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Rumors - Page 21

Why, then, did she make him feel so restless? He wanted something, something more than the physical release that his body was nagging about. There was a quality, a mood, about Isobel that he simply could not put his finger on. Giles closed his eyes, sat back, while he chased the elusive emotions.

* * *

‘Mr Harker. Giles! Wake up, you are having a nightmare.’

Giles clawed his way up out of a welter of naked limbs, buttocks, breasts, reaching hands and avid mouths. ‘Where the hell am I?’

‘In your bedchamber at Wimpole Hall.’ He blinked his eyes into focus and found Isobel Jervis kneeling in front of him, her hands on the arms of the chair. His body reacted with a wave of desire that had him dropping his hands down to shield the evidence of it from her as she asked, ‘What on earth were you dreaming about? It sounded very...strange.’

‘I have no idea,’ he lied. ‘How long have we been asleep?’ Long enough for her to have lost the pallor of shock and chill. Her body, bracketed by his thighs, was warm. Hell. ‘You should not be here.’ And certainly not kneeling between his legs, as though in wanton invitation to him to pull her forwards and do the outrageous things his imagination was conjuring up.

‘I am well aware of that, Mr Harker! It is four o’clock. I heard the clocks strike about five minutes ago when I woke. Are you all right? You were arguing about something in your sleep.’

‘I am fine,’ Giles assured her. Already his head was clearing. It was the familiar frustrating dream about trying to break up a party at the Dower House, the one that had got completely out of hand. It was after that fiasco that he began to lay down the law to his mother—and to his surprise, she had listened and wept and things had become marginally better. But that night, when he had to cope with a fire in the library, a goat in the salon—part of a drunken attempt at a satanic mass—and the resignation of every one of his mother’s long-suffering staff, had burned itself into his memory.

‘I was supposed to be making sure you did not dream,’ he apologised. ‘And you had to rescue me instead.’

‘I had no nightmares,’ she assured him. ‘But it was a good thing that your voice woke me.’ Her hair had dried completely and the loose arrangement was beginning to come down in natural waves that made him want to stroke it as he might a cat’s soft coat. Isobel shook it back from her shoulders and a faint scent of rosemary touched his nostrils, sweet and astringent at one and the same time, like the woman before him.

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‘You must go before anyone starts looking for you.’ He kept his hands lightly clasped, away from temptation.

Isobel nodded and sat back on her heels and the simple gown shifted and flowed over breast and thighs. Giles closed his eyes for a moment and bit back a groan.

‘I will go out of your dressing room and across the inner landing to my sitting room. Provided no one sees me leaving your chamber, there are any number of ways I could have reached my own door.’

‘You have an aptitude for this kind of intrigue,’ Giles said in jest. Isobel got to her feet in one jerky movement and turned towards the door in a swirl of skirts. He saw the blush on her cheek and sprang up to catch her arm. ‘I am sorry, I did not mean that as it sounded. You think clearly through a problem, that is all.’

‘Yes, of course.’ She kept her head averted, but the tension in her body, the colour in her cheek, betrayed acute mortification. ‘I have a very clear head for problems.’ The unconcern with which she had knelt before him had gone—now she was uncomfortably aware of him as a man.

‘Isobel.’

She turned, her eyes dark and her mouth tight. He no longer thought it made her look like a disapproving governess. This close, he could read shame behind the censorious expression.

‘I am sorry.’ How she came to be in his arms, he was not certain. Had she moved? Had he drawn her close—or was it both? But with her there, warm and slender, those wide, hurt grey eyes fixed questioningly on his face, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to kiss her.

Isobel must have sensed his intent, although once his arms had encircled her she did not move for a long moment. Then, ‘No!’ She jerked back against his hold, as fiercely as if he had been manhandling her with brutal intent. ‘Let me go.’

Giles opened his hands, stepped back. ‘Of course.’ There had been real fear in her eyes, just for a moment. Surely she did not think he would try to force her? Perhaps she had recovered enough to realise just how compromising it was to be in a man’s bedchamber.

Or was this all a tease, a way of punishing him for his kiss that morning? But then she would have to be a consummate actress. Puzzled, uneasy, he knew this was not the time to explore the mystery that was Isobel Jervis. In fact, now was the time to stop this completely before his curiosity about her got the better of him.

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