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Authors: Tiffany Clare

Desire Me Now

BOOK: Desire Me Now
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D
EDICATION

To my sister from another mister.
I couldn’t have done this without our crazy-mad brainstorming sessions.
Love you!

C
ONTENTS

C
HAPTER
O
NE

London, 1881

“T
ell me what you want, darling.” Victoria pressed hot kisses against his chest, scooting
lower and lower with those pouty red lips of hers until her hand cupped his sac and
her tongue danced teasingly over his abdomen and toward his half-stiff cock.

Nick Riley wasn’t generally a man to complain about being in such a position. “I have
some errands to attend to this morning,” he said as he fisted his hand in the fall
of Victoria’s blonde tresses.

When she rotated her tongue around the head of his cock, all his good intentions and
morning obligations went out the window. Anything that needed taking care of could
be done after that pretty little mouth of hers got his cock off.

Cat-like green eyes stared up at him, all innocent—though that was the last thing
Victoria could be called. His hand tangled in her hair, angling her head back. That
didn’t stop her from flicking out her tongue once more.

Refusing her would be like looking the gift horse in the mouth. While they’d agreed
to end their affair last night, that hadn’t stopped her from seducing him right back
into her bed. Not that he’d tried very hard to dissuade her, so he was just as much
at fault for their current position.

And what a perfect position this was.

“Victoria,” he growled as her head lowered once again to the prominent protrusion
standing very ready between them.

She didn’t hesitate to take in the full length of him, practically fucking him with
that sweet mouth of hers. His hips thrust off the bed as her mouth drew on him. God,
she felt good. She continued to swirl her tongue around him until the first bit of
semen emitted from the tip. Sucking that into her mouth, she released him with a pop
before she crawled up his body. Her breasts swayed enticingly as her hard nipples
stirred the hair on his chest, begging him to say yes.

“I’m just making certain you start the day on the right foot, Nicky. You cannot very
well go around with a massive bulge in your trousers. What should the delicate misses
think to see you in such a state?” As she spoke, her hand curled around his shaft
and stroked it from the base up. “We did agree on an amicable parting, and I find
our position perfectly . . .
amicable.

Nick sat up with Victoria poised above him, her legs straddling his hips. The tip
of his cock brushed against the damp curls between her thighs. He clasped her waist,
stopping her from lowering. There was no way he was getting out of this bed without
feeling the tight clasp of her sheath at least once more, but he would be the one
in control.

Flipping her onto her back, he slammed into her welcome heat. Her legs curled around
his back, her heels digging into his ass as he took her hard, pounding into her with
a ferocity that didn’t ebb as her nails bit into his arms, and she screamed his name
until her voice was hoarse.

He pumped into her so hard they almost tipped right over the edge of the bed by the
time he had emptied himself inside her sweet little cunt. He stayed inside her until
she milked every last drop out of him.

Sucking her bottom lip into his mouth, he pulled out and flopped them both back on
the bed, with her draped over his chest. They stayed that way long enough to get their
breathing under control.

“That didn’t feel like you were done with me, Nick.” Victoria slipped out of his arms
and the bed to retrieve the blue silk robe draped over a chair. Cinching the robe
tight around her waist, she stared back at him, expecting him to respond. “I’ll draw
you a bath before you leave,” she said, with just enough annoyance in her voice that
he nearly told her to come back to bed.

Instead, he gave her a curt nod as she stood in front of him, her arms crossed over
her middle. “Will you stay long enough for breakfast?”

Threading his fingers behind his head, he looked at her. The drape of her robe skimmed
off one shoulder, revealing the creamy expanse of her right breast but covering her
ruby red nipple from view. There was no sense hiding just where his eyes lingered
as he answered her. “Yes.”

“After five years, you’re just going to walk away from what we have?”

“You knew this wasn’t permanent,” he said, wishing the damnable material would slip
right off her shoulder to give him the view he craved. When she only shrugged, he
continued. “What we have is nothing more than a convenience.”

“I fail to see anything wrong with that,” she replied.

“Everything, for a woman who needs to keep up a pristine reputation for practical
and business reasons.”

As a prominent businesswoman and successful shopkeeper, Victoria had to remain above
reproach if she were to gain the things she craved most . . . which only a week ago
she had said was marriage.

That simply wasn’t something that Nick could offer.

She walked away in a huff, throwing the double doors open to the adjoining plunge
bath. The rush of water drowned out the silence of the room, and tendrils of steam
drifted into the bedchamber, laced with the light scent of rose oil.

“Your bath is ready,” Victoria said as she walked back into the bedchamber and sat
at her dressing table to brush her hair.

Nick padded across the floor until he stood behind Victoria. Settling his hand on
her shoulders, he leaned down and pressed his lips to the top of her head. Even now,
his cock stirred as though not sated by their morning interlude.

“You will find someone who can give you the things you want, Vic.”

“I don’t want a man in my life who will dictate my actions.”

He wasn’t up for a fight. “Then find someone better than that.”

She sighed as she set down the silver brush and slid the slipper chair out from beneath
the dressing table. He didn’t fail to note that her nipples were pebbled into two
perfect peaks beneath her robe. They might be finished with their affair today, but
that didn’t mean they couldn’t feast before he left.

“And what about you?” She tilted her head back to look up at him.

He shrugged and headed into the bathing room. Men like him didn’t settle down with
a family. His nature was too dark for that kind of life, his past too fucking brutal.

“I’m busy enough without that kind of entanglement,” he answered.

Victoria let out a mirthless laugh as she followed behind him. “Seems like a contradictory
standard. Because I’m a woman, I should marry and start a family, and you, being a
successful businessman, should bury yourself in your work. What of my shop? My employees?
Should I hand those over into the care of a husband?”

Once he stepped into the porcelain tub, he turned to her with a frown. “You’re more
than capable of running things yourself and having the family you told me you wanted.”

She merely shook her head and pulled up a wooden chair to the tub. Grabbing a sea
sponge that overfilled her hands, she motioned for him to sit with his back to her.
She didn’t touch the scars that covered most of his back; she just squeezed a hot
stream of water over his shoulders and arms.

“So we’re to break off our arrangement
amicably
.” She dipped the sponge into the water next to his hip. Her hair falling forward
stuck to his shoulders. “What will you do when you want to keep your mind off the
things that keep you up at night?” Hot water trickled over his chest as she squeezed
the sponge again.

“I will manage.”

“I don’t believe you can truly stay away,” she said, soaping up his shoulders, her
slender fingers kneading into his tense muscles. “We need each other, even if it’s
not for the right reasons.”

“That is probably the best reason to end our affair.”

“I know you better than anyone else.”

He couldn’t refute that claim, which was to say Vic knew more about him than the average
man, aside from Huxley, who could never be described as average.

This topic was not up for debate. He’d made up his mind. Finished talking, he turned
and curled his arm around her waist to tug her into the tub. Water sloshed over the
edge and splashed on the tiled floor.

She grumbled about her silk robe, but she didn’t struggle to get away.

His mouth hovered above hers as he stared into her sultry green eyes. Sometimes he
wished he could be the man she needed. For now, they could each be what the other
craved in the moment.

“This does not change anything,” he said.

“You’re an ass,” she replied, a second before he slammed his mouth against hers and
settled her knees around him. As her fingers threaded through his hair, he plunged
into her once again.

C
HAPTER
T
WO

T
he last thing Amelia Somerset could recall with any clarity was dinner, followed by
the hot tea her employer had insisted she drink. The events after that were hazy at
best, so she thought hard about the last thing she remembered as her mind slowly awoke.

She’d been enjoying a hearty serving of beef stew in the kitchen quarters with the
rest of the household staff when her employer, Sir Ian Hemming, had called her up
to his study for his nightly update on his sons’ studies.

Sir Ian was a stern man with a strong—if somewhat frightful—bearing. She always stood
to attention when in his presence for fear of reprimand on something as small as her
posture. She kept her head down and remained diligent in all her duties so he would
never have reason to fault her, as he did so many others.

Now . . .

Now Sir Ian’s breath was hot against her ear as he spoke. “Just a dream, Miss Grant.
Sleep easy; I shall take care of you.”

What did he mean? Was she having a dream?

With her fists clenched tightly against his chest, she lifted her arms with all her
might to push him away. But her arms were trapped. She shoved harder, struggling to
be free, even though she wasn’t quite sure from what she needed to be freed. She blinked
back the tiredness that assailed her. When her surroundings finally came into focus,
the reality of her situation grew sickeningly clear.

“What have you done to me?” her voice croaked. Her mouth was so dry that her tongue
stuck to the sides, making it difficult to talk. Her arms were a dead weight, though
that didn’t stop her from trying to push him off her.

“Shhh, dovey. Let me take care of you,” he said, his finger pressed against her lips.
“Relax. I can make it better.”

She turned her head away from the heat of his stale breath. Even that proved too hard
to do. Her head spun and throbbed with the continued motion, but when she turned away,
there was sudden clarity to her situation: She was lying on her lumpy bed with Sir
Ian stretched out over her, covering half of her body with his own.

How was he even in her room when she didn’t remember getting here on her own?

Her lips trembled in fear and disgust. A cool breeze brushed over her legs where her
drawers had been unfastened and pushed out of the way. Sir Ian squeezed her upper
thigh with his rough hand, and the pain he caused helped to snap her out of her groggy
state, giving her the strength she needed to fight back.

Jabbing her elbow into his cheek, she tried to roll out from under him, but her skirts
were trapped beneath his bulk, and her body was sluggish and uncooperative, despite
her mind growing more alert by the second.

When he shifted himself between her thighs, she opened her mouth to scream. Sir Ian’s
hand slapped down, muffling the sound.

“You would not want to wake up the boys, Miss Grant. You be a good girl and hush up.”

She bit him as hard as she could, tasting blood as he ripped his hand away. She spat
it out, not wanting the foul taste in her mouth.

His hiss of pain wasn’t as satisfying as she had hoped. It only angered him further,
for he reared his arm back and smacked her hard across her cheek. The force of his
blow knocked her head to the side, leaving her dazed and her ears ringing.

Bringing up one knee, she twisted and pushed it between them, trying to squirm out
from under him with renewed desperation. His hand tangled in her hair, and he yanked
her head back so hard that her neck cracked. She stilled immediately, though nothing
could stop the whimpers of fear and pain that slipped past her lips.

He leaned over her helpless form, instilling his dominance, his upper hand. The stench
of his whisky-laced breath nauseated her, and her stomach roiled in protest.

“Please,” she begged, hating herself for the despair in her voice. But this couldn’t
be happening to her again.

“Stop your wriggling,” he said roughly, his hand tightening in her hair. His other
hand squeezed painfully at her breast, causing her to cry out.

She shoved harder against his weight. Sobs tore unwillingly from her throat, and fat
tears fell down her face. She didn’t want to cry. Sobs amounted to weakness. And weak
was the last thing she wanted to be. She had not escaped her past only to surrender
to another kind of vile, unacceptable future. She wanted to scream, but her voice
was lost to the hopelessness of the moment.

Finally freeing one hand, she scratched the exposed skin above his shirt as hard as
she could. The enraged shout that came from him was just loud enough to let others
know he was in the staff quarters. She wasn’t so naïve as to believe anyone would
come to her rescue, as they hadn’t already, but the ruckus they surely made might
be enough to stop him. At least for tonight.

Sir Ian hauled himself off of her, his body vibrating with a violence that had her
cowering.

Show no weakness,
she told herself over and over again.

Show. No. Weakness.

Amelia scrambled up and pressed her back hard against the wall to anchor herself.
She clenched her hands into fists, prepared to defend herself from further attack.

Be strong.

Sir Ian swiped his hand across his neck where her nails had scored three angry furrows
into his pale flesh. She took pride in knowing that a necktie would not easily hide
the evidence of her struggle, and it was that thought alone that had her chin jutting
forward defiantly and her fists rising marginally.

He looked like a wild man—nostrils flaring like a horse after a hard race, hair disheveled
around his face, eyes pinpricked and focused on her.

If she stayed in this house another night, she knew she would pay for her actions.
He cracked his knuckles as he flexed his hands. When he tilted his head to the side
to give his neck the same sickening pop, she flinched. He continued to stare at her
as he wiped the blood from his hand on a handkerchief and dabbed at the nail tracks
of blood on his neck.

Amelia didn’t move and didn’t dare break contact with his emotionless blue eyes.

To her surprise, he turned away, shutting the door softly behind him, as though no
one knew he was in her room to begin with.

She exhaled in a rush and slumped forward in relief. Legs numb and shaking, she stretched
them out in front of her, letting the pins-and-needles sensation fade.

She needed to get out of this house—and fast. Sliding out of the bed, trying to make
as little noise as possible, she knelt on the cold plank floor and pulled out the
sack she’d stowed under the bed. Retrieving what clothes she had, she rolled them
up tight and stuffed them into the bag.

At the washbasin, she gathered the last bit of soap she’d taken from her home in Berwick
and the silver brush that had been her mother’s. She had no other possessions, except
a small oil painting of her parents in a broken silver locket, given to her on her
tenth birthday and torn from her neck during one of her brother’s rages on her eighteenth
birthday.

Pulling up a loose floorboard, she retrieved her drawstring reticule with the money
she’d stolen from her brother. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it had been enough to
get her to London and pay for lodgings for a month, if she had needed that long to
find a job. The money would be put to good use now.

She packed only what she’d come with, as she didn’t want her employer accusing her
of thievery. Hopefully, if she left quietly, Sir Ian wouldn’t pursue her, as she knew
something of the determination of men when they were denied what they wanted.

With her sack tied and slung over one shoulder and her shawl and mantle over her dress
to keep her possessions safe, she tiptoed down the servants’ stairs and escaped out
the back gate near the stable house. The cool air bit at her cheeks, so she quickened
her stride, hoping that would keep her warm.

Once she was on the main streets, Amelia kept her head down so no one would see the
tears flooding her eyes. It hit her suddenly that she’d left behind her last hope
for a decent job.

Had she known how abhorrent her employer was, she’d have turned down the opportunity
to teach his children. Sir Ian hadn’t wanted a proper governess for his young boys;
he’d wanted a mistress living under his own roof. A woman he could visit in the cover
of night, when his ill, bedridden wife was none the wiser.

She covered her mouth with her lace-gloved hand, feeling sick to her stomach. All
she could do now was go back to the agency that had placed her and hope to find new
employment.

Where would she go if they turned her away?

She picked up her stride, even though she’d developed a stitch in her side that made
breathing difficult. She had only been in London for three weeks. Not enough time
to make friends or learn her way around. She didn’t even know where she could find
decent, safe lodgings. She supposed there was enough money to put herself on a train
and go back home to her brother.

No. Never that.

She refused to lower herself to that type of desperation. She would find another job.
In fact, she would demand a new placement from the agency. She was well educated and
the daughter of a once-prominent earl, which made her valuable and an asset for any
job requiring someone intelligent and capable.

The only problem was that she’d told no one in London of her true identity.

Someone jostled her shoulder, spinning her from the path she walked.

“Pardon, ma’am,” he said, grasping her under the arm to right her footing.

Before she could turn and offer her gratitude, he was just another bobbing hat on
the street. Reaching for her reticule to pull out her handkerchief, she came up empty-handed.

“That thief!” she shouted, then slapped her hand over her mouth.

Those around her called up the alarm. She pointed in the direction she was sure the
thief had gone, but there wasn’t a suspicious soul to be seen.

Amelia started pushing through the crowded street, apologizing along the way when
she knocked into a few pedestrians. She grew frantic and inhaled in great gulps, trying
to get air into her lungs and to keep at bay the panic that was threatening to rob
her of her ability to think rationally.

Eventually, her feet slowed as the cramping in her side worsened. She could barely
see beyond the tears falling from her eyes. Her face was damp, and she had nothing
to wipe it clean except the sleeve of her day dress. She was unfit to go to the agency,
but what other choice did she have?

Despair robbed her of the last of her breath, and she was forced to stop her pursuit.

Bracing one arm against an old stone building, she breathed in and out until she was
calm. The last of her tears had dried on her face and made her cheeks stiff.

She should give up, crawl back to her brother, and beg for his eternal forgiveness.
There were few viable choices left to her. She couldn’t stay out in the streets. Awful
things happened to women who had no place to go. Things far worse than what she had
escaped, though in a moment of clarity, she might refute that statement.

Walking around to the side of the building where she’d stopped, she threw up the dinner
she’d eaten the previous night. Feeling dizzy and unwell, she drew on the last of
her courage, straightened her shoulders, and somehow found the strength to continue
walking.

She needed to find new employment and accommodations without delay. The agency had
been a room full of women; they would understand the situation she’d found herself
in. They would help her.

Light-headed, she walked toward Fleet Street where the agency was tucked neatly behind
a printing house. While the day had started rather dreary and dull in so many senses,
the odd peek of sunshine cut through the coal-heavy air and pressed against her face.
The sun warming her skin gave her a glimmer of optimism.

When the sun disappeared behind the clouds again, she focused on her surroundings
and caught sight of a group of urchins, recognizing the tallest of the bunch immediately.

“You little swindler. Give me back what is mine,” she cried out loud and clear.

The boy, who had been counting the contents in her reticule, pocketed her money and
took off at a full run. His pace was quick and light-footed, and she was sure he took
one step to her three, though she still tried to catch up to him.

Shaken, with a cramp in her side and the dizzy feeling growing worse through her body,
Amelia refused to give in. When the urchin dodged across a street heavy with traffic,
she knew there was no time for hesitation. She needed that money back.

Before she made it halfway across the road, the urchin was lost among the carts. Tears
welled in her eyes again, blurring her vision. Someone yelled for her to get off the
road; someone else emphasized his point with obscenities she didn’t fully comprehend.

Though nearly to the other side, she didn’t move quite fast enough for the two-seat
open carriage clipping down the street much more swiftly than the other carts.

“Move, you bloody fool,” the driver bellowed.

His speeding horses, black as pitch, headed toward her like the devil on her heels.
She hiked up her skirts and ran but tripped over the stone curb and tumbled hard to
her knees, twisting her foot on the way down. The pain of the impact caused black
spots to dot across her vision. As she tried to gain her footing, she collapsed back
onto her bruised, pained knees and cried.

A strong arm supported her under her elbow and hauled her to her feet, but it was
apparent to them both that she couldn’t stand on her own. When the stranger knelt
before her, all she saw was his tall beaver hat as he put one arm around her back
and shoulders and the other under her legs. That was all the warning he gave before
he lifted her into his arms and walked up the lawn as if she weighed nothing.

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