Excerpt: That Rogue Jack
That Rogue Jack is a novella originally published in the anthology At The Duke’s Wedding by The Lady Authors, otherwise known as Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, Miranda Neville and moi-self. This novella is now available as a standalone story–with an exclusive bonus epilogue! In this excerpt, Henrietta tries to get Jack to focus on finding the ring and Jack is preoccupied with thoughts of kissing Henrietta.
On the servants’ staircase, before dinner
“Good evening, Miss Black, Jack said, sweeping into a deep bow.
The lady remained unmoved.
Given the solitude of the servants’ stairs and the dim lighting, many women would have thrust their bosom up against him, twined his hair through their fingers, and murmured all sorts of invitations. He was a bit taken aback and more than a bit intrigued when she did no such thing. Speaking of bosoms…
“I have no wish to bother you, Lord Willoughby. The duchess has charged me with obtaining the wedding ring from you, which I’ve been trying to do ever since you arrived yesterday.”
“Is that so?” Jack supposed he had caught her looking at him as if she wanted to speak to him desperately. But then someone had asked him a question or the footman poured more wine, and he had found his attentions engaged elsewhere.
“If you just hand it over, I shall cease plaguing you about it.”
“The ring…” he echoed.
His damned brainbox hadn’t registered a word she’d said because he had noticed that her breasts were exactly at his eye level. Her very fine, full, and pert breasts. Most of his memories of her were from their days as children. There was nothing childish about her now.
“Yes,” he said, snapping to attention. He took a step up so he might avoid gazing upon her breasts. For his own good. But then his eyes settled upon her lips, which had parted at his forward step. Nothing childish about her mouth, either.
And it was dark. They were alone. And he was the sort of man who enjoyed a damn good kiss. Especially when the woman was a challenge and her mouth was plump, pink perfection.
She exhaled, impatiently. Women did that around him. Often.
“The precious diamond and sapphire ring that is a priceless Wessex family heirloom that you were asked to collect from Gold and Son’s Jewelers in London and safely deliver to the duke?”
“Oh, that ring.”
He had gotten it. It was…somewhere. Couldn’t think of where exactly at this moment.
Jack took another step up and this one brought him close enough to loom over her. She peered up at him with an expression of peevishness shaded by terror. He noticed the determined rise and fall of her bosom–he tended to have an eye for these things–and noted that she was taking the sort of deliberate calming, deep breaths one took when trying very hard not to panic.
She thought he had forgotten the ring. Well, he hadn’t. It was…God, he was struck with the damnedest desire to slide his hand around her waist and tug her against him. Then he’d taste that mouth of hers in a very improper kiss.
“Lord Willoughby! We must deliver the ring to the duke or else…we just must!”