Book 2 in the Taming the Tudor Male in Three Easy Lessons Series
Lucasta Collyer is about to resign herself to an arranged marriage. First, however, she wants one night of discovery, on her own terms, with a complete stranger. Surely three sovereigns should be enough to pay for his time and his discretion. But Lucy's plan for one rebellious night of anonymous passion is destined for trouble.
The man she chooses turns out to be so much more than she expected. John Sydney Carver, a salty-mouthed, yeoman farmer and self-professed former rogue, is about to lay siege to her fortress heart. He has never bowed to the wretched nobility, or followed orders from a woman. And he's not likely to start. But when he meets this imperious, icy-tempered young hussy, she turns his world inside out.
She claims to need only one thing from him. Well, perhaps he wants something more from her.
It was only supposed to be one night, but will that be enough for either of them? This rogue isn't as reformed as he wants everyone to believe and he has no intention of being used as a disposable pawn in Lucy's game. When he plays, it's for keeps. When he gives his heart, it's forever.
NOTE: This is a previously published work. The publisher has changed.
His restless gaze darted around the room, one hand on the door
latch. “The old woman sent me up here.” Finally his perusal came to
rest on her in her leather mask. “What do you want with me?” he
A scratchy laugh spilled out of her dry mouth. “Well, let’s see.
I’m in a whore house and I’m almost naked.” When he merely glared at her, she quipped, “I’ll give you another clue. I’m not here for a dress-fitting.” Waiting had pinched her temper, drawn her nerves very thin. He was clearly a peasant and should do as he was told.
Still his fingers played over the door latch, his brow creased in a deep frown. “Is this some sort of jest? Who put you up to this, Nathaniel Downing? Better put your clothes back on, woman. I’m flattered, but I do my own choosing and I prefer a wench with more meat on her bones.”
Lucy took umbrage immediately. She straightened her spine, head up, shoulders back, and so what if her fingers held the bedpost a little tighter? He wouldn’t notice. “Indeed, this is no jest, certainly not at these prices. I paid good coin for this chamber and I trust Mistress Comfort informed you I’m willing to pay three sovereigns for your company. Quite a bit more than the going rate for trysts in this place, I understand.” Angrier by the breath, she added, “Surely that’s inducement enough to overlook any lack of meat on my bones!”
“Three sovereigns?” he said in a faintly appalled tone.
“And I mean to get my money’s worth.”
Her intentions laid out in these plain terms, surely clear enough even for a peasant to understand, she turned her back and demanded he unlace her corset. Accustomed to the services of a maid, tonight she must make do with this complete stranger. If he stayed, of course, and didn’t leave her standing there looking like a fool. Should he leave, Lucy wasn’t sure she had the strength to start again and find another man. Besides, he ought to be damned grateful for what she offered him.
A moment passed. She heard the rusty bolt drawn, then his long stride echoed across the floorboards toward her, loud and menacing. Even the ill-fitting windowpanes rattled slightly in their lead casings.
Her eyes flew open.
He was staying. This was it.
Another drum roll.
She flinched, expecting the cold touch of his fingers.
No tug on her laces.
No hands anywhere.
Had he forgotten his directions?
Swiveling impatiently, she found him very close behind her, wearing a scowl like thunder. Tripping back, she sat heavily on the edge of the bed.
“Who the hell are you?” he demanded.
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you.” She held up one hand, adding hastily, “I don’t want to know your name either, plowman. It really isn’t necessary.”
As he stood over her, hands on hips, she drew in another shallow,tense breath and swallowed his scent. Leather, horse and hay. She’d never been this close to a country peasant before, never been outside the city walls of London, in fact, and only rarely ventured far from her father’s house and grounds, until a few days ago when she’d been brought here to Norwich, for her wedding. This man, though he had the appearance of a rustic, didn’t act like a rampaging, rapacious savage, which is what she’d been raised to believe of all men who lived in the country and didn’t possess a coat of arms to their name. Her father, a stern man who ruled his household with an iron hand,terrified his daughters regularly with dire warnings about life outside his domain. It was a very effective method of keeping them under his control. At least, it was while Lucy was still a girl. But she was old enough now to understand that not everything was exactly the way her father taught her. Indeed he had a very skewed view of most things, including his eldest daughter’s worth.
She cautiously studied the man before her. He seemed much larger now they were in the same room. His shirt was stained, the cuffs hanging over his broad wrists frayed and discolored, his boots thick with mud.
“Can we proceed?” Once again, she tried to conceal her nervous tremors under a haughty tone. “Would you like the money now or later?”
Because he stood so close, looking up into his face made her feel small and vulnerable. Instead, she stared at whatever reached eyelevel. This, she discovered, was a mistake, drawing her gaze to the part of him for which she went to all this trouble, and subsequently reminding her that he was still fully clothed, while she was half-naked.
“Well, farmhand? Three sovereigns are enough, surely? You may remove your breeches and begin.” She glanced dubiously at his hands where they hung at his sides. “Try not to touch me too much. Beyond the necessary, of course.”
Instantly defying her orders, he clasped her chin with one of those large, roughened hands, lifting it until she could no longer avoid his steady gaze. “How amusing! My sides split. Where is he, then?” His low voice rumbled all the way down his arm, through his fingertips and into her jaw.
“Where is…?” She was breathless.
“Nate Downing. He put you up to this, didn’t he?”
She tried to knock his hand away, but his wrist was strong as iron, his grip unrelenting. The more she struggled and pulled on his sleeve, the harder he held on.
“I don’t like to be made a fool.”
She snapped out, “That makes two of us.”
There was a fraught moment, when he stared down at her and she held his gaze, unblinking, furious. Finally he let her go, his fingers drifting away. It was almost a caress, shockingly gentle, despite the potent strength in his fingertips. She shivered, every pore on her body snapped awake and alert. There was a decidedly impish gleam in his eye, curiously taking her in, very thorough, as if he were the one paying three sovereigns.
He’d better not try mastering her, she thought. If he knew her, he’d never dare try it. But of course, he didn’t know her, did he? That was the point.
“Look, if you’re going to be difficult about this, you may as well leave now. If you want your three sovereigns you’ll get the dratted thing out of your breeches and get on with it.”