Publication Date: September 16, 2014
When a bridal contract is struck, either parental outrage will void the arrangement or the love of a child will sweeten the deal.Oliver Darrington—Viscount Tralsburg—wants nothing more than to hide out at the family property in Brighton until he can secure a sea-worthy ship and return to adventuring the world. However, being handed his former mistress’ child isn’t part of that plan. Neither is the sudden longing for his pretty Italian neighbor. Eloisa Hawthorne is in dire straits. Her older brother has gambled away her sister’s hand to a horrible man. In order to save her sister’s virtue and her future, Eloisa needs a fast fortune—or someone who can immediately cover the debt. When her handsome neighbor offers a temporary engagement contract, she accepts with alacrity. Too bad she fell in love with his dark-haired offspring. How scandalous! When the two attend his mother’s London dinner party, Oliver wishes the union wasn’t merely a lark. Eloisa fears for the adorable child’s upbringing in heathen locales, but what can she do? The contract is only for a month, and love was never an option. Something must be done to throw over convention before the moment is lost and matters of the heart are sacrificed.
“Thank you, but why would you put yourself out that way?” she asked, edging toward him then stopped when a mere breath separated them.
“I’m a gentleman. When my contract partner is in need, who am I to deny her help?” He slid a hand along her cheek then cupped the back of her head. When Eloisa’s lips parted, he stifled a groan. “Although, in some circumstances, I’m also a bit of a rogue without explanation of why I do the things I do.” It took little movement on his part to meet her mouth with his, and even less on hers as she met him at the same time.
She uttered a small sound of acceptance or encouragement at the back of her throat and he was lost. Scooting as close as he dared, he settled Eloisa more comfortably in his embrace and moved his lips over hers. Soft, pillowy and just as plush as they looked, they welcomed him, cradled his lips as if meant exclusively for his use.
Blood rushed through his veins to pool in his groin, tightening it. His knees knocked into hers, and with a snort of impatience, he shifted, jamming one between hers and slightly parting her legs. She sucked in a breath, but that only served as an invitation to the deeper recesses of her luscious mouth as opened to him. He took advantage, God help him he did, and searched out her tongue. With that first silky pass along hers and the rapier thrust and parry of heated satin against satin, Oliver lost all noble thought.
He slid his hands down her back. Would that they were standing so he could feel her derriere and crush her against his length or even better, if he were to lay her out on the settee. “Eloisa, I’d like to—”
“Papa.” A tug on his tail coat brought him crashing back to reality. “Papa,” said the little voice again. “May we go on a walk now?”
“What?” He sprang away from the woman beside him as if she were an Egyptian asp. “What?” With a monumental effort, he focused on Daniela’s face as she stared at him with wide eyes. “Right. A walk. Right.” He shoved a hand through his hair then shot a wry glance at Eloisa, who sat, flushed and a tad disheveled, but with sparkling eyes and a smile. “I promised the child I’d walk the shore with her.” If he didn’t do something, he’d send the girl on her way and resume his attempt to devour his mock-fiancée right there in the parlor.