Emilia swallowed hard at the softly spoken command. Seeing how her hand shook as she reached for the latch, she made a fist to quell it as she drew in a deep, calming breath. He didn’t sound angry. Perhaps he didn’t know she had taken his property yet. Summoning her courage, which she had to draw from deep down inside, she opened the door and peeked in.
He looked up from his seat in a high-back thickly cushioned chair in the far corner and waved her in. She entered the room, but didn’t go far, standing inside the door with her hands behind her back, holding the contraband while trying not to appear guilty.
“Sit,” he directed, pointing to a round tufted cushion on the floor not far from his chair.
She kept her eyes lowered as she slowly walked past his enormous bed and sank onto the large pillow at his feet. It stung that a free woman, with the exchange of some silver, was unworthy of the merest chair or stool, subservient like the lowliest slave Lancore and Corbet had made of her. Soon it could be worse, when it became known she was an errant slave and a thief, who could be whipped for her offense if her master deemed it so.
She noticed a flagon of wine on the small table next to his chair and a glass in his hand. Hoping the spirits had mellowed him some and put him in a forgiving mood, with her head bowed, she extended the book to him with both hands.
“I’m sorry, master,” she started hesitantly. “I was going crazy in that room with nothing to do.” She glanced up, her curiosity too much to stay meek and subservient. He was wearing a dark blue sleeveless cote cinched at the waist by a wide brown belt; it made his broad chest appear wider as she followed the long line of his torso up to the open neck of his collar. The laces were undone, exposing a light covering of chest hair, the same warm brown as the hair on his head. Her fingers trembled as her gaze moved upward, pausing on his firm, sensual lips that twitched slightly as if amused, not angry. Surprised, her eyes tipped to his.
Corbet leaned forward and took the book, never looking away. “It pleases me that you can read, Emilia, and I appreciate the courage it took to own up to your mistake. I am, however, very disappointed that you took it upon yourself to enter my study and avail yourself of my books. If you needed something to keep you busy, why didn’t you ask Alice to give you something to do?”
“I don’t think the others like me.” She frowned, hearing how childish that sounded. “I tried making conversation and offered to help, but they weren’t receptive of either.” Emilia noticed a brief tightening in his face as he sipped his wine. “Alice told me that I needed to wait until you called for me. She said that slaves—” She paused, finding it hard for her to say the words. When she began again it was in a whisper. “That pleasure slaves do not perform duties other than that which their master desires.”
He let out a sigh, rubbing his chin. “I’m sorry that your welcome in my home was so cold. My instructions were that you be made comfortable in my absence. It is clear that she misunderstood. I will speak with her later.” He put his empty glass next to the flask on the table and settled himself back in his chair, stretching out his long legs and crossing them at the ankles. “Do you know why I asked you to my chamber?”
She thought she did, but had pushed it to the back of her mind, choosing to worry about disclosing her theft of the book, instead. As it weighed on her now, a knot of fear formed in the pit of her stomach. She lowered her gaze, not wanting to give away her fear for some reason.
“I don’t know for certain, master,” she answered, remembering suddenly that he’d asked a question.
“That, in part, is why I wanted to speak with you.”
Though she didn’t understand, she answered respectfully, “Yes, master.”
“I would rather you call me ‘sir,’” he said in a low rumble that closely resembled a growl.
Thinking she had done wrong and further compounded her predicament, her lower lip started to quiver. She tipped her head forward, thankful for her long red hair that helped hide her face. After a short pause, she saw him uncross his legs and sit forward. Since he hadn’t known about her taking the book, she could think of only one reason he would require her presence. It was time for him to make use of his purchase.
“Why do I suddenly frighten you?” he asked, putting a warm finger under her chin and coaxing it upward.
Unsure of his reaction if she disobeyed, she didn’t resist, although she wanted to. A tear brimmed at her lower lid as she fought to keep her composure. In her boredom, she had wished for his presence, entertaining the thoughts of what he might do to her. She would be lying to say it hadn’t excited her. Now that she was here, the thoughts about what he would want from her were frightening.
“I… I don’t know how—” Her gaze slid anxiously to the bed. “I’m scared,” she finished on a shaky exhalation. Even through watery eyes, she could see him struggling to contain a smile. With embarrassment added to her tilt of emotions, she pulled away from his gentle grip and let her tears fall.
“That isn’t my intent, dove.” His words were gentle as was the hand he placed on her shoulder. “Look at me.”
Wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand, she dared to grumble. “Why do you call me that? The awful auctioneer called me the same.”
“So we’re clear, I am nothing like that slave monger, Garret. And around here, referring to a young woman as a ‘dove’ means that she is pure, a virgin. Get used to hearing it more, for I intend to see that you stay that way while you’re here.”
She started, her head swinging up and her mouth gaping wide. Had she heard him correctly?
As if he read her thoughts, he replied, “Your hearing isn’t failing, little one. I have no intentions of defiling you.” Giving her a gentle smile, he sat back in his chair. As strange as it was, she missed the warmth of his hand. “I called you here to learn more about you, where you are from, and more important, who may be searching for you.”
She stiffened. She couldn’t and wouldn’t sell her father out to the likes of Lancore, so she remained silent.
“It is for your benefit,” he said, topping off his glass of wine and taking a healthy sip. “If you tell me where you are from, I can send word that you are safe, and that you will be returned at my earliest convenience. Unless you don’t have family. If that is the case, I shall have to make other arrangements.”
Shocked, her jaw dropped yet again. That he was going to send her home was simply too good to be believed. She stared at him in amazement for a moment, then recalled his comment about making other arrangements.
He cocked his head, giving her a puzzled look over her vehement reply. “You mean you don’t want to go home?”
“No. I mean, yes. That is, I do have family, in Melbourne, sir, and I do want to go home, very badly. But I don’t understand. Why did you purchase me if you didn’t plan to keep me?” Although his words restored her hope and caused relief to bubble up inside, it was muted somewhat by a slight twinge of pain at his rejection.
“Lancore, unfortunately, lives up to its extremely bad reputation. I’m sorry you had to experience it. However, not all of its citizens are known for their loose morality and barbaric actions. I am of that persuasion. I don’t commonly purchase slaves, especially ones strictly for pleasure. I prefer willing women, without question. I happened to be passing and heard the cries of the girl before you. I arrived too late to aid her, but in time to see them dragging you onto the block, frightened beyond measure, yet fighting with every ounce of your being. You reminded me of someone I once knew, and I decided it was fate, not happenstance, that brought me to you. You know the rest.”
It was Emilia’s turn to tilt her head in bemusement. “Who do I remind you of, sir?”
“My wife. I lost her several years ago.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you, dove. That brings up another reason for wanting to speak to you this evening. Over the last few days, I’ve had a lot of time to think while traveling. I decided we could help one another out in this little… arrangement, for lack of a better term.”
“How can I, as a slave, help you?”
“After the death of my wife, I decided never to remarry. The reasons are numerous and personal, suffice it to say. There are many in town who are convinced they can change my mind in that regard and persist in pushing their daughters at me. If they think I have someone, I hope they will stop. Which is why when I travel to town on business at the end of the week, you are going to accompany me. I’m sure word has spread about you by now. It will be a good opportunity to show you off and convince others I am serious.”
She bit her lip, puzzled and more than a little nervous about being paraded through town. “Of course, I am willing to assist you, sir, but I can’t see how you having a pleasure slave is going to leave people with the impression you are unavailable to wed. Don’t men who are married also take slaves for pleasure?”
“Unscrupulous ones, perhaps. That is not me and folks in Lancore know that. They will consider taking a slave at such an exorbitant price further proof that I have no inclination of wedding as never would I subject a wife to such humiliation. The rest will see it as commonplace and not care one way or another. After a few months, they will have focused on some other poor soul for their daughters. When I travel to Melbourne in the fall, which is my habit, I will take you with me and see you safely home.”
Emilia couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. “I should love to go home, sir. What, might I ask, takes you to Melbourne?” She said this trying not to appear too anxious.
He tipped back his glass, emptying it. “I travel there at least twice a year on business. Selling leather goods, saddles mostly.”
“Brahm Selkirk is my father,” she said hopefully. “He owns a farm and buys leather goods. Might you know him?”
“I sell to shops more than individuals. The name doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Oh,” she replied, slightly deflated. Still, she couldn’t believe her good fortune. “How will you get word to my family? By messenger?”
“A friend of mine is a spice merchant and due in town in the next few days. He regularly travels to Andover, Ingvar, and Melbourne on his rounds.”
“My father is known to many; I’m sure your man will have no trouble locating him. Even if he is gone trying to find me, my mother will be at home, and one of my brothers at least.” She frowned as a wave of apprehension rushed through her.
“What is it, Emilia?”
“I’m worried for him. I’m sure he will search all the nearby districts, including Lancore, which doesn’t seem like a welcoming place.”
“That is truly an underestimation,” he huffed in a humorless laugh. “The guards will not permit him to pass without valid cause. Searching for a missing girl wouldn’t be considered so. Most of the slaves put up for auction are abducted and there are many in Lancore that depend on the trade for their, uh, stock.” His eyes, when they flickered to her, were apologetic as he continued. “If he starts asking questions about a slave girl, he will be escorted out. If he becomes insistent or violent, he will be escorted out in much the same manner, I’m afraid.”
“That’s what concerns me. My father won’t give up easily.”
“My missive should arrive sometime next week. If your father is out searching, we will have to depend on your mother to get word to him and ease his mind. Until then, I’m sure your father can take care of himself.”
That didn’t sound very reassuring. She looked down at her lap worrying her hands, while trying to fight back tears.
“Emilia, I’m sorry for all of this, really. Can you not appreciate that you are being spared? Think of what might have happened if Glom had won your bid?”
“That’s the mountain-sized man who bid against you.”
She paled, picturing the gigantic, very loud and angry man. If not for Corbet… “I am most grateful that you won, sir.”
“I imagine so,” he chuckled. “So we have a deal then? Until I can get you home safely, in private, you will stay on, under my care as a part of my household, not attempting to run off on your own. In public, you will play the role of my pleasure slave.”
“What about the money you paid?”
“Think nothing of that.”
“It was a vast amount. My father…”
“You need not worry about repayment, Emilia. I truly wanted to spare you and with this bargain, I will be spared the incessant harping and manipulations of the local mamas. I’m quite satisfied with our arrangement.”
She nodded. “I will need direction on how to act. I’ve never—”
“As an innocent, I didn’t expect you to. I will provide that; all you need to do is obey me.”
“I will try my best to do so, sir. Although as with the book, I tend to leap before I look.”
A smile spread across his fine-looking face as he stood up. “Your honesty is refreshing. Do you have any other questions?”
“Yes, since I have promised not to run off, might I go outside?”
He gazed at her thoughtfully for a moment, before nodding. “Feel free to explore, but stay within sight of the main house. I’d hate for you to get lost or absconded with for a second time.”
She felt the blood drain from her face as she thought of being taken and going through that ordeal once again. “I’ll keep close. Thank you, sir.”
He inclined his head and stood, offering his hand to assist her up as well. “Now then, we have one other matter to address before we say goodnight, Emilia. Go to the end of my bed and bend over.”
Emilia’s eyes grew wide. Hoping she had misheard him, she asked, “You still mean to…? But, you’ve been so kind.”
“I am kind, but I’m also not the type of man who would let such actions go unmet. I told you disobedience would result in swift but fair punishment.”
Her mouth opened to respond, but when his brows drew together in a frown, she thought better and snapped it shut. She glanced at the large canopied bed with its rich curtains and fine linens. It wasn’t hard to imagine lying face down over the end with her skirt raised high on her back, leaving her bottom bared and quivering as she awaited the first swat. Her head angled downward and after taking in the size of his hands, she trembled slightly. They were big, strong, and sturdy looking, with long tapered fingers and rounded nails. One broad palm would cover most of her bottom in a single smack, which was sure to smart greatly.
“Was Alice lax in discussing the rules of the house?” he inquired levelly. “Did she fail to tell you my rooms and belongings were off limits?”
Of course, she hadn’t and she suspected Corbet was sure of that too. With a rising sense of dread, she considered blaming Alice. That wouldn’t be right, though, even if she had been cold to her. Still, she hesitated.
“Don’t compound your mistake with a lie, Emilia,” he warned. “You are obviously educated. If Alice was remiss, which you’ll agree she was not, you still have the intelligence to know right and wrong, and decide for yourself. You erred in your decision and now must face the consequences, which I decide. In this case, it will be a spanking.”
At the sound of his stern warning, her head came up and she met his equally forbidding gaze. She tried bargaining. “I borrowed it, never meaning to keep it, only to read it and return it. I owned up to my misdeed, doesn’t that count for something?”
“Borrow or steal, without permission, it is all the same. I think it’s safe to say you knew very well when you entered my study that you should not be there, much less help yourself to my bookshelves without my leave to do so. Saying you did not would be a lie. And lies will add more strokes, so I suggest you do as you were told and bend over the bed, before you earn yourself more.”
His words had taken on an authoritative edge and displeasure had hardened his handsome features. She had been in the wrong and by the looks of his unyielding expression, further protest would not work in her favor. Resigned to her fate, she moved reluctantly toward the bed, her heart filled with trepidation.
“Wait.” His quiet order halted her mid-stride. She turned, hopeful. His posture appeared stiff, as though he was feeling uncomfortable about this as well. As he approached, she prayed he would forgive her and send her on her way. His next words wiped away all expectation of getting off lightly, as did the firm grasp he took on her arm. “We’ll go to my study for your spanking. Maybe being back at the scene of your crime will help reinforce the lesson.”
Taking up a lantern, he escorted her through the long hall and down the stairs as she walked beside him on sluggish feet. Once in his study, he released her to close the door firmly and light another lamp. He then walked to one of the bookshelves and slid the stolen item into the empty space where it belonged. That simple act caused a lump to form in her throat. When he turned back, his hands fell to his belt.
Expecting his hand, the promise of leather on her tender hind parts made the nagging guilt over her petty crime transform into serious regret and her stomach twisted in knots. She’d gotten the strap from her father before. This was entirely different. Never before did she have to contend with thoughts of twinkling brown eyes and rich wavy hair, or the allure of sensual lips surrounded by a scruff of dark beard. And never had a broad chest and strong muscular arms so distracted her that she tingled in places that were improper to touch to make the ache go away. She also prayed fervently that he would not lift her dress, for if he did, he would surely notice the wetness between her thighs, something as sinful to an unmarried woman as it was tempting.
“Master, please,” she demurred as he took her arm, escorting her to his desk. “Tell my father when I get home and let him punish me. Please, don’t spank me.”
To her surprise, he chuckled. “And wait months, in hopes I forget? Not a chance, little one. You are creative though, I’ll give you that. Over the desk with you now.” His hand was firm in the middle of her back as he prompted her to take the desired position.
She placed her hands flat on the desk before sliding forward and bracing herself on her elbows.
“All the way flat,” he bade, applying a bit of pressure. “Until your cheek is upon the wood.”
Once she was in position, his hand slid down her back and over the thick folds of her skirt at her hips. She closed her eyes, squinching them tightly as she held her breath. In a moment, he would know. What would she say if he asked why she was damp between her thighs? She would rather die than try to explain her reaction, for in truth, she couldn’t understand it herself. She barely knew him, and until tonight, had thought he would use her intimately as his slave. Now, although he vowed to bring her home still a maiden, he was taking it upon himself to discipline her as though she belonged to him. It made little sense, as did the aching heat between her thighs that spiraled into an intense need deep in her core.
“Please, don’t let him notice.” Her lips moved soundlessly with her plea. As his hand lifted the hem of her dress, a tremor coursed through her body.
“You’re shaking like a leaf.” Abruptly, he dropped the material and moved to where she could see him. “Have you never received a spanking before?”
“I have, sir, from my father. He had that right.” She stiffened, surprised when that last bit slipped out.
“So that’s what this fuss is about. I believe our agreement included you as part of my household and under my care? Isn’t that so?”
“Uh…” She’d forgotten about that part.
“Your father was in charge of his household and had the authority to reprimand those in his care, correct?” He didn’t wait for an answer, because he knew it was true. “As I do in mine. Be honest with me, Emilia. You knew what you did was wrong. Did you think you wouldn’t be punished, if you were caught?” He crossed his arms, cocking his head to the side while waiting for her response, his face a mixture of amusement and some small bit of annoyance.
“I didn’t think I’d get caught.” She admitted that hard truth while averting her gaze, focusing on the grain of the wood on the desktop. She wasn’t going to escape his knowing; her body would betray her the moment he lifted the dress. Her only hope was that he wouldn’t make her explain it.
“And that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? When you misbehave in your father’s house, it is his right to chastise you,” he went on to reiterate. “When you misbehave in mine, I claim that right. Don’t you agree?”
His hand sliding into the back of her hair made her flinch in surprise, though his movements were slow and gentle. His fingers fanned out as he tenderly pulled them through her loose curls. It didn’t help the problem with the achiness, in truth, making it much worse as a trickle of moisture began to creep down her inner thigh. It distracted her almost as much as the fingers that brushed her thick red locks off her face and to one side of her head.
When he spoke next, his tone was as soothing as his touch. “I asked you a question, Emilia.”
“Uh-huh,” she breathed out softly, her answer remiss for she had no idea in that moment what she had agreed to. He chuckled low and deep as his fingertips grazed the back of her neck, sending shivers down her spine. She bit her lip to stifle a whimper.
“You agreed I have the prerogative to discipline you when you misbehave,” he supplied for her benefit. “Do you also agree that what you did was wrong?”
“Then you must accept that a punishment is deserved.”
He stroked the side of her cheek with the back of his fingers. His tender caress caused more wetness to pool between her nether lips. Giving in to the sensation, she meekly lowered her lashes.
In the same low voice, he droned on. “You are also going to behave and take your spanking like an obedient girl.”
Said with assertion, not posed as a question, she couldn’t have answered anyway, especially when the back of the dress whooshed up without warning, sending a rush of cool air over the warmth of her bare, damp skin. She gasped, heat instantly rushing to her face when his hand came to rest on the center of her bottom. Her estimation proving correct, it was large enough to cover most of both cheeks.
She could hear the scuff of his footsteps as he moved behind her. She tensed. Not given undergarments to wear beneath her dress, he could see all of her now, every wet wicked inch. Slowly, his fingers ran lightly over her already sensitized skin. Her muscles tightened in anticipation and she gripped the edge of the desk tighter.
“Are you ready, Emilia?”
“Yes, sir,” she squeaked.
In an instant, a loud crack sounded in the quiet room as his hand came down, colliding crisply with the full curve of one cheek. Another slap from his broad palm quickly followed, landing in like fashion on her other cheek.
“You’ll receive ten with my hand.” Low and determined, his voice was as even as his spanks. “And ten with my belt.”
Four more blows landed each with greater force, creating more heat than the last, and not only on her bottom. A burning ache coiled deep inside her, and the wetness of her arousal that had started as a slow trickle was now running freely down the inside of her thigh. Another four followed, harder still, the swats lower, causing her body to rock and her pelvis to bump against the desk. When he stopped, her body hummed, yearning for more.
Never had she been so aroused, or more embarrassed. She couldn’t imagine why she was reacting so wantonly to a spanking, and didn’t have time to figure it out when the clink of his belt buckle made her breath catch in her throat.
He pushed her dress up further, well above the small of her back, leaving no barrier between her skin and his leather. His hand returned, his fingers gliding over her tingling buttocks, then they moved lower, the tips grazing the soaked flesh of her inner thighs. Dear heaven above!
“You are very wet as the result of my hand, little one.”
Wholly mortified, she couldn’t pretend anymore that he didn’t know. A groan of shame slipped through her lips while her mind cried out for deliverance, by chance, to disappear in a puff of smoke or for the earth to open up and consume her whole. None of that happened. She remained as she was, bared in all her wet glory before the man whose uncompromising authority and masterful touch had made her that way.
“Hush now, for a woman to become aroused from a few swats on the behind isn’t as an uncommon as you might think. The strap won’t be as easy as my palm, however. Spread your legs a bit wider for me now.”
She didn’t, frozen in shock at his request, and having no idea why he would want her to do that. “But—” she choked out, biting back her protest as two hard swats of his hand fell sharply on each stinging cheek.
“I gave you an order, dove. If I must ask again, your count with the belt will be doubled.”
That got her moving. When she obeyed and had shifted her legs twice a hand’s breadth apart, his hand curling around the inside of her thigh spread them further.
“I’ll need you to stay in place for these next ten,” he murmured, as if the intimate caress hadn’t occurred. “A wide stance will help you do that and also keep your balance.”
His hand moved from her thigh, smoothed up over her buttocks, rubbing the hot skin he had previously spanked as he went. It felt glorious, but was gone too soon, swiftly replaced by the sharp bite and loud crack of his belt.
“Ah,” she yelped, her skin instantly on fire from the biting sting. Instinctively, she reached back to protect herself from the next lash.
He caught her wrist and moved her hand back up by her head. “If your hands get in my way, I’ll have no choice except to tie them.”
Emilia quickly moved it back into place, gripping the edge of the desk as before, except now she squeezed so tight her knuckles blanched white in anticipation of the next blow. It soon landed right below the last. She clenched her teeth, while the burning sensation seeped in deep.
“Not quite as pleasant as my hand, is it?” The leather snapped, catching the crease of one thigh.
“No, sir,” she replied shrilly, the high-pitched tone nearly piercing her ears.
“And it’s not meant to be, or it wouldn’t be an effective punishment.”
Droplets of moisture formed on her brow, her knees trembling as the belt struck twice more in lightning-quick succession. The blazing blast not only heated her skin, but sent a jolt shooting straight through to the tingling nub at the front of her mound. She shifted her hips a bit, attempting to bring it some ease as it pulsed insistently.
“Be still. I’d hate to miss my mark while you’re wriggling about.”
An image of the wide leather belt landing between her spread thighs jumped into her head. She bit back a groan. By the saints, she should be in tears with the biting force he was using; instead she found her body craved the next stroke of the lash. As the leather hit across the lower curve of both cheeks at once, then again, it applied pressure to the weeping flesh in between. No longer having the ability to suppress it, her low moan resonated throughout the room.
With the next, the eighth by her count, she heard a low masculine grunt behind her. His hand threaded in her hair, keeping her facing front before she could twist around and see what was wrong. The firm pull on her scalp sent waves of exhilaration rushing through her. She loved it, basking in the control he was exerting over her.
With the final two blows, an intensely erotic vision popped into her head, of Corbet’s taking her as she was now, his cock penetrating deep, relentlessly claiming her channel as he pulled her head back by the hair, her body bowed tight under his complete command as he took whatever he wanted from her. Unable to stop it, a guttural entreaty emerged from her lips.
But his belt clattered onto the desk—it was done. She should have been relieved, but instead, her body craved something more, vibrating with a sense of frustration she didn’t quite understand. Her mind, however, was in turmoil. Merciful heavens, what must he think of her now? Twisting her hips, her body reacting like that of a shameless whore when she should have been showing remorse for what she’d done. She couldn’t have been more ashamed of herself, or more confused.
Fighting back tears that had been threatening to overflow, she lay with her head on his desk, facing away from him. She needed to get herself under control. He was a decent man and expected her to act like the well-mannered young lady she had been brought up to be. She should apologize and beg his forgiveness, promising to be on her best behavior, doing anything he asked from now on, but for the life of her, she didn’t know how she would face him.
From behind her, he said quietly, “Stand up.”
As she pushed to her feet, she wiped her wet face on her sleeve. The breath she took to calm herself hitched loudly, and was followed by a sob that rolled up and out of her chest.
“Sweetling,” he murmured as his hands turned her. Weeping pitifully, she buried her face in his shirt, surrendering to the comfort of the strong arms that held her tight. “Such a fuss,” he whispered against her hair as he stroked the length of it over her shoulders and down her back. After this went on awhile, he drew back, his hands cupping her cheeks and angling her face up to his.
“I’m so sorry,” she blurted out, full of true remorse. “I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never—”
“There’s no need to say any more now.” He wiped at her tears with his thumbs. “You are going to bed, and in the morning, when you are calm and rested, we’ll discuss it further.”
His hands moved over her, adjusting her gown, which she hadn’t realized until now was still caught up around her waist. That she had stood wailing in his embrace while half naked made her face burn as hot as her bottom. Once she was covered, he brushed wayward wisps of her hair from her face and the long skein of it back behind her shoulders.
“I trust that you are sorry, but remember when you find your bed, that this was punishment. You are not allowed to touch yourself tonight to find ease. Is that clear?”
Her response came out in a squeak. “I won’t, sir. I promise.” Then, so ashamed that he would think she would do such a thing, she buried her face right back in his shirt.
“There now, what’s this?” he asked, tipping his head down to see her face. “Ah, such innocence,” he murmured, low and with a slight rasp as though to himself. “After such a fiery response, I’d nearly forgotten.”
He steered her quickly to the door after that, walking directly behind her. Reaching around her, he twisted the knob, uttering gruffly, “The moonlight should be sufficient to help you find your way back upstairs. Good night, Emilia.”
She was out in the hallway, staring at the sturdy oak panel in the span of a blink. An emptiness gnawed at the pit of her stomach as the weight of his hasty dismissal sank in. He couldn’t get her gone fast enough, so appalled by her wanton display. Hot tears poured down her cheeks as she stifled a sob and rushed down the hall. By the time she reached the stairs she was at a full run, wanting only to get to her bed and cry out her shame into her pillow.
Corbet pressed his forehead to the door, listening to her bare feet pounding upon the floor as she fled down the hallway. When enough time had passed for her to make it upstairs, he slammed a fist into the wall, the pain from the blow jolting up his arm and into his shoulder. It was nothing compared to the ache that had settled in his balls and made his cock as rigid as steel at the sight of the juices glistening on her cunt lips and inner thighs. He inhaled deeply to compose himself; it was a wasted effort. With the spicy scent of her arousal still lingering in the room, it only made his need worse.
Never had he expected such a reaction from one so innocent. He hadn’t meant to be so abrupt afterward; then again, he couldn’t have allowed her to see what it had done to him, his cock so swollen it had tented his braes. It had been all he could do to settle his body enough to give her some affection afterward and send her off to her chaste bed.
Although beautiful with her brilliant green eyes, the thick mass of Titian waves falling to her waist, and the alluring curves that made his fingers itch to caress them, intimacy had never been his intent. She had been visibly frightened when she’d arrived, thinking he meant to take his pleasure with her, yet when he bared her bottom for spanking, she’d been slick and ripe for the taking. He thought for certain that once he lashed her cheeks with his belt her arousal would diminish and she would succumb to tears of remorse for her actions. Only the latter half of his plan had come to fruition. His belt had actually increased her lust despite her heartfelt apologies.
Corbet thought he’d lose control as her husky moans filled the air and she writhed beneath the lash, wiggling her rounded hips with each stroke, arching her back, which spread her thighs even wider, her body essentially begging him to claim her. If it were not for her virginity, he might have succumbed to the temptation and done exactly that.
Frustrated, he clenched his fists, relishing the bite of pain as his nails cut into his palms. Glancing at the clock on the mantel, he saw it was late. Going to bed in this state was useless, however. With another curse, he strode out of the study and down the main hall. Without a lamp, it was black as pitch, but he knew the house like the back of his hand. Proceeding left out of the private wing, he turned right down a short hall, passing the entrance to the old hall without slowing. Usually, he paused and admired the ancient architecture, or the old stone staircase leading up to a little used solar, and to the parapet above it. When he wanted to think, he often went there, except that wouldn’t cool his heated body. He needed air to cool the burning desire Emilia had stirred. Better yet, cool water.
He pushed through the doors and hurried down the front steps. At a brisk pace, he climbed the hill that overlooked the stream on the other side. As he drew near, he stripped off his clothing, leaving a trail along the grassy bank. He plunged in, letting the coolness of the current wash over his overheated flesh, dunking his head under for good measure. Quickly, his skin cooled, but his unfulfilled need still burned inside him. His hand found his shaft, as rigid as before he’d dove in. He rolled over with a growl of frustration and began to swim, hoping expending his energy in other ways would allow his body to calm. When his powerful strokes pulled him rapidly through the water and his cock stand still hadn’t waned, he decided he’d be lucky if it did before he reached the North Sea.