The sizzling tale of a haunted man and a virginal courtesan stranded on a tropical island and their futile efforts to avoid falling hopelessly in love.
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By Phoebe Conn
Dorchester PublishingCopyright © 2008 Phoebe Conn
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMango summer, steam Stickiness between my breasts Red Sun ... here he comes
Jamaica, summer 1816
Françoise tightened her hold on the earl's black leather boots. "Watch his head," she warned in a frantic whisper.
Guy Barnett fought to suppress a strained grimace, but he had a firm grip on his best friend's shoulders. "He's lost weight since Amelia's death, or I swear we'd need another man to lift him."
The elegantly dressed pair struggled as they attempted to carry the man from his home without waking the servants. They had to pause and rest on the steps, but at last they reached Guy's open buggy.
His dapple-gray gelding snorted a greeting and took a restless step forward. Guy spoke softly to settle the horse, then backed up into the buggy and hauled the heavily drugged earl up beside him.
"Quickly," he urged his mistress, and Françoise provided the last shove.
She brushed off her kid gloves, and after a furtive glance over her shoulder, climbed up to join the men. "We must not let dawn catch us on the road."
Guy leaned across his sleeping friend to kiss her soundly. "Do not fret. We'll reach the boat within the hour. Just keep a steady hold on Michael so he does not slide off the seat."
Françoise placed her arm around the young man to cradle his head against her shoulder. She waited until they were on the dark trail to the cove before she spoke again. "If this bizarre scheme of yours backfires, you will die by my hand."
Unfazed, Guy dismissed her threat with a deep chuckle. "If a week with your lovely daughter fails to halt Michael's mad rush to the grave, then he is indeed doomed. I shall not begin preparing his eulogy just yet, however."
Fearing discovery, Françoise saw a menacing shape in every shadow. She shuddered and clutched the earl more tightly. "Delphine will pierce his melancholy with a single glance, but what assurance do we have that he will leave her a virgin?"
"Michael is, above all things, a man of honor, my pet. He will surely be furious with us for our part in this scheme, but he will abide by my terms."
Françoise smoothed the earl's thick, black hair off his forehead. "Do not underestimate Delphine's talents. She will not only restore Michael's soul, but steal his heart as well."
Guy shot her a sidelong glance. The moonlight revealed only a fraction of her exquisite beauty, but it was enough to make him ache with longing. "It is only a week, Françoise. I intend for Delphine to tempt him toward life, but I doubt she will enslave his heart as easily as you have mine."
"You are almost as charming a liar as I am, my lord," she said archly.
"Which is an effusive compliment indeed. Besides, there is no great danger. You have raised Delphine to be a rich man's mistress. Michael is the perfect choice in that regard."
"Indeed he is, but I want the bargain struck before she is fully his."
"You cannot seriously believe that other men would lose interest should Delphine no longer be a virgin."
The shadows hid her frown but intensified the hesitation preceding her response. "No, but the man who is her first lover will pay a steep price for that privilege."
"I was not your first," Guy chided, "and haven't I been exceedingly generous?"
Françoise lifted her hand from Michael's shoulder to caress Guy's cheek. He was not only generous, but also handsome and so devoted a lover she fully intended to keep him bound to her forever. "Indeed you have, but we negotiated first, did we not?"
"Frankly, I have forgotten everything but my endless passion for you."
Françoise smiled to herself. They were a finely matched pair, which Guy and his wife most definitely were not. The silly bitch preferred to remain in London to gossip with her vapid friends rather than spend the fragrant Jamaican nights in her husband's arms.
"You are my last lover and easily the best," she promised in a throaty whisper. "Let's hurry so that we may spend more than the dawn in my bed."
His mission of mercy all but forgotten, Guy clucked to his horse and hurried their pace toward the sea.
When the door of the small cottage swung open, Delphine leapt from the bed and darted out of the way as her mother and Guy carried the limp form of Michael Mallory over the threshold. As the pair wrestled him onto the bed, Delphine rounded the end to assist by removing his boots.
"I feared your plan had gone awry," Delphine greeted them.
"I dared not drug his brandy until after he had sent his servants to bed," Françoise replied. "I would have stripped him naked, but Guy insisted that we leave him his shirt and trousers."
Delphine dropped Michael's buttery smooth boots to the floor and tossed his socks atop them. She assumed he must own a magnificent wardrobe. He had surely been wearing a tail coat, waistcoat, and cravat earlier, but now he was dressed in only a fine linen shirt and well-tailored black woolen trousers.
She had caught a glimpse of the Earl of Clairbourne once from her mother's carriage. He had been standing on a Kingston street corner with Guy, and from his animated gestures, and Guy's laughter, it had been obvious they were arguing over something only Michael deemed important. That had been a couple of years ago, before his wife had died producing a stillborn son, and before Delphine was old enough to take a lover.
Françoise studied her only child's rapt expression and smiled knowingly. "He is as handsome a devil as I promised, is he not?"
Delphine shrugged slightly and her pale silk gown dipped low on her shoulders. "He is handsome for an Englishman," she conceded.
Anxious to leave, Françoise slipped her arm through Guy's. "You see how beautifully I have tutored her? She will drive your dear friend mad with desire while her heart skips nary a beat."
Guy leaned down to grip Michael's shoulder in a manly grasp. "I want him to recall life's pleasures this week, Delphine, so you must not simply tease him, but satisfy him as well."
"A small challenge," Delphine responded confidently. "Now you two best be gone before he wakes, or he's likely to seize your boat and strand you here with me."
"God forbid," Françoise whispered under her breath. "Give us a moment will you, my sweet?"
As Guy stepped away, he pulled a letter addressed to Michael from his coat pocket and laid it on the small bamboo table beside the iron bed. "I'll wait outside the door, but do not tarry."
"Of course not, we mustn't lose all of the night," Françoise remarked coyly, but she waited for Guy to close the door before she offered her daughter one last bit of advice.
"Guy means for you to awaken Michael's desire, but you must also practice all that I've taught you about men. Be contrite when he is angry. Be aloof when he lusts after you. Appear to be reluctant to service him with your hands and mouth, but then do so with such natural grace and abandon that he will gladly promise whatever you desire for more."
Françoise moved close to emphasize her point. "You may become curious, which is as it should be, but do not offer up your virginity without the signed agreement we've discussed. Your whole future depends upon it."
"Perhaps you should have left me a copy," Delphine replied dryly.
"Were I not wary of leaving a mark, I would slap you for that bit of insolence. It may well work to your advantage with an earl accustomed to a woman's fawning attentions, but it will never be effective with me. Now I want your promise that you'll do nothing foolish in the coming week."
"I have never done anything foolish," Delphine admonished.
"Do not begin now." Françoise picked up her skirt. "Michael will probably not wake before noon, so have your fun. I almost feel sorry for the poor wretch," she sighed, and hurried out the door.
Guy quickly took her elbow. "Delphine is a beauty, but I fear she lacks your warmth."
"It is not warmth, but wanton temptation which is needed here." Despite her brief scolding, Françoise was very pleased with what her daughter had become. She had taught Delphine how to enslave men without ever caring a whit for them. The child was heartless, which was exactly how it should be for a woman forced to make her own way in the world with an all too fleeting beauty as her only asset.
"'Tis a shame we've no boatman to take the helm," she offered slyly as Guy helped her into the sailboat they had left tied to the island's small dock. "Or I would make love to you as we sail back to the cove."
"I can manage the helm while you manage me," Guy insisted as soon as they were seated in the sleek craft. "Let's not waste another moment of this splendid moonlight."
Françoise laughed as she knelt between his knees. "I have always admired resourceful men." She removed her gloves to unfasten the buttons on his trousers to free his sex, and with a resourcefulness all her own, she gave him a most memorable voyage.
* * *
Delphine sat down on the edge of the bed to study her drugged captive more closely. Guy had sworn convincingly that his friend had been courting death since the passing of his wife and unborn child, but she saw no evidence of it. True, his ebony hair was a mite long, but it glowed in the lamp's light with a healthy sheen. His clothing, while understandably rumpled now, had obviously been neatly pressed earlier in the evening.
He was clean-shaven, sported a healthy tan rather than a sickly pallor, and smelled slightly of sandalwood. Even if he had lost interest in living, his valet's attentive care had kept him presentable.
In the morning, Michael's servants would find a note stating that he had left for a week of fishing. Because his staff would assume he had written the message after sipping more than a prudent amount of brandy, as had been his habit of late, the unsteadiness of the writing would arouse nary a suspicion that it might have been Guy who penned it.
"They'll believe you're with Guy, and no one will come looking for you," Delphine whispered softly. "For a week at least, you'll be mine alone, and my only challenge is to make certain that you enjoy it."
She began the task by removing his shirt. His broad chest was covered with thick black curls that narrowed to a slim trail over his flat belly. She leaned down to lick a dark nipple, then sucked it between her teeth for a playful nip. When he failed to stir, she discarded all caution, and though it took some effort to lift his hips, she removed his trousers and soft cotton drawers.
None of her mother's lovers had known it, but she had observed them for years and knew there was a great difference between a man who was aroused and one who was not. She ran a fingernail across Michael's scrotum and watched the furred sack tighten. Next she stretched out along his thigh and sniffed the dark curls encircling his sex. He had a musky scent that was as appealing as his dashing good looks, and she breathed it in deeply. He was still relaxed enough for her to draw a testicle into her mouth, and she rolled it gently over her tongue before caressing its twin.
Michael moaned slightly, and wary, she sat up to assure herself that he had not wakened. When his breathing remained deep and even, she used the palm of her hand to roll his cock against his belly. It grew hard almost instantly and took on a life of its own.
Delphine leaned close to whisper against his ear, "You appear to be most willing, my lord. What do you like, a firm hold, or a light one?"
Inspired to have so responsive a partner, albeit a sleeping one, she stood to remove her gown so that she might feel the warmth of his body against her own. She slid over his hair-roughened skin and rubbed against him as an affectionate cat would. Her mother had taught her how to take her own pleasure from a man, but for now, this closeness was enough.
Sitting back, she grasped his cock and pumped slowly. "Let's put an end to this morbid longing for your late wife," she suggested, and after adjusting her own position for comfort, she licked around the sensitive corona and then slowly sucked his cock into her mouth.
He moaned again, even raised a hand in a clumsy caress, but remained lost in drugged dreams. Now convinced he could not wake, Delphine traced the pattern of engorged veins beneath her fingers as though it were a treasure map of his soul. He was so hard, and yet his skin held a velvet softness.
She sucked him toward release, then drew back and waited for a silent count of ten before renewing her attentions. Awake, he would not have been able to stand much more of such provocative teasing, but asleep, he could only protest with muffled moans.
Delphine felt for the sensitive spot behind his scrotum, where her mother had taught her to press. She wanted to be able to feel the ejaculate flowing through his cock and hold it back a moment to make his need ride him even more fiercely. Certain he was almost ready now, she tilted her head to spill her hair in a silken veil across his belly and took him still deeper.
She pressed down, felt him buck slightly as he fought for the ecstasy she refused him, but she subjected him to no more than a few seconds of such divine torture. She sat up so that he would release on his belly and observed closely as his whole body tensed, and his cream spewed forth in rhythmic spasms. Spent, he lay beside her, as relaxed as a rain puddle.
Françoise claimed some men could make love only once a night while others had nearly insatiable appetites. Delphine could not help wondering into which category Michael Mallory might fall. She took the time to clean him up with his own shirt, and then washed it and hung it outside to dry in the gentle breeze. Believing he had had long enough to rest, she coaxed him toward another convulsive release, this time entirely with her hands.
She did not want to make him sore, if such a hazard even existed, but she was enjoying herself just as her mother had insisted she would. This time she used his drawers as a convenient cloth to cleanse him. She washed the undergarment, along with his socks, and hung them outside with his shirt.
Still nude, she strolled down to the shore and turned slowly in the moonlight. Men were obviously as easily manipulated as her mother had always claimed, and she was enjoying this newfound power.
When she returned to the cottage, she pushed Michael's long, muscular legs apart and snuggled down between them. It took her a moment to find a comfortable pose, but his cock was as responsive as it had been earlier and quickly hardened against her tongue. She raked her fingernails up his thighs each time she paused to rest. He twitched slightly, as though he would be terribly ticklish when awake.
Now eager to taste him, she kept him in her mouth as he climaxed, and let his cream spill down her throat. It was slightly salty, but not at all unpleasant. Then fearing he would awake too exhausted to think, let alone understand why he had been brought to the island, she decided her experimentations had provided him with enough pleasure for one night.
She bathed him as gently as she would a babe, then pulled her nightgown back over her head, and lay down beside him. The night was too warm for covers, and his body radiated too much heat to need them. She had never shared a bed, but she found it rather pleasant to press her breasts against his side as she fell asleep.
Awash in sensation, Michael fought to escape the silvery fog hiding his lover's face. Even without seeing her, he knew she would have the sweetest mouth, and her smile would lure him past all reason. He wanted to hold her, to suckle at the breasts pressed against his thigh, but his arms were too weak to grasp more than moonbeams.
Each time she left him, he cried out for her, but his words rang hollow in his mind. Her absence was agony, but she always returned to him, an enchantress whose eager kisses coaxed forth the ultimate bliss. He sought to lock her in an inescapable embrace, but he captured only the ends of her shimmering hair as it raked across his chest. She was as elusive as smoke, but the pleasure she gave was so tantalizingly real he craved more, and still more, until the magic of her touch seared away all memory except that of her eager kiss.
When she abandoned him for the last time, he thought he might die from wanting her, but then he felt her presence, gentle now rather than insistent. He prayed that the morning might never come, but all too soon, he awakened to the brightness of a new day.
Michael blinked, then raised an arm to shut out the glare. The pounding in his head was even worse than usual, and he knew better than to sit up quickly. Instead, he lay still and listened for the songbirds that fluttered every morning through the hibiscus growing outside his bedroom window.
Excerpted from Mango Summer by Phoebe Conn Copyright © 2008 by Phoebe Conn. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In 1816 England Lord Michael Mallory has spent the past year either drunk until he would drop unconscious or mourning the deaths of wife and stillborn son if he remained awake. His best friend, worried about Michael¿s mental state, abducts him when he is in his normal state of drunkenness and unable to fight back he dumps Michael on a deserted island with one exception, Delphine Antoine, a trained temptress awaits the laird as she has been hired to pleasure Michael. ------------- Michael is outraged by the gall of his friend and not having alcohol available to dull his ache. However, soon between the serenity of his locale and Delphine¿s gentle soothing, he begins to move past his grief. As Michael and Delphine begin to fall in love, he wants her with him forever, but she knows that she can only be his mistress a relationship she cannot deal with because she loves her Michael.---------------- Readers who ignore realism will fully appreciate this fun well written regency romance. The story line is driven by the lead characters especially the metamorphosis of Michael from a man who wants to die to someone who has everything to live for. Sub-genre fans will enjoy spending MANGO SUMMER with Michael and Delphine.--------- Harriet Klausner