|Publisher:||Liquid Silver Books|
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About the Author
She is a graduate of Troy University and published her first novel not long after earning her degree in Biology. She currently works full-time as a billing clerk and shuffles her time between writing, work, and her family. Find out more about Robin at http://robindanner.webs.com.
Read an Excerpt
Perched high on the seat of her father's favorite racing curricle, Audrey St. John handled the reins with the calm assurance of any man. Racing through the crowded streets of London, she bent forward and urged the matched pair toward the designated finish point. The Dulwich Picture Gallery was having its opening that afternoon, so Audrey was forced to slow down for several blocks. Once the street was clear, she forced the horses back to a gallop.
Glancing behind her with a triumphant grin, she saw that Braedon Grey was still several lengths away. There would be no way for him to catch her during the last three blocks to the finish. Finally, she was going to best him at racing, a sport in which Braedon excelled. She had not done so since they had both been fifteen. It had taken her six long years, but she finally had victory in her grasp again.
As she reached the finish point, she pulled on the reins and brought the horses to a halt. Clambering down from the curricle, she planted her hands on her hips and tossed Braedon a saucy look.
"I did it. I won, fair and square!"
Braedon, never one to shrink in the face of defeat, doffed his hat to her and made an elegant bow. "So you did, my lady. What forfeit will you require of me?"
Pretending to think long and hard, Audrey scrunched up her face and tapped a finger against her chin. "Hmm ... perhaps I shall require that you escort Belinda Tinsdale into dinner tonight."
Braedon made a face. It was a known fact that Belinda had set her cap for him and he had the devil of a time trying to escape her at most social functions. "I really would prefer you that you come up withsomething different. Pins under my fingernails perhaps? Sugared maggots?"
"You are truly disgusting sometimes, Braedon," Audrey said with a grimace. Sugared maggots, how vile!
"So are you, threatening me with Belinda Tinsdale." He gave a shudder and propped his shoulder against her curricle. "I must insist that you claim a different forfeit."
Audrey studied him from the toes of his Hessians to the tip of his tousled curls. Maybe she had been a little extreme with Belinda. She was certain that she could come up with something better if she only had more time to decide. "Can I think on it and give you an answer tonight?"
Braedon shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. "No, you may not. That is not how The Game is played. The forfeit must be made immediately upon victory or the debt is considered paid."
Audrey was surprised that he remembered the rules verbatim. When they had been eleven, she had come up with The Game as a way to show Braedon that she was just as good at manly activities even though she was a girl. At first, Braedon had gone easy on her, letting her win nearly every contest. When she had threatened him with a black eye, he retaliated by thrashing her in every single competition. Somewhere over the last ten years, their talents had evened out so that their number of wins was nearly equal. He was better at racing and swimming, while she excelled at card games and archery.
Drawing upon her feminine wiles, she batted her eyes and pouted. "Please give me until tonight, Braedon."
"Absolutely not," he returned stubbornly. "Either you state your forfeit or I cry foul play."
She stepped closer and laid her hand upon his arm. She tried not to notice the tingles it gave her whenever they touched. She could tell that Braedon was equally affected since he visibly tensed and gave her a heated look. Ever since they turned sixteen, Braedon had given her those looks more and more. Sometimes, when she was in bed at night, she wondered what it would be like to kiss Braedon. To let his hands touch her breasts. To see him without clothes. Those thoughts kept her awake more nights than she cared to count. Even now, she could feel the familiar tug of desire low in her belly.
"Can you not reconsider, Braedon?" Audrey asked with a flirtatious look. "I promise I shall make it worth your while."
"Now that is an interesting statement, Audrey. What do you have to offer me?"
For once, Audrey did not bite her tongue. She said exactly what had been on her mind for the last five years. "Myself."
To say that Braedon was shocked would be putting it mildly. His eyebrows rose to his hairline while his mouth simultaneously dropped open. It was several moments until he could speak. "Pardon?"
Audrey shrugged an elegant shoulder and pretended to be engrossed in shaking out her skirts. "If you give me until tonight to come up with an appropriate forfeit, I will grant you one small token of appreciation."
"And what will that token be?" He glanced at her suspiciously.
"Whatever you desire," Audrey answered with a flippant wave of her hand.
"And you will be the one to fulfill that desire?"
Audrey's hackles rose at his intimation. "Do not try to say that you find me unattractive, because we both know that is not the case."
Braedon appeared to be seriously considering her offer. Audrey wanted to shout with joy. Finally, she was going to get a small taste of passion! As the only daughter of an overprotective father, she had few opportunities to be alone with men. Braedon was the only male that her father trusted enough to be in her company, so he would have to be her instructor in the finer arts of seduction. She knew he would never agree to it outright, he had too much respect for her father, but she certain that her ploy would work. Just when she thought she had convinced him, he shook his head.
"No. It is not going to work, Audrey. Just state your forfeit and have done with it."
"Bloody hell, Braedon!"
"A proper lady never curses," Braedon said with a teasing look.
"And I am certain that a proper lady never does this, either," Audrey said a split second before taking Braedon's face between her hands and standing on tiptoe to place her lips to his.
Kissing Braedon was just like she had dreamed it would be. His mouth was warm against hers and his lips sent shivers down her spine. Unfortunately, it was much too short. In an instant, Braedon wrenched away and gave her a fierce glare.
"Audrey, you cannot go around kissing men on a public street."
Audrey rolled her eyes and turned away from him in disgust. "I know that, you nincompoop. I am not an imbecile."
"Then why in hell did you do it?"
Audrey refused to turn around and look at him. "Because I have never been kissed and now seemed as good a time as any, until you had to go and ruin it."
"Ah, hell, Audrey. I am sorry."
Braedon put his hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged it off and marched to her curricle. She awkwardly climbed into the seat and took up the reins. The look that she gave Braedon over her shoulder told him without words that she was not to be followed. He lifted his hand in farewell, but she ignored it and headed home, aroused and frustrated.
That night, Audrey danced with every gentleman that asked her. Her dance card was full, so she took extreme pleasure in turning Braedon down when he finally approached her. The look of disappointment on his face was worth every minute spent in the arms of men she did not feel the slightest attraction toward.
"But you always dance the last dance with me!"
Audrey lifted her hand to wave at an old friend and gave Braedon a properly bored look. "I am sorry, but my dance card is full."
"Then take off the name of one of those bastards and replace it with mine."
"Now, Braedon, you know I could never do that. A proper lady would never do something so unforgivably rude."
Braedon grasped her elbow and leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Either you dance with me now or I will be forced to take drastic action."
"Ooh, threats!" Audrey focused her clear gaze on his angry face. "Do not try to intimidate me, Braedon. It will never work, since I will only call your bluff."
"What makes you think that I am bluffing?" Braedon moved even closer, until her breasts brushed against his coat and their thighs were nearly touching.
"Because you always play by the rules. You would never willingly cause a scandal inside a crowded ballroom, would you?"
Braedon merely lifted one eyebrow and placed his hand on the curve of her waist. His hand slid up until it was barely brushing the underside of her breast. "Do you care to test this theory of yours?"
Yes! Audrey wanted to scream, but she remained silent. Her eyes locked with Braedon's and she saw his nostrils flare with irritation. She could almost see the battle taking place inside his head. His desire was warring with his concern for propriety. She could tell that desire lost the battle when his hand dropped back down to her waist. She wanted to ask him why he continued hiding his desire when it was plainly obvious that he wanted her.
"Have it your way then, Audrey." He turned on his heel and was about to leave when she placed her hand on his arm. Once again the tingles raced through her fingertips.
He turned back to her with a small smile. "Have you changed your mind?"
"Not about the dance," Audrey said and shook her head. "But I have given thought to my forfeit."
He tried to look bored, but a flare of interest lit his eyes. "What do I have to do?"
Audrey took a deep breath and forced her eyes to remain on his face, instead of the floor. "You have to escort me to a house of ill repute."
For the second time that day, she had caught Braedon totally off guard. A grudging admiration appeared in his eyes as he turned to face her fully. "You want me to take you to a," his voice lowered to a whisper. "Whore house?"
"Exactly," Audrey said with a quick nod. "Tonight. Right now, in fact."
He paled as he looked at her excited expression. "You are not going to..."
Audrey caught his meaning and she gave him a sharp look. "Do not be ridiculous. Of course I am not going to sell myself to a complete stranger."
He let out a sigh of relief. "Well, that is something at least. How do you suggest we get there?"
"By a carriage, you fool," Audrey said as she began to lead the way toward the exit. Braedon followed at her heels.
"So we are just going to walk out? Will your father not worry where you have gone?"
"No. He is not here," Audrey said as she swept out of the front door and waited patiently at the curb for her carriage to be brought round. Braedon fidgeted at her side, until she was safely inside the carriage and the door was closed behind the two of them.
"I am convinced that you have completely lost your mind," Braedon said as the carriage began rolling toward the address that he had given the coachman. She noted that the address was in a moderately well-to-do section of London. Not what she had expected of a whore house.
Audrey waved aside his comment. "Have you ever visited such a house?" She then remembered that he had rattled off the direction from memory and she slapped her forehead. "What am I saying? You must have if you know the address so well."
Braedon laughed and leaned forward to meet her gaze. "Of course. My father took me to one when I was fifteen."
"Boys are so lucky," Audrey said with a wistful sigh. "Girls have to muddle through these things on their own." She sat back and regarded him curiously. "So, what was it like?"
"What was what like?"
"Do not play dumb. You know what I am asking. I want to know what your first sexual experience was like."
"I cannot discuss such things with you!" Braedon looked suitably chagrined. A blush even highlighted his cheeks.
"Because it is not proper."
"Braedon! Do not be such a prude. You are escorting me to a whore house, after all."
"A fact which I am already regretting. If your father ever finds out, he will strangle me."
"Probably preferable to being locking up in a nunnery, which would doubtfully be my punishment. I would never get to fuck then."
His mouth dropped open at her foul language, but he quickly recovered from his shock. "Is that what this is all about? You want a fuck?"
Audrey clenched her hands together tightly in her lap. Was that what she really wanted? Part of her long neglected body screamed "yes", while her romantic nature chided her that she wanted to wait until marriage. Fixing her eyes on some point above Braedon's shoulder, she nodded meekly. "Yes, that is what I want."
Braedon raked his hand through his dark curls and looked at her in disbelief. "This is so unusual. You are the daughter of an earl. You should not be having these thoughts until you are married."
"Have you saved yourself for marriage?"
"Of course not, but I am a man," Braedon answered. "It is different for ladies. What if you get pregnant?"
"I have heard there are ways to prevent pregnancy."
"But they are not foolproof. There is always a chance that you may get with child."
"In that case, I will simply find someone to marry."
"You would never pass another man's child off for someone else's. It is not in your nature to be so deceitful."
"Maybe you do not know me as well as you think you do," Audrey said with a lift of her eyebrow, even though he was right. She would never do something so despicable.
Braedon sat back and refused to speak to her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived at Miss Sally's, one of London's less risky establishments, Braedon alighted and helped her down from the carriage. He wrapped his hand tightly around her arm as he escorted her inside the dimly lighted foyer. Audrey was a tad disappointed by the house. She had expected to witness an orgy of half naked men and women. Instead, Miss Sally's looked like any other house that Audrey had ever entered. She could not help letting out a sigh of disappointment.
"Is this all there is to it?" She asked Braedon, who merely shrugged in response. Audrey's attention was caught by a large woman who was walking toward them. She was not at all what Audrey imagined a whore to look like. She was large, middle aged, and had a pleasant smile. She was dressed in much the same manner as other ladies of the ton.
Audrey leaned over to whisper in Braedon's ear. "Is she a whore?"
Brandon shushed her as the large woman hurried forward and greeted them. "Welcome to Miss Sally's. I am Emma. What can I do for you two, tonight?"
She did not appear to be too disconcerted to find two members of the ton there. Audrey suspected that she was not the first noblewoman to enter these doors.
When Braedon did not immediately reply, Audrey smiled at the woman and held out her hand. "I am Audrey and this is my friend, Braedon. We would like a room for the night."
Braedon spluttered at her side and gave her an astonished look. "Excuse us for a moment, Emma." He pulled Audrey off to the side and gave her a ferocious glare. "What in the hell do you think you are doing?"
Audrey shot an apologetic look toward Emma before turning her eyes back to Braedon. "I am getting us a room."
"Yes, I heard. For what reason?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?"
"Hell yes, I want you to answer!"
Audrey heaved a huge sigh. "Fine, Braedon. I am renting a room so that you and I can go upstairs and fuck. Is that a clear enough answer for you?"
Braedon was stunned mute. His mouth opened and closed for several moments. Finally, he satisfied himself by reaching out and giving her a quick shake. "You cannot be serious."
"Oh, I am absolutely serious." Audrey smiled at him reassuringly. "Just think of it as another contest in The Game. The loser will be the one who screams first."
"Screams? You should know nothing about such things."
"I have ears, Braedon, and eyes. I was bound to learn about sex one way or the other."
"Well, you bloody well will not learn anything further from me!"
Emma chose that moment to interrupt. "So? Shall I prepare a room for you?"
"Yes," Audrey answered.
"Definitely not," Braedon said at the same time.
Emma's gaze swing from Audrey to Braedon and back again. "Which is it? Yes or no?"
Audrey touched Braedon's arm and waited for him to look at her. "If you do not take my virginity, I will only find someone else more willing. I really would prefer that you be my first." She stopped to tilt her chin in Emma's direction and lowered her voice. "Please, Braedon. Do not dishonor me by refusing."
Braedon's dark eyes locked with hers. "The greater dishonor to you would be if I agree."
"We have already been seen here," Audrey pointed out. "You should at least give me the chance to see one of the rooms upstairs."
"All right, fine!" Braedon said and turned back to Emma. "One room, please."
Emma smiled and licked her lips in anticipation of the money she would make on this transaction. "And would you two be liking any company? We have some very lovely girls available."
Braedon turned to Audrey with a challenging look in his eye. "What do you say, Audrey? Would we like some company?"
"I think two is enough for now," Audrey said and gave Braedon a sharp look. Emma hurried away to prepare their room, leaving Audrey and Braedon to continue battling in private.
He put his hands on his hips and glared at her. "Just because I agreed to rent a room, it does not mean that we are having sex."
"Whatever you say," Audrey said although a smile was lifting the corners of her lips.
"We are only going upstairs so that you can see the room and then we are leaving. Is that understood?"
"Who are you trying to convince? You or myself?" Her smile widened even further.
Braedon shook a finger at her. "I am serious. You are going to stay on your side of the room and I am going to stay on mine."
"That hardly seems to be in the spirit of The Game."
"To hell with the bloody Game."
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