An accomplished rogue.
An innocent young woman.
Love wasn't part of the bargain...
A Shameless Bargain
To escape her life of poverty as a tenant farmer's
daughter, Ariel Summers made a bargain with the devil--she would
become the Earl of Greville's mistress in exchange for the schooling
and refinements of a lady. but she couldn't foresee the earl's
untimely death, or her own disturbing attraction to his bastard son
and heir, Justin Ross.
A Heartless Demand
Justin never meant to demand payment from the
tempting young woman his father had so callously planned to ruin.
But her innocent allure provoked his ruthless nature and he vowed he
would have her in his bed.
An Unexpected Passion
Seduction was his
plan but the Earl of Greville never suspected Ariel's innocent passion
would awaken emotions he had long believed dead. When mistrust and
betrayal threatened the fragile happiness the two of them have found,
Justin must convince Ariel he isn't the heartless man she believes.
The sob in Ariel's throat
tore free, but when she turned to face him, the earl's hard gray
eyes held not a single trace of pity.
"Do as I said. Take off the dress." He took a step
backward, as if he wished to view her distress from a more casual
distance. Her hands were trembling. She gripped the delicate
apricot silk and slid the ruined dress off her shoulders. Such a
beautiful gown, she thought, each one so precious to a women who had
never owned such lovely things. She tried to think of something
she might say, some
way to make him understand what had happened between her and Phillip,
but one look at his face told her the effort would be futile.
The gown fell away. She stood before him in only her slippers,
white silk stockings, satin garters, and fine lawn chemise, the fabric
so transparent it revealed the faint pink circles of her nipples.
Her face turned scarlet as those cold, silver-gray eyes moved slowly
over her breasts.
"Remove the pins from your hair. I wish to see how it looks
round your shoulders."
Ariel bit the inside of her cheek, not sure she had the courage to
continue. She couldn't bear to imagine what the dark, forbidding
earl intended to do. The thought returned that she should run,
make at least some effort to save herself. But she didn't
believe for a moment the angry, predatory man who stood across from
her would ever let her escape.
Instead, she steeled herself and did as he said, praying God would
intercede, hoping she could think of a way to save herself. Her
fingers were shaking so badly she couldn't hold onto her hairpins.
They made soft pinging sounds as they hit the wooden floor at the edge
of the carpet.
When the last pin was removed, her pale hair tumbled down
past her shoulders.
"Now the shift."
Oh, dear God. Fresh tears sprang into her eyes and this time she
could not stop them. They brimmed over and slid down her cheeks.
"Please....I'm sorry about what happened. I shouldn't have let
him come in, but I-I had no idea he was going to kiss me."
The earl's jaw clenched. She closed her eyes against the sight
of his tall lean figure bearing down on her like a vision from hell.
He stopped directly in front of her, reached out and gripped her
"I'm not a fool, Ariel. It's obvious Phillip Marlin is your
lover. Since that is the case, from this day forward, you will simply
warm my bed instead of his."
Her lover? Misery crashed over her in great numbing waves.
She faintly shook her head. "Phillip isn't...my lover.
I've never...no one has ever...that was the first time anyone has ever
His fingers tightened on her shoulders almost painfully. "You're
"I'm telling you the truth." She nervously moistened her
trembling lips. "We only just met last week. I was walking in
the park and he...he simply appeared. Today we went for a ride
in his carriage. It was starting to rain, so I...I asked him in
to tea. Then he kissed me."
Another bolt of lightning stabbed into the overcast sky, illuminating
the shadowy angles of his face. Ariel caught a flash of
something in his eyes she hadn't expected. Something stark and
filled with pain. Something he hadn't meant for her to see.
His long dark fingers dropped away. For the first time, he
appeared uncertain. "You're not saying.... You're not
telling me that you are still a virgin?"