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Lady Lora Alexander thrived on adventure and got it by regularly sneaking around London by way of the subterranean tunnels of the buried Fleet River. The wild, tempestuous beauty required a measure of discipline, but no one dared give it to her until she literally ran into the infamous Blade, the dashing gentleman thief who had been regularly stealing priceless items of Egyptian art from the British aristocracy.
Sin Drake had been captivated by Lora’s portrait since he’d first used the underground tunnels of the Fleet River and raided her bedroom. His informant’s reports of Lora’s scandalous, out of control behavior increasingly irritated him. He dared her to become his sex slave, thinking not only of his own satisfaction, but also knowing from personal experience that the fiery young woman sorely needed a measure of self-control before she burned and destroyed everything in her path…most importantly herself.
But as Sin spent more and more time with Lora, he began to wonder what he wanted mostâ€”to tame her or watch her run free; to let her go or keep her by his side forever.
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Both of Sin’s hands rose abruptly and cupped her cheeks. He turned her so that her eyes were forced to meet his.
“What are you thinking?”
Lora bit at her lower lip, stilling when she saw his sharp eyes follow the movement and narrow. “I was thinking…of more things which cause me shame,” she admitted slowly.
He leaned closer, and Lora inhaled his rich, clean, masculine scent, so different from the heavily perfumed men of the court. Her head swam, as though she were intoxicated.
“And did those thoughts that caused you shame involve you and I?”
Tears filled her eyes, but she couldn’t break his mesmerizing gaze. “Yes.”
“You are wrong, then.”
Surprise skimmed her delicate features. “Wrong? But you said that my feelings of shame did me justice.”
His hands dropped and he straightened. “And I meant it,” he said with a hard edge to his voice that Lora had ever heard from him until then. “You were behaving abominably.”
Lora’s pride was pricked once again. She backed away. “No one else seemed to mind it. Not even my husband.” She raised her chin defiantly, her look clearly telling him the rest without words. If he does not mind, then why the hell should you?
“Then your husband is as much of a fool as I have gathered,” Sin answered. He watched her silently as her arms crossed beneath her breasts, her manner once again haughty. A muscle twitched in his lean cheek.
“If I were your husband, I would have turned you over my knee for your antics and spanked you until your bottom glowed. Then I would have tied you up, fucked you for my own pleasure alone, and spanked you again, and repeated the cycle until I was satisfied you’d learned your lesson. Only then would I make you come so many times that your body would be drawn as tight as my bowstring with an arrow knocked in it, your nerve endings quivering with both release and need at once, and you would beg me to spring you into the oblivion of relief. I might consider it, too, if you promised to restrict your bloody adventures to the marriage bed,” he added almost as an afterthought.
Her eyes widened enough to seemingly overtake half her face. Her lips moved, as though she would speak, but no words were initially forthcoming.
“You would not. I would never let you!” she eventually got out furiously.
“Your compliance wouldn’t be required.”
Lora gasped. How could she have considered him to be fascinating or compelling? “You…you are the uncivilized criminal I imagined!”
His smile was surprisingly tender. “What is uncivilized is that such a spirited, beautiful, wild creature should be left to her own devices until her discontent and sadness eventually kill her soul, her body, or both.”
Lora could only stare at him. The silence stretched taut between them. How could a complete stranger to her know what plagued her soul when so many who were supposedly close to her had never even guessed at it?
“Come here, little one,” he ordered quietly.
She went to him as if in a dream. Tears coursed down her face at the poignant feeling of being surrounded by his arms again, this time with tenderness instead of brutality. Had she somehow known that this was what she desperately sought when she told Charlie that she would not be going to Monmouth this morning? She inhaled deeply of his unique scent, so rich and masculine. Lora became hyperaware of the way her breasts crushed against his chest, the strength of his arms, the length of his hard thighs and the hardness and leashed power between them. She moaned slightly and rolled her cheek upon his white shirt.
“Lora,” he murmured when he heard her moan. “Look at me, he insisted when she didn’t meet his gaze immediately, her embarrassment at her potent reaction to him too great.
“There will be no shame between us,” he said gruffly when she finally met his gaze.
“But you said…”
“I know what I said. And I meant it. But your shame is misplaced. You believe that you should feel ashamed because your sexual urges are part of what drove you to such degrading behavior. But they are two separate things. Your sexual desires are natural and normal, especially for a woman as passionate as you. But in your ignorance, you were trying to assuage them in a way that was hurtful to your nature. It led you to feel ashamed and it exposed you for others to take advantage of you,” he added with a hard tilt to his lips.
Lora’s eyes widened. No she would not consider it. He could not know of last night at The Rose. “You would not have me be ashamed because I thought of us doing things together, things that men do with their whores?”
His lips pressed together as he studied her narrowly. “Men make up the categories of whore, mistress, wife, and Lady. But in truth, there is only woman. You must decide what role suits you best and choose it instead of having society choose for you.”
Lora flushed. “You would have me be a whore, then?”
“If that is the role that suits you. Like a thief, whores live outside the constraints of society. But for me, I would not care for it, for a whore spreads her legs for any man with enough money. I would have you spread your legs only for me, knowing the only reward would be the pleasure I would bring you. But it is not my choice to make.”
Lora’s breath came fast as she looked up into his steady gaze. “I could be your lover, then?”
He pursed his lips and glanced away, as though he were the considering the topic with weighty somberness. Despite herself, Lora grinned.
“Lover does not seem outcast enough, does it? Lovers abound. No, I think something a little more risquÃ©, a little more daring.”
“Such as?” Lora prompted.
“You could be my sex slave. You would be at my beck and call, subject to my every whim…for those periods that you deigned to visit me, that is,” he said, his light eyes sparkling with mirth.
Lora burst into delighted laughter. “You would have me walk into my servitude, then, time and again? I would be a very foolish slave to do such a thing.”
“Those that devote themselves to pleasure must also learn discipline. The two go hand in hand. Perhaps you would be very wise.”
Laughter lingered on her lips. “Perhaps. I cannot help but observe that the master of the slave would also benefit greatly from such an arrangement. Would he continue to require visits from willing young lasses such as Molly while his slave was at his beck and call?”
“He would rely solely on his little slave to keep him satisfied,” he answered soberly.
Lora’s shyness came again. “And what shall we do, you and I, when I visit you?”
He pulled at his right earlobe while he studied her thoughtfully. “I will paint you, for one thing. Perhaps I will teach you some discipline by instructing you in archery. That is how I learned a measure of it. During the hottest part of the day, we will swim in the lake on Ashton’s grounds. The beach is very secluded.”
“All of that, then?” she asked, surprised at his answer.
He nodded solemnly. “All of that. And we will make love to one another again and again, until we can bear no more pleasure. And even then, we will devise a way that will bring us more ecstatic delights. I will teach you the manners of a slave and you will teach me the manners of being your master, and in endeavoring to do our best, our roles will be switched, and you will make me your devoted slave.”
“You do not know the manners of the master already, then?” Lora murmured wide-eyed, utterly hypnotized by his deep voice and compelling stare.
His eyebrows went up wryly. “I have picked up a few ideas, here and there, aside from what nature has provided me. But you will be my first and only slave, Lora.”
Laughter bubbled past her lips. “Yes. I will do it. I promise!” she said impulsively. Then she seemed to catch herself. Shame flooded her cheeks. And once again, he reached out to touch the evidence of it.
“None of that, little one.”
Lora nodded her head, as though in full agreement. But her discomfort would not be chased away. “How then do I rid myself of this feeling of shame?”
He continued to caress her softly, knowing what she had longed for, knowing that a passionate woman such as herself not only required sexual fulfillment, but the limits and the discipline that her powerful nature required.
“You have had fears that your desires and unruly nature would make you spin out of control, haven’t you Lora?” he asked in his resonant voice that perhaps contained just a hint of every exotic country he had visited in his youth in addition to that of his homeland.
Tears filled her large midnight blue eyes as she nodded. Sin found her eyes to be infinitely more beautiful and more spellbinding than the portrait in her bedroom at Heath House hinted.
“Then you will take your punishment now for acting in a manner that you knew to be beneath you. You will take your punishment because you need it. Your shame will be purged. And in the future, unless you have been bad again, when I spank you, it will be for pleasure only. But not today,” he finished gently