At the Duke's Service

By: Carole Mortimer

He drew in a sharp breath. “I do not think that wise—”

“I do not care for wisdom!” Angel gave a dismissive snap of her finger and thumb before running lightly across the room to throw herself into Alexander‘s arms. “I should so like you to stay with me tonight, Xander.” She stood on tiptoe to kiss his firmly chiseled lips. Small, lightly biting kisses. “You are so very handsome. So strong and virile. Will you not stay with me, Xander? Hold me? Make love with me?”

Alexander put his hands on Angelina’s arms, with every intention of holding her away from him, but instead he found himself once more unable to resist the pull of her sensuality as he drew her close, before lowering his head once again and capturing her mouth with his.

Not a soft or gentle kiss, either, but that of a man who deeply desired the woman whose body was pressed so intimately against his own, the throbbing of Alexander’s body increasing to an almost painful degree as Angelina rubbed herself sensuously against the hardened length of his erection.

If he wasn’t careful, this young woman was going to drive him out of his wits!

Alexander wrenched his mouth from hers, his eyes dark and stormy as he pushed her away once more. “You must get to bed now. Alone!” he added quickly when he saw her face light up expectantly. “We will talk again in the morning.” He marched forcefully from the bedroom to close the door firmly behind him.

Angelina was not at all perturbed by Alexander’s abrupt departure. No, she was not perturbed at all. Alexander St. Claire was everything and more that she could ever have wished for in the man who was to be her protector.

So much so that Angelina believed her heart may already have forgotten Miss Bristow’s warning as to the wisdom of falling in love with one’s protector.…

Chapter Four

“Is it not a glorious day, Xander!” Angelina prompted brightly the following morning as she breezed into his bedchamber shortly after nine o’clock.

There was a stirring beneath the bedcovers. “What the—!”

“But, of course, you cannot see how beautiful a day it is when your curtains are still drawn.” She crossed to the windows and pulled back both sets of curtains to allow in the bright sunlight. “There.” Turning back to the bed, she smiled warmly at Alexander as he attempted to sit up against the pillows.

The long darkness of his hair was endearingly ruffled from sleep, the deep brown of his eyes slightly unfocused and his face harshly beautiful in the sunlight. The bareness of his chest, with its light covering of dark hair, was also revealed as the bedclothes fell down to his muscled stomach when he sat up abruptly. Making Angelina curious as to whether Alexander might not be completely naked under the bedcovers…

“Good morning, Xander,” she greeted huskily as she crossed quickly to the bed to sit down beside him.

“Exactly what time of morning is it?” Alexander’s initial confusion with this intrusion into his bedchamber was fast evaporating as he recognized that intruder.

“It is a little after nine o’clock, I believe—”

“Nine o’clock!” he repeated thunderously. “What do you mean by waking me at this time? What do you mean by entering my bedchamber at all uninvited?” he added harshly. “Damn it, Angelina—”

“Angel,” she reminded.

He scowled darkly as he omitted to call her anything. “You should not enter a gentleman’s bedchamber in this brazen manner, let alone at this ungodly hour!”

She gave him another enigmatic smile. “You are scowling again, Xander.”

“Of course I am scowling!” he snapped impatiently. “I have been woken before it is even daylight by a young lady who—Good God, what is it that you are almost wearing?” He had been admiring the long fall of her unconfined golden curls when she suddenly flicked her hair back over the slenderness of her shoulders and he instead noted her attire. Or lack of it!

“Do you like them?” Angelina stood to give an obviously excited twirl so that she might show off her nightgown and robe.

Did Alexander like them? A certain part of his anatomy certainly appreciated the cream-colored garments, most especially the way the already sheer material was made almost transparent by the sun shining behind and through it. Attire surely more suited to a brothel than a bedchamber?

More importantly, to Alexander’s bedchamber! “Where did you get them?” he grated through clenched teeth as he held the bedcovers firmly over the swell of his arousal. This young woman was surely going to be the death of him—no doubt from the repeated and frustrated battering his self-control had suffered since she appeared so suddenly in his life the evening before!

Angelina appeared undaunted. “Miss Bristow accompanied me into Brighton and helped me choose them.” She beamed happily.

Miss Bristow again!

Alexander was fast coming to the conclusion that he wished to ring Miss Bristow’s overly instructive neck!

It was she who was responsible for Angelina’s lack of inhibition, and for the low neckline of Angelina’s gown and robe as it revealed the half-exposed pertness of her breasts above a slender waist and curvaceous thighs.

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