
London at night was never dark. The lights of the city from the high-rise apartment made a stunning sight. Theresa turned away from the window until her gaze rested on him. Deliberately, she let her eyes travel down his body and back up again. "The view is excellent."
* * *
He cocked an eyebrow at her and met the challenge head on. "Right now, I can't see enough of the view." He gestured towards her. "There's something in the way."
Dressed for clubbing, she wore a simple blue jersey dress that clung to her body while giving her free movement. But its neckline reached up to her collarbone, its sleeves to her wrists, and the hem came almost to her knees. She'd taken off her shoes when she entered his apartment and her legs were bare. Emile estimated no more than three garments lay between him and his goal.
By way of reply, she picked up the hem of the dress and pulled it over her head. Merde. Her bra was a stretchy, non-sexy affair that she disposed of equally swiftly. With her eyes fixed to his, she hooked her thumbs into the edges of her plain black panties and shimmied them down.
Emile had seen plenty of women strip. He'd watched deliberately tantalizing erotic dances in which women gradually discarded their garments. He'd seen bras with so much cut out they might as well not have been there at all. He'd had thongs tossed to him and all manner of lips pouted at him. He'd even taken a few shy women to bed, women who'd had to be coaxed out of their clothes and persuaded to leave the light on. He had never known a woman so coolly confident and wholly natural as this. She knew she didn't need to tease him. He was already hers.
Naked, she leaned against the wall and watched, hazel eyes fixed on him while he rid himself of the rest of his clothes. He didn't bother to make a show of it for her. He wanted her to be turned on just by him, in the same way that he was turned on by the unadulterated her. She hadn't hidden the evidence of her desire and she deserved the same honesty in return.
"Now that's a view worth paying for," she said when he bent over to remove his socks.
He grinned as he straightened up. "Likewise. Name your price."
She tilted her head. "Not money."
He gave a derisive laugh. "No."
"It'll have to be your body then. Make me come and you can look all you like."
"It's a deal."
He loved a woman who knew what she wanted and asked for it with the right words. No fancying it up with prissy pretense of love. This was sex. Putain de Dieu, it felt good.
They moved together, just as they had back in the club, instinctively feeling the other's rhythm and matching their own movements to it. She was strong and lean, even though she wasn't tall. Her limbs were petite compared to his, but there was nothing delicate about her. She wouldn't break, no matter how hard they went, and he loved knowing that about her. There wasn't a shy bone in her body as she grasped and squeezed and pulled his body to do what she wanted of it. One hand propped against the wall behind her, Emile lifted her leg, tilted his hips and slid home, a second before he realized.
Panting, she slid to the floor while he went to the bathroom and ransacked his cabinet.
"There's one in my handbag," she managed to say when he returned.
"I have eight." He pulled a condom from the box and chucked it onto the coffee table. "And you need to come over here."
He grabbed the cushions from his sofa to form a makeshift mattress on the floor. When she was near enough, he reached for her waist with both hands and dragged her down so that she straddled him with her knees. "Put this on me."
She raised an eyebrow at his command but took the foil packet and dealt with the condom efficiently. And then, with equal efficiency, she raised herself on her knees and slid down onto him.
She didn't reply, but lifted up and repeated the action.
"Putain de merde."
"Feel free to join in any time," she grunted, through panted breaths.
Emile twisted his lips into a smile. Feisty, even with his cock deep inside her. He sat up and gripped her hips, preventing her from moving. She didn't look too pleased about that, so he kissed her until the tension in her body eased away. "I think I promised to make you beg, no?"
"No." She gave a funny little gasp when he nibbled at one of her deliciously pert nipples. "You promised I'd regret teasing you. You didn't say anything about begging."
"Ah." He switched his attention to her other breast and waited until she was panting for breath. "And are you regretting it yet?"
"We made a deal," she said. She'd managed to slip one of her hands between them and her fingers were walking down his stomach. "You could look all you like, but only if you make me come."
"So we did."
"You're looking," she said. Short dark hair stuck to her forehead with sweat, but her eyes were bright and her mouth so kissable that it was impossible not to look.
He shrugged. "Sue me."
"No need." Her fingers found their target. "Just fuck me."
He rolled her onto her back and pinned her down. Still inside her, Emile gave the tiniest shift of his hips. "Like that?"
Her whole body was flushed hot with desire and her fingernails dug into his arms. So he did it again. She writhed against him, as if her pelvis could provoke his into action. She was hungry and needy and loving every second of it, if the gleam in her eyes was any indication.
"Two minutes, I believe you said?"
"Damn it, just do it already!"
"Since you ask so nicely." He stroked a strand of hair away from her face, dropped a kiss on her forehead, and slammed back into her.CHAPTER 2
It was true what they said about Frenchmen, after all. This Frenchman, anyway. He made love like he was born to it. He knew instinctively, just as he'd known on the dance floor, how her body moved, what it could do, what it liked to do. He knew where her limits were and how to push her beyond them.
Theresa turned on her side and looked at him. They'd finally reached the bed on their third attempt, and now he was sleeping with a white sheet pulled up around his waist. His skin was darkly tanned and accented with tattoos on his shoulder and across his lower back. The five o'clock shadow she'd noticed earlier had developed into designer stubble that rasped against her skin. There was another thing she'd never known she liked before tonight. Before she'd gone to bed with ...
She sat up in sudden shock. She didn't even know his name.
She'd picked up a guy in a club, come to his apartment, and spent the night with him, and she didn't have a clue who he was. It was one thing to prefer her flings without strings, but she did not do nameless shags.
All she knew about him was that he was French. Sexy. Wealthy, obviously, if he lived in a place like this. She scanned the room for any more clues. Nothing. Tasteful but bland artwork on the walls. One photo on the bedside table of an older woman who might be his mother.
Excerpted from An Unsuitable Husband by Ros Clarke, Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Rima Jean. Copyright © 2014 Ros Clarke. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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