The Mad, Bad Duke (Nvengaria #2)(10)

“That is a peasant dance. The dances of Nvengarian aristocrats are far more intimate.”

Miss Tavistock’s lips parted, her body swaying a little toward him at the word intimate.

Alexander had a sudden vision of himself and this beautiful red-haired woman dancing alone in the fantastic ballroom in his Berkeley Square house, drifting around and around under the red-painted arched and gilded ceiling. He’d hold her much closer than this, of course. The room would be lit by sunlight from the windows on the far end, and there would be no music, only the pair of them going around each other, gazing into each other’s eyes with warmth and joy.

He was extremely aware of her waist beneath his palm, of her legs pressing at her gown as she glided in time with him, their feet a whisper of distance apart.

Miss Tavistock’s eyes were soft, her gaze no longer wary or evasive. She was looking at him, at Alexander, as though she saw past his cold fa?ade to all his flaws.

“The vision we shared came from a spell, Miss Tavistock,” he said, reminding himself of the danger.

“Yes, I thought it must have done.”

“At least you acknowledge that. Where is the talisman?”

She hesitated, then silently raised her hand. A small silk bag with roses embroidered on it dangled from her wrist.

And in that instant, Alexander was back in the marble-pillared bath chamber of his house in Berkeley Square.

Candles burned in sconces along the walls, light dancing on the water that obscured the sweet body of red-haired Meagan Tavistock. She sat on the far end of the Roman bath, watching him with brown eyes in a heat-flushed face. Her lips were parted and moist, wanting kisses, her bare shoulders brushed with a line of freckles. She stared at him as though surprised to see him there, then her gaze drifted down his unclothed body, regarding him with flattering interest.

Alexander craved her with a suddenness that took his breath away. He could already feel his hands on her body, imagined himself pushing inside her. Meagan would welcome him into her warmth, and she’d move beneath him, making soft noises of pleasure. His cock lifted at the need to make his longings truth.

Hot water bit his skin as he descended into the bath. Steam rose to engulf them, curling the wisps of red hair on Meagan’s forehead. Alexander smiled to himself, enjoying the pretty picture she made.

“Love,” he asked softly. “Would you wash my back?”

Meagan’s eyes widened, her chest rising with an intake of breath. Alexander glided the few steps across the bath and stood over her before bracing himself on the lip of the tub and sliding his knees to either side of her on the hard marble bench.

Alexander drew his fingers along her cheek, then he leaned down and tasted her lips from one corner to the other.

Beneath him, Meagan gasped, and with the suddenness of a slap, the bath dropped away, and Alexander was standing once more in the glittering ballroom, Meagan in his arms, both of them having come to a dead stop. Another couple nearly danced into them and stared in amazement at the two standing motionless in the middle of floor.

By the wideness of her eyes, the way her bosom lifted with her breath, Alexander knew that Miss Tavistock had felt every second of the vision with him.

He seized her by the elbow, murmured, “Miss Tavistock, you seem unwell. Let us get some air,” and pulled her out the nearest door.

Chapter 4

Meagan shook all over, fighting nausea. Grand Duke Alexander’s gloved fingers bit down, and he all but shoved her out the French door to the marble-tiled terrace.

She could scarcely breathe. As with the previous vision, every sensation had been so sharp that Meagan had felt the heated damp of the steam, the hard marble under her bare backside, the racing of her heart as Alexander had come to her. Closer and closer he’d moved, while the water rippled from him and the steam swirled and danced, until he’d stood over her.

When he’d brushed his tongue across her lips, the touch had been so real that she’d gasped aloud, and the vision had dissolved. But Alexander had felt it too, he’d seen, and his eyes blazed with fury.

The terrace was deserted, the March night cold and too breezy for thin ballroom finery. Alexander dragged Meagan to the far corner near the stone balustrade, right into the blustery wind. “Give me the talisman.”

Meagan slid her reticule from her shaking wrist. Alexander snatched it from her and drew out the bundle of wire-wrapped feathers. He examined it while Meagan stood poised on her toes, agonized, then his expression changed to one of disgust.

“Hearth witchery, that is all. This hair is mine?”

“I believe so.”

“And how did you obtain it?” His voice was a growl of anger.

“I did not obtain it at all,” Meagan said quickly. “Please give that back to me.”

She ought to let him keep it, she told herself. Let him destroy the talisman, and Deirdre could be out fifty guineas and her own fault. But for some reason, Meagan lunged for it.

Alexander was much taller than Meagan and easily held the talisman out of her reach. “If the hair is mine, then there has been a betrayal within my house, and I must know by who.”

“If I tell you, will you give me back the spell?”


Meagan lunged again, and he caught her arm. “Give it to me, please,” she said breathlessly. “I’ll destroy it, I promise.”

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