She gasped in a shuddering breath as his hot mouth and tongue tantalised a rigid nipple. Bea gave herself up to the tension building within, parting her thighs to his artfully sliding fingers. Her panting grew shallow as her back arched, then an explosion of pleasure made her buck wildly against him.
Hugh drew her face forward, soothing her bruised lips with a courteous kiss. ‘Did you like that?’ he asked gently as she collapsed like a rag doll against his shoulder.
Bea nodded slowly, feeling too enervated to speak. A moment later, when her heartbeat had steadied, she glanced up at his shady jaw. ‘Do you want me to take off my clothes so you might also like it?’ she asked shyly.
Hugh buried his lips in her hair. ‘I’d like that more than anything, sweet, but not now...it’s not right...’
‘I want to please you. I don’t care what you do...’ Bea started, but a gentle finger laid on her pulsating lips silenced her.
‘But I care, sweetheart,’ Hugh said. ‘I’ll not take your virginity like this. I want to savour every second of our first proper time together. I want us to share a feather bed covered in silk sheets. I want to enjoy your beautiful body for hours and hours—not snatch a few minutes’ release on an armchair with the servants listening at the keyhole.’
Bea started in his arms, darting a horrified glance at the door. ‘Do you honestly think they are?’ she wailed in a whisper.
Hugh chuckled. ‘No... They wouldn’t dare, if they value their employment with me.’
‘Mrs Monk will do her best to smear my name.’
‘Your name will soon be my name, and after that nobody will give a damn for a word she says. And neither should you...’ Hugh terminated his concise reassurance with a light kiss on her brow. ‘Besides, I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve been a rank hypocrite where you’re concerned. I’ve protected my sister and Louise from ruined futures, yet would have made you my mistress and put your reputation in jeopardy.’ He dropped forward his head, quite bashfully. ‘I’m sorry... I can’t help wanting you, so I’d do anything to have you and keep you always with me...’
‘You don’t have to do anything but love me...that’s enough, Hugh,’ Bea said softly.
As she snuggled, satisfied, into his shoulder Hugh neatened her clothes, doing up buttons and laces with an expertise that might have worried Bea had she not been still pleasantly dazed with sensuality.
‘I’ll get a special licence and we can be married before the end of the week. Just a quiet affair—if you’re happy with that?’
Bea nodded dreamily, feeling utterly content. ‘There is just one thing I would ask for...’
‘You can ask me for anything, sweet, and I’ll grant you your wish,’ Hugh said.
‘I should like us to honeymoon in India... I should like to meet Shay.’
Hugh’s eyes whipped to hers. ‘I was going to offer to cut my ties with them if you wanted me to. I never thought I would ever do so for anyone. I’m very fond of my...of Shay,’ he corrected himself. ‘But I realise you might find the situation hard to accept.’
‘I understand why you keep in touch with Shay and his mother,’ Bea said softly. ‘I expect you support them financially, don’t you?’ She tilted her head, watching his expression. ‘I really don’t mind...in fact I think it is very worthy of you to do so.’ She kissed his stubbly cheek. ‘I’m not jealous of Shay or of Rani. I believe you, you see, when you say your future wife is the only woman you want.’ She urged huskily, ‘Take me to India, please; I should love to meet your adopted son, and you said you would grant me anything I wished for...’
Hugh turned to her, a new depth of adoration for her burnishing his golden eyes. ‘Of course I shall take you to see my boy,’ he said huskily. ‘And when we have our first child, and he or she is old enough, we shall go again, if you would like to, so the children can get to know one another.’
‘That sounds perfect...’ Bea cuddled into him.
Hugh suddenly buried his face into the warm curve of her shoulder. ‘It is time to go and see your father and tell him our wonderful news.’
‘You will certainly be his good friend now.’ Beatrice choked a little laugh, tangling her fingers in his glossy hair. ‘I know I have driven him to despair on occasion with my recklessness; he will be pleased to be rid of me, I’m sure.’
‘He has my sympathy.’
Hugh lifted his face. His lashes, wet earlier from his bath, were again clumped with moisture.
‘You are a wild and wanton young woman,’ Hugh scolded on a sniff. He took her mouth in a kiss that bordered on bittersweet pain before transforming into a tender salute. ‘But I think I know a way of taming you, Beatrice, that we’ll both like very much...’