EXCERPT: Allura's Secret
He turned her in his arms. Her hands rested on his chest and she gazed into his eyes. Their crystal-blue clarity never ceased to surprise him. More beautiful than any woman he’d ever gazed on, she stole Hunter’s breath. He wondered how he could have been such a fool to have fallen, even for a moment, for her ugly duckling ploy. Blade had seen through her game, too. Hunter’s hands tightened around her waist. She lowered her lashes then looked back into his eyes. Within his chest his heart thundered. Lightly, he brushed his lips across her forehead. The sanctity of the moment surprised him. Emotions flew like wildfire between them, and he felt the magic of Allura deep in his soul.
As if he needed to share a part of him he pulled back, watching the waves lapping against the shoreline. "I worked all my life to prove myself." He paused, tenderly tracing the line of her hair across her forehead. "As children, Guy would taunt me, but I didn’t let his words change my plans. I knew what I was and what I wasn’t. I understood what would and would not be given to me. The world doesn’t give much to men who are born bastards." He smiled at her, traced the line of her jaw. "I don’t want your sympathy."
"I know," she said, her voice soft, almost admiring.
She moistened her lips, her lashes fluttered across alabaster cheeks. Slowly, he lowered his head. Their lips brushed tentatively. It was a sweet, languid kiss, a kiss that promised so much more.
Yet he forced himself to stop.
"I sold myself to armies. I stepped into the boxing ring letting the rich bet on my prowess, and I’ve saved everything I have earned. Blade found a failing estate in the north of England. I had enough money to buy it, but then we saw the ad in the times your father posted.
In his arms she stiffened.
"I thought heaven sent me a miracle. I didn’t know what this land and this castle would be like. I knew I had to find out. I had to try."
"For the heiress," she said, her fingers weaving into his hair.
"But I’ve been pleasantly surprised."
"Why did you stay?"
"Enough," he said, unwilling to waste another moment in useless talk. Measure by measure he brought his mouth down until his breath mixed with hers. With a care that cost him dearly, Hunter touched his lips to Allura’s in a feather-light caress that stung his skin exquisitely. He traced the seam there, urging her to open for him. She rose on her toes, pulling him closer. Despite the animosity between them, she was so very passionate, so willing. Her response to him was so innocent. She made a small, whimpering sound and her eyes flickered shut. Irresistible magic flowed between them when they touched.
Yet in other ways, she fought him so hard. Hunter drew back and studied her heartbreakingly lovely face. The lines were drawn tense, her lips moist and slightly parted. Tendrils of her hair moved softly around her face, encouraged by a sea breeze.
"I would know more about you," she whispered.
"You would?" He wanted to win her heart, to hold it so tightly she would see everything his way. Yet he knew deep inside she would always have an opinion of her own, and he would have to learn to deal with that.
A sigh raised her breasts, and Hunter clenched his hands more tightly around her waist.
"Yes," she said.
"There is little of interest to tell."
She appeared startled. "I don’t believe you, Sir." But then her attention suddenly settled on his mouth, and she leaned ever so slightly even closer.
"Your disbelief does not bode well for our marriage. I would have your trust if not your love," he told her, challenging her, knowing in his heart he’d just given her opportunity to swear her love--knowing too she would not do so.
Hunter felt sweat break out on his brow as they slowly drew together.
He knew what he would do, what he must do. He would work his way into Allura’s life until she thought only of him, obeyed only him. He would become the center of everything for her, then he would get her with child. She would be so immersed in her life with him and a new babe she would never think of the island sanctuary again. He’d wasted too much time discovering her secret.
Now he must win her heart as well as her trust.
She pressed against him innocently, moving more and more insistently. Hunter shifted his hands to her neck and stroked her there, touched his fingertips to the sensitive hollows behind her collarbones, found the delicate spots beneath her ears. Her breathing grew faster. He bent to kiss the places his hands had just explored and saw the rapid rise and fall of her breasts.
Allura moaned softly against his throat, and he realized that following his example, she was tentatively kissing his neck. Her hands had found a way beneath his shirt, and she kneaded his chest with feverish intensity.
Raising her chin, he kissed her fully, passionately, holding nothing back this time. He opened her mouth with his lips and felt her shudder. Barely a second passed before she responded, imitating the thrusts of his tongue with hot little forays of her own.
"You are so sweet," he said against her cheek. "So absolutely exquisite."
"Hunter," was all she said and her voice broke on his name.
He had entered into a realm that very nearly overwhelmed all his senses. It was a world Hunter was not used to, but meant to explore. Control was the ultimate word, because he meant to take this seduction at least one step farther than before. A few kisses were all they had shared. This time he meant to show Allura just how much pleasure she would find with him and give her a hint of the marriage bed as well.
ALSO BY CHRISTINE YOUNG
BLURB: The Wager
Amorica Hepburn was sent to London to find a husband. However, finding a man was the last item on her agenda. With her two cousins, Amorica wagers she can dissuade her suitor before the others. Despite her efforts she discovers a chemistry that cannot be denied. Suddenly she is the arrogant man's wife, pledged to a marriage neither desire. But swept off to his ancestral home above the Dover cliffs and into his strong embrace, Amorica is soon possessed by a raging passion for the husband she had vowed to despise…
Damian Andrews couldn't afford to trust the emerald-eyed spitfire who happened upon his secret. Amorica's hatred of all men of his kind only inflames the war that rages between them. Still, he can not control the intense desire his stubborn bride inspires, or make her surrender to his will until he has conquered the headstrong beauty on the battlefield of love…