Taming My Christmas Rogue – Tammy Andresen

LORD ANDREW MADDOX sat in the tavern staring with bleary eyes at the wench currently bent over his table. She poured him more ale, enabling him to look down her dress at her ample…endowments. He grimaced and then, for some odd reason, hiccupped, as though he was new to drinking and unable to handle his ale. Bloody hell, he was descending into complete madness. Or Hell. Or someplace equally awful where he could no longer drink a proper amount of liquor or ogle beautiful women without dire consequences. All right, perhaps the ale made him a bit overdramatic. Hiccups weren’t dire. But he hadn’t been with a woman in more than six months and that situation was indeed growing desperate. Even worse, Drew knew the exact moment his world had shifted… the day he’d met Miss Danielle Frazier. Just thinking about her name made his man parts harden in the most uncomfortable way. Uncomfortable because relief was not forthcoming. He’d tried to slake his lust on a few wenches but for some ridiculous reason, Danielle’s image had floated into his mind every single time. He’d end up abandoning the endeavor before he’d hardly begun. He’d met Danielle the previous spring when his brother had taken on guardianship of her cousin, Sophie Chesterfield.

Harry, worn out from years of war, had gone and married Sophie. Drew’s lip curled. Matrimony was a state in which he planned never to find himself. Not that his absentee father agreed with his plan. In fact, he’d sent a missive that he’d found an ideal woman for Drew. Some American heiress named Miss Amanda something or other. Drew’s hand tightened on his mug as he took another long swig. He’d been abundantly clear with his father that he had no intention of marrying anyone…ever. So why did he keep thinking about an innocent woman? Granted Danielle’s beauty was unparalleled. Delicate features complemented large blue eyes and a supple mouth that made a man want to beg to kiss it.

He’d hardly been able to stop looking at her. Which had been rather embarrassing actually. He was normally a man of great control around beautiful women. She, however, had not had the same problem where he was concerned. Every time their gazes met, she glanced away and frowned. Frowned as though he were ugly or awful or both. Even more infuriating, she’d been so kind to everyone else. Thoughtful and considerate, soft spoken and genteel, she made a man want to fall on his knees and plead for her attention. Beg. He took another swig of his ale as the wench finally gave up and left his table.

He grunted into his beverage. He was becoming a shell of a man. Perhaps he could tell his father to piss off, he’d return to himself. But that task was much harder to do in a letter. He and his siblings hadn’t heard from them in over a year. Even when they had been living in England, all he’d heard was how he needed to be more responsible like Bar or take charge of his life like Harry. Bah. It was good that they’d left to tour the Continent. Sure they came back occasionally and then left again, his father making sure Drew understood what a disappointment he was before the Duke of Manchfield flitted off again. So what if he hadn’t married and started making babies? And no, he hadn’t served his country, but why was that the mark of success? Maybe his father was the disappointment.

As far as role models went, he’d been shite. Sure, his siblings had his parents around for most of their childhoods, but they’d left when Harry was only fifteen and they’d been gone for years. And he wasn’t a failure. He’d managed his holdings well, made a success of his lands, even increased them over the last few years. What did his father have to complain about really? Yes, the man was insistent that Drew marry and fill the world with more little Maddox offspring. To hell with that. He didn’t owe his father anything as far as Drew could see and he certainly wasn’t allowing the duke to pick his wife. This wasn’t the dark ages. He looked down at his now empty cup. Bloody hell, he must really be drunk.

He never spent this much time thinking about anything. He attempted to remember how he’d gotten on the subject. Then it occurred to him. Lovely, angelic Danielle. The very woman who would stay with his family during the upcoming Christmastide. He let his head fall on the table, a thump resounding through the room. He’d nearly gone mad with lust the last time they’d been together in a house. Now he’d been months without a woman, and he’d have to be with Danielle for a week or more, watching the lovely sway of her hips and the soft curve of her backside and the way her breasts, though small, taunted him. He’d bet they were perky and— “Are ye all right, luv?” The wench had returned, her hand snaking around his neck as she pressed her bosom to his face. She smelled of stale ale and old meat.

“If it’s comfort ye be needin’ I’m told that I can cure most anything.” “What about the pox? Can you cure that?” he mumbled, his eyes still closed. He knew he was insinuating that she may very well be sharing diseases with the number of men she bedded. And see, that was another thing. He never cared, never even thought about things like that until he’d met Danielle. The wench clucked her tongue and then she was gone again, but her scent still filled his nostrils or perhaps the whole of the inn smelled the same. He pushed himself to standing, swaying slightly on his feet. Danielle smelled of the sea, and spring flowers, with a hint of sunshine. He’d bet that her soft curves pressed against him would feel like falling into a queen’s bed. Just the thought of her in such a position made him groan in tortured agony.

How would he get this woman out of his head? “Hey, you, there.” A deep voice boomed from the other side of the room. “Can’t hold your liquor, can you?” A large man pointed at Drew. Next to him was the very wench whom he’d just insulted. “I can hold my liquor jusht fine.” Damn. Had he just slurred his words? The man came charging toward him. Drew considered running but he’d likely trip and fall. Best to take the hit like a man and have the whole business done. But when that beefy fist landed in his eye, he’d wondered if he should have made his exit.

Nothing proved to his family that he was a responsible adult like open wounds. Christmastide was just round the corner and now he’d be sporting a wicked black eye. MİSS DANİELLE FRAZİER stared out the train window watching the winter scene pass by as they made their way south. Well, actually, because they were so close to the ocean, her view looked less like winter and more like dull grey. Fine by her. The dreary landscape suited her mood. Next to her, her cousin, Sophie, the new Countess of Ridgeby, sat chattering away, her hand resting on her slightly swollen belly. Lord Harold Ridgeby, who sat across from them, smiled at his wife as their train rumbled down the tracks. With any luck they’d have an heir by spring. Harry nodded along as Sophie discussed the details of the nursery, appearing as though he’d never heard a more interesting topic in his life.

Sophie glowed with a happiness that made Danielle both joyful and jealous. She loved her cousin dearly and, without Sophie, Danielle might be living on the street this very moment. But Sophie was all the things Danielle was not. Spunky, full of energy and enthusiasm, independent and able to hold her own in any room. Danielle had always admired her cousin’s ability to speak her mind and run her own life. Danielle on the other hand, had always been more comfortable quietly sitting in a corner. She’d been told that she was quite pretty, and she assumed it was true. Men often paid attention to her when she’d rather they didn’t. Take Harry’s brother Drew. A rake and a degenerate, the man had no redeeming qualities other than his sharp good looks.

Those he had too much of by half and they were completely distracting. He watched Danielle as though she were a fox at the hunt and his glances made her highly uncomfortable and rather heated. He stared at her with a heavy gaze that followed her about the room and his comments came to the edge of suggesting most inappropriate behaviors. He’d once suggested that she’d taste like a spiced orange. What did that even mean and why had she turned to jelly at the suggestion? A tiny sigh escaped her lips and Sophie instantly stopped talking. “I’ve gone on too long, haven’t I?” she asked. “No, no. Not at all.” Danielle placed her hand on her cousin’s shoulder. “I love hearing about the silk damask drapes you’ve ordered for the nursery.

They sound beautiful.” Danielle gave her cousin a false smile that she didn’t feel as the train continued rumbling down the tracks. Sophie took her hand. “Then what’s wrong?” “Nothing.” She pulled her lips even further apart, her face feeling stretched with her attempt to smile. Sophie had put more than enough energy into Danielle. In fact, Harry had given Sophie a large allowance and settlement for her future when she became his wife. Which meant Sophie had given over her dowry to Danielle. The gesture was one she could never repay. “I know when something’s bothering you.

” Sophie scooted closer. “Your turn to marry is coming, Dani. I’m sure of it.” Sophie knew her so well. Danielle’s smile vanished. “I’m not so sure.” Harry chuckled. “Of course it is, Dani.” He’d begun using Sophie’s pet name for her several months ago. “You might be every lord’s vision of a perfect bride.

Beautiful, kind, generous, you abound with feminine charm.” She shifted in her seat, her gaze falling to her lap even as Danielle wrinkled her nose. “I’m shy. I’m not titled in any way. My only connection to nobility is through my father’s French lineage. I’ve no male relative—” “You’ve me and you’ve Bar.” While Harry had been made an earl because of his service on the battlefield, his eldest brother was heir to a dukedom. “In fact, I believe Bar and Emily have invited several eligible men to this Christmastide house party for you to meet.” Danielle caught her breath. Oh no.

She wanted to marry, of course, but the idea of so much time with strangers made her flush with heat. She’d thought Christmastide would be a family affair and she’d only need contend with Drew’s unwanted attention. “Lovely.” Harry gave her an indulgent smile. He’d learned, of course, that she preferred needlepoint and quiet evenings in, to dances and picnics. Sophie patted her arm. “Emily means well. And Harry and I, we’ll be by your side the entire time.” “I know. Thank you.

” Danielle looked back out the window as they pulled into the train station. A carriage was sure to meet them to transport them to Cliffside, Emily and Bar’s home. This would be a long week.

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