Deliciously Debauched by the Rake(9)

By: Ann Lethbridge

He mounted the steps two at a time and carried her inside a huge door that opened without the need for knocking. He lowered her to the ground, letting her slide down against his body, and heaven help her, the silky fabric began its torment all over again.

A butler, a young man with blond hair and twinkling blue eyes, bowed. “This way, if you please, sir.”

They were obviously expected. She glanced back over her shoulder and saw a footman standing staring out of a peephole set off to one side in the door. That was how he had known to open it.

“What is this place?”

“A brothel,” George said with a wicked smile. “A very select establishment.”

A flitter of fear laced with excitement ran through her body. “Have you been here before?” Oh, dear, was that jealousy she heard in her voice? How could it be, when she’d as good as sent him away? But what if he’d been coming here all along?

“Lord Robert brought me here when we were first on the town. Him and his brother Charlie. Long before I met you. I never had need to come here after that.”

She glanced around. The surroundings were opulent. Marble friezes. Paintings on the ceilings and the walls. For a moment, she didn’t quite believe what her eyes were seeing in those paintings. Two men and half a dozen women using their mouths on their male parts with obvious enjoyment. Each male was bound to a pillar, their hands high above their heads and an expression of utter bliss and submission on their faces. “Oh, my,” she said, catching sight of another painting showing women being similarly accommodated by several men.

She stopped. Turned and faced this new incarnation of a man she thought she knew. “Are we going to an orgy?” She didn’t sound quite as shocked as she should. And that horrified her.

His eyes glinted with mischief. His lips quirked in a devilish smile. “Would you like to?”

“No.” She sounded too hesitant. As if she actually wanted to say yes. It was all his fault, that toying with her beneath the rug in the carriage—she was still aroused and these pictures had renewed the assault. And the fault of this slithering, sliding gown beneath the domino. “No,” she said firmly.

He smiled more gently. “I’m glad. I am not good at sharing.”

A footman she hadn’t noticed until he opened a door bowed and gestured them inside what she assumed must be a chamber, a bedroom for orgies. She glanced up at George. He gave her an encouraging nod.

The doorway did not lead to a room. Instead, they were at the foot of a long flight of stairs.

The thought of climbing up there in this gown was almost more than she could bear. As if he understood, he once more scooped her up. He pressed a swift kiss to her lips and then ran lightly up the staircase. Another footman at the top opened the door and then scooted around them, so he could open a door into a chamber filled with the light of hundreds of candles. Dazzled, she blinked. It wasn’t hundreds of candles, because everywhere she looked she could see herself and the stranger she’d thought she’d known reflected back at her. It was a room of mirrors and gilt and, yes, candles, too.

George put her down. He threw his mask and domino on a gilt chair by the door. Beneath it, he wore a shirt of the finest white linen and trousers that hugged his slim hips and well-muscled thighs. He toed off his silver-buckled shoes and immediately attacked the buttons keeping her domino closed. While he relieved her of her costume, she realized that what she had thought was a large marble table on a dais in the center of the room was in fact a bath. The rising steam gave it away. He tossed her outer raiment over the same chair, undid the strings of her mask and took her by the hand.

Unexpectedly, he twirled her around. “How beautiful you look,” he said, his hot gaze searing her skin as it traveled from head to foot in a long, slow perusal. He made her feel beautiful still, despite her advancing age, her loss of the youthful blush that had been hers when they first met. She couldn’t help but smile.

He led her to the tub.

It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, shaped like a shell, colored a pearlescent pink and surrounded by carvings of frolicking mermaids and mermen. Obviously aroused mermen and very excited mermaids.

She pressed her hand to her mouth to suppress her embarrassed laughter and turned to see his reaction. Startled by the movement all around her, the black swirl of flowing silk caught in mirrors, she gasped, dizzied by the sight. George caught her and held her close against his chest, stroking her back as if soothing a frightened animal. “This is the Venus room,” he said quietly. “There are others. Each devoted to the celebration of a goddess. If this is not to your taste, we can try something else?”

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