Widowed at eighteen, Lydia Swann Williston is about to make a decision that will change her life in ways she can’t understand.
She has never even heard the word “vampire.” In 1747, few have.
This Sunday Snog is from Temptation in Tartan:
And here’s the snog:
Lydia looked at the man who’d accosted her. How had she failed to notice him before? Bold he was despite his sober dress. Wigless, his straight hair was unfashionably long and darker than a moonless midnight. However, his apparel would rival that of the most stylish London dandy. He wore black, which would have seemed funereal but for the richness of the fine velvet. Lace lavishly trimmed his cuffs, falling over his strong hands like spider webs over granite. Stocking-clad calves, exposed beneath black breeches, were finely turned and muscular.
His eyes also matched his garb, while his skin formed a stark contrast. Though quite pale, he was unusually attractive. His subdued attire couldn’t hide the girth of his chest and his potent masculinity. Taller than the other men in the room, he dominated the space around him.
“Yes, I’d like that,” she said. Widowhood had compensations, and one of them was being able to walk alone with a gentleman without incurring the censure of society…or of her mother, who was gossiping with a newfound friend.
His sudden smile was like the sun breaking through clouds. He opened the glass door and the breeze swirling through lifted strands of his hair that had worked loose from the dark ribbon at his nape. Lydia was seized by the absurd desire to stroke back those wayward locks. She fluttered her fan to conceal her nervousness.
The mysterious stranger took her free hand and led her into the garden surrounding the Menhardie mansion. The broad summer moon cast shadows that shifted with the breeze, so she could see little but could scent much—the fragrance of plants and newly turned earth, the attar of roses she’d touched to her pulse points and, daringly, between her breasts. Most of all, she drew in the male aroma of the stranger who’d taken possession of her hand, a scent reminiscent of midnight and secret longings.
He led her deeper into the knot garden. Trees, swishing in the breeze, blocked the manse from her view. She inhaled sharply, realizing she’d walked willingly, alone, with a man she knew nothing about, into what was not only a compromising position but possibly a dangerous one.
As though he sensed her fear, he released her hand. “Would ye wish to sit?” He waved his hand at a stone bench.
She touched it with a forefinger. Moisture seeped through her glove.
“Dinnae fash yerself.” The stranger sat and held out his arms. “Come here.”
She hesitated. “I’m affianced. ‘Twould offend my new husband.”
“No one can see us, and I’m just asking ye to sit.” His gaze was not merely open and guileless, but oddly compelling.
He seemed so kind, and her worries so silly, that she complied, moving closer. He reached for her waist to help her arrange her skirts and panniers. Finally she’d settled onto his lap, sitting crossways so she was looking at his chiseled features, distinct in the moonlight, as pale as new milk.
A strange energy thrummed through her body. She was acutely aware of the firm, muscular thighs beneath her, for she had never sat on a man’s lap before. Neither her father nor her husband had asked for or taken this intimacy. Did she like it? She wasn’t sure and became even less sure when the stranger, who had one arm touching her waist already, slid his other wide palm up her calf toward her knee.
Though his touch sent a tremor of desire shafting through her being, it unnerved her even more. She squirmed but he held her fast.
“Lassie, what worries ye?”
“You are taking liberties, sir, and we…haven’t been introduced.” What a stupid thing to have said. He must think her a fool. But what did it matter? She’d never see him again.
He chuckled. “Let’s just say that I’m a man who finds you quite alluring.”
Alluring. Lydia blinked. William had never said that.
“Remember, I’m affianced.”
“Ye’re here with me. Do ye love him?”
She cleared her throat. “We’ve never met.”
“Then ye’re sharing a stolen moment with a man you…dare I say a man you like?” He flirted, but his voice held a dark timbre that seduced her soul. And yet a note of humor, kindness even, tinctured his tone.
She hesitated, then looked into his eyes and was immediately calmed. She said, “Yes. You may dare.”
“And what else may I dare?” The hand on her leg rose to her face to play with a curl, stroke her cheek. She quivered and her breasts swelled, her nipples rubbing against the lawn of her shift. Flesh for which she had no words, the secret place at the junction of her thighs, heated, tightened, moistened.
She shifted on his lap, opening her legs and leaning forward a trifle, and that sensitive, secret spot rubbed against his leg, bringing a charge of pleasure she hadn’t known before. She hid her gasp behind her fan.
He smiled at her, his eyes knowing… Did he understand how powerfully he affected her?
This was wrong, wrong. She had to stop.
“Your eyes are warm chocolate on a chilly day.” His voice was as soft as the breeze, as soft as his caress down her cheek to her mouth, which he traced. “Your lips are a temptation that I cannae resist.”
“You presume much, sir.”
“Aye, I do, but I feel I know your heart.”
If he knew her heart, then he knew it beat faster than a racing stallion’s hooves.
He inclined his head toward her. His lips were carved marble in the moon’s silver rays. “Ye desire me, do ye not?”
“Desire isn’t enough.” She’d desired William, and her marriage bed had been either empty of her husband or the scene of brief trysts devoid of pleasure. She wouldn’t be seduced by a handsome stranger. What for?
“Please.” He asked, but then he took. His mouth felt cool on hers but with a touch of fire beneath. That fire raced through her, igniting parts of her she hadn’t known could feel such heat, such rapture. She gasped again from sheer surprise, and something intruded between her lips… Before heaven, was that his tongue?
No, Lydia thought. This isn’t me.
She reached for his wrist to slide her fingers toward his elbow. She wrapped her hand around his arm and dug her thumb into the muscle just in front of the joint.
He yelped and jerked away, dumping her off his lap. She landed gracefully, stood and stepped back a pace.
“Good,” she said. “I must have hit just the right spot.”
His eyes were amazed. “Where did a lady like ye learn such a trick?”
“My brother taught me.” She couldn’t help shooting him a triumphant smile as she tucked her fan into her reticule.
He shouted with laughter. “Ye’ll do, yes, ye will! Ye’ll make a fine wife.”
“I beg your pardon?” she said stiffly.
He grinned at her. “I’m Kieran.”
She gaped at him.
“Kieran Kilborn,” he added helpfully. “The man ye’ll marry.”
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Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written over sixteen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, and Liquid Silver Books. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
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