Robert drank more of his ale as he leaned back in his chair. His companion, this Jared Morrissey, was an interesting fellow. Handsome and charming and very pleasant. More than pleasant. Their conversation was putting him at ease, something he scarcely felt, and his beast was stirring as well. This man, this chauffeur of his Hawk relative, was compelling. He hadn’t had a man in some time. He never gave much thought to his partners.
Man or woman, groom or maid, he took what he needed and they were amply rewarded for their service. If it left him cold that was the price he paid for being a Hawk. Urges that demanded to be satisfied was his curse. He’d thought that his recent coupling with one of the maids at Waltham Hall would set him in good stead for weeks but now with this tempting man in front of him? He found himself watching his mobile mouth as he spoke about his work at Hawksfell Manor.
“You love your work,” Robert interjected.
The words startled him and his companion. Jared blinked his pretty blue eyes at him, his mouth slightly parted.
Robert couldn’t help leaning forward. “I wish I could summon that sort of passion.”
A naughty twinkle came into the chauffeur’s eyes. “Ah, never say you don’t feel passion, Lord Waltham. You are a Hawk, after all.”
Robert welcomed the flash of want that washed over him this time. He could smell the man’s fresh scent. It was very alluring and unlike any he’d encountered. “And what do you know about Hawks and their passions?”
Jared’s cheeks flushed but he leaned closer as well. “They are legendary, my lord.”
“Robert.” Robert cleared his throat, which was suddenly parched despite the ale he’d drunk. “Please, call me Robert.”
The smile that crossed Jared’s face seemed to raise the temperature in the room. With a glance around to assure none of the other patrons paid them any undue notice, he placed a hand on Jared’s firm, muscled thigh.
Jared’s muscles hardened further, then he covered his hand with his own. “What are you about, Robert?”
Robert felt his own cheeks heat but he flashed an awkward smile. “I’m not sure.”
Jared chuckled, his good humor again evident. “You’re not sure? Trust me, my body is quite sure.”
Robert didn’t try to disguise his desires now, even as shame bit at him. “I don’t do this sort of thing, Jared.” He pulled back, unable to look away from him. “I don’t bed new acquaintances. I would never force myself on someone.”
Jared blinked at him, then placed his other hand over the one Robert had fisted on the table. “Liberties? Surely no one could refuse you when you turn those dark Hawk eyes on them.”
Robert found a smile, which was surely the other man’s goal. “No one does refuse me. Mostly because I pay my staff very well for their services.” He shrugged. “And their discretion.”
Jared gave both his hands a squeeze and folded his own on the table now. “Your staff.” He winked. “Yes, I’ve heard of the Hawks and their well-paid staff. Well-satisfied too, if I had to guess.”
His teasing tone had its affect and Robert felt his shoulders relax a bit. “And just what have you heard about my well-satisfied staff?”
Jared laughed, an infectious sound. “I’m speaking in generalities, Robert. Hawks in general, that is.”
“Well then, I can assure you that I’ve never left anyone wanting.”
“Wanting more though, I’ll bet.”
Robert actually chuckled at Jared’s quip. He was utterly charmed by this man. He’d never had any brothers growing up in his large and lonely house. He’d certainly never had any boon companions, in school or out. He’d been raised alone and he just imagined he would die alone. But this interaction with the affable Jared Morrissey made him think that perhaps he could make connections beyond the sexual.
“You’re a charmer, Jared Morrissey.”
Jared shrugged now. “So I’ve been told. The lasses seem to like me.”
Robert tilted his head to one side. “And the lads, I wager.”
Jared colored a little, then grinned. “I can’t speak to that. But after making your acquaintance I’m beginning to see the merits.”
Robert just stared at him. He’d never loved a man? Someone as magnetic as Jared would surely have legions of men and women in his past, perhaps as many as any Hawk. An image flashed in his mind, one of Jared letting Robert do everything to him he wanted to at this moment. Of bringing him to release as his laughs turned to moans. His beast stirred again and his cock throbbed at the mere thought. He wanted this man, not some nameless groom who was paid for his time and effort. It was this acquaintance, this friend, he craved.
“You’re playing a dangerous game, Jared.”
Jared lost his smile. “I wasn’t aware of any game, Robert.”
Robert pulled back. “I’m afraid I’ve overstepped.”
Jared shook his head. “Never, my lord.”
Robert felt the distance the formal address put between them, and he took the escape it afforded him. He came to his feet, sweeping his coat off the back of his chair to hold it close to his groin. He had to hide the evidence of his urges behind the thick wool fabric. Perhaps the cold outside temperatures would chill the hardness away, but he doubted it. It never had before.
“I’ll no longer intrude on your evening, Jared.” He bent at the waist then straightened. “It was a pleasure meeting you.”
“I’m not a plaything, Lord Waltham.”
She gave a shake of her head. “I can’t call you such. You’re a Hawk!”
“Jared calls me by my name, Rose. I call you by yours. Won’t you grant me this boon?”
She opened her mouth to protest again, then closed it with a snap. Narrowing her eyes, she placed a hand on one hip. “You’ve been spending too much time with that teasing Morrissey. That’s for certain.”
A shiver of desire passed through him and he didn’t fight it. “I have. And we’ve grown quite close.”
“In each other’s pockets, then?” She covered her mouth with her hand now, her eyes wide. Lowering her hand, she sighed. “Forgive me, my lord. My mouth gets away from me.”
He couldn’t help reaching out to touch her full bottom lip. “I’ve heard this mouth can do more than that.” Her tongue brushed against his thumb and he groaned. “You can’t know what you do to a man, can you? Jared told me you’re pure.”
“I am.” The corners of her mouth turned down a bit. “But after what Jared told me of what you two discussed? Oh, I should be scandalized, but I admit I’m not.”
He stroked her cheek, then ran his fingers down the side of her neck. He could feel her pulse fluttering through her delicate skin. “You’re puzzled, aren’t you?” He snaked an arm around her slender waist. “Interested, even?”
She closed her eyes, dropping her stack of clothing to the floor. Her hands dangled at her sides and she swayed toward him. “Jared said there was more we can share, but I shouldn’t think of such things.”
Robert continued to stroke her skin and he knew she responded. Jared was right. She was built for loving, and he wanted to love her with Jared.
“We can be very careful, Rose.” He brought his face to her neck and breathed in. “I’ve never made a child with a woman.”
Her eyes snapped open. “How is that possible? It’s said that Hawks are virile.”
He chuckled again, teasing her ear with his tongue. “Oh, we are. There are tricks, you see.” He grasped her hips and pulled her toward him, biting back a groan as her belly pressed against his cock. “Ways to avoid the consequences you fear so much.”
“Tricks?” She purred against him. “Oh, you make me feel like Jared does.”
“How is that?”
She took in a shaky breath. “Like I have a fever. Hot and cold and shivering.”
“Then let me comfort you.”
She pushed at him, her eyes hot on his face even as she stepped away. “I can’t.”
“You can. Tell me, Rose. Tell me what you want.”
Her pupils dilated and he knew she was fully aroused. “Kisses,” she whispered. “Kisses and more of what Jared did.”
He came closer and this time she didn’t back away. “Tell me what Jared did.”
Her hand stole up to her throat and she ran it over her skin. She was flushed now, inching a hand down toward her breasts. "He touched me and loved me.”
“With his hands?”
She nodded, licking her lips.
“And his mouth?”
“Yes. On my…” She touched her breast and dropped her hand. “He kissed me.”
Robert had to taste her lips now. He’d relished Jared’s kisses. Now he needed hers. “Let me kiss you.”
She gave an almost imperceptible nod and he brought his lips to hers. She was as sweet as her scent, and he didn’t hold back his moan. When her arms wrapped around his neck, he let his beast surge forth.
“Rose,” he murmured, licking her neck as he eased the shoulder of her blouse down to reveal more delectable skin. “I want to kiss you everywhere.”
She ran her fingers through his hair as he unbuttoned her blouse and opened it. A tug of her stays and her nipples strained toward his questing fingers. Pretty pink nipples that begged for his mouth. Grabbing her to him, he fastened his mouth over her flesh and suckled.
He paused long enough to smile up at her. “That’s it.”
Turning, he placed her on the edge of his bed and feasted. He’d never taken his time with a woman. He would with her, though. Show her that passion could be had. Ready her for Jared when the three of them began their inevitable liaison. For it was inevitable. He wanted her as much as he wanted Jared. Her. Not some nameless maid in his employ.
“Let me kiss you,” he said, lifting her skirts as she settled back against the counterpane. Her legs fell open to his touch. “You came like this, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” she sighed. “Jared touched me as he kissed me.”
Her drawers were damp and her scent was stronger here. His mouth watered and he pulled off her drawers.
“My lord!” She came up on her elbows. “What are you about?”
He stroked the silken skin of her inner thighs and spread her with both his hands. “Robert, please.”
“R-robert, then. What are you doing?”
He dropped a kiss on her belly, then stared up at her. “I’m going to kiss you.”
She blinked at him. Lowering his head, he buried his face in her cunt.
“So soft,” he rasped, taking in a breath of her essence. He flicked his tongue over her flesh. “So sweet.”
“You can’t mean to kiss me there!”
“On your pussy? Ah, indeed I do.”
She gasped again but then he was there. Licking and sucking as he slid a finger between her folds. There was a barrier there, so he curled his finger and gave her his knuckle. Her taste surrounded him. Sweet and hot and wet as he licked her. Teasing her clit with his thumb, he glanced up to find her awash in pleasure. Flushed and restless and pliant.