Bea couldn’t deny it...or him... Her mouth softened beneath his renewed wooing and when he lifted her onto his lap with a groan of frustration her instinctive resistance was easily overcome.
Hugh’s hands plunged beneath her cloak, caressing her midriff, his thumbs thrusting upwards to tease the hardening nubs beneath her bodice. Bea continued a token struggle and yet her back began arching so she might have more of his rapacious touch. It was all the permission Hugh needed to sweep his mouth down the slender column of her throat to the undulation of her bosom, tempting him closer with every panted inhalation.
‘Tell me you don’t want this and I’ll leave you be,’ Hugh growled, his breath steaming against her milky skin.
He raised his head from her naked throat to read her expression but Bea moaned, tightening her fingers on his nape, wanting more of the tantalising magic of his cool, clever mouth soothing her fever.
Hugh smiled. ‘Is that a yes to my offer of carte blanche, sweetheart?’ he murmured as some of his long fingers disappeared into her cleavage, curving beneath a warm breast so he might feast on the satiny flesh with eyes and mouth.
Bea gasped at the exquisite delight of cold air and hot tongue on her sensitive nipples and when he began to draw upwards the silk of her skirts her protest was lost in an instant beneath the onslaught of an erotically demanding kiss.
His stroking fingers slipped to the smooth skin of an inner thigh, just one insinuating itself beneath the lawn of her undergarments to fondle her a fraction away from the core of her femininity.
Bea writhed against him, parted her limbs in wonderment as a tingle streaked through her veins. No man had ever before touched her so intimately, and as he fractionally entered her with a fingertip a jolt of untasted pleasure made her panic and ram together her knees. Hugh groaned a chuckle, dipping his head to skilfully suckle a taut nipple, drawing her back into his web of desire.
Bea squirmed on his lap, and when his hand again slipped beneath her skirt she made no effort to stop him knuckling the sensitive dewy bud hidden in crisp curls. She bucked her hips to nudge the instrument of her delight, allowing him to reposition her so she was straddling his body, then pressing her pelvis willingly against his solid torso. The rocking motion of the coach was tormenting her, as was Hugh’s long, drugging kiss. His tongue thrust little by little into her in time with the fingers he was moving between her legs. Bea’s whimpering gasps became louder, her body more tense as inner friction mounted towards an unknown crescendo.
‘I promise I’ll never leave you,’ Hugh whispered against the febrile heat of her shoulder. ‘Should I marry to get an heir I swear I’ll still want you in my life. I won’t abandon you, Beatrice...’
It seemed to Beatrice that his vow of loyalty came from a long way off and was intended to lull her; yet it instantly stole away her bliss. When his mouth swooped again to hers she shook her head, freeing her lips, and two small fists were jammed between them, holding him at bay.
Struggling to keep her footing in the swaying coach, she slapped away hands that would have dragged her back and stumbled against the opposite seat, skimming over the hide to huddle in the furthest corner. Tugging down her clothes, she whipped aside her face, closing her stinging eyes.
‘Your future wife need fear no rival in me,’ she croaked, feeling desperately ashamed of what she’d let him do to her. She knew just seconds ago she had been close to crying out in rapture and was thankful she’d called a halt before losing all control. Trapped in his seductive net a moment longer she might have ended up pinned beneath him on the seat, a willing party to her thorough ruination.
‘And your future husband—whoever he may be—has no rival in me,’ Hugh returned quietly. ‘So long as we adhere to the accepted rules, my dear, where would be the harm in carrying on enjoying each other’s company?
‘The harm would be in the deceit and the hurt to other people, and it is telling that you do not understand that. If I should marry, my husband will know he can trust me when I pledge to love and lie with only him. In return I would expect to be equally honoured.’
Hugh laughed soundlessly. ‘You are holding out for a love-match, are you, and a faithful spouse?’
‘Don’t you dare mock me,’ Bea cried. ‘You might intend seeking a wife to improve your status but such mercenary plans are abhorrent to me.’
‘I’m not mocking you, my dear. I’m impressed...but dubious you’ll get what you want. Most married couples of my acquaintance have...other attachments...’
‘Is my brother-in-law being unfaithful to Elise?’ Bea whispered. She had always admired her sister’s seemingly perfect relationship with Alex Blackthorne, and would be devastated to know it was a sham because he kept a mistress.