The Improper Bride
Sisters of Scandal #5
Cold, arrogant, and demanding Henry Eldridge, Marquess of Riverton, would never dally with a mere servant. But when Henry is injured in a horrible fire, his pretty housekeeper Cassandra nurses him back to health, throwing them together day and night. As he slowly heals from his burns, their friendship blossoms, and the class walls between them start to crumble. Cassandra is surprised by glimpses of a kind and thoughtful man beneath her employer’s hard façade—and even more surprised when she develops tender feelings for him. But anything between lord and servant is impossible…and besides, as a widow, she knows love only leads to heartbreak.
Henry is changing, as well. His close brush with death has opened his eyes to his self-imposed emotional isolation…and has urgently reminded him of his duty to marry a well-bred lady and produce an heir. Determined to do right by his family name, he immediately begins searching for a suitable bride. But Cassandra is the only woman who is never far from his mind or his heart. Contrary to everything he’s been taught to believe, he realizes his lovely housekeeper might just be his perfect match. Now, if only he could convince everyone else of that. Especially Cassandra…
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“Oh, indeed?” he said softly, in a tone that scared her with its evenness. “What you feel for me is mere…servitude?”
No! Good Lord, there was nothing subservient in the way she’d pressed into his body in the snow, or when she’d cradled his face in her palms, or slept spooned up against him on the library floor. But admitting that would only make a complicated situation even more tangled. “Yes, I suppose, if that is what you wish to call it.”
He took a step toward her. “And when I recognized you even blindfolded, and your body trembled as I whispered in your ear, that was merely lord and housekeeper?”
She swallowed, her face heating. “I…” She cleared her throat. “That was a misunderstanding.”
He took her hand in his and tugged. She stumbled forward, nearly colliding with him. She would have, if she hadn’t braced her hand on his chest. She had to tilt her head back to look him in the eyes and she was very aware that he hadn’t removed his fingers from her wrist. Each one was distinct, burning her like brands.
“In that case, touch me,” he growled.
“What? No, I—”
“If you’re not affected by my presence, man to woman, I want you to prove it.” His eyes blazed with challenge.
“You are being ridiculous,” she said, her voice quaking as much as her heart.
He untied his cravat with one hand and let it drop to the floor, revealing his throat and his collarbone—smooth, pale skin, unmarred by the fire. She saw the pulse in his throat, saw that it was beating faster than normal.
“Touch me,” he ordered. Like Satan whispering temptation in her ear… Do you want the apple? Take it. Taste it. Her hand was still on his chest. Take it.
She wanted to so much, with a yearning that left her weak. She slid her hand up, her fingertips brushing his shoulder. He was tense. When she touched skin, he sucked in a quick breath.
A heady feeling, to know a simple touch could affect him so strongly. Heady and hot, and not at all servile.
It occurred to her, she was playing right into the scoundrel’s hands.
She didn’t care. The contact, the warmth of him, the way his pulse trembled under her fingers, had a similar effect to the whisky. It was like flame dancing along her limbs. Her nerves tingled, surging and alive. She let her thumb brush his collarbone, memorizing the contour of the graceful, jutting sweep, and paused at the hollow of his throat where she could feel the pounding of his heart.
No, she couldn’t… But she was already letting her head fall forward, her willpower succumbing to the hard, harsh rhythm of her body. Her lips grazed the hollow and his fingers tightened around her wrist, almost hurting her but not quite. She breathed him in, salt and spice and skin.
And licked him.
Somewhat recent release!
One Good Thing
A New Adult Romance
Danielle is fresh out of college and should be ready to face the world, but she’s terrified of failing, both in her life and in love. Everything feels safe, from her boring starter job to her tiny, depressing apartment-that is, until she meets Evan, the coworker who pokes all of her buttons in all of the right ways. He’s cute, sweet, self-assured and has a way of seeing the brave, sarcastic woman underneath her worries. He also has a way of getting her into the most compromising positions … in the most unlikely places.
As their work email heats up, their relationship moves from friends with benefits to more than just benefits. But, like all fledgling couples, they’ll have to overcome a few obstacles on their way to their happily ever after, including evil German Shepherds, boomerang ex-boyfriends, scheming coworkers, and company parties gone awry.
Fall head over heels for this standalone New Adult Contemporary Romance, and see how your life can change when you finally find that One Good Thing.
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(In which Dani and Evan meet and Dani contemplates the philosophical nature of thong underwear…)
I was a failure. Officially. The evidence couldn’t have been more obvious if it had punched me in the face—Friday night at a Halloween contest for pets. I didn’t even have a pet. I was here because my roommate had entered the contest, and I didn’t have anything better to do than tag along.
And if that red flag wasn’t enough, a dog had just stuck its slobbery nose up my backside. I shouldn’t have worn a flirty, short skirt; the hem lifted and air brushed the part of my leg where the upper thigh curved; maybe more important, I shouldn’t have worn a thong with the skirt. It wasn’t one of my brighter moments.
But what I’d been thinking was this: my boyfriend and I were supposed to go on our first real date in weeks, and even though it wasn’t the kind of thing I would normally do, I thought he’d appreciate both the skirt and the thong.
Now the only one appreciating it was the dog, whose moist breath I could feel against my bare ass.
This was why I avoided impulsive moments. Impulse and I just didn’t get along. And I didn’t even like wearing thongs. Whose idea was it to stick fabric between someone’s butt cheeks and call it underwear?
It was unnatural. And I was paying for the travesty.
I reached behind me, my hand landing not on the dog’s thick, furry skull but on some sort of plastic helmet. I gave it a fierce shove and the dog whined. Like I was being really cruel for dislodging its nose from my crotch. But my skirt didn’t fall to cover me. The hem had somehow gotten stuck in the top band of my underwear. How had the stupid mutt managed that?
I yanked the fabric back into its proper position and turned slowly, hoping that no one stood behind me, but half expecting the entire population of the park to be pointing and laughing. Was it too much to ask that the earth crack open and swallow me into its fiery depths before I died from mortification?
When I faced the park, there was no crowd gathered, but I didn’t manage to walk away unscathed. A small group of people were gathered around a nearby park bench, and a man jogged over from their direction. I glanced past him to the others, but they were deep in their own conversation and didn’t notice me.
He stopped in front of me and knelt to pick up the leash that trailed on the ground.
I stared down at his head. He looked young. He might have been attractive but it was difficult to tell at this angle. He had on dark jeans and a well-fitted black T-shirt.
Earth, now would be a good time.
“Sorry,” he said. “Vader got away from me.”
A German shepherd stood at my feet with a lopsided grin and tongue lolling out. He sported a Darth Vader helmet and cape and was wagging his tail as his wet doggy eyes stared up at me like he’d done something praiseworthy.
The creature was beyond evil. Horns and a pointy tail would have been a more accurate costume.
And then I looked back to the owner to observe him more closely. It was a mistake. Now that he was standing and I could see him straight on, I could tell that he was sort of cute. And that just made everything worse. His brown hair glinted with reddish highlights, ending past his ears with a curl. His face was longish with high cheekbones and a straight nose that had a slight bump on the bridge. Light blue eyes held mine steadily.
I looked down; that was a bigger mistake. My gaze fell on his mouth.
His lips. I swallowed. They were full, curved, sensual, and right now they were tilted in an apologetic smile.
Which meant, most likely, he’d glimpsed some or all of my butt, possibly even my lacy red thong.
Hot lips or not, my body heated with embarrassment that quickly morphed to anger. It was my coping mechanism for shame—probably not a good one. Even though it was warm for mid-October, I pulled my jacket tighter around my torso, my arms wrapping around my chest.
“Keep track of your stupid dog,” I snapped.
He patted the dog’s side like I might have hurt its feelings. “He just does that sometimes. I guess he thinks he’s being friendly.”
That was it then. He’d seen the whole thing—the whole thing. I actually felt vaguely nauseous.
Why was this happening to me? Why did it have to be a young, attractive male? The only young, attractive male who should have seen my thonged ass was my boyfriend. Not to be perverted or anything, but I’d rather have an old lady check out my butt than this guy.
“That’s great,” I said, taking refuge in sarcasm. “I hope lots of strange dogs want to be friends with you. You’ll see how fun it is to have their nose up your . . .” I didn’t finish that statement—the word got stuck in my throat and I could feel my face burn.
He didn’t say anything for a long moment, and I noticed his lips were pressed together, like he was trying not to smile. Or laugh. “It’s not a big deal.”
I hadn’t realized my mortification was so hilarious. If looks could kill, the glare I shot him then would have made his face melt off his skull, like something from an Indiana Jones movie. At my level of pissed-off-ness it was hard to be clever. “That’s great,” I said. Again.
But at least I said it in a really seething way.
He actually did laugh then, a little huff of amusement that made me want to disappear off the face of the planet. He started to say something, but I brushed past him and he fell silent.
I couldn’t get away from him fast enough.
Of course, that meant turning my backside to him again. Surreptitiously, I ran my hands down my hips to make sure the skirt covered everything it was supposed to cover. And then, with long strides, I crossed the mulch path to find my roommate.
Content Copyright Lily Maxton