It was possible Madame Noir regretted her decision to choose him; that titillation had taken a back seat to fear.
But this woman was notorious for her outré appetites. The more probable reason for her ostensible fear was that it was all part of some perverse game. A game which, if Raine played it correctly, he might use to his benefit.
If he could convince her to unchain him he would be out of this carriage in seconds, losing himself in Dieppe's twisting alleys. With such thoughts, he crouched low as he entered the carriage, conscious of the part he needed to play.
Mindful of how his shoulders crowded the doorway and blocked the light, Raine slouched down onto the seat opposite her, angling himself in such a way that he did not appear threatening. He could hear her short agitated breaths, feel her tension.
Jacques called out from up top and the horses plunged forward, pitching her across the slick leather seat. Raine flung out a hand to keep her from falling.
"Take your hands off of me," she whispered.
She was not commanding him. She was pleading. As false as he suspected her trepidation to be, her simulated fear worked insidiously on him. His body reacted instinctively to the implicit submissiveness in her appeal. Was she pretending that she was an anxious virgin closeted with a ravening beast? If so, her fantasy marched closer to the truth than she could know.
It had been years since he'd felt such lust.
"Take your hand off me." Her voice quavered. He obliged, releasing her slowly, letting his hands slide down her sleeve. He did nothing to hide the direction of his gaze, allowing it to linger on the agitated rise and fall of her breasts.
Role-playing be damned. He wanted her.
"Madame," he said softly, lifting his arms and spreading open Jacques' cape, displaying his shackled wrists and naked chest, the scars of Pierre's frequent "disciplinary actions" ridging his white, prison-hued skin. "As you can see, I am at your disposal, to do with as you please."
She shrank back against the deep, tufted leather seats. "You don't understand," she whispered.
"I do not," he agreed. "You will teach me, though. What is
your pleasure, petite
Madame? You touch; I am not allowed to touch? You arouse and then withhold the culmination of the arousal? Is that how you achieve satisfaction? Pray, do your damnedest by me. I am in a lather to be so victimized."
"Just tell me the rules of the game, Madame," he said tersely. He was more than willing to pay whatever price freedom demanded. He sank back against the seat, his aroused body flaunted for her perusal. "You have only to look to see how primed I am for whatever sport you chose," he said.
"Oh Lord." Her whispered epitaph embodied the virgin maiden's horror of a lecherous suggestion. 'Sblood, she was a good little actress.
"I am yours." He leaned forward and gently grasped her wrist, drawing her gloved palm forth until it lay flat low on his belly. He drew his breath in on a hiss of undeniable pleasure. "Can you feel my muscles clench with the promise of that which you withhold?"
She tried to snatch her hand back but he kept it there, desperately trying to gauge the nature of his role. How much to ravish; how much to seduce. His very life depended on his ability to judge her reactions. Once, a lifetime ago, he'd been well on his way to being a master of such sensual expertise.
"I was resigned to my celibacy, Madame," he said grimly, "having long since purged myself of the tormenting memories of a woman's soft body, a woman's sweet mouth, a woman's ardent embrace. You've resurrected those, given them substance, teased me with their reality." His voice grew low and fervent. She tried to tug away, but her efforts lacked conviction. She wanted to hear this confession. Bask in it. Damn her.
He grabbed her other wrist and, heedless of her sudden resistance, yanked, tumbling her into his embrace. He hauled her into the lee created by his wide spread legs. His arm snaked about her waist, the chains locking him to the floor jangling noisily.
She gasped, her hands trapped between them, pushing at his cold chest. The feel of her gloved fingers stroked his nerve endings. His heart thundered in his chest in equal parts fear and arousal.
"Cry out and I'm dead 'ere I've been of any use to you," he grated out. She was svelte and tensile as a young she-cat, her hips narrow. Even through the thick layers of her skirt he could feel the delicate jut of her pelvic bones brand his inner thighs. Her veil settled over his knees in a drift of black silk.
"Let me service you," he whispered, the line between playacting and reality blurring with the heady feel of her. His patience was wearing thin. She would find herself ravished in fact if he played this game much longer. "Let me touch you. Fondle you. Inflame in you a fire to equal my own," he purred. "Enjoy me."
He rocked lightly against her, striving to keep the anger from his voice. Anger as much with himself as with her, at the body that betrayed both his mind and spirit. "Here. Now," he said. "Let me take you. I can not wait. Only unchain me," he ground out urgently, "and I will swive you as thoroughly as a spring stallion at his first mare."
"Let me go!" The veiled face jerked back. Raine cursed his impetuousness.
He released her arms immediately. He'd read her incorrectly, decided that coarseness would appeal to what he knew of her appetites. Instead, she'd been appalled. He was not mistaken in that reaction; no one could act that
He forced his features into a submissive expression, dropping his gaze so that she might not see how it burned. Trembling, she scrambled into the seat opposite him.
"Forgive me," he began in a hard, far from humble tone. But he'd been stretched a bit far, worn a bit thin. By this game. By her. "I should not have allowed my desires to make me so bold." His hot eyes lifted contemptuously to her concealed face. "But then, I thought you liked your captives vulgar and base. 'Tis the rumor in the prison where you purchase your toys."
As soon as the words were spoken he cursed himself again. He hadn't planned on speaking thus. The words had simply come. He sneered at his manacled wrists. He'd thought that four years in prison had culled the impetuousness from his soul.
He waited for the inevitable; a blow across his face, an imperious call to turn the carriage around.
Amazingly, it did not come. She only squeezed herself further back against the seat. "Sir. Please. Be still. Be quiet. The guards might hear you. Only wait, I pray you," she urged, "wait!"
"I am your creature, Madame. You have only to command me," he said flatly. "As you well know."
Excerpted from McClairen's Isle: The Reckless One by Connie Brockway. Copyright © 2000 by Connie Brockway. Excerpted by permission of Dell, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.