Woohoo! Thanks to all your votes, A Lady by Midnight has made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the DABWAHA tournament! And as promised, here’s a peek at Chapter 21 of Any Duchess Will Do.
NOTE: This excerpt has explicit content. It is for readers who are over 18 years old.
“There are thirty-three ranks of precedence between a serving girl and a duchess,” Pauline said quietly. “Did you know that? The chart takes up three pages in Mrs. Worthington’s Wisdom. I have it all in my head. Duchesses are at the very top—after the queen and princesses, of course. The order goes duchesses, marchionesses, countesses … ”
As she recited the ranks, she ticked them off on her fingers. “ … then wives of the eldest sons of marquesses, then wives of the younger sons of dukes. Then come the daughters. Daughters of dukes, daughters of marquesses. Next viscountesses, then wives of eldest sons of earls. Then daughters of earls … ”
“ … that’s ten ranks already, and I’m not even to baronesses yet. Let alone all the orders of knighthood and the military ranks. And below those, you have—”
He approached her and tipped her face, forcing her to look him in the eye. “Pauline.”
“I’m not even on the chart.” She blinked hard. “A girl like me, Griff … I’m so far below you. When we’re alone together, we might be able to forget it. But no one else will.”
“Forget it? You think I forget who you are when we’re together?”
She fidgeted. He must forget, a little. From their very first meeting, he’d afforded her more respect and attention than any nobleman would ever intentionally give a servant. “What matters is, we have to remember ourselves eventually. If we don’t, society will force the point.”
He stared at her for a long moment. “Perhaps you’re right. We should remember ourselves.”
“I’m glad you agree.”
He crossed the room, closed the study door, and turned the key in the lock. The tumbler gave an ominous click.
“Clear the desk, Simms.”
“What? I don’t see—”
“Don’t argue,” he clipped. “You’re a serving girl, and you wanted me to recall it. I’m the duke in the room, and I’ve bid you to clear the desk. It’s what you do, isn’t it? Clear tables?”
Is that what he was initiating, then? Playing roles? The libertine duke and the naughty serving girl?
Well … After about two seconds’ pause, Pauline decided she could get inspired for that.
She reached for the inkwell and cautiously moved it to a nearby lamp table, where it wouldn’t spill. Then with one hand, she made a broad sweep across the desktop, sending blotter, papers, sealing wax, and more crashing to the floor. “There.”
“It’s what you like.”
He tugged at his cravat, loosening it as he crossed the room. “You need to learn your place.”
“Is this my place, your grace?” She pushed herself up to sit on the desktop, legs dangling.
“For now.” He sat in the desk chair before her, boots sprawled on either side of her dangling legs, and fixed her with a dark, commanding gaze.
The moment stretched into a thin, brittle thing. Pauline sat very still, just waiting for it to snap.
“Lift your skirts,” he said.
His words were a starting pistol, and her pulse took the cue to race.
After kicking off one slipper, she toed the other one loose. Both dropped to the floor. She placed her stockinged foot on his thigh and slowly drew the lacy hem of her frock higher, revealing her leg all the way to the knee. “Like this?”
She dragged her lacy hem upward, inching it along her thigh. Her garter peeked through the edge of her petticoat—a saucy wink of lavender ribbon.
She slid her foot to his groin, cupping the growing bulge in his trousers. With slow motions, she teased him harder, rubbing her silky instep up and down the long, firm ridge.
Soon, the sounds of labored breathing filled the air. Both his and hers. The smooth friction against the sensitive arch of her foot was a surprising source of pleasure.
And the way he looked at her … Unashamed of his rampant arousal, penetrating her with his dark, intense gaze. He had her panting and wet for him, without so much as a kiss.
“Higher,” he demanded, encircling her ankle with his strong grip. “All the way to your waist. Show me everything.”
The dark command in his voice thrilled her. She wriggled on the desk, working her skirts higher. Until cool air rushed over her exposed, aroused cleft.
“Yes,” he said, sitting forward in his chair. “That’s it.”
He caressed her calf, running his hand up and down the silky curve. His thumb pressed against the hollow of her knee, and her thighs fell apart. As if he’d found some hidden lever.
He grabbed her by the hips, jerking her to the edge of the desk. His fingers traced the dewy folds of her sex, slipping over her aroused flesh. Such sweet, sweet torture.
“Take me,” she pleaded.
He clucked his tongue. “I shall do as I please. And it pleases me to taste you.”
As he lowered his head, she squirmed away, breaking the little scene they played.
“Griff, wait. No one’s … ” She licked her lips, nervous. “No one’s ever done that for me.”
He raised his head. His smile was slow to spread and overtly wicked. “If you hoped to dissuade me, that was the wrong thing to say.”
It’s cruel of me to stop there? Yes. Yes, it is. I am cruel and unrepentant, for several reasons.
Firstly… The truth is, I thought about posting more – but this scene gets so hot from there, I fear for the search engine hits I’ll get.
Secondly… the rest really is so much better when read in the context of Griff and Pauline’s emotional journey. Emotions make everything hotter!
Thirdly…I’m shameless. I have to get you to order the book, right? 🙂 Links and the full first chapter here.
Thanks to all who voted in the first two rounds of DABWAHA! I hope we make it to the Elite 8 next weekend, so I can write that A Lady by Midnight bonus scene of Colin teaching Thorne to waltz. But the competition is fierce, so don’t forget to vote!