One Night with the Laird Online - Nicola Cornick

CHAPTER ONE

Edinburgh, Scotland, April 1815

IT TOOK TEN minutes to cross from Edinburgh New Town to Edinburgh Old Town in a carriage, and for all of those ten minutes Jack had an almost uncontrollable erection the like of which he had never experienced before in his life. He had learned over the previous ten years that anticipation was one of the greatest aphrodisiacs of all; the anticipation he felt tonight was acute and almost impossible to bear.

Opposite him sat the woman who was the cause of his discomfort. He could not see her clearly in the drifting lamplight, but his awareness of her was sharp. Jack could smell the jasmine perfume that lingered on her hair and on her skin. He could see the shadow of a smile that curved her lips beneath the mask and he could still taste her from the kiss he had snatched a few minutes earlier. She had pushed him away then, but playfully, in a way that promised more, much more.

He had a rake’s reputation, but it was a long time since he had bedded a woman. He wondered if that accounted for this reckless urge to throw caution to the wind and take this woman he had met a mere four hours before. Jack did not know her name. He had not seen her face. He knew only that his sexual awareness of her was so keen that if he did not have her, and soon, he would be in danger of exploding with the frustration.

She knew it too. He could tell that she could feel the tension in the carriage, the expectation wound as tight as a spring. He wanted to wipe that satisfied little smile from her face with a kiss. He wanted to take her here in the carriage with each lurch of the wheels over the cobbles driving him harder into her body. He had no notion why she affected him so and he did not like it because it pushed him close to losing control; he only knew that from the moment he had first seen her he had wanted her.

The coach drew up with a sudden jerk. A groom, black-clad and inscrutable, opened the carriage door and let down the steps. Jack sat back to allow his companion to descend first. She gathered up the filmy silver skirts of her gown in one hand and stepped lightly down. Jack followed, glancing about him curiously. The carriage had stopped on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. He could see the dark bulk of St. Giles’s Cathedral. The streetlamps glimmered in the soft falling rain.

She took his hand and drew him along one of the narrow alleyways that plunged downhill away from the main thoroughfare. The darkness was absolute here. He could hear the tap of her slippers on the cobbles and feel the rain cold against his face, soaking his hair and his jacket. The walls of the tenement buildings pressed close on each side.

He was rushing headlong into danger; in these deep alleys he could be robbed and murdered and no one would come to help him. A knife in the ribs would be rich reward for his reckless pursuit of passion. He paused, good sense overriding lust for a moment, but then she turned to him, pressing her body against his, reaching up to kiss him. The cold tenement wall was at his back, but she was all heat and sweet fragrance. Her kiss was fierce and urgent, sweeping away any polite preliminaries, demanding a response. She put one hand on the nape of his neck and held his mouth on hers, tangling her fingers in his hair. He felt the hot slide of her tongue against his and groaned into her mouth.

He slipped his hands beneath her cloak and felt the slippery silk of her gown slide beneath his palms. He caught her about the waist and drew her closer. Her breasts were pressed against his chest and she rubbed her hips against his. It was galling to be so at the mercy of his senses when he was a man of experience and not a schoolboy, but Jack seemed powerless to resist the molten lust that was coursing through his veins.

The faintest thread of light glimmered in her eyes as she smiled at him. She broke away, but only to turn the handle of a door set back in the corner of the wall, deep in shadow. She took his hand again and pulled him inside.

The house was not