Book: The Governess Club Sara

Previous: Chapter Eighteen
Next: Chapter Twenty


“We just lie here?”

“And wait for the tray to arrive.” Having seen to the bell pull, Nathan settled back into the bed, immediately returning his body beside Sara’s. It only took a moment for her to lay her head against his shoulder, nestling against his side. His arm came around her, his hand settling on her arm and tracing a light pattern. He could feel her warm breath tickling his skin and her cheek move as it tightened into a smile.

“Breakfast in bed,” she repeated her earlier words. “I am going to have breakfast in bed.”

“Why haven’t you had this before?” he asked.

“My father was a vicar and his living was hardly enough to pay for someone to come do our laundry. My mother and I managed most of the house on our own. There was no time or servant for such an indulgence.”

“But then you lived at a country estate.”

“Yes, as a governess. Servants are not inclined to serve other servants; they are much too busy attending to the family. Besides, I was to eat with the children, mainly. A tray was out of the question.”

“But at Ridgestone?”

He felt her shrug. Her hand moved from her side to rest on his abdomen. Nathan’s muscles clenched under the contact and he willed his reaction to remain innocuous. “We still don’t employ many servants; to be financially secure we must be frugal. And I am in the habit of rising early and eating in the morning room anyway.”

He smiled down at her head, a shaft of light penetrating the bed curtains allowing him to see the mass of red curls surrounding her crown. “I am becoming very educated about governesses. At least one particular governess.”

Her head tilted so she could look at him. “And you speak as one who has always had servants to attend to him. Not everyone is so fortunate.”

“Indeed.”

She moved so she was lying across his side to look at him directly. “What about your childhood?”

“What about it?”

“Tell me about it.”

“There is not much to tell. I was young. I grew up.”

Her brow furrowed at his answer, but she did not speak. She laid her head back down against his shoulder, not questioning him further.

Dammit, if those nettles on his shoulders weren’t back. He grimaced and sighed. “I inherited Cloverfields from my grandmother. My father did not put on an appearance after I was born; he apparently disliked having a wife and child. My grandmother raised me after my mother died of a fever. I was five.”

“Oh, Nathan, I am so sorry,” Sara gasped. She raised her head to look at him, sorrow and sympathy in her eyes. She reached up to caress his cheek, her fingers soft against his morning beard.

“It is nothing,” he brushed it off. “It happened long ago and I wanted for little. My grandmother was a fine woman.”

He was saved from saying more by the knock on the door. “Enter,” he called out.

“Morning, sir,” Liam’s voice broke through the bed curtains. “Mam sent me with your tray.”

Nathan rolled away from Sara and rose from the bed, using the bed curtains to shield her from the boy’s view. “Put it on the table,” he instructed as he knotted a robe around him. Sara heard Liam move and do so, then leave after some murmured instructions from Nathan. After the door closed, sunlight flooded the bed as he threw open the curtains. Sara blinked, raising a hand to protect her eyes against the bright June morning sun. She sat up, pushing her hair to her back and pulled the sheets up to cover her chest. She watched as he picked up the tray and carried to the bed.

“Sit back against the head,” he instructed. She did so and he placed the tray over her legs. It was high enough for comfort and she adjusted herself again as he sat in front of her. With a flourish, he took one of the napkins and laid it across her lap, giving her a boyish smile as he did so. Sara blinked and her stomach fluttered.

She looked down at the tray in front of her, piled high with toast, eggs, ham, bacon, early strawberries, butter and jam. A simple floral teapot with two matching cups and cream and sugar accompanied the meal. Her eyes widened when she saw the quantity of the serving.

“I cannot eat all this,” she protested.

He lifted a sardonic eyebrow. “Then it is fortunate that I plan to eat as well.”

She felt her face heat with embarrassment, having not considered that he would share her tray. Yet another adventure to be crossed off the list.

“What would you like to eat first?” he asked.

“Toast, please,” she replied, reaching for the food. He gently batted her hand away and picked up a piece.

“Butter or jam?”

“May I have both?”

“As you wish.”

Sara watched in amazement as he buttered and spread jam over a piece of toast and handed it to her on a plate. “Thank you,” she said and took a bite. As she ate, he prepared another piece and placed it on her plate as well before taking a piece of bacon and popping it into his mouth. As he chewed, he poured two cups of tea and put milk and sugar into both.

She swallowed. “You don’t have to prepare my breakfast for me.”

He ignored her. “Would you like some eggs? Bacon?”

She shook her head. “Just the toast is fine. It is all I need.”

He frowned. “This is not about what you need but rather about what you want. Eggs are good for you and Mrs. Taggert has cooked this bacon to perfection. Have some.” Without waiting for her response, Nathan began putting some on her plate. Strawberries were added to the pile as well as a piece of ham. “I expect you to eat this all,” he ordered, a stern look on his face. “There are children in the rookeries who don’t see this much food in a week.”

Sara ate a forkful of eggs, bemused at his behavior. He was gruff and sometimes callous, of that there was little doubt, but there were moments such as these that he betrayed a kinder disposition. For some reason to hide it.

She sipped some tea, washing down her food. “The children in the rookeries, were you involved in any causes to help them?”

“There was a proposed bill a few years ago that would fund more orphanages and apprenticeships in the Seven Dials district, but it was dismissed before it even reached the floor for debate.”

“Why is that?”

Nathan shrugged and ate some ham, wiping his mouth with his napkin. “Influential people did not want to see funding for such a project. They preferred the money be directed toward their chosen causes. Try one of the strawberries.” He took one off her plate and held it up to her lips. Sara obediently opened her mouth and he slid it inside, his fingers brushing her lips. She met his gaze, recognized the smolder in them and a responding desire for his kiss grew in her. While he had held her all through the night, he had made no move to press any further intimacies on her.

She had been disappointed at that and now wished there was not a breakfast tray between them.

Nathan leaned back, suppressing the urge to kiss her breathless. He did not wish to add to her confusion, much to Primordial Nathan’s disappointment. He had to remember that this week was about her, not him, no matter how much he wanted to lay claim to her body.

“But surely you fought for the bill,” she said.

He looked at her, gazing at him so earnest in her naivety. She had no inkling of what politics was like. Neither had he, when he first pursued his career. By the time he had woken up to the reality, he had been too steeped in the corruption to do anything about it.

“Don’t do that,” he warned her.

“Do what?”

“Make me into some sort of a noble hero, championing the cause of the underdogs. That is not what it is like.”

“Then what was it like?”

Nathan sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “You do not want to know.”

“But I do. And I trust you to tell me. You speak to me as no other does; you do not shield me from the truth.”

“That is putting a rather rosy shade on it.”

Sara shook her head, her loose curls bobbing around her face. “I don’t believe so.”

He sighed again. “Truly, it is best that you don’t know.”

Her mouth flattened into a thin line, an expression he had never seen on her face before. Usually she was too meek to put up any resistance to a refusal. “I have come to realize that I dislike being told that,” she informed him. “All my life I have been living based on what others have told is me best for me, or what I should do, or how a proper, chaste lady behaves. It is why I have never had anything remotely adventurous happen to me, for it is not something a proper lady welcomes. I find that I am weary of being shielded from reality.”

Nathan looked at her for a long moment. This new determination fit nicely on her face. “As you wish. Tell me, what do you know of politics?”

“Nothing beyond the basic function. A gentleman becomes a candidate and the people elect him. Then the House debates and votes on legislation that become laws.”

His smile was tight. “Ideally, yes, that is the most basic definition of how democracy works. However, it is not reality. That bill for the orphanages and apprenticeships was bought out of all its support. Loyalty can be traded within the halls of Parliament and the wealthy opponents to the bill paid for the right sort. All it took was a few well placed, influential members in the party to veto the bill and encourage the members who championed it to reconsider their position. Those who refused lost in their next by-election. You see, politics is not about the people, not about the welfare of the country or helping her people, but about power, money and greed. There are men who will do anything to gain what they want and then to hold onto it.”

“Oh my.” Her eyes were wide.

“Indeed.”

Sara leaned back against the head board, her breakfast finished, her hand resting over her sated stomach. She could not remember her hunger ever feeling so satisfied. Nathan finished off the last bite of his meal and moved the tray back to the table. He went to the window and looked out over the expanse of the lawn.

She asked the question, even though she suspected the answer. “Were you one of the champions?”

“No.”

Oh. Not the answer she was expecting. If he did not lose his seat because of a refusal to toe the party line, then why did he leave politics? She dreaded the next answer. “Were you one of the well placed members?”

A moment of silence. “Yes.” When she didn’t respond, he let out derisive sigh. “I told you not to make me in a noble hero.”

“Why did you do it?”

“The price was right.”

“And what price do you put on your morals, your convictions?”

“It would differ. Sometimes it was money, sometimes it was the promise of a vote on another piece of legislation that I was campaigning for, sometimes it was for a piece of property. One time—” He stopped, unwilling to sully himself further in her estimation.

“Is that how you acquired Windent Hall?”

Thank Christ she hadn’t picked up on his hesitation. “No. I bought that one legally. All the properties I accepted as bribes were sold for profit.”

“I see. But you are no longer in politics? Left quite suddenly, if Jacob had it right?”

“Yes.”

“So you must be attempting to right the wrongs in your life, to be a better man.”

He turned to look at her, disbelief on his face. “Once more you are turning me into a noble, honorable person. Do not forget the way I have treated you and others. I chose to escape to Windent Hall to avoid society, not to make myself into a better person.”

“You speak as though you have a dark secret.” Her voice held a note of teasing and he was loath to demolish it, but he had no choice. He could not allow her to persist in this fantasy of his honor and nobility. And she did say she wished to not be shielded from the truth.

He looked out the window. “I do have a dark secret.”

She laughed behind him. “Indeed? What is it?”

Nathan swallowed. “The last bribe I was offered was a wife.”

There was a moment of silence. “Are you betrothed, then?” Hurt and shock mingled in her voice.

He looked over his shoulder at her before turning completely. “You misunderstand me. It was not a wife for myself that was the bribe. She was already married to the man who wanted my vote. I would . . . have use of her for a sennight if I cast mine alongside his.”

Sara stared at him, her eyes wide. She did not speak.

The corner of his mouth twisted into a sardonic sneer. “So you see, I am not made of the heroism you believe me to be.” He turned back to look out the window, not wanting to see the look on her face anymore.

He condemned himself enough. He did not need the addition of hers.

Nathan continued in his story. “I was tempted, I tell you the truth. She was a beautiful woman. Full of the right curves and colors to entice a man, make him think of the pleasure he would receive from bedding her. Right up until I looked into her eyes, I was tempted greatly. What I saw there—the only way I can describe it is death. They held nothing, not even resignation. It became clear to me at that point that I was by far from the first man she had been sent to as a bribe.

“When her husband saw my hesitation, he ordered her to undress. She began, but that is when I came to my senses and tossed the bastard out of my house. His wife I was more gentle with, for she was a pawn in his game, but I did not offer her refuge and have little care as to her fate. So you see, saintly Miss Collins, I am far from honorable, far from noble. All I wanted to do was get out there. That is how I came to be at Windent Hall.”

Silence reigned behind him. Nathan continued to stare out the window, but he could not even say if the sun was shining or not. He had never thought to air any of those words but now he could not call them back.

Would not. She needed to know the truth of his abominable character. Knowing who he was would keep her safe from believing the wrong thing about him.

She broke the silence behind him. “I understand now.”

“What?” The word wrenched out of him, not expecting that to be the first thing she said.

“That day we first met. Why you reacted the way you did. You thought Mr. Pomeroy was offering me to you just as that horrid man did his wife. It makes perfect sense. It does not excuse your behavior, however.”

He turned, looking at her in angry disbelief. “Why are you speaking to me as though nothing has changed?”

“Because nothing has.”

“Did you not hear what I just told you?” He was incredulous.

“Yes, every word. I am sorry you had to experience that. You must be feeling horrible.”

Nathan stared at her. “Horrible?” he choked on the word. He made a slashing movement with his hand. “Horrible doesn’t begin to cover it. I very nearly accepted another man’s wife in exchange for a meaningless political purpose!”

“But you didn’t.” Her voice was matter of fact.

“What?”

“You didn’t accept the bribe. You very nearly did, but did not. Other bribes you did accept, but this one you did not and it has changed you. It has made you stronger and a better man.”

Nathan stared at her as though she had three heads and ten tits. “You make no sense, woman.”

She looked at him, her gray gaze clear and direct. “You were tempted, Nathan.”

“Yes.”

“Even our Savior was tempted. For forty days he withstood the temptations the Devil laid out before him. Are you saying that you are such a better man than He that you should not experience temptation at all?”

He was flummoxed.

“The sin is not in the temptation, but how we react to it. If you had accepted that bribe,” she couldn’t bring herself to say the actual inducement, “then it would have been a sin. But you did not. Would it have been better for you to offer aid to the woman? Indubitably. But we cannot have too high of expectations on a man who is just learning how to change for the better.”

“But I am not changing for the better,” he croaked, barely able to get his voice around his incredulity. She could not be serious.

Sara smiled at him. “That may be what you think, but there is evidence to the contrary.”

“How so?”

“I have not seen you foxed since that afternoon in your library. You have made the effort to be more cordial in my presence, even if it wasn’t always successful. You carefully planned this week with the protection of my reputation in mind. Even then, you have made it clear that I can end this at any time with no shame or repercussions. After our first night here, you have not pressed any unwanted attentions on me, instead respecting my hesitations. You, sir, are more honorable than you believe yourself to be.”

Nathan stalked toward the bed, his steps intent, his brow lowered, his limp offering little hindrance. He needed to end this charade of hers, needed to see the truth about him. “You think all that proves me honorable, proves me noble? All it proves is that I am doing things for my own benefit. What purpose does it serve to be a sodden drunk when it makes my judgment unsound? Being cordial has benefitted me as I now find myself in a bedroom alone with a woman I greatly desire. It is not your reputation that I desire to protect, but my own bachelorhood; I have no wish to be wed. And allowing you to end this at any time or not forcing unwanted attentions on you? Well, that just means that I am not a rapist.”

He was now at the foot of the bed. Grasping the bedcovers, he pulled them out of her grasp and down off her body. Her ankles now exposed, he wrapped his hands around them and pulled her down until she was on her back. Sara gave out a little shriek of surprise at the motion, her shift rising up slightly, caught between her body and the bed. His hands, firm and warm, slid up her calves as he knelt on the bed and settled between her legs.

His voice was gravelly when he spoke. “And I highly doubt my attentions are unwanted.”

With that, Nathan pushed her shift up to her waist. Before she had a chance to react, he separated her knees with his shoulders and kissed her at her most intimate place. Sara gasped, sitting up and trying to squirm away, but his arm came up around her abdomen and anchored her to the bed. “Nathan,” she managed to get out, the sensation of his tongue against her womanhood warring with the shock that he was actually putting his mouth there.

His only response was a grunt that sent vibrations up from her nub and into her bloodstream. Her eyes fluttering, she lay back against the bed, acceding to his wishes. His tongue traveled the length of her before settling around that spot again, paying it close attention. Small grunts of pleasure, coming up from deep in his chest, echoed inside of her, tingling up her spine. Sara instinctively opened her legs more, giving him greater access. She closed her eyes, losing herself in the sensation of being kissed so intimately. Never had she considered experiencing such a thing; never had she felt so wonderful, so desired.

Her hand crept down to where his head bobbed. Careful as to not disturb him, she threaded her fingers through his hair, gently holding his head between her legs. That seemed to encourage him, for he increased the intensity of his attentions. With his mouth still surrounding that sensitive spot, the arm that had been anchoring her to the bed slid up to caress her breast. His other hand disappeared underneath him until Sara felt a gentle prodding at the entrance to her body and he pushed a finger inside of her.

She arched her back, lifting her body off the bed. Good heavens!

The tension from the other night had returned with a vengeance and he was controlling it with practiced ease. One flick of his tongue or one stroke of his finger and she would be spiraling close to the edge, only for him to change movements to draw her back. It was torturous and she suspected he knew that.

“Nathan, please,” she gasped as he pulled her away from her climax yet again.

He pulled back and looked up at her face, thrilling in the passion he saw there. He slid a second finger into her, stretching her, and pressed his thumb to where his mouth had been. “What do you want?” he rasped out.

Sara shook her head against the pillow, unable to voice it.

“Say it Sara. Are my attentions unwanted?”

“No,” she managed.

“Do you like it when I do this?” He made quick circles with this thumb.

Her back arched again. “Yes.”

“And this?” He thrust his fingers in and out without halting his thumb.

“Yes.” A guttural groan.

His own breath was coming more raggedly. “What more do you want?”

“Kiss me,” she demanded.

“Where? On the mouth?”

She shook her head.

“Say it Sara.”

“Down there.”

He complied, his mouth eager to taste her once more. He licked her juices, the sweet tang filling his senses. “Christ, Sara,” he groaned against her. “You taste so good. Like fresh strawberries.”

Her hand grasped his hair again, holding him against her, muffling all of his words. His tongue and fingers worked their magic and the tension building inside of her burst, setting forth the desired pulses up through her veins, saturating her body. Sara gasped with each throb until she lay back against the bed again, replete.

Nathan pulled his fingers out, his mouth still working in gentle strokes, soothing the pleasured flesh. Easing back, he kissed either side of her inner thighs and worked his way up until he captured her mouth, taking it in a long, slow kiss. He held his body above her, careful to keep them from meeting and testing his resolve even more. Her hands came up to caress his face as they kissed.

Sara pulled away, smiling up at him. “You can lie down on me again,” she offered.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea at the moment,” he replied. His hard on was still raging too strongly to be trusted against her pelvis.

“I don’t mind. I enjoyed it last time.” She pulled on his shoulders, encouraging him to do as she bid.

Unable to resist any longer, Nathan settled against her, pressing his forehead into her neck. She accommodated his hips between her thighs, bending her knees to welcome him better and her fingers played with the fabric of his robe.

His erection throbbed and jerked, being so close to its desire. Nathan felt her body stiffen slightly. He pulled away from her neck and saw the question in her eyes.

“I want you, Sara Collins,” he said, blunt in his honesty. He saw no reason to dither over wording. “I want you in the most primitive way a man can want a woman. I want to fill your body with my cock and feel your hot flesh surround me. The sight of you, your scent, the very thought of you, arouses me and I want to claim you as my own. I am not ashamed of that.”

The question in her eyes eased, replaced by a glow that he did not recognize. A smile tugged at her lips and she nodded.

He furrowed his brow. “What? What is the nod for?”

She lifted her head and kissed him, her hands running over his shoulders. “It means that your attentions are not unwanted.”

His eyebrows lifted. He wasn’t sure he understood her clearly. “I beg your pardon?”

Sara looked him direct in the eye, the glow still present, but the seriousness unmistakable. “It means that I want this, Nathan. I want you and I want more than what you just gave me. I want it all. I am not ashamed of it either.”

Nathan quickly shucked his robe and smalls, moving to help her remove her shift before she changed her mind. It was the first time he had seen her utterly naked and in the morning light, she was a sight to behold. Her pale skin and soft curves beckoned to him, begging to be caressed and his palms itched to do just that. Her mound at which he had just became intimately acquainted with glistened with her arousal. He licked his lips, her taste still lingering.

His eyes flickered up to her face and saw her regarding him in the same manner. Hesitation reflected in her face as she became aware of just how much he desired her and Nathan felt a spark of panic that she was going to change her mind. He leaned back over her, pressing her back down against the mattress and cupping her face. “No, shh, it’s fine.”

“Nathan,” she said.

“Shh,” he soothed and kissed her. “You are so beautiful. That is all it means. It is a compliment to your beauty. I desire you so much I ache with it.”

The look on his face was so sincere that Sara had to forcibly remind herself of one of her mother’s lessons: men said things they do not mean in order to get a lady to acquiesce to their sexual demands. No matter how much she wanted to believe he was sincere, she had best to keep a level head about it.

Even if such declarations were not part of their arrangement.

Nathan leaned down and kissed her again, taking her mouth with deliberate gentleness. Sara responded, opening her mouth at the first touch of his tongue, welcoming him in. The kiss deepened and she lifted her hands to cup his face again, enjoying the scrape of stubble against her palms. His tongue delved into her mouth, exploring and playing. She felt her anxiety melt away.

Nathan lowered his body against hers, the first feeling of entire skin against skin making his head spin. He left her mouth and moved down her neck, pausing to pay attention to her rapid pulse. His hand slid down her side, slipping underneath her body to caress and fondle her bottom. Such a soft, round bottom, filling his hand to overflowing. Leaving her neck, he pressed his face in between her breasts, feeling her round globes against his cheeks. Turning his head, he kissed his way to her nipple and took it in his mouth.

She moaned, her hands coming up to his shoulders, holding him to her. As he used his lips and tongue to tease her nipple into a tight bud, her fingers ran over his back, her fingernails scraping against his skin.

His hand moved from her bottom to cup her mound, the wet heat coating his fingers and making his cock throb. Nathan pushed two fingers inside of her, preparing her for his penetration. Sara arched her back against his hand, her fingers digging into his skin, her body building toward release once more.

He settled between her thighs. Moving up to capture her mouth again, he murmured, “Sara, tell me to stop. If you want me to, I will.”

She shook her head. “No, don’t stop.”

Nathan kissed her again, distracting her from the head of his cock nudging at her entrance. With a quick thrust, he entered her, breaking through her hymen in one swift movement. She tensed around him and he held himself still, allowing her to get used to him. Her heat was scalding around him, making Primordial Nathan howl with delight.

Pulling back from the kiss, he saw the grimace on her face. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

She grimaced again. “Strange. Full. It hurts, but I am fine.”

Relief slid down his spine. Taking her mouth, he moved his hips, pulling out slightly and pushing back in. He felt her grimace and stilled for another moment. When he felt her relax, he repeated the motion, timing his thrusts with his kiss, always cognizant of her reaction and allowing her flesh to ease around him.

Her breath began to come more quickly against his cheeks. Pulling away, he watched her face as she discovered what sex was all about. Her mouth bobbed open with her panting breath and her eyes became more and more glazed the longer he thrust into her. Beads of sweat glistened over her body, mixing with his and she wrapped herself around him, arms and legs, pulling him down on top of her.

Her breasts pressed against his chest, the nipples tightening again from the friction of his rough hair. Sara pressed her open mouth into his shoulder and let out a small mewl just as he felt her squeeze her inner muscles and then pulsed around him, signaling her release.

Nathan increased his tempo, urging himself closer to climax. He tried to keep himself from pushing too hard against her; surely her body was already sore enough from losing her maidenhead.

“Nymph.” His voice was a guttural groan and he held her close as his seed rushed into her body. Pleasure bubbled up under his skin and escaped through his pores, coating his body with his climax. Slowing his thrusts until he was no longer moving, he pressed his forehead against her shoulder. Just as before, her body encompassed his and she trailed her fingers down his spine in a slow caress. Lethargic satisfaction seeped into his bones, bringing him a sort of contentment he had not known existed.

They lay there for several moments. Without moving or opening his eyes, Nathan asked, “You are well?” He felt her nod in response and she sighed the kind of sigh that a well-pleasured woman makes. An arrogant grin threatened to break out on his face.

It had only been her first time and she sighed like that. Nathan was by no means inexperienced, but even he had not felt such a deep-seated pleasure such as what was cloaking him right now. No wonder she was sighing like that and he was the one to make her do so.

He felt her body shake underneath him. He pressed small kisses along her shoulder by way of silent apology for crushing her for so long. The shaking increased and he raised his head to see what the matter was, pushing himself up off of her.

Sara had her eyes closed and her lips were trembling. Was she about to cry? But she had said she was fine. Had he mistaken her answer?

“Sara?” he questioned her. He kissed her forehead, which only increased her shaking. A hand came up to cover her mouth. “Nymph? What is wrong? Have I hurt you?”

She shook her head and opened her eyes, laughter bubbling out of her mouth. “Oh, I am sorry,” she said around her giggles. “Truly, I do not mean to be laughing.”

Nathan stared at her. He had never reduced a woman to laughter in bed before; it was quite lowering, really. To think she was laughing at him while he was marveling at the rarity of the experience they just shared.

“You enjoy kissing,” she continued, her gray eyes sparkling.

“I don’t see how that is a laughing matter,” he replied stiffly and moved off her completely.

“Oh no, it’s not,” she protested, following him and wrapping her arms around his neck. “I was just wondering who the first person who thought it would be a good idea.”

“I don’t follow.” His voice was still stiff and distant.

She giggled again. “I mean, consider all the things our mouths are used for, all the things we put into it. We eat, laugh, hiccup, men burp and spit, we all are sick through our mouths; it is a fairly disgusting orifice, if you think on it. Who was the first person to decide that it would be a good idea to press his mouth to a woman’s?”

Nathan stared at her, watching the laughter continue to light up her eyes. This is what she was thinking of moments after he took her virginity? Who invented kissing?

This was not what he expected from the meek, demure Sara Collins. Silence, the necessary cuddle and likely the question of his being pleased—those were things more in line with her character. Not this radiant Nymph with a mischievous grin on her face and entertaining laughter escaping from her.

The Sara Collins he knew was desirable; this Sara Collins was downright dangerous, alluring with a seduction that threatened his heart.

As he stared, her laughter died and the light in her eyes faded. He could see the transformation take place. Uncertainty covered her face before she masked it with a serene acceptance mixed with slight trepidation; if he didn’t know better, he would have said she visibly shrunk before his eyes. Moving away from him, she rose from the bed and quickly donned her shift and robe, lashing the latter up tightly so she was covered from neck to toe.

“Forgive me,” she said, her gaze on the floor, her voice once again soft. “I did not mean to offend you.”

Stunned by what he had just witnessed, Nathan could not speak.

“Thank you for the adventure of breakfast in bed,” Sara continued. “I shall tidy up once I have gotten myself dressed.” Before he could recover and speak, she had disappeared into her dressing room.

Damnation.

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Next: Chapter Twenty