TITLE: The Progress of Pleasure
GENRE: historical romance
A Scottish spy is interrupted by a woman who knocks him out with a candlestick. She discovers letters in his pockets, but he awakens and slips his bonds; they converse.
“I am no highwayman.”
“A lowly scholar, then, Mr. C.?”
He gave a start. “Why’d you call me that?”
“Perchance you talk in your sleep.”
The bed sheets were in disarray, coins under his leg, his knife nowhere to be seen.
“Or else you’ve stolen my letters…”
“Nay, you’re the sharp here.” She gave him a daring look and arched her shoulders, most becomingly. “Tell me your ploy.”
Parchment peaked from her bodice.
“Ahh!” He reached for it.
Blushing, she pulled out the letters and set them aside.
But he kept her close. “You best tell me who you are.”
She stilled in his arms. “I am no servant.”
What did her exact household position matter for a brief tryst?
“Who, then?” He whispered against her ear.
She wore a touch of perfume. He dipped his head to her neck. Soft as spring, like snowdrops. Scots or French?
When she made no answer, he ran his fingers along the lacy handkerchief around her throat.
“Dites-moi. La nurse? Le tuteur?”
“Lord Roxburgh’s cousin.”
An icy shiver ran down Tom’s back, but he refused to let that name weigh upon him. Not at this moment. No place for anger in the midst of making love to a young woman’s collarbone.
He swallowed a curse. “The earl must have many cousins.” His chilled hands swooned into thick curls. “Surely,” he said, tilting her head back, “this one could spare a kiss for her unwitting victim.”
She answered– well!–by leaning towards him.