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Secrets of Sin
By CHLOE HARRIS
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Chloe Harris
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIf a lady was thinking of doing the unthinkable, she should dress unobtrusively. That didn't include not looking one's best.
Emiline brushed a fold out of her skirts.
Raise your skirts for me. Are you naked underneath?
How she despised those haunting memories. She pressed her eyes closed. Sometimes darkness could scatter them. Reluctant silence spread in her mind and she opened her eyes again.
Emiline was thankful she'd chosen a simple, light turquoise linen gown for the journey. The flimsy lace around the short sleeves and her décolletage was just enough ornament. Too much to mistake her for a common lady and just a sufficient enough amount to show interested eyes how high her standing really was.
Sit. I want your legs spread, knees up by your ears. Show yourself to me.
Emiline tried to ban his words from her mind with a curt shake of her head. Her response to him had been disgusting. She'd let him humiliate her; she'd allowed him to make her beg for his touch. Emiline could still see his vivid green eyes, recalling that very special glitter when he heard her desperate plea. She thought she could even hear his virile, soft laugh in reply.
Arousal shivered through her when she saw him kneel down in front of her. His hands rose and he slowly ran themdown the inner side of her thighs. With every inch they advanced toward her, she felt her core spasm just a little, pumping more of that inviting moistness out of her. She didn't dare move. Not because she was afraid to, but because she loved the eroticism of the moment. Each and every moment with him was wonderfully special, and she enjoyed it to the full, this whole new world he'd shown her.
Her breathing had almost stopped. He seemed so fascinated with her, watching his hands, his pale hands compared to her bronze-colored skin, wander lower. And they did, but his touch was light, too light. Just his thumbs brushed over her creamy folds; then suddenly he squeezed her erect, sensitized nub between the tips of them. Her head fell against the back of the chair. Sizzling sparks of longing shot through her body as violent as a bolt of lightning tearing a tree apart.
He looked up at her as he increased the pressure on her nub between his thumbs. His pale green eyes had darkened, yet they looked as if they shone with an inner light. It was just the afternoon sun, Emiline told herself. It bathed half of him in darkness.
"Tell me you want me."
Emiline was fighting for breath, gulping in just enough air to tell him that.
She moaned as he increased the pressure even more until it would be almost painful if it weren't so sensual. Yes, yes. She nodded. She wanted him. She needed him. Her whole being existed just for him now. She loved him. They'd said the words, of course. But up to that moment she hadn't really known what they meant. She loved him with every fiber of her being.
Emiline never had the time to utter anything but soft, low moans because he'd wrapped her hair around his wrist. Twisting those long chocolate curls he'd said he liked so much, he forced her head back up to watch him as he ripped the fly of his breeches open. His hand was shaking with need as much as her body did.
Then his lips were on hers, taking her mouth with a greedy, hard kiss. If she didn't know better, she'd call it desperate. Oh, she was desperate too. She was sure she was going to burn alive if he didn't-
He stuffed her. She loved when he took her fast and seated himself in her with one hard thrust; but this time he took her slow, shivering with every inch he slid deeper. He even closed his eyes as if memorizing that very moment, then the next, and the next ...
Emiline moaned helplessly into his mouth, her tongue swirling around his, chasing it back and forth. She quivered against him, her secret muscles sucking him in, recklessly commanding him to take her deeper, faster.
They broke their passionate kiss when he was finally seated to the hilt. A hairsbreadth apart, they moaned against each other's lips. His free hand came around to the small of her back to shove her closer to him. His other hand didn't lessen its tight grip on her hair. The linen of her dress chafed her erect, hard nipples. The back of the chair bit into her shoulders. Each spot where slight pinpricks spread added to the pleasure until her body roared with want.
With a quick flick of his tongue over her bottom lip, he drew her attention. When her eyes met his, her heart gave another stutter. He was so beautiful. And he was here in her arms.
He rolled his hips back and left her. The sudden emptiness made her want to cry. But the next instant, he thrust into her, hard and fast.
The chair squeaked. Her shoulders would be sore. They would be a constant, pleasant reminder for the next day or two. His torso rolled against hers, increasing the chafing sensation on her breasts. They, too, would sting in the days to come.
He drove his member in and out of her slick, clamping core. They'd shared many ardent moments in the last year, but each time it was more passionate. Burning waves of pleasure washed through her and rebounded from the contact points of his member in her, from his chest rubbing against her breasts. Her hips answered his every thrust, grinding against him, silently begging him for more.
He deepened his rolling thrusts. He pumped in and out of her, stroking her so deliciously that the hot friction they both created started that surge that flowed through her thighs and back and sides. Emiline knew she was going to come, sooner than she wanted or expected and fiercer than ever before.
She was marginally aware that her nails bit into his shoulders as she screamed her pleasure. She loved him so much tiny tears formed at the corners of her eyes.
He left her and came moments after her, his hand pumping his member until he'd shed the last drop. When he looked up, he had tears in his eyes also.
Leaning forward, he kissed her again while his hand left her hair and he fumbled to close his breeches again. He smiled.
"I love ... your hair."
Emiline knew that. It's why she wore it down. For him.
He covered her again and got up. His knees popped. The smile died on his lips, and he turned his back.
Today seemed more tropical than most. Emiline had purposely tamed her hair this morning and carefully arranged it in a chignon so that now she could delight in every salty breath of sea breeze that tickled and cooled her neck.
Standing at the window, Emiline looked out onto the town of St. George's, capital of Grenada. When she realized her nervous fingers were playing with the brocade curtain, she quickly brought her hand down. She didn't really know exactly why she was stalling.
Emiline, I'm going to leave.
"You look lovely today, Emiline."
With a thankful nod, Emiline turned, looking straight into the keen eyes of Monsieur Améliore sitting in a huge leather chair behind his desk. He was a good-looking man even though he was old enough to be her father. His full mop of dark blond hair was only faintly dusted with gray; his braid emphasized it was graying slightly more so at his temples. He was impeccably garbed. The laces around his neck were tight, but not too tight, spilling in abundance out of a periwinkle waistcoat that highlighted his cornflower blue coat. Emiline supposed it was difficult to take Paris out of a Parisian. Fashion and good manners were inborn to the French. She of all people knew that.
Just then Améliore wrinkled his forehead. Emiline had been silent far too long. She took a step closer to the small chair in front of the desk. "Any news of your nephew?" Last year the French had joined in King George's War, and Améliore's nephew had gladly enlisted. "Is he still in-"
"Yes, Louisbourg is under siege. Just this morning I got a letter that's about four months old, dated April 29, 1745. By now I suppose the British have breached the defenses and are happily helping themselves to anything they can loot and pillage." Améliore spoke with a light growl through clenched teeth. An animosity toward the British was inborn to the French as well.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Monsieur Améliore."
He shrugged. "That's neither here nor there, Emiline. Would you care to discuss why you're here today?"
At first, Emiline was shocked that Améliore had so rudely cut to the heart of the matter, but on second thought ...
Connor O'Driscoll had business with Améliore. When he arrived, the secretary assured him that even though Améliore was currently occupied, he could wait. Connor nodded and strolled to the seating arrangement by one of the open windows right next to Améliore's office.
The late-morning breeze whispered over his face and made him sigh with bliss as he settled in the cushioned rattan chair. It was cooler indoors, a pleasant, slightly moist freshness that couldn't be drawn away by the sticky hot weather. The large windows were wide open, and the white brocade curtains danced excitedly like debutantes at their first ball.
He sat back in the cushioned chair and enjoyed the solitude. It was quiet here, almost absolutely silent but for the tiny scratching of the secretary's quill and the low murmur flowing toward him from the office in the next room. The voices were that of a lady mixed with the deep, smoky timbre of Monsieur Améliore's, the best lawyer in St. George's.
The Coraal had arrived just this morning, and as captain of the ship, Connor had dutifully seen to it that all the cargo went for the best price possible. Then, after having been at sea for several weeks, he had spoiled himself at the local bathhouse, indulged in scented steam and a shave, and afterward floated in rose-petal water until his fingertips were white and shriveled.
Feeling cared for and contented now, Connor let his head fall against the back of the rattan chair. An unruly strand of hair escaped its braid and danced around the tip of his nose. It tickled, skipping over his face. He wrinkled his nose a few times with a dreamy smile on his lips. The effort to brush it away seemed like too much at the moment.
The breeze was quite pleasant and cooling. He was sure his friend was staying cool as well. At that thought, Connor opened his eyes and looked over the town out of the open window. His gaze was immediately drawn to the red roof of the most dubious and finest house in all of the West Indies. He knew Reinier was there. They always met there.
But business came first. Connor sighed and let his head fall back again, closing his eyes to the soft voice of the lady inside Améliore's office. By the tone of her words, she was polite and well educated, and very feminine.
His mind was lulled into a dreamlike state by the sweetness of her voice. Something in the way she talked sounded familiar to Connor. For the life of him he couldn't say how; nonetheless, he felt as if he knew her. Yet, such excellent ladies rarely associated with the likes of him or his friend. Not normally, anyway.
Not that Reinier and Connor weren't well respected. Quite the contrary, the proprietors of the Barhydt-O'Driscoll Shipping Company were very well-respected men. It was more that ladies like her didn't play the games they liked to play. Not normally, anyway.
Outwardly, such ladies thought themselves much too good, too sophisticated, and above all too decent to enjoy the degree of decadence Reinier and Connor indulged in. But he knew better. Appearances were deceiving-especially with ladies. And most pointedly with lonely ladies who needed a strong hand ... or two or four.
Yet, it could be equally as wonderful to enjoy the talents of less-respected, highly adept women with no inhibitions. They didn't need to be convinced they'd like this or that. They already knew they'd enjoy themselves immensely.
Connor smiled and folded his arms over his chest while stretching his long legs. Oh, yes, he and Reinier had had a lot of adventures together with such ladies.
The breeze slowly died and the two voices, the soft, feminine one and the gently croaking one of Améliore, seemed so loud that Connor could overhear their conversation now. He shouldn't listen, he knew, but he couldn't help hearing them through the open windows as clearly as if they were standing right next to him.
"My dear," Améliore was saying, "I've known you since you were a child. Are you certain this is what you want?" He was coughing a little. Améliore always coughed when he felt highly agitated. Too many cigars, Connor assumed, yet out of politeness he'd still brought him a box of the finest the West Indies could offer.
"Yes, Monsieur Améliore, I am. This marriage, which exists only on paper, I might add, has brought me nothing but grief. I haven't seen my husband in over four years, and I do believe we have both moved on. He will be delighted to sign the papers, I'm sure."
Améliore murmured something into his fist; Connor could hear the muffled mumbling. He knew the lawyer used to do that when he was deep in thought.
"Your father-" the lawyer set out but was cut off by the lady again.
"My father!" she exclaimed, and judging from the sound of a chair scraping over the hardwood, followed by the rapid clicking of heels on the floor, she was up and pacing. "May his soul rest in peace, my father died four years ago and my good-for-nothing husband didn't even send a note of condolence, much less come to his funeral. I wish to be free of this marriage. At once. It's quite obvious my husband doesn't desire to have anything to do with me or Bougainvilla."
Instantly, Connor's eyes snapped open and he felt a frosty shiver down his back. He was wide awake-and careful not to breathe too deeply and miss a bit of the conversation that was to come.
Could it be? When had they last seen each other? At the wedding?
"Very well, then," Améliore muttered reluctantly.
Connor heard him get up from his seat as well and, so he assumed, the lawyer walked to the huge old sideboard where he kept preprinted documents. Connor leaned forward, alert.
Améliore sat down at his desk again. The slight protest of the lawyer's chair told Connor so. Then he heard the lawyer grunt, "So, do you know where we might find Captain Barhydt to make him aware of your request?"
"I'm sure I have no idea where Reinier is at the moment. Most likely, he's on the ship he built with my dowry. But I'm also sure you can hire people to track him down. Last time I saw him, he was blond. I'm afraid I cannot recall anything beyond that, having seen only his back as he ran."
Sarcasm? Connor's jaw dropped. So, the "little, too sweet-tempered and naïve wife," as Reinier had described her, was asking the family lawyer, who also happened to be the lawyer of the Barhydt-O'Driscoll Shipping Company, to draw up the divorce papers? Now that was an interesting twist to his day.
Not that he could blame her. In fact, Connor wasn't really surprised. Reinier was restless and always sought the freedom of the sea.
When Reinier had married her five years ago, Emiline du Ronde was no match for the Dutchman. She was barely 18, privileged, and judging from what little Reinier had told him, infinitely spoiled. Reinier had built his ship and ran soon afterward. She hadn't been able to hold him.
Never in Connor's wildest dreams-and they could be quite wild-would he have thought it could turn out like this.
He quickly walked over to where the young secretary sat, asked him for a paper and a quill, and wrote a short note to Améliore. But just as the salt had dried the viscous ink and he was about to fold the note, the door to Améliore's office opened.
Connor stood straight and smirked when his eyes met the turquoise blue depths of Reinier's wife's. He saw recognition cross Emiline du Ronde-Barhydt's lovely face; then she halted and inhaled deeply. Despite her delicate café-au-lait complexion, she blanched. Her eyes widened with what must have been shock at seeing him, her husband's partner, right there by the secretary's desk.
"Monsieur O'Driscoll," she murmured civilly as she curtly bowed her head. The coolness of her tone made his name sound like that of an evil sprite one wished away.
Connor felt his smug expression broaden as he bowed to her in turn. "Mrs. Barhydt, what a pleasure to see you here."
Emiline's eyes paled to a chilly light blue at the deliberate address. She said a quick farewell to Améliore and left the office without looking at him again.
Excerpted from Secrets of Sin by CHLOE HARRIS Copyright © 2010 by Chloe Harris. Excerpted by permission.
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