Never Trust a Rebel(81)

By: Sarah Mallory

‘I want you, Drew,’ she whispered. ‘I want you now.’

He brushed aside her fingers and she sank back on to the padded seat, reaching for him, pulling his head down until she could kiss him, which she did with a kind of desperation. Her petticoats were bunched between them but she barely noticed, nor the cool air on her naked limbs. Her body was arching and trembling with need. His hands slid around her buttocks, lifting her towards him and she gave a soft gasp as she felt him at the hinge of her thighs. He was teasingly close to entering her and she tilted her hips a little more, inviting him into her very core. She pushed herself towards him, catching her breath as he slid inside her. It was a small pain, soon forgotten. Her hips came up to meet him as he drove deeper, harder, again and again. When she would have cried out he covered her mouth for another searing kiss that made her whole body shudder with desire.

Her senses took flight, her body trembled out of control. She was ready to tip over into ecstasy. She clutched at him, dug her fingers into his back as tremors of pure pleasure began to ripple through her, building in intensity. They were moving as one. Elyse tore her mouth free and gasped out his name even as he plunged even deeper into her core, taking her over the edge and into the abyss. It was as if she had stepped off a high cliff and was held, suspended for one brief, exhilarating moment. She felt his release, heard his shout of triumph before her mind shattered and she lost all comprehension of time and space.

* * *

Drew’s body was heavy above her, gently rocking with the continued swaying of the carriage as it rattled on. At last she felt at peace. Complete. She did not move, savouring the moment, the joy of it. It was as much as she could do not to sigh out loud when Drew eased away from her, a deep black shape against the faint moonlight shining through the windows.

‘The die is cast, my dear. We must be married now, and with all speed.’

The night air chilled her bare skin and she sat up, carefully pulling her skirts back into place.

‘Is that what you truly want, sir?’

She could not quite accept it, even now. That he loved her in his own fashion she did not doubt, but he loved honour more. He had done his best to prevent her falling in love with him, determined not to raise hopes he could not fulfil. She would take full responsibility for what had just occurred. After all, she had thrown herself into his arms, begged him to love her and he had done so. She would demand nothing more of him. She had money. She could return to her aunt in the north and live out a single life, but she would carry the memory of this moment with her to the grave.

‘You are no longer a maid,’ said Drew. ‘I have taken that which I told you was a husband’s right. Therefore I must now become that husband.’

‘I shall not demand that you make an honest woman of me.’

Elyse bent to scoop up her fichu and as she did so the ring around her neck fell forward. Drew reached out and caught it. In one swift, decisive move he tore the ring from the thin length of ribbon.

‘But I shall demand it, if you will have me.’ He slid to his knees on the carriage floor. ‘Will you marry me, dearest Elyse? Will you take this flawed, foolish man and trust him to make you happy?’ He took her left hand and held the ring over the tip of her third finger. ‘My father knew your worth. This is my mother’s ring, the one he gave her when she agreed to marry him. Will you wear it now as a token of our betrothal until I can buy you one of your own?’

Hot tears burned her eyes and she said unsteadily, ‘Oh, Drew, I do not need any other token, if you really, truly wish to marry me.’

‘Can you doubt it?’

He pushed the ring on to her finger and leaned forwards to kiss her. When at last he let her go he sat down on the bench beside her, pulling her against him and settling her comfortably in his arms. He sighed.

‘I warned your father how it would be if he made me your guardian.’

‘He entrusted me to your care,’ she murmured. ‘Upon your honour, which was certainly very tiresome, since it prevented you from declaring yourself.’

‘A rebel’s honour,’ he retorted bitterly.

Elyse pushed herself away and put one hand up to his cheek, saying softly,

‘It is what makes you the man you are, Drew Castlemain. It is the honour of my one and only true love.’

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