At the Duke's Service

By: Carole Mortimer

“Kiss me, Xander,” she encouraged throatily as she pulled him toward her once more.

Beautiful and willing as Angelina undoubtedly was, Alexander knew he ought to stop this right now. To demand an explanation for the obvious invitation in her behavior.

Perhaps he had overindulged in the port following dinner and his wits had momentarily deserted him? Or perhaps it was just that the invitingly sensuous pout of Angelina’s lips cried out to be kissed? Just as the slender curves of her body begged to be crushed against his much harder ones! Whatever the reason—or perhaps excuse—instead of pushing Angelina Hawkins firmly away from him and leaving the bedchamber as he knew he should, Alexander found himself unable to do anything but draw her more fully into his arms.

Angelina moaned low in her throat as she felt the firmness of Alexander’s lips against her own, parting them to deepen the kiss as he pulled her roughly toward him.

Oh, how glorious it was to be kissed at last! By Alexander. It was so much more intimate, so much more arousing, than Angelina had ever imagined a kiss to be, and she found her neck arching in invitation as Alexander broke the kiss to seek out the hollows of her throat with his lips.

“Touch me, Xander!” she invited breathlessly, taking one of his hands in hers and placing it against one of her aching breasts. They swelled beneath the material of her gown, their tips swollen and sensitive as she felt the palm of Alexander’s hand against her.

But it was not nearly close enough, Angelina decided, as she ached for the feel of that hand against her flesh. She shifted the artfully designed gown and the material moved accommodatingly lower, exposing her breast fully so that her nipple pressed urgently against Alexander’s fingers.

Alexander’s gaze moved down sharply, feeling the bareness of Angelina’s flesh against his hand, desire coursing fiercely through him and causing his already hard and pulsing erection to throb anew as he looked at the fullness of her exposed breast with its tight rosy nipple. Momentary madness came over him as he started bending his head to take that luscious bud into his mouth—

Dear God…!

Alexander pulled back abruptly, jaw clenched as he straightened Angelina’s gown determinedly, before pushing her firmly away from him.

He ignored her seductive pout this time, to rise sharply to his feet, and moved purposefully away from the bedside, hands clasped firmly behind his back as he took several deep, controlling breaths before he dared face her again. “I have no idea where you…That sort of behavior is totally unacceptable, Angelina!” he finally rasped in his most disapproving tone.

Disapproval for himself, as much as for her…

He may never have set eyes on this girl before tonight, may have ignored her very existence these past three years except to pay her school fees, but Benjamin Hawkins had nevertheless placed her under Alexander’s protection. He doubted that his friend had ever envisaged that it was Alexander himself Angelina might need protection from!

“How is my behavior inappropriate?” Angelina gave Alexander a quizzical stare as she sat up to swing her feet down onto the rug beside the bed. “I am sure we will touch each other much more intimately than that once I become your mistress.”

“Once you are become my what?” Alexander glowered down at her in shocked disbelief.

“Your mistress, Alexander.” Angelina smiled. “I assure you I have applied myself most diligently to my lessons these past three years whilst a pupil at Miss Bristow’s school.”

At last, Alexander knew where he had heard the name before!

At the time of Benjamin Hawkins’s death, Alexander’s own father had also recently died, and Alexander had found his time much occupied with his newly elevated status as Duke of Stourbridge.

Even so, it had been remiss of him not to have at least visited Angelina after the death of her parents. Perhaps if he had done so he would have realized that she was not a child at all, but a young lady of fifteen or sixteen years! As it was, he had left all the arrangements for Angelina Hawkins’s schooling to his man Hopkins. Something the elderly man had later happily assured Alexander he had done by placing her in what he believed was a “suitable” school in Brighton.

But suitable for what?

Chapter Three

Angelina stood up from the bed, an apologetic look on her face. “I had thought to surprise you by arriving so unexpectedly, but I see now that I should have remained patient and waited for you to come for me.” She reached up to touch the hardness of his clenched jaw. “Do say you are not cross with me, Alexander.”

A nerve pulsed where her fingers had just touched. “I am not cross with you—”

“You are everything that is good and kind!” She beamed up at him warmly.

Good or kind were not descriptions Alexander—or, indeed, anyone else!—was accustomed to hearing in connection to himself.

That Angelina thought him to be so was most unsettling.

Alexander gritted his teeth. “What I am is most displeased with the—the teachings of Miss Bristow!”

Angelina frowned her dismay. “Did I not kiss you properly, Alexander? Were my caresses not to your liking?”

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