Hero: Gregory Vyse, Baron of Fulkham, is a respected spymaster whose skills are tested when he meets the mysterious Princess Aurore of Chanay—a woman he swears is actually the alluring French actress Monique Servais, whom he met years earlier.
Heroine: Monique Servais, a beautiful stage actress, must perform the role of a lifetime—one of a princess—when she’s forced to cover for a royal cousin she’s never met. But a certain seductive spymaster could ruin everything if he exposes her secrets.
Monique watched Gregory stride to the door and lock it, shedding his coat and waistcoat as he returned to her. She knew this was madness—why this man? Why now, when her life was in upheaval?
But she also knew she wouldn’t regret it. For once she would take her pleasure where she could, and to hell with those who would keep her from it.
She watched with avid interest as he took off his shirt, revealing a chest that seemed sculpted of marble, all carved lines and beautiful symmetry. Even the smattering of raven curls over it turned her knees to jelly.
When he caught her staring at him, he gave a low chuckle. “Like what you see, princess?”
“Perhaps,” she said coyly. “Though I want to see more.”
Heat flamed in his face like lightning on the sea, drying the very breath in her throat. “As would I.” Gesturing to her riding habit, which fastened in the front, he ordered, “Unbutton it.”
His tone of command sent excitement roaring through her, as did the idea of having him watch her remove her clothes. Though she fumbled a little in her haste, she had her riding habit off in a matter of moments, followed by her chemisette.
His gaze seared her as he surveyed her in her corset, chemise, stockings, and riding boots. “God save me,” he rasped.
That break in his usual control—and the noticeable thickness in his trousers—freed her to tease him. “Not even God can save you from me, monsieur.” With a coquettish smile, she lifted one foot and set it on the chair so she could unlace her half-boot and slide it off. Then she deliberately hitched up her chemise to expose her lacy drawers and garters.
She was rewarded by his harsh intake of breath. Just as she removed her garter and started to take off her stocking, he said hoarsely, “Let me,” and walked over to peel it slowly down her leg.
At the same time, he slid his other hand between her thighs and inside the slit in her drawers to find the place where she was already wet and eager for him.
It was her turn to strive for breath as he fondled her so deftly that it made her gasp and moan for more. With a smile that was half smirk, half pleasure, he pulled her foot off the chair, then hooked his hand behind her knee to lift the other leg so she could set that foot on the chair.
This time he was the one to remove her boot, garter, and stocking with a series of bold, hot caresses that ignited her senses. By the time her stockings were pooled on the floor at her feet, she thought she might melt into a puddle on top of them.
“Turn around,” he commanded her.
“Yes, sir,” she said impudently. “Whatever his lordship demands.”
His low laugh resonated deep inside her belly. “Whatever I demand? I’ll have to see that to believe it.”
She put her back to him. “Do you always order your paramours about like this?”
“I don’t have a string of paramours, as you seem to think,” he said, a trace of irritation in his voice. “They’re . . . inconvenient.”
Yet he had asked her to be his mistress. She told herself that it meant nothing. All the same, it felt like it meant something.
“Wives can be inconvenient, too,” she said, trying not to tremble like a silly schoolgirl as he loosened the laces of her corset, the brush of his hands over her chemise-clad back making her yearn for more than this one encounter.
“So I’m told.” He pulled her corset off over her head, then pressed a kiss to her bare shoulder. “I would give much to see you with your hair down, princess.”
“You can’t,” she said with true regret, then added tartly, “Unless you’re prepared to put it back up again.”
“Don’t tempt me to try it.” He ran his tongue along the nape of her neck. “Though I confess that having all of this exposed is enjoyable, too. It makes me want to mark you again.”
“Don’t you dare!” She swiveled to face him, only to find him laughing. “It’s probably a good thing we can’t marry,” she said petulantly. “You would be a most trying husband, I’m sure.”
“Probably,” he said, obviously not the least insulted. With eyes darkening, he reached for the hem of her chemise. “But there are advantages to marriage, too.” His guttural tone gave her pause. “Like being able to have the wife of one’s dreams in one’s bed.”
Her breath caught in her throat. “Would I be . . . the wife of your dreams?”
His only answer was to kiss her, hard and deep and so fiercely that her heart felt as if it might fly out of her chest. She told herself to not even hope for it. What good would it do to dream, when nothing could come of it? He would not give up his ambition for her.
But that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy their one time together. And she intended to do so, to revel in it and fix it in her memory for all her days.
He drew back to drag her chemise over her head, then gaze on her naked as if it were his right. And it was. She’d given it to him.
His eyes smoldered a hot blue as they scoured her naked body. “You may never be queen of Belgium, ma chérie, but you are a queen nonetheless.”
“In appearance, you mean,” she said, faintly disappointed.
“In everything. Diplomacy. Intelligence.” He lifted an eyebrow. “Talent in the theater.” As that made her smile, he filled his hands with her breasts, thumbing her nipples to fine points. “And in bounty of bosom. Most assuredly.”
She laughed in spite of herself. “For a fellow who strategizes his every move, you are still such a man.”
Eyes gleaming, he pulled his hands from her breasts so he could work loose his trouser buttons. “Shall I show you how much of a man I am?”
“Oh yes.” She’d never actually seen a man naked, except on statues, and that could hardly be the same.
He shoved off his trousers, then swiftly divested himself of his drawers. And that’s when she thought better of her plan to lose her virtue to him. Because that massive engine thrusting out from between his thighs like a cannon headed for war was far more daunting than she’d expected. It was as arrogant as he, with ballocks the size of plums.
“Sacre bleu,” she couldn’t help whispering.
That made him falter. “You have done this before, haven’t you?”
She considered revealing the truth. But then he would put a swift end to this. He was a gentleman, and he had some insane notion that she might end up a princess one day.
“What do you think?” she said, perversely not wanting to lie to him.
Thankfully, he came to the obvious conclusion and drew her into his arms. She ought to be insulted, but she was merely glad that he would do as she wanted and take her to his bed.
Or at least figuratively, since instead of leading her to his bedchamber, he hoisted her onto his desk and murmured, “Good. Because I can’t wait any longer to have you, my sweet.”
The Secret of Flirting releases Tuesday!!