Worth Any Price (Bow Street Runners Series #3)by Lisa Kleypas
Nick Gentry, England's most skillful lover, is hired to seek out Miss Charlotte Howard. But when he finds a desperate woman in hiding, he offers the unthinkable -- a marriage proposal. Nick might claim her body, but it will take much more to win her heart.See more details below
Nick Gentry, England's most skillful lover, is hired to seek out Miss Charlotte Howard. But when he finds a desperate woman in hiding, he offers the unthinkable -- a marriage proposal. Nick might claim her body, but it will take much more to win her heart.
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Worth Any Price
Three Years Later
As was his long-standing habit, Nick entered Gemma's private suite without knocking. It was Sunday afternoon, the time they met almost every week. By now the familiar scent of the place -- leather, liquor, the hint of fresh flowers -- was all it took to begin the low hum of arousal in his body. His desire was unusually strong today, as his work had kept him away from Gemma for a fortnight.
Since the first night they had met, Nick had followed Gemma's rules without question. There had been no other choice, if he wanted to continue seeing her. They were friends, of a sort, but their interactions were strictly physical. Gemma had evinced no interest in what was in his heart, or even whether he had one. She was a kind woman, and yet on the rare occasions when Nick had tentatively spoken of matters other than the superficial, he'd been gently dismissed. It was just as well, he had realized. He had no wish to expose her to the ugliness of his past or the complex tangle of emotions he kept locked inside.
And so once a week they joined each other in bed with their secrets safely intact . . . the instructor and her ardent student. In the luxurious cocoon of Gemma's gold-papered bedroom Nick had learned more about lovemaking than he had ever thought possible. He'd gained an appreciation of female sexuality that few men acquired . . . the intricacy of a woman's pleasure, the ways to excite her mind as well as her body. He learned to employ his fingers, his tongue, teeth, lips, and cock with both delicacy and strength. Most of all he learned about discipline, and how patience and creativity couldmake even the experienced Mrs.
Bradshaw cry out until she was hoarse. He knew ways to keep a woman balanced on the edge of ecstasy for hours at a time. He also knew how to make a woman climax with nothing more than his mouth on her nipple, or with the lightest brush of his fingertip.
The last time they had met, Gemma had challenged him to bring her to orgasm without touching her at all. He had whispered in her ear for ten minutes, painting sexual images that became ever more exquisitely lurid until she had flushed and shivered beside him.
Thinking of her lush body, Nick turned warm with anticipation, and he strode into her parlor. He stopped short as he saw a young blond man seated on the velvet-upholstered chaise, dressed only in a wine silk robe. It was, Nick noted dazedly, the same robe that he made use of whenever he came to visit Gemma.
She had made no promises of fidelity to him, and he had no illusion that he had been her only lover for the past three years. Still, Nick was startled by the sight of another man in her receiving room and the unmistakable tang of sex in the air.
Seeing him, the stranger flushed and sat up from his relaxed position. He was a stocky, fair-skinned youth, with enough innocence remaining to be embarrassed by the situation. Gemma walked out of her bedroom, wearing a transparent green negligee that barely covered the crests of her rose-brown nipples. She smiled as she saw Nick, seeming not at all perturbed by his unexpected arrival. "Oh, hello, dear," she murmured, as relaxed and friendly as always. Perhaps she had not planned for him to discover her new cher ami in precisely this manner, but neither was she distressed about it.
Turning toward the blond man, she spoke to him softly. "Wait for me in the bedroom." He threw her a glance of heated adulation as he obeyed.
As Nick watched the man disappear into the next room, he was reminded of himself as he had been three years earlier, callow and burning and dazzled by Gemma's sensual arts.
Gemma lifted a graceful hand to stroke Nick's dark hair. "I didn't expect you to return from your investigation so quickly," she said without a trace of chagrin. "As you can see, I am entertaining my new protégé."
"And my replacement," Nick said rather than asked, while a cold feeling of abandonment crept over him.
"Yes," Gemma said softly. "You have no more need of my instruction. Now that you have learned all I can teach you, it is only a matter of time before our friendship becomes stale. I would prefer to end it while it is still enjoyable."
It was surprisingly difficult for him to speak. "I still want you."
"Only because I am safe, and familiar." Smiling affectionately, Gemma leaned over to kiss his cheek. "Don't be a coward, dear. It is time for you to find someone else."
"No one could follow you," he said gruffly.
That earned a tender laugh and another kiss. "That shows you still have much to learn." A wicked smile gleamed in her clear brown eyes. "Go find a woman who is deserving of your talents. Take her to bed. Make her fall in love with you. A love affair is something everyone should experience at least once."
Nick gave her a sullen glance. "That is the last damn thing I need," he informed her, making her laugh.
Drawing back, Gemma casually unfastened her hair and shook it free. "No good-byes," she said, depositing the hairpins onto the table by the chaise. "I much prefer au revoir. Now if you'll excuse me, my pupil is waiting. Have a drink before you leave, if you like."
Stunned, Nick stood immobile as she drifted into the bedroom and closed it with a firm click. "Jesus," he muttered. An incredulous laugh escaped him at having been so lightly dispensed with after all they had done together. Yet he couldn't summon any anger. Gemma had been too generous, too kind, for him to feel anything but gratitude.
Go find another woman, he thought numbly. It seemed an impossible task. Oh, there were women everywhere, cultured, common, plump, lean, dark, fair, tall, short, and he found something to appreciate in all of them. But Gemma had been the only one with whom he had ever dared to unleash his sexuality. He could not imagine how it would be with someone else.
Make someone love him? Nick smiled bitterly, thinking for the first time that Gemma didn't know what the hell she was talking about. No woman could love him . . . and if one ever did, she would be the greatest fool alive.Worth Any Price. Copyright © by Lisa Kleypas. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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