Setup: Upon learning her betrothed is a traitor, Andromeda escapes the ball and flees to Lord Fen for help.
“It’s time for bed now,” Fen said.
Andromeda’s eyes widened, but mercifully she was too exhausted to try any of her wiles on him. Not that she seemed so inclined at the moment, but earlier, when their eyes had met for a few seconds, he’d wondered. Oh, how he remembered kissing and licking those lovely feet—and stopping right there, for if he hadn’t, his tongue would have wandered higher and feasted indeed.
He knew for certain that she remembered it, too.
But he also doubted that she could undress by herself. “There are no women here, so I suppose I’ll have to unlace your stays.” He knew he sounded surly but couldn’t help it. Time was when he’d wanted nothing more than to love this woman forever.
“If you don’t mind,” she said stiffly, standing up, hissing as her injured feet touched the rug. She pulled a small reticule from the top of her stays and set it on the dresser. “If I can put up with it, surely you can, too.”
He swore under his breath and went behind her to undo the hooks at the back of the gown. The décolletage was too low, but now that he was thinking rationally, he knew the maid at Lady Corington’s must have given her whatever she could find. Quickly, he unlaced her stays and stood back. “I’ll give you something of mine to wear. It’ll be too big, but you need more than a shift.” He went over to his chest of drawers, pulled out a nightshirt, and tossed it onto the bed.
Damn. This would not be comfortable or easy, but they both had to sleep. “There’s a chamber pot under the bed. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He went to the door. “Call me when you’re ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“To go to bed.” She frowned, and he added, “When you’ve changed into the nightshirt and used the chamber pot and done whatever else you have to do. There’s a hairbrush on the dressing table if you need it.”
“Very well, but why would I call you?”
“So I can come to bed, too,” he said.
She was already pale with fatigue, but now she went stark white. “You can’t come to bed…in here…with me!”
Considering the way she’d thrown herself at him five years ago, this should be hilarious. It wasn’t. It made him want to swear and throw things. “I have nowhere else to sleep.”
“No other bedchambers?”
“One, but it belongs to my valet.”
“No settee? No sofa?” She clenched her small fists.
“Only chairs. And before you ask, we’re out of sofas in the shop, too.” A damned good thing, because he certainly didn’t feel like sleeping in the showroom for all his workers to find in the morning. “I need what little sleep I can get. The next few days are going to be hell in too many ways.”
If she took that as an insult, so be it. She put her hands on her hips and tried to look fierce, but her lip trembled.
He relented a little. “Don’t be a fool, Andromeda. We’re not going to do anything we shouldn’t.”
She narrowed her eyes. “No, we certainly are not.”
Lord, what a fiasco. “Then what’s bothering you?”
“I won’t be able to sleep at all if you’re naked!”
He burst out laughing. Was that all that bothered her?
“It’s not proper,” she shouted, crimson with rage. The fire crackled, sounding as angry as she. “It’s not right!”
“Hush,” he retorted. “Someone might hear you.”
“Just because I’m now completely ruined doesn’t mean I should be treated like a trollop.”
Where had she got that idea? He’d thought he was treating her rather well. “I won’t be naked, you idiotic girl,” he said. “I’ll wear what I have on now.”
“It’s still not right,” she said. “I’m unmarried. I can’t share my bed with a man.”
“In case you have forgotten,” he said between his teeth, “it’s my bed, and I don’t want you there, either.” He lit a candle from the branch on the dresser and went to the door. “But unless you wish to sleep on the floor, that’s the way it will be.” He left the room, shutting the door behind him.
~ * ~
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