Seduction

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Authors: Amanda Quick
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
discussing certain matters, not I."
    "I give you fair warning, this is not a matter you will care to discuss."
    "Nonsense. If you are having difficulty sleeping, I am certain there is a better
    cure than port."
    "On that we agree. The question, my dear, is whether you are willing to provide
    the cure."
    The lazy, taunting quality of his voice brought her head up swiftly. She found
    herself looking straight into his glittering green gaze. And suddenly she
    understood.
    "I see," she managed to say calmly. "I had not realized our agreement would
    cause you such physical discomfort, my lord."
    "Now that you are aware of it, would you care to consider releasing me from my
    bond?"
    A length of embroidery floss snapped in her hand. Sophy glanced down at the
    dangling threads. "I thought everything was going rather well, my lord," she
    said distantly.
    "I know you did. You have been enjoying yourself here at Eslington Park, haven't
    you, Sophy?"
    "Very much, my lord."
    "Well, so have I. In certain respects. But in other respects, I am finding this
    honeymoon extremely tiresome." He tossed off the remainder of the port. "Damned
    tiresome. The fact is, our situation is unnatural, Sophy."
    She sighed with deep regret. "I suppose this means you would prefer that we cut
    short our honeymoon?"
    The empty crystal glass snapped between his fingers. Julian swore and dusted the
    delicate shards from his hands. "It means," he stated grimly, "that I would like
    to make this a normal marriage. It is my duty as well as my pleasure to insist
    that we do so."
    "Are you so very anxious to get on with producing your heir?"
    "I am not thinking about my future heir at the moment. I am thinking about the
    current Earl of Ravenwood. I am also thinking about the present Countess of
    Ravenwood. The chief reason you are not suffering as I am, Sophy, is because you
    do not yet know what you are missing."
    Sophy's temper flared. "You need not be so odiously condescending, my lord. I am
    a country girl, remember? I have been raised around animals all my life and I
    have been called in to help with the birthing of a babe or two in my time. I am
    well aware of what goes on between husband and wife and, to be truthful, I do
    not believe I am missing anything terribly elevating."
    "It is not intended to be an intellectual exercise, madam. It is a physical
    pursuit."
    "Like riding a horse? If you don't mind my saying so, it sounds rather less
    rewarding. At least when one rides a horse, one accomplishes something useful
    such as arriving at a given destination."
    "Perhaps it is time you learned what sort of destination awaits you in the
    bedchamber, my dear."
    Julian was on his feet, reaching for her before Sophy quite realized what was
    happening. He snatched her embroidery from her fingers and tossed it aside. Then
    his arms went around her and he dragged her close against him. She knew when she
    looked up into his intent face that this would not be just one more of the
    coaxing, persuasive good-night kisses she had been receiving lately.
    Alarmed, Sophy pushed at his shoulders. "Stop it, Julian. I have told you I do
    not wish to be seduced."
    "I'm beginning to think it's my duty to seduce you. This damned agreement of
    yours is too hard on me, little one. Have pity on your poor husband. I shall
    undoubtedly expire from sheer frustration if I am obliged to wait out the three
    months. Sophy, stop fighting me.'
    "Julian, please—"
    "Hush, my sweet." His thumb moved along the edge of her soft mouth, tracing the
    contours. "I gave you my word I would not force you and I will keep my oath even
    if it kills me. But I have a right to try to change your mind and that, by God,
    is exactly what I intend to do. I've given you ten days to get used to the idea
    of being married to me. That is nine days longer than any other man would have
    allowed in this situation.'
    His mouth came down on hers with sudden, fierce demand. Sophy had been right.
    This was not another of the

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