Taken by the Earl – Carole Mortimer

On your knees. I trust you are not about to disappoint me?” The man’s voice became colder, more challenging, as the person he was talking to obviously failed to obey him quickly enough. “We have a deal, remember? I will take care of your little problem, and you will submit to me whenever I instruct you to do so. Now get down on your knees!” Fliss believed she was safely concealed in the window alcove of the Woodrow family library, her presence hidden behind heavy velvet curtains. But even so, she drew her slippered feet closer to the padded seat on which she was sitting, and also ensured the hem of her gown was not visible either. She doubted the aggressive gentleman in the library beyond would appreciate knowing she was here, an unwilling audience, albeit only audibly. She had escaped to the library to read, as she invariably did halfway through the evening at tedious Society functions such as the Woodrows’ ball. She had not expected to have her solitude intruded upon by two other people. She knew one of them was a man, but had no idea as yet whether the second one was a man or a woman. “Well?” the gentleman now demanded. “I am still waiting. Better,” he purred. “Now unfasten my pantaloons.” There was the rustle of clothing, followed by the man’s low growl. “Do not just look at it, take it out and pump it.

Harder.” He gave a throaty groan. “Faster, damn it!” Fliss’s face flamed with color as she realized exactly what it was she had become an unwilling audience to. It was— The couple in the library were engaged in— Oh dear Lord. “Enough!” the man’s command was guttural. “Open your mouth. It will have to be wider than that if you are to take all of me,” he said with satisfaction. “Ah yes…” His groan was one of pure pleasure. “Your mouth is even hotter than your quim. Tighter too,” he taunted.

“You have no idea how much I am going to enjoy fucking this willing mouth whenever I feel like it.” The crudeness of the man’s conversation at least confirmed his sexual partner was a woman. He gave a harsh laugh. “You must wish for the Earl of Winterbourne’s demise very much, if in exchange you are willing to whore yourself for me whenever I demand it.” The Earl of Winterbourne’s demise…? Was this man talking of killing the earl? Not the elderly Earl of Winterbourne, a widower with no children, for he had passed away at the start of the Season. The new earl, then? Sinclair Montgomery, the unmarried and Scottish greatnephew of the previous earl. The speculation in London had been of him as an ill-mannered Highlander. An opinion Fliss had neither been able to confirm nor deny, their paths not having crossed at any of the social occasions he had attended since his arrival in Town a week or so ago. She edged forward on her seat now, anxious to learn the identity of this couple as she carefully eased the velvet curtain aside enough to see into the main room. She had not recognized the man’s harsh tones, and the woman had not spoken at all as yet.

The man stood with his back toward her, his hair fair and fashionably tousled, a black evening jacket tailored to his muscular shoulders and back. She could not see the woman at all, but the increasingly fierce thrusting of the man’s hips explained the reason for her continued silence. Her mouth was busily engaged elsewhere. Because the woman had agreed to service this gentleman, in whatever way he demanded, in exchange for his disposing of the new Earl of Winterbourne? Again Fliss asked why? “Yes! Yes! God…” The gentleman in the library obviously attained his peak. “Take it all, slut,” he instructed coldly. “Once you have done so, we will sit down and discuss the finer details of the earl’s imminent demise.” Fliss ducked quickly back behind the curtain. Her heart pounded rapidly within the shallow rise and fall of her chest, and she attempted to regulate her breathing so as not to be heard by the couple in the library, now that they were not distracted by…other things. The man’s voice had sounded not only cold but also cruel, leading Fliss to believe that if he were to discover she had overheard his damning conversation, he would not hesitate to dispose of her too. “You said Winterbourne is to attend the summer house party at Eckles Manor?” “Yes.

” The woman spoke for the first time, her voice gruff. No doubt her throat was sore from having this man’s cock thrust down it. “The question is, shall I allow him to enjoy the pleasures to be had there before I dispose of him, or just put an end to the business immediately,” the man mused. “It seems a pity to ruin everyone else’s fun too soon,” the would-be murderer of the earl drawled. “Yes, perhaps I will allow the new earl a little time for indulgence before I remove him.” “As long as you do.” “Do not presume to tell me my business, madam.” His voice once again turned icy. “I should return to my husband now.” “I have not given you permission to leave.

” “He will be looking for me.” “Then let us hope he does not find you. Now raise your skirts and bend over the end of the chaise. I intend to take you again before returning you to your husband.” “I am finding no pleasure in this exchange.” “That only makes it all the more enjoyable for me. Be assured, once Winterbourne is dead, I shall expect you to kneel or bend over and take me whenever and wherever I wish it.” It was impossible to miss the edge of cruelty in the man’s words this time. Much as she tried, Fliss could feel little sympathy for the woman’s plight as she gave a whimper followed by a suppressed scream. The conversation had revealed the woman as being the one who wished Winterbourne dead, and as such, she had also chosen her own punishment for the crime.

Instead, Fliss tried to consider how she might warn the Earl of Winterbourne as quickly as possible of this other man’s intention to kill him during his stay at Lady Eckles’s infamous summer house party. Although it became increasingly difficult to shut out the slapping sound of flesh against flesh in the room beyond, or the soft sobs of the woman at the receiving end of that roughness. Fliss could only imagine the other woman must have a desperate reason for wishing the earl’s demise if she was willing to suffer through such humiliation as this in order to achieve it. Chapter 2 Two weeks later. Eckles Manor, Kent Sin made no attempt to hide his yawn of boredom as he stood beside an open window, casting a jaded eye about the Eckles’s crowded drawing room, where half-clothed ladies and gentlemen were indulging in numerous carnal acts more suited to the privacy of a bedchamber. He was no prude; indeed, he had accepted the invitation to attend the house party only because he had heard of its reputation for unbridled debauchery. It was several weeks since he’d left his home in Scotland, and he was seriously in need of a good fuck. Unfortunately, he realized, not long after his arrival yesterday, that none of the ladies present appealed to him in the slightest. Except perhaps one. Sin had caught a glimpse of her when she arrived in her carriage earlier today, only her eyes briefly visible, huge and pale in color, beneath the brim of her blue bonnet, before she turned away to greet her hostess.

Her figure alone had been enough to arouse Sin’s lust. She was short of stature, with ebony curls peeping out from beneath her bonnet. Her breasts appeared voluptuous, as did her ass, beneath a gown of the same color as her bonnet. Her skin— Lord, her skin was soft and the color of ivory, and possessed an almost luminescent appearance. She moved with a natural grace, those shapely hips swaying enticingly as she walked into the house. The delicate arch of her neck as she turned to reply to something said to her by their hostess simply begged to be tasted by a man’s lips and tongue. As did the full swell of her breasts, revealed above the rounded neckline of her gown. Sin wanted to possess those lips for himself as he felt his cock harden and swell. He had looked forward to meeting the lady at dinner, to seeing whether the face suited that ripe and voluptuous body, only to be disappointed when she had not made an appearance. Sin was too guarded in his behavior to reveal his particular interest to his hostess by enquiring as to the name and whereabouts of her newest guest.

But he sincerely hoped the woman was not here to meet her lover and was even now in the man’s bedchamber with him on one of the floors above this one. That would be too disappointing. So much so that Sin thought he would have to take his leave on the morrow if that should be the case. He was well aware that English Society had decided he was a wild and ill-bred Scottish Highlander, so he might as well behave as one by cutting short his visit and visiting the principal Winterbourne estate in Devon. “You are not retiring so soon, my lord?” Sin repressed a groan, forcing a smile as he turned to face his hostess. Maria Eckles was in her late forties, her blonde hair retaining its color by artificial means, the thin layer of gauze over her breasts revealing they retained none of the same pertness of the lady Sin had lusted after earlier. Lady Eckles had also made it obvious, since Sin’s arrival yesterday, that she would enjoy nothing better than to strip him naked and take him where he stood. Except his cock did not stand for this particular woman. Maria Eckles obviously had a voracious sexual appetite, which he had no doubt she had shared with every man in this room at one time or another. Her husband, a small and insignificant man, appeared to have little say in that matter or any other within his own household.

Sin had never asked for exclusivity where a woman was concerned, but he did prefer to be the hunter rather than the hunted. Unfortunately, his prey had chosen not to make an appearance this evening. He gave a confirming nod. “I find I am more fatigued from my journey yesterday than I had realized.” “Surely not?” Lady Eckles batted her eyelashes over flirtatious blue eyes. “I had thought a young and virile gentleman such as yourself would possess unrelenting…stamina?” Which was no doubt the reason Sin had been invited here. Truth was, with a woman he desired, Sin had both the stamina and self-control to pleasure her all night long, without attaining his own release until he was ready. He could say with certainty Lady Eckles was one woman who would never have firsthand knowledge of his unrelenting sexual stamina. “Another night, perhaps?” he refused smoothly. “For now, I believe I really must leave you all to continue enjoying your revels without me.

” She placed a restraining hand on his arm. “If none of the ladies here appeal, then perhaps one of the gentlemen?” “Not tonight nor any other night,” he assured her dryly. His preference did not lie in that direction. “I simply have a desire for my bed and a good night’s sleep.” “Very well.” His hostess made a poor job of concealing her irritation with his determination to retire for the night. “But you will participate in the games I have planned for tomorrow, I hope?” Her expression was coy and inviting. A demeanor Sin considered to be particularly unpleasant on a woman who was the mother of two sons only a few years younger Sin’s own five and thirty. “Perhaps,” he answered her noncommittally, turning away from the particularly unpleasant sight of one of the gentlemen throwing up a lady’s skirts, baring her to the waist, before thrusting his fingers into her pussy, much to her delighted groans. Sin decided then and there that tomorrow would most definitely find him with an urgent need to leave for Devon.

Fliss could not contain her agitation as she paced the confines of the bedchamber lit only by a single candle. Not that she minded the semidarkness, for it suited her mood of introspection far better than a brighter light would have done. She had known as soon as she arrived at Eckles Manor this afternoon and found herself the focus of a pair of compelling—and very male—green eyes, that she should not have come here. No matter how urgent she considered her reason for having done so. As it was, she had claimed a headache from traveling as her excuse for not joining the rest of the guests for dinner and entertainments this evening, instead requesting Mary, her maid, bring up a tray of food to her room. Fliss had no idea what excuse she would use tomorrow in order to avoid the other guests. Her only reason for being here was to seek out and speak with the elusive Earl of Winterbourne. Her heart thundered at the thought. By doing so, she might also find herself in the company of the earl’s would-be assassin. A disturbing thought, as she had no chance of recognizing him when the only view she had of him a fortnight ago had been the back of his head.

It was all well and good deciding she must find the new Earl of Winterbourne posthaste and inform him of this plot to kill him. It had proved another matter entirely to find the man and actually tell him of the conversation she had overheard. When she had visited the earl’s town house the day after the Woodrows’ ball, his butler had informed her the gentleman was out to lunch with his cousin and his wife. When she called again the following day, the same butler had told her the earl was away for several days visiting one of his estates and not expected back until the end of the week. The butler had not offered the name and whereabouts of this estate, and Fliss had not asked. As a young widow, there was only so much she could do in regard to seeking out a single gentleman without drawing attention to herself and risking creating a scandal. She returned to Winterbourne House at the end of the week, only for the butler to inform her the earl would not be returning to London after all, but intended remaining at his estate before attending a private house party. Fliss had known exactly which private house party that was. Frustrated in her endeavors, but at the same time aware of the danger the earl was in, Fliss had been forced to put aside her own plans to retire to her country home for the summer. Instead, she went about procuring an invitation to Maria Eckles’s house party for herself.

Fliss still shuddered as she recalled the surprised speculation in the other woman’s eyes after Fliss had hinted at, and received, a formal invitation to be one of the other woman’s guests. Mrs. Felicity Randall, the young, respectable, and respected widow of Major Stephen Randall, did not attend scandalous house parties. Except she had. She was. And, having already been the focus of one gentleman’s interest, she already regretted doing so. Fliss had not recognized the gentleman who had watched her so intently when she arrived earlier today. A man whose green eyes alone had caused a quiver of… Well, Fliss was not quite sure what the reason was for the frisson of excitement that had run the length of her spine and caused her to quickly turn her head away from that glittering and admiring gaze. She had been twenty when she and Stephen married, that marriage having been of three years duration before his death. But his commission in Wellington’s army meant they had actually been together for only a matter of months during all that time.

Stephen had been perhaps six or seven inches taller than her own five feet in height, and boyishly handsome in appearance. He had been a pleasant-natured man and an indulgent husband, and they had fared moderately well, both in and out of their marriage bed, for those few months they were together. Fliss was sure the dark-haired man who had stared at her so boldly earlier would not be in the least pleasant or indulgent. Indeed, the hunger in his gaze as it roamed over her body with such intimate familiarity had given the impression he wished to devour all of her in a single bite. There was no doubting he was handsome, in a harshly dramatic way: heavy dark brows over those glittering green eyes, razor-sharp cheekbones either side of an aquiline nose, his mouth firm, jaw square and unrelenting. He was also exceedingly tall, his shoulders and chest muscular, his abdomen flat beneath his waistcoat, legs long and also muscular, and shown to advantage in tight-fitting pantaloons and highly polished Hessians. Being so short herself, Fliss felt uncomfortable around men who towered over her. They invariably made her feel small and vulnerable, and she dared not risk being made to feel either of those things in Maria Eckles’s house. Fliss needed to keep her wits about her at all times during this visit, or risk becoming embroiled in some scandalous exploit that might well be the ruin of her. Damn the Earl of Winterbourne.

Why could he not have stayed in London and so allowed her to deliver her dire warnings? Freeing her to then travel to her own modest country home for several enjoyable months of peaceful contemplation after the rush and bustle of the Season. She was being unfair, Fliss acknowledged heavily. It was not the earl’s fault that someone wished to kill him. At least, she presumed it was not. She had no way of knowing if the earl had done something horrible to that poor woman, and it was the reason the other woman was so willing to sell her soul—and her body—to that devil who had taken such delight in debasing and humiliating her. Fliss’s quiver this time was one of distaste at the memory of those long minutes she’d had no choice but to endure listening as that hateful man defiled and reviled the other woman. It was— Fliss turned sharply toward the door as she heard the handle being turned and the door opening, a large figure filling the open doorway. The same green-eyed gentleman who had earlier so shamelessly devoured her with his eyes. Chapter 3 To say Sin was surprised to find a woman waiting for him in his bedchamber would be an understatement. Most especially as it was the same woman whose arrival had so intrigued him this afternoon.

A woman who obviously returned the interest he

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