Scandal in Spring Page 32

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This was too much. Daisy Bowman was furious because he hadn’t done the thing he had craved and dreamed of for years of his life. He had behaved honorably, damn it all, and instead of being appreciative she was angry.

“…am I that undesirable?” Daisy was ranting. “Would it have been so disagreeable?”

He wanted her for so long. He had reminded himself a thousand times of all the reasons he could never have her. And it had been a hell of a lot easier to bear knowing she detested him and there was no reason to hope. But the possibility that her feelings might have changed, that she might want him in return, filled him with a dizzying thrill.

Another minute of this and he would become unhinged.

“…don’t know how to do whatever it is women are supposed to do to attract men,” Daisy was saying irately. “And when I finally had a chance to gain a little experience, you—” She broke off and frowned as she saw his face. “Why do you look like that?”

“Like what?”

“As if you’re in pain.”

Pain. Yes. The kind of pain a man felt when he had lusted after a certain woman for years and found himself alone with this woman and then had to endure her complaints that he hadn’t kissed her when all he wanted was to tear her clothes off and have her right there on the floor.

She wanted experience? Matthew was ready to give her the experience of a lifetime. His body had become so unbearably hard that the brush of his trouser fabric was enough to make him wince. Struggling to control himself, he concentrated on breathing. Breathing. But there was only more arousal, until red mist had gathered at the edges of his vision.

He wasn’t aware of reaching for her but suddenly his hands were on her, hooked just beneath her arms where the yellow satin was permeated with the warmth of her body. She was light and supple, like a cat…he could lift her so easily, pin her against the wall…

Daisy’s dark eyes were wide and startled. “What are you doing?”

“I want the answer to one question,” Matthew managed to say. “Why did you call my name in there?”

Emotions crossed her face in rapid succession…surprise, guilt, embarrassment. Every inch of exposed skin turned pink. “I don’t know what you mean. Your name was on the paper. I had no choice but to—”

“You’re lying,” Matthew said tersely. His heart stopped as she refused to reply. She wasn’t going to deny it. Her flush deepened to crimson. “My name wasn’t on that paper,” he continued with great effort. “But you said it anyway. Why?”

They both knew there could only be one reason. Matthew closed his eyes briefly. His pulse was so hot and fast that its reckless momentum stung the insides of his veins.

He heard Daisy’s hesitant voice. “I just wanted to know what you…how you…I just wanted…”

This was temptation at its most brutal. Matthew tried to make himself let go of her, but his hands would not release the slim curves encased in yellow satin. It felt too good to hold her. He stared at her exquisite mouth, the subtle but delicious indentation in the center of her lower lip. One kiss, he thought desperately. Surely he could have at least that. But once he started…he wasn’t certain he could stop.

“Daisy…” He tried to find words to defuse the situation, but it was difficult to speak coherently. “I’m going to tell your father…at the first opportunity…I can’t marry you under any circumstances.”

She still wouldn’t look at him. “Why didn’t you tell him so right away?”

Because he had wanted to make her notice him.

Because he had wanted to pretend, just for a little while, that the thing he had never dared to dream about was just within reach.

“I wanted to annoy you,” he said.

“Well, you did!”

“But I never considered it seriously. I could never marry you.”

“Because I’m a wallflower,” she said sullenly.

“No. That’s not—”

“I’m undesirable.”

“Daisy, would you stop—”

“Not even worth a single kiss.”

“All right,” Matthew snapped, finally losing the grip on his sanity. “Damn it, you win. I’ll kiss you.”

“Why?”

“Because if I don’t you’ll never stop complaining about it.”

“It’s too late now! You should have kissed me back there in the parlor but you didn’t, and now that you’ve doomed any chance I’ll ever have of being kissed by anyone else, I’m not going to settle for some half-rate consolation prize.”

“Half-rate?”

That had been a mistake. Matthew could see that Daisy realized it the instant she had said it.

She had just sealed her fate.

“I-I meant to say half-hearted,” she said breathlessly, trying to wriggle away from him. “It’s obvious you don’t want to kiss me and therefore—”

“You said half-rate.” He jerked her hard against him. “Which means now I have something to prove.”

“No you don’t,” she said quickly. “Really. You don’t—” She gave a little cry as he clamped one hand behind her neck, and all sound was muffled as he tugged her head to his.

CHAPTER 7

Matthew knew it was wrong the instant their lips met. Because nothing would ever equal the perfection of Daisy in his arms. He was ruined for life. God help him, he didn’t care.

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