A simple country girl at the mercy of a cold-hearted thief with more secrets than scruples.
As a widow, Jessamine gained the freedom she’d always desired. Her late husband left her his sole possession, an inn on the north road to Scotland. When a trio of gentlemen appear at the doorstep of her isolated inn during a snowstorm, Jess can’t help the curiosity coursing through her veins. Eavesdropping on their conversation only entangles her in their web of deception.To the petite innkeeper, Edmund is a wealthy thief. Allowing her to think what she will, he decides to use her to his advantage. That is until she hides the stolen jewels and refuses to reveal their location. Never cowed by a challenge, Edmund issues an ultimatum: return the jewels or repay the debt with her body.
"You want people to think you're cold and indifferent, calloused and uncaring." She whimpered as his fingertips trailed over her chest and came to rest against her neck. Her pulse pounded beneath his hand. "You manipulate, steal, and lie while maintaining a proper gentleman's persona."
"You've said as much already. Enough." He whispered as he leaned down pressing a soft kiss against her fluttering pulse. "My question is, do you know me well enough to satisfy me?"
"No one will ever be able to satisfy you, Edmund."
He grasped her chin in his hand and turned her face to see her flashing eyes. Brushing his thumb across her lower lip, he admired the flush of pink as it stained her cheeks. "Such a smart mouth for a country lass. I can think of a much more pleasurable way to utilize that tongue of yours."
Her eyes widened as he closed the remaining space between them and kissed her. He turned her in his arms, not breaking the sweet contact as it stole her breath. Different from previous kisses, this one demanded nothing. It requested her submission to him. He'd longed for her since the night of the masquerade. Hell, even before that. He slid his hand into her hair, pulling her closer and forcing her to open to him.
Heat and brandy mingled on his tongue as he explored her mouth. She sighed when he slowly loosened her gown with his free hand. He stepped back briefly to pull the cumbersome gown from her body and toss it onto the floor. As he feathered kisses along her jaw, he untied the bustle, then let it tumble to the ground. Jess moaned, and he hooked his thumbs into her drawers, pulling them down her legs.
"Why am I the only one being undressed?" she murmured as he kissed her throat.
He covered her lips with his and whispered in her mouth. "The only thing I want to hear is you moaning my name."
He kissed her hard, nipping her lower lip in warning. He pulled the strings of her corset loose with the skill befitting a jewel thief. Tearing it from her body, he focused on the thin chemise she wore. His hands slid beneath the material and cupped her breasts. They filled his palms, and he couldn't help but brush his thumbs across her nipples. The ragged gasp from her lips made him grin. Her clouded gaze betrayed the need raging through her. He pulled the material over her head and glanced at every glorious curve of her naked body. Edmund licked his lips.
"Sit down on that chair." He pointed to the wing-backed armchair before the fireplace. "Place one leg on each arm."
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