Hawk stopped abruptly at the edge of the rug. Shock coursed through him. All that glorious hair pinned atop that head could not belong to any boy. No. Those curves, that slender waist; this was no boy. He began moving slowly forward, watching the sway of that perfectly shaped bottom. Sweet Mother! How could he have mistaken that for a boy?
He stopped again just a few feet away from her and waited to see if she would realize she was no longer alone. Still he watched the sway of her bottom. Damn. He wanted her and he hadn’t even seen her face yet! She continued her scrubbing, ignoring his presence until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Her perfectly rounded bum swaying back and forth like that drove him mad, and his breeches grew tighter. Slowly, he circled to her side. He could not see her face. Several of those magnificent golden-red curls had fallen forward to hide all but a hint of her profile. Again, his eyes followed the line of her body. The sun shining through the windows filtered through the fabric of her white shirt revealing the shape of her unbound breasts beneath. He could just see the shadowed outline of the side of one of them, round and full. And was that the tip of her nipple there? Christ! He had to see her face.
Stifling a groan of discomfort as his pants had impossibly tightened further, he cleared his throat to get her attention. Startled, she looked up quickly, her eyes wide, and a soft ‘Oh’ escaped her lips.
Beautiful! An angel! Her cheeks appeared flushed from her exertions, and several ringlets lay draped across them to frame her face. Those eyes. Green. And those lips. Full, cherry red, and shaped by that ‘Oh’ she had whispered, and just begging to be kissed.
Angelina was shocked to see him. He was as tall as she remembered, but his shoulders seemed wider, stronger. His hair a bit longer, and the wavy half curls hung just to the edge of his collar almost brushing those broad shoulders. Though his eyes remained that stormy gray, they did not hold the scornful glare of her memories. Their silver light held a much different message this time, and suddenly she became very uncomfortable with this man towering above her.
“My lord,” she murmured as she stood.
Too late, she realized she held the scrubbing brush and turned slightly to drop it with a splash into the pail. Hawkesworth watched her as the water splattered her breeches, and she wiped her hand on her hip. Angelina wondered why his attention was on her hand instead of her face.
did not send word that you were coming.” She was quite unsettled to
have been taken by surprise. Damn him.
“You know who I am, then?” Astonishment tinged his voice.
“Of course, Lord Fennimore. You have not changed that much since last I saw you.” She tried not to sound cross, a bit miffed that he did not think she would recognize her own husband.
He raised his brow and moved a little closer to her. “I am sorry.” His grin could only be described as wicked. “I do not recall a woman like you being here before.”
His voice was a deep baritone, much deeper than she had remembered, but then he had never really spoken to her. She only remembered bits and pieces of him reciting his vows through gritted teeth.
“My lord?” Was he teasing her? He didn’t remember a woman… “Oh! I suppose I was much younger then,” she said looking away as heat rose to her cheeks. She never blushed, damn it. She must not let him do this to her. He was only a man, after all. And Angelina certainly knew how to handle men. Straightening her shoulders, she returned her gaze to his face and looked him squarely in the eye.
“Indeed.” His expression softened, and he smiled at her. “I have a gift for your mistress.” He brought his left hand forward.
“The young countess.” He chuckled.
Stunned, Angelina stared at him. How could he not recognize his own wife? “I see,” she replied.
“Do you know where she is?” He moved even closer.
“I…well, that is…” she heard herself stammer. He was too close. What was he doing? He stood only about a foot away from her, forcing her to tilt her head back to look at him.
“What’s the matter, pet? Cat got your tongue?” He chuckled again.
She frowned at him.
“Do all of the servants here wear breeches?” Boldly, his gaze raked her top to bottom then returned to her face.
“No.” She stiffened, his brazen assessment irritating.
He leaned forward until his face stopped only inches from hers and softly inquired, “Are they all as beautiful as you?”
Beautiful? He’d done it again. Blushing for the second time, she stepped back and gazed at the floor. “You think me beautiful, my lord?” Whose voice was this? It could not be her own. She sounded like a squeaky little mouse.
At this, his now usual chuckle became a hearty laugh. He reached up to finger one of the curls at the side of her face and returned, “Hair the color of a summer sunset, eyes as green as the finest emeralds… Surely you have been told so before.”
“Not by you, my lord.” There it was again. That little squeak. She had to get control of herself. Why was her heart fluttering so?
To anyone listening, her response might have sounded coquettish and playful, but Angelina was truly dumbfounded. Her insecurities had mounted these past few years, and she had been left wondering why her husband did not want her. He stepped forward again, closing the space she had put between them. His hand released the curl, and he brushed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. He moved his index finger under her chin and lifted her face to him.
Her breath caught and a feeling of panic assailed her. What was wrong with her? How could he steal her voice with a look? How could he stop her breathing with a touch? She must not allow him to control her this way.
Leaning forward until she felt his breath on her face, he whispered, “Share my bed tonight.”