Ten years ago the Duke of Sinclair called off his wedding to Portia after revealing his debauched past and dark carnal desires. Portia has never known love since. Now she is in Sin’s presence again, on a secluded island, witness to an orgy of sexual delights that thrill her in ways she never dreamed possible . . .
Sin has never forgotten Portia’s beauty or innocence and he is shocked to find her tied to his bed when he arrives on Serenity Island. But he soon finds his long ago love curious, then aroused, by the carnal acts all around her. Sin has secrets he can never reveal, but in Portia he discovers a sensuality that knows no bounds . . .
Praise for the novels of Sharon Page
“Scorching love scenes to make you sweat and an intriguing plot to hold it all together.” —Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author
“Wickedly sensual and exquisitely drawn. Historical erotic romance doesn't get any better than this.” —Kate Douglas, author of Wolf Tales
“Sinfully delicious.” —Sunny, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Deepest Desires of a Wicked Duke
The Wicked Dukes
By SHARON PAGE
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Edith E. Bruce
All rights reserved.
Portia Lamb strode swiftly along Maiden Lane, keeping to the pools of light cast by the street flares. Miscreants likely lurked in the shadows. So did poor young children who survived by picking pockets.
The children she was trying to help.
"Are ye sure about this, miss?" Pressed right up to her side — so close their skirts kept tangling — walked Merry Meadows, the oldest resident of her family's home. Merry had stayed on to help with the children once she'd turned eighteen and was becoming a capable teacher. "I think we should've waited for one of yer brothers. There could be white slavers about. Your Ma always warned us about white slavers —"
"Merry, we are perfectly safe," Portia said in brisk tones. "Yes, my mother always issued dire warnings about white slavers and brothel owners who pluck innocent women off the streets. I have been rescuing children and bringing them to the home for ten years and nothing terrible has happened to me."
But under the cover of her cloak, she clasped the grip of a pistol. It was unloaded, but she'd discovered men didn't want to call her bluff.
Mother had never wanted her to go onto the streets of the Whitechapel slums, looking for orphans and impoverished children who were in danger. Now Mother was frail and ill, sometimes so confused she often didn't remember who Portia was. But when she'd had all her faculties, Mother believed Portia's brothers should be the ones to patrol the streets. She felt a girl should stay in the house and its classrooms.
Portia had never agreed. Children were more likely to trust a young woman. Her brothers were well-meaning, but they could be brusque, impatient, and intimidating. And children were already more wary of men in the stews.
Yet now that her mother was so forgetful, Portia found she missed Mother's dire warnings.
A sound came from an alley. Someone hiding? Rats?
"I'm still frightened, miss." Merry moved so close Portia almost tripped over her.
"There is nothing to fear, Merry. We can take care of ourselves. And we're clever. That counts for quite a lot."
Merry, who possessed blond ringlets and large blue eyes, looked around and shuddered. Her hand clutched Portia's arm. "Oh, heavenly stars, there's men lurking, waiting for us, Miss Lamb," Merry whispered, her voice a mere croak. "They're in the shadows ahead."
The other children used to call her Merry the Mouse, because she was shy and fearful. Merry also had the most remarkably attuned hearing and instincts. Portia couldn't see anything yet, but if Merry said there were men in the shadows, Portia didn't doubt her.
"Move close to the wall, into the shadows," Portia instructed quietly. She drew out her pistol. She peered into the darkness ahead and made out the opening of a narrow alley. Then she heard them — the murmur of two men's voices. A low, leering laugh made a shudder crawl down her spine.
Merry let out a squeak of fear.
"I heard something," one of them said. "Think it's the lass? Think she took the bait?"
At once Portia whirled to face Merry, her finger to her lips in a warning to be silent. The girl gulped but didn't make any other sound.
The note had begged Portia to come to No. 10 on Maiden Lane, to take a young girl from a desperate mother who could not support all her children, and who was being pressured to hand the nine-year-old over to a brothel.
"It was a ruse," Merry whispered. "We must flee, miss."
Portia held her ground. "We don't know that," she whispered back. "There might really be a child in need, even if that child is being used as bait."
"We must go, miss."
Portia hesitated. If there was a child who needed her help, how could she turn her back and run? But if this were a trap, she wouldn't be able to save the child anyway. Pressed tight against the wall, she peered at the mouth of the alley, her heart pounding.
What should she do? What if, by running, she condemned a little girl to a horrible fate?
"You can't be foolish, Miss Lamb," Merry whispered, her face a mask of fear. "I know you want to go forward, but we mustn't. We must fetch one of your brothers."
"She'll come," said a second voice. Portia smelled smoke. The man had only responded now because he was smoking a cheroot and he'd taken it out of his mouth to speak. "Keep yer bloody voice down and wait for the signal."
The signal? Merry was tugging at her cloak, urging her to run. But what if there was a child in danger —?
A sharp whistle rent the air. Then their hackney driver flicked his whip and sent his horses galloping away, taking the hackney cab with them.
The two men ran out of the alley, faces splitting into wide, gap-toothed grins.
That must have been the signal. Their driver had been in the pay of these men. Blast!
She and Merry couldn't outrun two men. Not in cloaks. And skirts.
Why had they been tricked? These men didn't look cunning enough to have thought this up. They looked like the kind of thick-necked brawlers who worked for someone clever.
Breathing hard, she lifted her unloaded pistol and leveled it at the men. Meredith gasped at the sight of it. "You'll shoot them? Miss, that's murder."
"Not if we're defending our lives," she said, with all the calm she could muster. "If I were you, gentlemen, I would run away as fast as you can."
One man chuckled. He was the shorter of the two. Burly, with a dirty face, dark clothes, a dark cap. They were dressed the same, but where one was short and squat, the other was tall and thin.
The squat man stepped forward. "I know that pistol isn't loaded."
Portia was so scared it was hard to breathe, but she couldn't show it. Don't panic. Keep your wits. Father had taught her that. He'd been a great explorer before he settled down, got married, and opened the home for children. Wits were a man's — and a woman's — best weapon. In a commanding voice, she barked, "Of course it is. I'm not a fool."
"I know it's a bluff, missy. Ye never load the thing. And even if ye did, I were told ye'd never hurt anyone."
How could he know? Or was he bluffing her? She clutched the pistol grip with two hands, pointing it at his chest. "I would hurt you to protect our persons. Let us go."
"Ye've no way out, missy. We want ye, not the other one."
"Can't imagine why," muttered the tall one. "The other one's the beauty with 'er blond curls and round tits. This one's skinny and the 'air's so red, it looks like 'er 'ead's on fire."
"Shut up," barked the short one. "Now come quietly, missy, and we'll let yer maid go."
"No, Miss Lamb, I won't leave you." But Merry shook like a leaf.
"You must," Portia said. She glowered at both men — the short one who thought she was daft and the insulting tall one. She had no intention of going quietly anywhere. "Turn around and go, Meredith. Go to the High Street — it will be the safest for you. Now run!"
Merry shook her head.
Portia motioned desperately with her head. If Merry got away, she could make it back to the foundling home and tell Portia's brothers what had happened. "You must go! Fetch my brothers from the Eight Bells and bring them at once. Do exactly as I say and run!" She was supposed to come alone. Let them think she hadn't.
Merry, thank heaven, finally understood, Portia guessed. For Merry started to run.
Her attackers had been advancing. Now they stopped. "No one said nothin' about brothers," began the tall one, and Portia took advantage of their momentary distraction. She spun on her heel and ran for her life.
She turned at a corner and sped for the nearest alley, one that led farther into the maze of the Whitechapel slums.
She knew the stews, but she feared the two men knew them just as well. Footsteps thundered behind her and she rushed out of the alley onto the lane, holding up her hems.
Damn! One of the men was down the lane, ahead of her. He'd circled around to cut her off. She turned and ran wildly away from him, up the street. Now both men were behind her, for she was sure the short man had followed her into the alley.
She had friends amongst the people who lived here on these streets. Surely, at a house on this street, she could find refuge —
Oh, drat it, no! Out of another alley, a few yards ahead of her, the squat man emerged. He held a white cloth.
She had fallen for the same trick twice.
Portia raced blindly to the door of the house beside her. Pounded hard with her fists. But no one answered. What could she do? Then she remembered — one of the houses ahead of her had a carriageway through it that led to a courtyard. She ran.
The fiend looked short and squat, but he ran fast. She reached the carriageway just as his hand landed hard on her shoulder and hauled her back. She slammed against him. Her hood blocked her view, but she knew she was trapped against his chest. Looking down, she saw his huge, thick arm, wrapped around her like an iron bar. And she smelled him. Sour sweat. Beer on his breath.
She screamed —
A wet cloth slapped against her face. She breathed in sickly sweetness. At once, her wits whirled, her stomach lurched, and she felt as if she were dropping into an abyss.
Ether? It must be some chemical like that.
Portia shoved at the man's arm and kicked at his shins behind her. But she was sinking, weakening, falling.
His leering laugh sounded against her ear. "Next thing ye know, love, ye'll be waking up in His Grace's bed."
Desperate, she tried once more to fight. What did he mean — waking up in a duke's bed?
"The Duke of Sinclair will be right pleased." The second man laughed in a sneering tone.
The Duke of Sinclair? She had once loved the Duke of Sinclair. She had once agreed to marry him, but the duke had told her that he couldn't marry her, that he was going to let her go because he'd make a rotten husband. And for the ten years after, he'd proven the truth of those words, doing nothing but throw large, scandalous orgies.
But he wouldn't actually kidnap someone. Would he?
Blackness rose up and swallowed her whole.
* * *
Silk ropes wrapped around the Duke of Sinclair's wrists, binding them together behind the back of the chair. More rope tied his ankles to the chair legs. A blond courtesan's melon-sized breasts pushed into his face, almost smothering him. Another woman — a redhead with a spectacular rack of tits of her own — stroked his semi-erect cock. With her tongue. A third woman — a brunette — flicked his shoulders playfully with a whip.
The duke — known to intimates as Sin — was supposed to be the women's "prisoner," but he was in charge of this game. They would do anything he wanted. And he wanted them to make him forget her.
Portia. The woman he could never have.
For ten years, holding extravagant orgies or intimate ménages with groups of four or five had worked. Tonight, it bloody well wasn't.
The red-haired woman, Emmie, laved the head of his cock with her pretty little tongue. Normally, his prick would go bolt upright, hard and throbbing.
But all he felt was an uncomfortable surge of guilt and regret.
"Sorry, love," Sin muttered. "Sorry to all of you. I can't do this tonight."
"Why not?" breathed Emmie.
"Tsk." The brunette, Laurette, folded her arms over her chest and tapped the whip against her bare thigh. She arched a brow. "I know what the problem is. You're getting older, Your Grace. You're almost thirty. You get a little tired with old age."
"Thirty is not old," he growled. "And I'm not bloody well thirty. I'm much younger than that."
Emmie widened her eyes innocently. "If His Grace says so. I remember when you first came to London. The most gorgeous brown-haired lordling you was, Your Grace, with the dreamiest chocolate brown eyes. It couldn't have been that long ago. And he was about eighteen. He can't be more than twenty-five now?"
Sin knew she meant well — meant to imply he wasn't so old. Emmie had lovely breasts and sweet pink nipples that were long and thick when they hardened, but she was not particularly endowed in the upper story.
Laurette shook her head. "I remember when ye first came to London. Lad of nineteen ye were — and looked as if butter wouldn't melt in yer mouth. That was in 1811. See — ten years ago."
"And, thus, I happen to be twenty-nine," he growled.
The blonde, Sukey, pulled on a scarlet silk robe, wrapping it around her lush curves. "Then it's the brandy. You've pickled it. What happens when you put anything in brine? It goes soft."
He glanced at the empty glass on a nearby table. He'd downed about four. "It's not the brandy," he growled. "Tonight, I'm just preoccupied. Untie me and leave me."
"As you wish, Your Grace. But we could have had so much fun." Pouting, Laurette set to undoing the knots she'd made. Emmie and Sukey tried to change his mind, but Sin knew it was pointless. Nothing sexual was going to happen to him tonight.
The three women curtsied because he was a damn duke. Then they scurried out the door.
Defiantly, he drank some of the brandy. A man couldn't pickle his cock.
Or could he?
Hell. He put the alcohol down.
He walked to the window of his bedchamber and looked out over the gardens. It was a late spring — only the toughest of his partygoers were fucking outdoors. Music poured out from the ballroom, along with wild laughter and squeals of pleasure. His house always shook with moans and screams as people had sex and climaxed en masse.
He had an orgy under way and he had never been so disinterested in his life.
Last night, he'd gone into the Seven Dials area for gaming and he'd seen her. Portia had been carrying a small child in her arms — a child she had rescued from a slum tenement.
As he'd watched her go, desire for her had hit him like Gentleman Jackson's fist.
For ten years, he'd avoided seeing her again. And now that chance meeting had wiped out a decade of working to forget her.
Strangely, it just seemed to have made him want her more.
And he couldn't have her.
The irony was Portia hadn't broken the engagement with him; he'd broken it with her. He'd chosen the orgies, the brothels, bondage, and group sex over her.
Sin looked up. His butler, Beagle, looked as unperturbed and rigid as ever as he performed his duties with an orgy going on around him.
Beagle held out his silver salver, on which sat a folded note. "This arrived for you, Your Grace. A child brought it to the kitchen door and said it was to be delivered at once."
"An urchin lad. He ran off as soon as a footman took the note."
"Before he'd received any money?"
"Yes, Your Grace. I thought that was quite suspect myself."
Sin didn't say anything, but he agreed. He picked up the note and unfolded it with a snap of his wrist. He had to read it twice before the words fully penetrated his brain.
By the morning post, you received an invitation to an unusual house party to be held on an island off the coast, near Southend-on-Sea. To put it plainly, the event is a bacchanalia. Miss Portia Lamb is being lured to the party. It is intended as a joke — a surprise to entice you. A gentleman of your considerable experience would be aware she will literally be a lamb led to slaughter.
To protect her — and her reputation — you must attend.
A Concerned Friend
"What in hell — ?" he muttered. Was this true? Who in blazes was "A Concerned Friend"?
Maybe it was a joke. A joke in poor taste.
Where was that damned invitation? He remembered glancing at it, barely reading it. Last night, he'd been thinking of Portia and he'd barely noticed the invitation.
He'd tossed it aside ... where?
Sin stalked downstairs to his study, off limits during his parties. A stack of invitations sat on the edge of his oak desk. The towering pile contained entreaties for him to attend balls, musicales, card parties, picnics. He was an unmarried duke. Every matchmaking mama of the ton was trying to draw him out.
He sifted through the pile quickly, invitations sliding onto the floor.
Here it was — embossed in silver on thick card.
Excerpted from Deepest Desires of a Wicked Duke by SHARON PAGE. Copyright © 2016 Edith E. Bruce. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.