Jack Delvin's determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently-bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London's most notorious businessman, refused to live by society's rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected...but both soon craved.
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Amanda knew exactly why the man on her doorstep was a prostitute. From the moment she had ushered him inside in the manner of someone harboring an escaped convict, he had stared at her in dumbfounded silence. Obviously he lacked the cranial equipment necessary to pursue a more intellectually challenging occupation. But, of course, a man didn′t need brains to do what he had been hired for.
"Hurry," she whispered, tugging anxiously on his muscular arm. She slammed the door behind him. "Do you think that anyone saw you? I hadn′t thought that you would simply appear at the front door. Aren′t men of your profession trained to show some discretion?
"My...profession," he repeated in a bemused manner.
Now that he was safely concealed from public view, Amanda, allowed, herself to stare at him thoroughly. Despite his apparent dullness of wit, he was remarkably good-looking. Beautiful, really, if one could apply such a word to an obviously masculine creature. He was big-framed and lean, with shoulders that seemed to span the width of the front door. The layers of his gleaming black hair were thick and neatly cut, and his tanned face glowed from a precise shave. He had a long, straight nose and a voluptuary′s mouth.
And he had a pair of remarkable blue eyes that approximated no other shade she had ever seen. Except, perhaps, at the shop where the local chemist made batches of ink by boiling Indigofera plants and copper sulfate together for days until they formed a blue so dark and deep that it approached violet. And yet his eyes did not have the angelic quality on one might usually associate with such a color. They were shrewd, seasoned, as if he had gazed far too often at an unsavory side of life that she herself had never seen.
Amanda could easily understand why women would pay for his company. The thought of hiring this masculine, opulent-eyed creature to do one′s bidding was extraordinary. And tempting. Amanda was ashamed by her secret response to him, the hot and cold chills that chased through her body, the burning color that rose to the crests of her cheeks. She had resigned herself to being a dignified spinster...she had even convinced herself that there was great freedom in her unmarried circumstance. However, her troublesome body didn′t seem to understand that a woman should no longer be bothered by desire at her age. At a time when twenty-one was considered to be old, thirty was most definitely on the shelf. She was past her prime, no longer desirable. An "ape-leader" was what people called such a woman. If only she could make herself accept her fate.
Amanda forced herself to stare directly into his extraordinary blue eyes. "I intend to be frank, Mr....no, never mind, don′t tell me your name, we shan′t be acquainted long enough for me to require it. You see, I′ve had a chance to reflect on a rather hastily made decision, and the fact is...well, I′ve changed my mind. Please do not receive this as a personal affront. It has nothing to do with you, or your appearance, and I will certainly make that clear to your employer, Mrs. Bradshaw. You are a fine-looking man, in fact, and very punctual, and I have no doubt that you are very good at...well, at what you do. The simple truth is, I have made a mistake. We all make mistakes, and I am certainly no exception. Every great once in a while, I do make a small error in judgment --"
"Wait." He lifted his large hands in a defensive gesture, his intent gaze fastened on her flushed face. "Stop talking."
No one in her adult life had ever dared to tell her to stop talking. Surprised into silence, Amanda struggled to stem the cascade of words that threatened to flow from her lips. The stranger folded his arms across his muscular chest and leaned his back against the door to stare at her. The glow from the lamp in the tiny entrance hall of her fashionable London house cast a fringe of shadows from his long lashes onto the stark, elegant planes of his cheekbones.
Amanda couldn′t help thinking that Mrs. Bradshaw had excellent taste. The man she had sent was surprisingly well groomed and prosperous looking, dressed in fashionable but solidly traditional attire, a black coat and charcoal-gray trousers, and black shoes polished to an impeccable gleam. His starched white shirt was snowy against his swarthy skin, and his gray silk cravat was arranged in a simple, perfect knot. Before this moment, had Amanda been pressed to describe her ideal man, she would have described him as blond and light-skinned and fine-boned. Now she was forced to revise her opinion entirely. No fair-haired Apollo could begin to compare with this large, robustly handsome man.
"You are Miss Amanda Briars," he said, as if requiring confirmation, "The novelist."
"Yes, I write novels," she replied with forced patience. "And you are the gentleman whom Mrs. Bradshaw sent at my request, are you not?"
"I seem to be," he said slowly.
"Well, you have my apologies, Mr....no, no, don′t tell me. As I explained, I have made a mistake, and therefore, you must go. Naturally I will pay for your services even though they are no longer required, as the fault is entirely mine. Just tell me what you usually charge, and we′ll settle the matter immediately."
As he stared at her, a change came over his face, his bemusement giving way to fascination, the blue eyes, sparkling with a devilish amusement that made her nerves twitch uncomfortably.
"Tell me what services were requested," he suggested gently, pushing away from the door. He moved closer, until his body loomed over hers. "I′m afraid I never discussed the details with Mrs. Bradshaw."Suddenly You. Copyright © by Lisa Kleypas. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.