By Ari Thatcher
Tossed upon a beach after a storm at sea, Colin Wentworth, Viscount Spalding, awakens next to a mysterious young lady on the sandy shore. She’s unable to tell him anything more than her name, Cassandra Franklin. As Spalding strives to help her find her family, he loses his heart to her. His family objects—the heir to the earldom can’t marry a woman who could be illegitimate, for all anyone knows. Cassandra’s family secret is much worse than she fears, and she’s afraid to lose him by revealing the truth. Is Spalding’s love strong enough to face the truth?
When she’d removed his first boot, she pushed her hair over her shoulder and reached for the second.
“You realize how seductive this is, don’t you?” Spalding asked.
Cassandra sat back, lifting her gaze to his narrowed eyes. “I hadn’t intended that, my lord.”
“Please don’t call me that. I feel as though I’m speaking to a servant. My friends and family call me Spalding. Certainly with all we’ve been through we are friends.”
Warmth spread deep inside her belly, pooling low, making her long for something she couldn’t name. “I’m honored to call you friend.”
He toed off the second boot and stood, drawing her into his arms. “I wish you wouldn’t say it like that. We are equals. It is I who am honored that you brought help to me on the beach.”
“It’s what anyone would have done. I wish you would stop thanking me for it.”
Spalding held her close, her breasts pressed against his chest, with only the thin fabric of his shirt and her chemise separating them. Her nipples hardened at the sensation. As if their bodies spoke together, she began to inhale when he did, and she wondered if her heart beat in the same rhythm.
“I must thank you once more.” He bent his head, slowly lowering his mouth to hers. His lips brushed gently over hers, and then he pressed a kiss on the corner of her mouth. When he captured her lips with his, he ran his tongue along the seam of her mouth. She gasped at the sensation spreading over her. His tongue darted into her mouth.
So this was what a kiss felt like. This burning and shivering and wanting, and every inch of her skin begging to be touched. His mouth was hard, possessive, demanding. If this was his thanks, how would he express his passion?