Scandal in Spring Page 58

“Don’t fall asleep,” she heard him warn. “We have to get you out of here.”

“I’m not sleeping. I’m just…” she paused to yawn hugely. “…resting my eyes.”

“Only for a minute.” His hand passed over her hair and down her back in a long stroke. That was all it took to lull her into sweet, dark oblivion.

Daisy awakened to the patter of rain on the roof, and the waft of a moisture-heavy breeze from the open window. The Hampshire weather had decided to cool the afternoon with a spontaneous shower, the kind that usually lasted no more than a half-hour and left the ground spongy and fragrant.

Blinking, Daisy registered her unfamiliar surroundings, the masculine bedroom…the vivid strangeness of a na**d muscular body at her back. And the stirring of someone’s breath in her hair. She tensed in surprise but lay quietly, wondering if Matthew was awake. His breathing didn’t change. But gradually his arm slid across her body, his fingers spreading over her front.

Gently he settled her back against him, and they watched the rain in silence. Daisy tried to remember if there had ever been a time in her life when she had felt so safe and content. No, she decided. Nothing could compare to this.

Feeling her smile against his arm, Matthew murmured, “You like the rain.”

“Yes.” She explored the hairy surface of his leg with her toes, rather amazed at how long his calves were. “Some things are always better when it’s raining. Like reading. Or sleeping. Or this.”

“Lying in bed with me?” He sounded amused.

Daisy nodded. “It feels as if we’re the only two people in the world.”

He traced the line of her collarbone, and the side of her throat. “Did I hurt you, Daisy?” he whispered.

“Well, it was rather uncomfortable when you—” she stopped and blushed. “But I expected that. My friends told me it improves after the first time.”

His fingertips wandered to the outline of her ear, and the blood-heated curve of her cheek. There was a smile in his voice as he said, “I’ll do my best to see that it does.”

“Are you sorry it happened?” Her fingers clenched as she waited tensely for his answer.

“Good Lord, no.” He brought her small fist to his mouth and kissed it open, and flattened her palm against the side of his face. “It’s what I’ve wanted most in my entire life. And the one thing I knew I could never have. I’m surprised. Shocked, even. But never sorry.”

Daisy turned and snuggled against him, sandwiching one of his thighs between her own.

The rain beat out a brisk song against the side of the house, some of it coming through the window. Considering the idea of getting out of bed, Daisy shivered a little, and felt Matthew draw the covers higher over her bare shoulder.

“Daisy,” he asked without heat, “where is the damn key?”

“I put it in your coat pocket,” she said helpfully. “Didn’t you see? No?…well, I suppose you were distracted at the time.” She trailed her hand over his chest, letting her palm graze the point of his nipple. “You’re probably angry with me for locking us in the bedroom.”

“Enraged,” he agreed. “I insist you do it every night after we’re married.”

“Are we going to get married?” Daisy whispered, raising her head.

His eyes were warm, but there was no hint of pleasure in his voice. “Yes, we’re going to marry. Although you’ll probably hate me for it someday.”

“Why in the world would I…oh.” Daisy remembered what he had told her about the likelihood of his past catching up to him someday. “I could never hate you,” she said. “And I’m not afraid of your secrets, Matthew. Whatever comes, I’ll face it with you. Although you should know I find it exasperating when you throw out comments like that and refuse to explain.”

There was a sudden catch of laughter in his chest. “That’s only one of many reasons you find me exasperating.”

“True.” She crawled on top of him and nuzzled his chest like an inquisitive kitten. “But I like exasperating men much more than the nice ones.”

Two notches appeared between his dark brows. “Such as Llandrindon?”

“Yes, he’s much nicer than you.” Experimentally Daisy put her mouth over his nipple and touched it with her tongue. “Does that feel the same to you as it does to me?”

“No. Although the effort is appreciated.” He tilted her face upward. “Did Llandrindon kiss you?”

She nodded slowly in the framework of his hands. “Just once.”

Jealousy entered his voice. “Did you like it?”

“I wanted to. I tried to.” She closed her eyes and turned her cheek into his palm. “But it wasn’t at all like your kisses.”

“Daisy,” he whispered, turning until she was tucked beneath him once more. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.” His fingers investigated the fragile angles of her face, the smiling curve of her lips. “But now it seems impossible that I held out as long as I did.”

Her nerves, sated as they were, stirred beneath the caress of his fingertips. “Matthew…what will happen next? Will you speak to my father?”

“Not yet. In the interest of preserving at least a semblance of decorum, I’m going to wait until I return from Bristol. By that time most of the guests will have left, and the family will be able to deal with the situation in relative privacy.”

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