Lily’s Top Five Favorite Scenes from Never Surrender to a Scoundrel
Who did Clarissa think she was fooling? Everyone, it seemed. Her family and friends appeared oblivious to the young couple’s tendre. How could they not notice, as he had, that whenever the young man entered the room—or garden, in this instance—Clarissa’s skin flushed and her shoulders softened, and she became a degree more beautiful, as women in love tended to be?
Dominick read the Aimsley girl’s lips and saw Clarissa’s face go white. Damn it. That she should find out the news of Quinn, there on the stairs in front of everyone.
He watched, helpless and separated by a sea of people, as Clarissa wavered, then went limp. The room erupted with shouts and screams.
He didn’t think twice, he just reacted, pushing through the crowd to where she lay amidst a tangle of flowers and feminine limbs, her face pale and eyes closed. Her sisters, who had been behind her, rushed down the stairs calling her name. Gathering her up in his arms, he lifted her, sweeping her away, past Claxton and Havering and Raikes who had rushed forward as well, down the hall.
She blinked and emitted a small hiccup. “How could you know? We were discreet, and we never told anyone. It was a secret.”
He shrugged. “The attraction between two people is not difficult to perceive, if one pays attention.” He would leave it at that.
She stared back at him. “You were paying attention?”
He scowled. “Not on purpose.”
Her eyes narrowed just a bit. There. When she looked at him like that, he felt like she saw straight inside him, to his soul, and he didn’t like it, not one bit. His walls flew up, and he reminded himself he was “Mr. Kincraig” in this moment, not himself, Dominick Arden Blackmer.
“It’s only me,” he growled, sounding very much like himself. His jaw tightened in annoyance. “You needn’t look so appalled.”
“I’m not appalled,” she answered. No, not at all. She couldn’t define how she felt at seeing him like this. Relieved? Breathless.
“It’s just that I’ve never seen you look so…so…” Clarissa’s voice faded away. Heat rose into her cheeks, and for a moment her hands gestured aimlessly, as if with a mind of their own.
“Clean?” suggested Sophia archly, one eyebrow raised.
“Shaven,” added Daphne, from behind her lace-edged handkerchief.
“—turned out.” Sophia’s gaze descended from his face to his shoes.
Daphne sniffed. “Sober.”
No. Handsome is what Clarissa had thought. Not to the same magnitude as Quinn, but handsome no less.
Dominick tugged her several inches closer and insisted in a low murmur, “I would have you look at me while we speak the vows.”
Color rose to her cheeks. Yet after an extended moment, she did look up, her eyes snapping with a blaze of fire.
“Look at you? I don’t even know who you are,” she hissed.
All her girlishness fell away, leaving him hand in hand with a different person than he’d known her to be before. A woman, wide-eyed and lush, and obviously furious at him.
Deep in his chest, a sleeping dragon roused…raised its head and growled out a low, drowsy stream of smoke and cinders.
Dominick exhaled through his teeth, unsettled.
He’d never felt that sort of reaction to her before, no sudden appreciation of her as a sensual creature capable of passion. He’d found her lovely, of course, much like one would admire a pretty flower, in a garden full of many other pretty flowers. Never once before had he felt the startling snap-quick drag of flint against steel, deep in his chest, that indicated a deeper awareness of her womanhood.
That he should feel it now, in this most unlikely, most miserable of moments—
Well…he felt tricked. Bamboozled. And he instantly snuffed the fledgling flame.
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★ Never Surrender to a Scoundrel ~ Excerpt ★
He set the nightshirt back on the bed, and spoke over his shoulder.
“I think it’s time you returned to your room.”
He spoke the words without passion. She could only assume he’d had enough talking and wanted her to leave. The night air chilled her skin, and she wrapped her arms around her waist for warmth. She felt rebuffed by him. Stung. Her husband, the man with whom she would spend the rest of her days, did not have the slightest interest in spending a moment more in her company.
She knew she ought to calmly say ‘Very well then, I bid you good night,’ and quit the room, but she feared with a certainty that if she opened her mouth and attempted to utter a single syllable, her voice would falter and reveal the confused tumult of her emotions.
Not because she cared for him. Of course she didn’t. Clearly he did not care for her.
They’d been thrown together, and no amount of wishful thinking or good intentions would create a spark between them, when such a spark was never intended to be. She blinked away tears. Foolish tears! As if he had hurt her, but he hadn’t.
It had just been a long day, and a long night before that, and she’d made a terrible mess of everything, and she hated Quinn. And perhaps still loved him. And she was lonely. So very lonely and frightened of what the future held.
So instead she nodded jerkily, her chin outthrust, and turned on her slippered foot to escape into the dark dressing closet, taking care to close the first and the second door firmly behind her. Miss Randolph reclined in her sleeping gown and robe on the chaise with her book open and steepled across her forehead, snoring, which was just as well because Clarissa could not face the woman’s questions or her pity.
She doused the lamps and, in darkness, with only the scant light from behind the fire grate to see, crawled into bed and lay on unfamiliar sheets, her mind tangled with thoughts of… Mr. Blackmer.
Suddenly, the door swung open, and a shadow moved toward her, stealthily and swift, with only the faint white swath across his hips visible in the night. She recognized Blackmer instantly and desire ignited inside her. He crouched above her, breathing hard, his skin still damp and the tight flex of muscles in his shoulders darkly illuminated. The scent of the soap from his bath filled her nostrils. Her pulse raced, her heart near exploding.
“You,” he growled deep in his throat. “Are my preference.”
A second later, he kissed her hard, pressing his thumb against the side of her jaw, commanding her lips to part while his tongue boldly entered and teased. She gasped for breath, stunned into half-senselessness…and surrendered, her mouth opening fully to accept each deep, possessing stroke.
He gave a husky groan. His large hands caught hers by the wrists, pinning her to the mattress. She squirmed beneath him—but with no intent to escape.
Moments before he had dismissed her coldly, and made her feel invisible and unwanted and yet in this moment, he revealed his true feelings, ones he’d tried to conceal. She knew without a doubt that her husband desired her. Something about that made her weak, and—
His mouth moved to her cheek…her neck, leaving her skin hot and awakened wherever his lips touched. Sensations she’d never experienced spiraled up from inside her, delicious and achingly sweet, awakening a need in her body and rendering her unexpectedly wild.
God help her, she didn’t understand, but she wanted him as well. The moment he released her hands she moaned and seized his shoulders, sliding her hands upward over his neck, finding unexpected appreciation in the powerful contraction and flux of his muscles beneath her palms. He exhaled, filling her mouth with his breath, and sucked her bottom lip—
Only to groan and twist away.
No. She reached, her hands trailing over his shoulders and his arms, desperately wanting more. More of his kiss, and his warm, firm skin. And yes, for him to ravish her so she would forget—
The bed creaked, relieved of his weight. She heard his sharp exhalation of breath–a laugh, perhaps?
“Good night then, Mrs. Blackmer,” he murmured.
Silence filled the room.
“Good night,” she answered breathlessly.
He crossed the room, disappearing into the dressing closet, gone the way he had come. She heard the door close.
After a long moment of silence, Miss Randolph’s voice came from the direction of the chaise. “Well that was rather thrilling.”