If Lady Tabetha Wellstone can land a duke for a husband, she'll have fulfilled her destiny once and for all...so there is no way she’ll allow herself to fall for Stone Spencer—a mere Mister—even if he is tall, dark and incredibly handsome…
As the loser of a meaningless bet, Stone Spencer, second son of the Earl of Ravensdale, ‘wins’ the distinctive honor of watching out for his good friend Lord Westerley’s youngest sister for the duration of the spring season. She’s spoiled, and headstrong and… determined to make his task impossible. In the end, he may be able to protect her from herself, but who will protect her from him? Or is Stone the one who needs protecting?
Release Date: December 21, 2020
Series: Regency Cocky Gents
Book Number: 3 in the series
A Fake Marriage, a touch of amnesia, and a pact that whatever happens in Gretna Green, stays in Gretna Green….
Her fingertips danced along his jaw, stroking his beard, exploring, claiming an intimacy that shouldn't exist between them.
Stone needed to slow her down and yet he rationalized that she wanted him, they were legally married, and perhaps...
She deserved this.
For as long as he'd known her, she'd dismissed any man who didn't hold a title. She'd mocked him for being his father's spare.
So why did she claim that her heart recognized him? Had she been attracted to him before, or was this supposed affection the only way her brain could cope with her loss of memory?
It had to be. The real Lady Tabetha never would have been so openly demonstrative.
Not to him, anyhow.
She trailed a gentle hand to the bare skin of his chest. He was only half-dressed, and she wore nothing but a night rail.
A thin and silky night rail.
Sitting together like this, it was almost as though they really were husband and wife.
"What was it like? The first time you kissed me before?"
I'm going to go to hell for this.
He'd always suspected she could be sweet like this, alluring and seductive. He'd just never imagined he'd be on the receiving end of it.
But how was he supposed to answer such a question?
"You set me on fire," he admitted. "I knew I had to have you."
Amazing that in this he was at least being partially honest. He cleared his throat. He was growing surprisingly partial to having her in his arms.
She held his gaze, her pupils growing larger, her breaths shorter.
Warning bells sounded, likely his conscience.
"And now you can," she said.
Stone tucked her head below his chin, stroking her disheveled hair.
No way in hell was any of this going to end well. Unless she never regained her memory, that was. He froze at the thought. Such a scenario posed altogether different complications.
He was not Rock Chester, nor was she Mrs. Tabetha Chester. At some point in time over the next fifty or so years, she would no doubt discover these facts.
And then it wouldn't matter that she was, in fact, Mrs. Spencer. She wouldn't care that they were legally married.
But this... holding her. Kissing her. Her wanting him to make love to her... None of this was real.
She was grasping at a fantasy. Once she realized the true nature of their relationship, she'd no doubt hate him more than ever. She would regret moments like this, and damn his eyes, she would resent him.
And yet, she was the one making advances.
She seemed to actually need this... need him.
Tabetha was putting him between a rock and a hard place—a painfully hard place.
If he resisted her, she would suspect their marriage wasn't the safe harbor she believed, which, according to the doctor, could possibly harm her recovery. Thinking herself in love might be the one thing preventing her from flailing in despair.
He smoothed a hand down the gentle curve of her back.
He needed to provide her with just enough affection that she didn't doubt she had a loving husband. A kiss here, a gentle caress there...
And as far as making love to her...
He wasn't a randy youth. He could keep his urges in check.
And once her memory returned, he would explain that he'd simply played the part she had needed him to play. Essentially, he was merely following the doctor's orders. That was it! Doctor's orders.
"Rock?" She pulled away and licked her lips. They were sitting on a bed. She believed they were in love and newly married.
There was no mistaking her invitation.
"Doctor Finch." Stone cleared his throat. "He advised against marital relations until..." He searched his mind. "For at least a week."
That ought to buy him plenty of time. He'd have not only delivered her back to her family but likely she'd regain her memory by then.
An annulment must remain a viable resolution to their predicament.
She pouted prettily. "But I feel perfectly fine." Twin vertical lines appeared between her eyes. Damn, he'd known she was beautiful, but to have her focus her charms on him sucked the air out of his lungs.
He grazed the backs of his fingers along her delicate cheek. "I refuse to compromise your health. No matter how much I want you." This, at least, was true. Even if everything else was a lie.
Until she realized the true nature of their relationship, he'd do what he could to keep her from becoming upset.
Disappointment clouded her eyes. And something else... vulnerability.
He tipped her chin up so she had nowhere to look but at him. "Never doubt that I want you, though."
He'd have thought she would blush and drop her lashes, but she met his gaze boldly. "I want you too. I'll simply have to settle for more kisses over the next six days." She grinned impishly. "And as your bride, I shall expect lots and lots of those."
"Seven days," he corrected her.
"Six and a half."
God help him.
He leaned forward and claimed her vexing little mouth. He savored her sweet taste and perfume... distinctly woman. Hungry for more, he nipped at her bottom lip, and then her tongue, even clashing with her teeth. All the while, he cradled her cheeks in his hands. He could not explore her curves or test the weight of her breasts.
Blood roared through his brain and then... lower. How would she respond to a much more intimate kiss? Would she writhe beneath him? Would she clutch the sides of his head, begging for more?
Desire thrumming through his veins, Stone plundered her mouth, thrusting his tongue against hers, and then past it, mimicking what he wanted to do between her legs.
She sighed, and moaned, her tiny hands clutching his wrists now. Damnation, but this was a tortured combination of heaven and hell. He never would have guessed that self-denial could arouse him to this extent.
Although, in truth, it wasn't self-denial.
It was self-preservation.