The Masquerade

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Strange Sanctuary

I’d barely entered the door when he met me. His mouth descending on me so fiercely it was nearly brutal.

He swung me around and kicked the door closed.

It banged shut with such finality I suddenly realized my mistake. Jerking away from him before even fully registering he’d been kissing me.

What am I doing alone in the Guest House during a rainstorm with a man I don’t know? One I’ve aptly already dubbed The Rogue.

What the Hell was I thinking?

“You smell like roses.” He remarked. Shedding his coat as he drew me further into the house.

“Wait.” I said.

“It’s too late for all that.” He dismissed. Unraveling it from his shoulders and shook it from his shoulders before catching one cuff, then the other, to tug it off. Before dropping it over the back of the chair across from the fire.

When had he led me so far into the House?

His mouth fell over mine again. His lips moving like silk over mine. Guiding them open so his tongue could delve fully into mine. His tongue tracing the inner walls and learning the shape and textures of my mouth so intimately I was left breathing raggedly.

I shoved at his chest. Only to have him pull me closer. His arms wrapping me to work the laces of my corset at my lower back.

“Wait. Wait!” I objected.

He paused to give me a sideways look. “Strange words from a woman that would meet a man in a Guest House for a dalliance.”

“I didn’t agree to that.” I said shakily.

“Didn’t you?” He dropped his nose to mine. “What did you honestly think would happen? Did you expect any other outcome?”

“Yes…”

I’d thought I could control this interaction.

He’d seemed so pliable a short hour ago.

Now he seemed very out of control. Wild with passion and barely hearing my words.

Far more prepared to act like an animal prepared to breed.

Not with me!


“No.” I said more assertively. Shoving his shoulders back just as he freed my corset and it dropped around my hips. Freeing my breasts within the bodice so I could draw a deep breath which I currently felt I desperately needed.

I brushed curling red bangs back from my face and wiped a bit of sweat from my forehead as I desperately tried to rationalize how I was going to extract myself from this absurd situation.

He cast me a withering look. Gazing at me from head to toe derisively. “What did you think would happen out here?”

“I thought perhaps we’d talk.”

“Do I seem a man suited to talking?”

“You did inside.” I argued. Gesturing helplessly as I realized the foolhardiness of my actions.

He clucked chidingly in his cheek. “I think I made it very clear what I was after inside. From the moment I wouldn’t provide you my name and I indicated to you I was looking for a less then proper woman who’d not prove so dreadfully dull.”

He had said all that. And I had caught the innuendo.

How do I provide I did not now?

“Let’s save some time, shall we?” He edged closer as he hooked the bodice of my gown with a crooked finger and tugged it open enough, he could peer beneath it.

Making me gasp in shock.

“I was clear in my invitation, you were clear on the provocation, you came to me. Alone out here, regardless of your reputation, prepared to cast your reputation away in tatters. Now you want to refuse me…But I’m not so easily deterred. You see, I’m a very clever man. And my agenda is never as simple as one would think. And I have very particular designs on you.”

He took another step toward me. Putting his nose nearly against my forehead and affording him an even more clear view beneath my gown.

Yet I felt nearly so hypnotized I couldn’t move.

Everything he said made sense. What have I done?

Feeling I had only one recourse, I retreated. Taking a long step backward and clutching my bodice against my chest.

“Why?”

Why does he want me?

He slid a long step after me. Refusing to give up any ground between us. “That is my business and quite none of your affair.”

My lip curled in outrage. His rudeness was quite appalling.

“But just to ensure my point is clear, let me tell you, you’ve come this far and now if you do not finish what you’ve promised…I’ll be forced to tell those back in the ball about your hearty offer to meet me out here. And how appalled I was to find you alone. Partially clad.” He said the words with such slow precision that they made me cringe.

His intent painfully obvious.

How he’ll make me look if I refuse him.

As if I’m the wanton.

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