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MYSTERIOUS STRANGERS. MURDER AND VENGEANCE. BLAZING PASSION.
Crackling lightening and booming thunder roar through the night, almost shaking the mansion. Lady Verity James, a widow who shuns society’s rules, is in her lavish boudoir with a secret lover when her austere butler knocks on her door. A foreign stranger, soaked through, is in the foyer.
His name is Dantae Fellini, and he claims to be the secretary to an Italian Count. Their carriage crashed, and Dantae has been sent to seek help.
She offers shelter, but quickly discovers their accident was sabotage. What secrets do the men hold? Is danger now lurking in her home? And why does Count Cavaletti appear ill-at-ease, while his secretary, with his long dark hair and blazing blue eyes, make her pulse race and her face redden.
Suddenly her life is turned upside down. Surrounded by drama and intrigue, she is swept away in an unstoppable romance, finding herself subject to discipline and unspeakably wicked pleasures.
If you enjoy suspenseful, erotic romance, look no further than this thrilling Victorian page-turner. Pick it up today.
Squeezing her eyes tightly shut, Verity held her breath and focused on his powerful thrusting. She was chasing her climax, it was almost upon her, and clinging to her lover’s back, she lifted her hips under his sweating, panting body, adjusting her position ever so slightly. It was so close, so tantalizingly close, and she pushed her mind back to the dark, delicious pleasures that once possessed her; days and nights filled with torrid, unspeakable decadence.
He was behind her, flicking the exquisitely torturous tawse, bringing a keen sting to her bottom…his fingers were exploring her impossibly wet womanhood…his lips were whispering devilish promises in her ear…
The orgasm seized her, and gasping her way through the tingling spasms, she heard her lover release a heavy groan into the pillows next to her head. Moments later his flaccid member slipped away, and letting out a long, satisfied sigh, she closed her legs, doing her best to trap his essence. He grunted, then rolled off her, leaving her in peace. He knew better than to speak or to attempt to hold her.
Sinking into the bed, again she sighed, and forcing back the brimming tears, and swallowing the hot lava in her throat, she surrendered to the warmth of the afterglow.
One of these times it would happen. A powerful orgasm would fly her into the ether, and her beloved Jack would be there waiting. They would merrily dance, and he would hold her as he used to, give his blessing to the child she had just conceived, and she could live the remainder of her years happily. It would be a different sort of happiness, but a happiness nonetheless.
She had experienced the amazing flight from her body only with Jack, and though she’d held on to the hope that she would find it with another, and it would result in a precious baby, the months had turned into years, and her chosen path was becoming ever-more difficult.
Her legs still tightly pressed together, she rolled over and picked up the two cloths she had ready on the bedside table. Handing one to her lover, she placed the other against her womanhood to soak in the moisture now leaking out of her.
“What a storm,” he remarked as a roar of thunder rolled overhead. “I’m not going to enjoy riding home in it. Bloody nuisance.”
“You should have brought your coach,” she murmured, wiping herself then slipping out of bed.
“It was a perfectly fine afternoon when I left,” he frowned, “and you are well aware that if I’m on horseback I can cut across the fields and be here in half the time.”
She didn’t respond, and dressed only in her corset, she ambled to the tall windows that overlooked the front lawns.
“Have I told you recently that you have a very nice backside?”
“You know I don’t like compliments,” she quipped. “Please don’t.”
“But it looks especially lovely today. I’ve never seen it framed quite so beautifully. It must be that corset,” he remarked, not taking his eyes of her. “I felt compelled and simply had to tell you.”
He didn’t, he didn’t have to tell her, but men were like that. They thought if they expressed their admiration for her body, or her face, or her dress, or whatever, it would somehow bring her closer to them, or win her affection. She had no desire to be closer to them, nor to adore them. There was only one man she adored, and he lived high above the clouds, and would visit her in her dreams.
Verity wasn’t unhappy, but nor was she happy. Since her beloved Jack had so tragically died, that’s how it had been. No ups, no downs, just a long boring evenness that had become her life. The pounding rain wasn’t helping. She needed the sun to come out. She needed to ride, she needed to wander the gardens, she needed to-
“Verity, come back to bed.”
Sighing, she ignored his request and studied the dribbles hurrying down the window panes. Lord Richard Smythe III was just one of several lovers. He was all panting and sweat and driving forward to their mutual climax, and sometimes that suited her…sometimes. She had to be in the right mood for Richard, and when she was, his fervor was contagious.
“I think I’m going down for some tea,” she declared, meandering towards her screen.
Modesty had long since left her, and she cared not that her body was imperfect. She wasn’t seventeen anymore, or even twenty-five. Then she had a perfect body. Now, it wasn’t that she was too heavy or too thin, she just wasn’t perfect.
“No, come back here, tea can wait.”
She paused, and taking a breath, she stared across at him.
“No, Richard, you can wait.”
She heard his humph of displeasure, but his response wasn’t unexpected and it didn’t faze her, but then, rarely did anything faze her. Walking behind the screen she idly wondered why she bothered with it, and she supposed keeping with tradition at certain times was probably a good thing. Staring at her many undergarments, she couldn’t be bothered dealing with them all, and it was difficult dressing without her maid. No. She would call for tea instead of going down, and donning her long, red, silk robe, wrapping it tightly around her body, she strolled across the room to the bell cord. Two pulls meant tea.
“You’ve changed your mind?” Richard asked eagerly. “You’re staying?”
“Only in the bedroom, Richard, and only because I cannot abide the trouble of dressing,” she replied, moving back to the window. “I do wish this jolly rain would stop. It seems as if it’s been raining for days.”
“Except for the sunshine earlier, it has been raining for days,” he grumbled, climbing from the bed and pulling on his trousers. “I should have realized it was temporary. Damn and blast, I’ll get soaked riding home,” then pausing, he added, “you do seem in a more of a mood than usual. Is it something I’ve done, or something I’ve said?”
A wave of guilt washed over her. Richard wasn’t to blame, no-one was not blame, even she wasn’t to blame.
“No, of course not,” she said with a Mona Lisa smile. “I’m just in one of my glum states. It has nothing to do with you.”
“Can I help?”
“Isn’t Margaret expecting you home? You’ve been here for ages.”
“My wife is busy with…hmmm…I don’t recall exactly what it is she’s doing, but I know she’s busy. It has something to do with charity.”
“Maybe that’s what I should do. Get involved with a charity, or maybe even charities, more than one.”
“Forgive me, my dear, Verity,” he said walking up behind her, “but I’m not sure you’re the type.”
“There’s a type?” she said, turning around and frowning at him. “What sort of type?”
“Proper, you have to be proper, and let’s be honest, you are many things, but I doubt you’d be considered proper. You’re discreet, you’re wealthy, you’re titled, and you have an excellent pedigree, but proper? I suspect the ladies who run these things would raise an eyebrow or two if you wanted to join them.”
“Oh, poof,” she said airily, waving her hand, “just because I have the odd gentleman caller doesn’t mean I’m not proper. I’m as proper as a gold embossed porcelain plate on a white tablecloth.”
“Your reputation isn’t exactly…”
“Isn’t exactly what, Richard?” she snipped. “My reputation isn’t exactly what?”
“I can see this conversation might be headed down a path full of brambles, so I think I’ll finish getting dressed and be on my way. Besides, your tea will be arriving shortly, and your reputation won’t be helped if Lambert finds me in here.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” she exclaimed, grabbing his arm as he turned to walk away. “My reputation isn’t what? Tell me. Tell me right now!”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know,” he said solemnly. “You entertain gentlemen in your grand home, and you don’t think the gossipmongers aren’t having a field day?”
“It doesn’t seem to have stopped the invitations,” she declared, waving her arm at the small, ornate desk against the wall. “If I’m so scandalous, why am I being constantly invited to all these things, and the summer season hasn’t even begun?”
“Because you are so wonderfully…what’s the word…not wicked, you’re definitely not wicked…wanton! That’s what you are! You’re wonderfully wanton! You have the most delicious air about you, and people love to see it, to feel it, to be around it. Quite frankly, reputation or no reputation, many are envious.”
A light tapping on the door told them the butler had arrived with her tea, and moving swiftly to the side of the bed, Richard grabbed the rest of his clothes and started to hurry to the screen.
“Lambert is not an idiot,” she mumbled as she moved past him. “He knows you’re here.”
“Be that as it may, I care about appearances even if you don’t. I have a wife, remember?”
“I’m, sorry, Richard,” she said, meaning it, “you’re quite right.”
She often forgot that other people were less inclined to live life so frivolously, and while she did her best to be discreet, she did it for them, more than for herself. It was something she had to consciously think about, and silently chiding herself for her momentary slip, she turned to make sure he was in place before calling for her butler to enter.
“Come in, Lambert.”
The austere butler entered, but there was no tray in his hand, and he was looking extremely harried.
“Lambert? Is everything in order?”
“I’m afraid something rather, uh, well, somewhat disturbing has occurred.”
“What is it? Has something happened to Lord Smythe?” she asked, keeping up the pretense that Richard was somewhere other than in her room, hiding behind her screen.
“Lord Smythe? Oh, no, no, I believe he is still in the library, My Lady.”
“What is it then?”
“We have a stranger at our door, but it’s raining so heavily I felt obliged to invite him in. He’s waiting in the foyer.”
“Yes, madam, and he’s foreign!”
“Foreign! From where? Did he give you a name?”
“He claims to be the secretary to a one, Count Rocco Cavaletti, My Lady, and while I assume he’s from the continent, I didn’t inquire as to where. I thought it best I come and tell you immediately.”
“A count? Rocco Cavaletti? That sounds Italian. Did this secretary say why he has arrived at my door?”
“He claims their carriage broke a wheel. The count is still there, and the driver stayed to keep the horses calm.”
“Did he say how far away his carriage is?”
“He didn’t madam, but from his state, I’d say he’s walked quite a distance.”
“In this weather five minutes would see one drenched. Have Cyrus take the large coach and fetch the count, fetch the driver too, and bring back the horses. It’s going to be dark soon. We shall have them overnight.”
“Very well madam, though…”
“Though, what Lambert?”
“Forgive me, My Lady, but I feel compelled to say, we don’t know anything about this man, or his master. Do you think it wise?”
“I’m sure they will be perfectly fine, Lambert, but I do appreciate your concern,” she replied. “Please do as I ask. The weather is becoming worse, not better. We don’t want them drowning out there, or being swallowed up in mud.”
“Very well, madam. I’ll see to it immediately, and do you still wish me to bring up your tea?”
“No, I shall come down. We shall greet this mysterious count with something hot to drink, and have coffee prepared as well. Coffee might be more to their taste.”
The worried butler quickly left, and Richard stepped from behind the screen, a dark frown hovering over his eyes.
“I should stay,” he declared. “Lambert is right. You don’t know who these people are. There may not be a count at all, there may be some sort of-“
“Some sort of what, Richard?” she said sharply, cutting him off. “Honestly! Look at the weather! Do you think a nefarious gang of thieves is roaming the countryside looking for victims in the middle of a storm?”
“One never knows, Verity, one never knows.”
“I suggest you return quietly to the library. I’ll say goodbye to you downstairs, and please hurry. I must ring for Mabel and dress.”
“I don’t like this,” he glowered, as he began to pull on his clothes. “I don’t like this one bit.”
Walking across to the window, she stared out at the storm. A foreign stranger, an Italian count no less, was about to come into her house. An intriguing surprise on such dreary day. Nothing intriguing had happened in far too long, and she was absolutely delighted.
She could hear Richard mumbling to himself, and turning around, she saw him blithely chattering away as if another person was standing in front of him. It was an odd habit he had, and one she found unnerving. Glad he was leaving, and looking forward to her unexpected visitors, a smile crossed her face. Was the storm was sweeping in new friends? Who were these mysterious foreigners?