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An Unexpected Peril by Raybourn Deanna

An Unexpected Peril by Raybourn Deanna

Author:Raybourn, Deanna
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2021-03-01T16:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER

15

The doorman of the Sudbury was still on duty despite the lateness of the hour and, at the sight of a copper from Stoker, summoned the hotel’s comfortable brougham for us. I settled in against the velvet squabs, and when the door was closed upon us with the curtains drawn, we were cocooned in a dark and comfortable little nest against the frigid, frosty midnight. I ought to have been exhausted, but I found myself instead exhilarated, in an exaltation of spirits I had seldom enjoyed whilst in England. Upon my travels, I was often in the grip of strong emotion, hot upon the trail of an elusive butterfly or brought up to my highest mettle by the demands of arduous travel. Those experiences sharpened the senses and tested the resolve, resulting in a sense of vitality and purpose difficult to explain to those who choose a more sedate existence.

But on my home soil, there were precious few occasions for such keen endeavors. The odd abduction or attempt on my life and the bouts of physical congress I enjoyed with Stoker were the only times I had felt that knife-edge of authentic experience and I reveled in the sudden thrum in my blood.

I turned to Stoker, whose eyes gleamed catlike in the dark. He said nothing, but the growl he emitted was eloquent as any love poem. What followed has no bearing on this narrative, but I will note that the rhythmic movement of a carriage at a brisk trot is most conducive to certain pleasures, so much so that at a particularly sharp moment, Stoker was forced to cover my mouth with his hand to muffle my most forceful exclamations. The fact that in my enthusiasm I unwittingly bit his finger was something I did not discover until I had removed myself from the most suitable position—sitting astride him and using the velvet hanging straps to great effect to secure my balance—and smoothed my skirts back into place.

Stoker had tidied his own clothing and sat with his hand wrapped in one of his enormous scarlet handkerchiefs, glowering a little.

“Did you not enjoy yourself?” I asked in some surprise. Whilst Stoker’s preference was for a lengthy and languorous coupling accompanied by comfortable beds and extensive recitations of poetry, he could always be relied upon for applying himself with diligence and dexterity to a more vigorous interlude.

“I did,” he ground out between gritted teeth. “Until you bit me.”

He brandished the injured limb and I apologized prettily. “I thought you heard my groans of pain,” he went on, still sulking.

“I did,” I explained. “But I fear I mistook them for the culmination of your pleasure. Your groans all rather sound the same.”

“Yes, it did seem to spur you on,” he added a trifle nastily.

“It is hardly my fault if you are inarticulate,” I pointed out. “Do attempt to clot faster, Stoker. We have arrived.”

The carriage drew up at Bishop’s Folly, Lord Rosemorran’s estate, and we alighted. Stoker clutched the box of chocolates to his chest with his good hand and it was left to me to pay the coachman.



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