Authors: Em Brown
Submitting to His Lordship
By Em Brown
Copyright © 2015 by Em Brown. All Rights Reserved.
“Ms. Brown has written a tantalizing tale full of hot sex...a very sexy and sometimes funny read that will definitely put a smile on your face.”
– Coffee Time Romance review of AN AMOROUS ACT
"Darcy's fierce, independent spirit and unconditional loyalty to her family will win readers over, and Broadmoor is a romantic hero to swoon for."
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- Romancing the Book review of SUBMITTING TO THE RAKE
“This one made me go WOW! I read it in a few hours which technically I probably should have gotten more sleep, but for me it was that good that I deprived myself of sleep to finish this most awesome story!”
- Goodreads reader review of MASTERING THE MARCHIONESS
“HOT AND FUN TO READ!!!!!!!!”
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“...sex was intense...thrilling....”
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“I loved this book. Clever dialogue that kept me laughing, delightful characters and a wonderful story. I am not generally one who likes historical fiction but this book carried me along from page one.”
- Goodreads reader review of CONQUERING THE COUNTESS
MRS. ADELINE HERWOOD DISPENSED a good deal of advice that Deana would graciously attend then disregard; but on this night, as Deana sat at her favorite card table in one of London’s lesser known gaming halls, she wished she had heeded her mother and ceased frequenting the gaming hall. For standing at the threshold of the card-room was the Baron Rockwell, looking every bit as handsome and dapper as when she had last set eyes upon him some twelvemonth ago. Dressed in a formal tailcoat, silk brocade waistcoat, and top hat, he must have arrived straightway from the opera or Drury Lane. He entered with that quiet command, vaguely aloof, that she had first attributed to arrogance. If he knew that he turned heads, he showed no evidence of it, at ease with the weight of many a pair of eyes, mostly of the fair sex, upon him.
Heart hammering, Deana busied herself with collecting the cards at her table. How sharply her body had reacted to his presence, every nerve leaping to attention, as if their affair had been but yesterday. She prayed he would not notice her, though for weeks after their brief liaison she had looked for him every night at the gaming hall. How often had she recalled that night her body had thrilled beneath his hands? How often had she lain awake taut and in need of release, yearning for his touch? She did not fancy herself in love with Rockwell—well, perhaps a little—but he had ignited a flame that could not be easily quelled. Though she could not imagine any other man could have the same effect upon her, she had concluded that it was best to put him from her mind. If she were fortunate, she would never have to set eyes upon him again.
But, as ever, Lady Luck proved a capricious friend.
Deana shuffled the cards. Once. Twice. Thrice. Like a rabbit alert to a predator approaching, she heard a friend of Rockwell come to greet him and indulged a small sigh of relief. The clock had struck midnight a few minutes ago, and the crowd at the gaming hall had not thinned. In her unassuming olive-colored muslin, she could have blended into the walls. Even if he discerned her, he was not likely to approach. He had not sought her out since their one and only night together. It was clear he had finished with her and had no desire to renew their acquaintance.
“Here, now, do you intend on shuffling the whole night long, Miss Herwood?” one of the patrons at her table inquired.
With a practiced hand, she swiftly dealt everyone at the table their cards, then poured herself a glass of port as she stole a glance in Rockwell’s direction. He had taken a seat at the dice table, his back to her, though she easily recognized his lean and tall form, accentuated by the tight and exquisite cut of his coat. The lovely Brianna Walpole sat beside him, fluttering her lace fan and thick eyelashes. Deana finished her off her wine in one swift intake.
But how silly of her to feel the slightest hint of jealousy when she had no claims upon him. That a woman of her modest situation had ever attracted the attentions of the Baron Rockwell was an anomaly. She had made an earnest effort, as Mrs. Herwood and her sister-in-law, Lydia, often implored, to find a man of modest situation but sufficient enough in funds to secure the financial well-being of the Herwood women.
“I cannot suffer another collector at our door,” her mother had declared for the fifth or sixth time in a sevenmonth that morning.
Deana poured herself another glass of port before collecting the cards. One of the men at the table stood up in exasperation after his loss, followed by another. She contemplated retiring for the evening but had won three hands in a row. A few more hands and she might indulge in a bit of lace trim for one of her old frocks. Her mother and Aunt Lydia had persuaded her that if she added a few more enticements, she might better attract a prospective husband.
She looked up from the cards and into a pair of intense brown eyes beneath trim dark brows. How was it he could appear more striking than before?
Calmed in part by the port she had consumed, she greeted him in a civil and even tone, “Lord Rockwell.”
Turning her gaze from his face—in particular those lips that had so forcefully and lushly taken hers once upon a time, she resumed shuffling the cards. To her dismay, he took one of the seats recently vacated, across from her. Brianna took the other chair beside him.
“They are playing brag at this table,” Brianna pouted, her rosy lips pursed together. “It be my least favorite game. You
take pity upon me, Lord Rockwell, and offer me your assistance.”
He acknowledged the request with a slight inclination of his head, and Deana suspected he was honoring the
part of Miss Walpole’s request. Deana had little time to triumph over her earlier jealousy for he turned his gaze next upon her. He held her stare briefly, but in those seconds, her heart beat in her ears. She could not tell if he was pleased to see her, though surely he would not have sat at her table if he disdained her presence? Did he seek her company? He had done so once before, but in such an indistinct manner that she would never have known his intent but for his scandalous offer to her.
I would have you in my bed, Miss Herwood. For one night, I will take my pleasure of you, after which, your debt to me will be acquitted in its entirety.
Her hands began to shake in recollection of that fateful loss to him at
. She finished shuffling the cards and took another drink from her glass.
“It be two quid to play,” she informed the newcomers.
The ante was nothing to the Baron Rockwell, whose family had ties to the East India Company and had made their wealth off the sugar trade long before the West Indies began to dominate the market. Miss Walpole, however, hesitated, and Deana, who had never merited the slightest attention from the lovely Brianna, felt a small twinge of pity. She knew too well what it felt like to be low in the way of funds.
“But let us start with a guinea,” she amended.
Brianna happily retrieved the requisite amount from her reticule and turned her large eyes upon Rockwell. “Your presence has brought me such luck, your lordship. We must not part ways this evening.”
Deana would have been more than relieved to have Lord Rockwell depart with Miss Walpole in tow. His presence made it difficult to concentrate, and as she had discovered before, she needed her wits about her with this man. She dealt everyone their cards, then stole a cursory glance at the Baron. It proved a poor move for she found herself in his stare.
“Bet or fold?” she asked when she had found her breath, silently admonishing herself for letting him unsettle her so. It was unlikely that she had an equal and similar effect upon him. In fact, he might have easily forgotten their brief affair altogether. His last and only communique with her had been a short note accompanied by the gift of a porcelain elephant with ruby eyes. Despite being proud of her sensibleness, she had kept the elephant like a sentimental schoolgirl until circumstances had forced her to pawn the treasure.
Watching as he put in two more crowns without word or expression, Deana reminded herself to proceed cautiously with his lordship. No doubt he had played his share of
whilst in India, and she would not wish to wind up in the same situation she had found herself a year ago.
Or would she?
She squirmed subtly in her seat, remembering the delicious ache between her legs, the burn of her arse where he had landed his cat-o-nine tails. To quell the heat fanning through her body, she turned to Miss Walpole.
“Is there an order of suits in brag?” Brianna inquired of Rockwell.
“None,” he replied.
Brianna knit her brows and bit upon her lower lip. She pursed her lips and pouted as she stared at the cards. One of the other players sighed loudly.
“I would that you could counsel me, your lordship,” said Brianna.
Deana waited patiently though she wished the woman would hasten her decision that the game could be done with. She intended to quit after just one hand and take her mother’s advice with regards to the gaming hall—for the night at least. Despite her mother’s disapproval, the gaming hall was their only source of income.
Brianna tossed her cards at the table. “I fold.”
The next two players equaled Lord Rockwell’s bet. Deana looked at her own cards: a three of clubs, a two of clubs, and an ace of clubs. Perhaps Lady Luck had not deserted her after all! A running flush was a high note to end the evening upon. She pretended to consider the matter, then put in her two crowns.
In the next round, Lord Rockwell doubled his bet. The player beside Brianna folded, leaving three in the game. They went two more rounds before the third player folded. Deana eyed the pot. Despite her earlier dismay at the Baron’s arrival, she now appreciated that he had sat at her table. She could not pass up such a bounty.
Déjà vu tugged at her. She had sat across from him, a sizable pot between them, before. She had had a strong hand then only to find herself indebted to him for fifty pounds. A foolish desire to best a man who had all that she did not—wealth, title, and appearance—had persuaded her to bet more than she had.
That would not be the case tonight. She raised him another pound.
As he contemplated his cards, she admired the classic lines of his physiognomy, his full lashes, the faint indent to the right of his mouth...those strong, commanding lips.
Rockwell pushed his cards from him. “The win is yours, Miss Herwood.”
After inhaling in delight and relief, she collected her winnings with a calm that belied her fast-beating heart.
“The game of hazard is much kinder to you, my lord,” Brianna purred. “Shall we return to the dice tables?”