The Chadwick Ring

The Chadwick Ring by Julia Jeffries

Book: The Chadwick Ring by Julia Jeffries Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julia Jeffries
grimaced with distaste and wondered how much of that betraying perfume clung to his own skin. His elegantly starched cravat that now lay in a limp wad on the Aubusson carpet already reeked of brandy; by the time he dressed and made his way back to his own house, his clothes were going to stink like the rags of a whore in a Haymarket stew.
    Now that the spasm of anger and lust had been slaked, Chadwick was impatient to return home, where the long-suffering Hobbs, still aching from his unexpected journey back from Surrey, would rise from his own bed to ensure that his master had a hot bath and fresh linen awaiting him. Good Christian soul that he was, he would tend the marquess’s needs silently but with a speaking air of reproach, as if to remind him that he was too old for such unruly behavior.
    Chadwick shifted his weight restlessly, and the woman beside him wriggled closer in her sleep. She was warm and velvety against his own cool hardness, and where their naked bodies touched, her lush flesh was slightly damp. When he stirred again she flung one arm across his broad chest possessively, as if to restrain him, in a gesture he found strangely irritating. Her long carmine fingernails dug into the heavy muscles of his shoulder, and the glittering bracelet on her wrist caught at the dark hair on his chest. He must have made some sound of protest, because her liquid black eyes opened suddenly and blinked at him, still hazy with sleep. “ Cheri, qu’as-tu ,” she murmured drowsily.
    “It’s that damned bracelet, Amalie,” he grumbled, dismissing a trinket whose value could have supported a rural village for a year. “You’re scratching me with it. You know I hate for you to wear jewelry to bed.”
    She gurgled with amusement and sat up beside him, her legs just touching his arm, and the coverlet fell away from her tawny body. “ Pardon , Richard. I only do it to show you how much I like my present.” Like a pagan priestess she extended her arms so that the bracelet caught the light, the gems a sparkling contrast to her matte skin, the rubies gleaming with a fire that was reflected in her hair. She had the most exotic coloring the marquess had ever seen: black eyes, golden skin, and hair like a flame. When he first met her he had assumed that her hair was dyed, albeit skillfully, with the same henna she used to tint her nails—but that was before she came under his protection and he became intimately acquainted with the dark auburn triangle between her thighs. Sometimes he had mused about the possible heritage that could have produced such a barbaric combination. Amalie denied being anything but pure French, the daughter of a Creole planter, raised in the West Indies not far from the island where Marie-Josephine-Rose Tascher de la Pagerie began her own life, before she scaled the heights as the Empress Josephine. While Amalie did concede that one of her ancestors could have been a Spanish sailor, shipwrecked during a hurricane and nursed back to health and potency by the mistress of the plantation, Chadwick was more inclined to think that her ebony eyes and warm-hued skin resulted from the master’s coupling with one of the housemaids.
    Aware of Chadwick’s appraising glance, Amalie unfastened the offending bracelet and leaned over him, deliberately dragging her full breasts across his chest as she dropped the gems onto the nightstand. When he did not respond to her provocation, her dark eyes narrowed thoughtfully, but she said nothing. Slowly she sat on her heels again, parting her knees slightly to make him aware of the musky recesses of her femininity. With a languid stretching movement she dropped her hands to the bed behind her, lolled her head backward, and arched her body upward until she was a golden bow, tense and vibrant, as if she quivered with desire. Chadwick recognized the posture at once—Leda offering herself to the swan—and he had to admit that she did it well, with all the grace and style that

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