Curiosity was killing Lady Emily Stapleford. Could it possibly be true that the
mysterious, obscenely wealthy American Logan Jennsen, a man she considered
nothing more than an uncouth colonial, was an excellent kisser?
not. Surely her friend Carolyn had exaggerated. Still, the claim had piqued
Emily’s curiosity and she found herself stealing but yet another glance at the
tall, dark-haired, broad shouldered man standing across the drawing room, hating
the fact that her gaze continually sought him out. It was as if Logan Jennsen
was a powerful magnet and her errant eyeballs were made of metal. He stood
alone, glass of champagne dangling from his long fingers, observing the guests
who’d attended the small wedding ceremony between Lady Julianne Bradley and
Gideon Mayne. She watched his gaze pan over the small group, telling herself
that she’d shift her attention before he looked at her. But just then his eyes
locked with hers and she found herself unable to look away, an irritating turn
of events as she didn’t like the man. Not one bit. Every time she found herself
in his presence, she felt vexed and annoyed, a situation made even more grating
because her three closest friends all liked Mr. Jennsen and didn’t understand
her antipathy toward him. Of course Carolyn, Julianne, and Sarah weren’t aware
that Emily’s father owed Mr. Jennsen a great deal of money. Had Mr. Jennsen
lured her father into an unwise investment? Emily didn’t know, but she wouldn’t
put anything past the American. After all, in spite of the fact that he’d been
in London for months, what did anyone really know about him? Rumor had it he’d
been born into poverty and amassed his fortune through his business acumen and
the non-gentlemanly pursuit of hard work. Rumor also had it he’d left America
under mysterious circumstances.
Carolyn was to be believed, that he was an excellent kisser.
it be true? Since the moment Carolyn had made the claim, Emily hadn’t been able
to erase the words from her mind, nor the unsettling images they evoked-- of
Logan Jennsen’s mouth touching hers. Curiosity had frequently proven too strong
a temptation for Emily to resist, and she simply had to find out. Once her
curiosity was satisfied, she’d be able to put the matter, and the man, out of
her mind. She didn’t doubt for a moment that she’d find his kiss the exact
opposite of excellent, something she’d delight in knowing. And there was no time
like the present.
her gaze steady on his, she crossed the room, telling herself that the
fluttering in her stomach was nothing more than the usual annoyance she
experienced in his company. She stopped in front of him, ignoring the warm and
breathless sensation she inexplicably experienced every time she saw him.
wedding, wasn’t it?”
raised his brows, made a great show of looking to his left, then his right, then
glancing over his shoulder. “Could it be… are you speaking to me, Lady
barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Obviously I am speaking to you.”
see. Forgive my surprise, it is just that you normally avoid me as if I harbor
well, one cannot be too careful.”
yes, I agree.” To her further annoyance, amusement lurked in his dark eyes.
“Everyone knows that Americans are notorious plague harborers. But to answer
your question, yes, the wedding was lovely.” A look of feigned shock came over
his features and he asked in a hushed tone, “Good God, is it possible we’ve
agreed on something?”
cannot imagine anyone not agreeing that it was a beautiful ceremony.”
other words, I should not expect this détente between us to last.”
shrugged. “I’m not surprised, given the fickle nature of you hothouse society
man. Clearly she’d taken leave of her senses to even consider satisfying her
curiosity with such an ill-mannered lout. But then he lifted his champagne glass
for a sip, drawing her attention to his mouth. How unfair that such an
irritating man possessed such perfectly formed, beautiful lips that managed to
look both firm and soft, demanding and tender. And once again she found she
couldn’t resist temptation. Her three best friends all spoke of the magic that
could be felt in a kiss-- a magic she’d never experienced-- and, according to
Carolyn, this particular man knew how to impart that magic, a claim Emily highly
doubted, and one she was determined to prove wrong. How could this man be such
an excellent kisser? Why, he wasn’t in the least bit classically handsome. His
features were too bold and stark, and clearly his nose had been broken at some
point. Honesty forced her to admit his looks were… compelling. Perhaps she’d
even, under duress, have to allow that he was darkly attractive. But she refused
to believe he was an excellent kisser as Carolyn claimed.
there something else, Lady Emily?”
question yanked her from her thoughts and jerked her gaze back to his. And found
him regarding her through narrowed eyes. Summoning her courage, she raised her
chin and said, “As a matter of fact, there is. However it is a matter I’d prefer
to discuss in private. If I could have a moment of your time in the library?”
gaze narrowed another fraction, and for several seconds she thought he meant to
refuse her, but then he set down his champagne and inclined his head. “The
library,” he agreed.
took a quick look around, and after assuring herself they were unobserved by the
chatting guests, she led the way into the corridor, then to the library. After
entering the room, she watched Mr. Jennsen move toward the fireplace. Reaching
behind her, she closed the door with a quiet click then joined him.
is this private matter you wish to discuss?” he asked.
for you to satisfy my curiosity.” And prove Carolyn wrong.
was no mistaking his surprise. “I beg your pardon?”
you to kiss me.”
eyes filled with suspicion and he backed up a step. “Why?”
Lord, it hadn’t occurred to her that he might be unwilling. Weren’t men always
eager to kiss women? Deciding her best course of action was the direct approach,
she told him the unvarnished truth. “I’ve heard that you’re well versed in the
art of kissing, a claim which has aroused my curiosity.”
want to know for yourself if it is true?”
“Actually, I’m convinced that the claim is completely false.”
brows raised. “Indeed?”
Therefore I want you to kiss me.”
can prove to you that I’m not well versed in the art of kissing.”
Something flickered in his dark eyes, something that made her heart jump and had
her wondering if perhaps she’d made a grave mistake, a thought she immediately
shoved aside. What could be the harm in a simple little kiss? With renewed
determination she stepped closer to him, stopping when only several inches
separated them. Reaching up, she rested her hands on his shoulders and rose up
on her toes. “Well? she asked, infusing a wealth of challenge in that single
studied her for several long seconds, then lowered his head, so slowly her heart
began to pound with something that felt suspiciously like anticipation. She
closed her eyes and waited. What on earth was taking him so long? She’d expected
the kiss to be over already.
his lips brushed over hers, a whisper of a touch that stilled her. He repeated
the feather light caress, once, twice, and the fleeting thought crossed her mind
that it wasn’t unpleasant. In fact, it felt very--
his tongue over her bottom lip and she gasped, effectively parting her lips, and
before another thought could form in her suddenly addled brain, his arms came
around her and she found herself pressed against his hard chest. He deepened the
kiss, shocking her senses when his tongue touched hers. Heat rushed through
her, pooling low in her belly. Heart pounding, she returned the caress,
tentatively at first, then with more confidence when she heard him groan. And
suddenly, what had started out as slow, soft, and gentle exploded into something
hot and dark, raw and demanding.
noise that sounded like a growl, he yanked her tighter against him and slanted
his mouth over hers. Fire seemed to lick through her veins, igniting her every
nerve ending and melting away everything except him. The feel of his mouth on
hers. His hard body pressing insistently against her. His scent surrounded her--
an intoxicating mixture of fresh linen, shaving soap and sandalwood-- and his
taste was pure heaven. Warm and delicious. The intimacy of his tongue exploring
her mouth hardened her nipples into aching peaks and turned her knees to
porridge. She clung to him, sifting impatient fingers through his thick hair,
pulling his head lower, eager for more. She opened her mouth wider and was
rewarded with a deeper kiss that melted her spine.
coasted his hands down her back to curve around her buttocks, hauling her
tighter against him. The heat of his hands and the hard ridge of flesh pressing
against her stomach penetrated her muslin gown, a warmth she craved more of. An
insistent throb pulsed between her thighs and she squirmed against him in an
attempt to relieve the ache. Another low groan echoed in her ears, one she
wasn’t certain came from him or her. Desperation such as she’d never known
filled her and she strained closer, wanting, needing more. Lost in sensation,
helpless to do otherwise, she rubbed herself against him. A shudder racked him
and with an agonized sound he grasped her by the arms and lifted his head.
Everything in Emily groaned in protest. With her breaths coming out in short,
rapid pants, she dragged her eyes opened. His cheekbones were flushed and his
breathing was as erratic as hers. His eyes resembled ebony infernos and they
raked her face with an intensity that left her trembling. The way he was looking
at her… dear God, it was as if he wanted to devour her, a fact that should have
alarmed her. Instead it rushed another heated wave of want through her and she
had to press her lips together to keep from uttering the word that trembled on
her tongue. Again.
in a long, slow breath then swallowed. “Satisfied?” he asked in a husky rasp.
help her, her entire body trembled with the need for more. She struggled to
locate her voice, and managed to whisper, “Yes.” Which she supposed was
partially true. Logan Jennsen had satisfied her curiosity. And proven
himself to be an excellent kisser. An amazingly excellent kisser.
Unfortunately, she feared that knowledge wasn’t going to render him as easy to
forget as she’d planned.