London, May 1810
She watched as he slid his long, lean fingers down the female’s smooth body, stared in envy as that
one received his gentle caresses. He wore no shirt and his exertions were leaving an enticing trail of
sweat making its way slowly down his hard back. The tight black breeches complimented his perfect
form, his feet bare as he continued the tender ministrations. She gazed in fascination as the muscles in
his back and arms flexed with every fluent movement. Anticipating the moment, yearning for that
instant when his hands would finally rove her own body with such care. Her dark green eyes slid
appreciatively down his strong body as she undid another tiny button on her bodice.
Yes, the time had come. The perfect opportunity to have him. To make him understand that he too
desired her, though he’d most likely never dared given thought to that delicious notion.
She listened in impatience as his deep voice spoke softly aloud, told that one how beautiful she
was. Crooned that he could barely wait to ride her hard and fast so as to put all thoughts and cares
behind him. She could scarcely take it any longer, her dainty foot taking its first step from behind her
hiding place in the nearby stall.
His instincts perfectly honed as ever, Derek heard the hay crumple beneath someone’s careless
steps. Keeping one hand steady upon the mare’s back, he turned quickly to discover the intruder.
Derek’s eyes narrowed briefly at the sight of his aunt’s approach. He wondered what the hell she was
doing out in the far recesses of the stables at this time of day.
“Aunt Bethany,” his rich voice greeted as he returned his attention to the beautiful mare named
Lady. Bethany reached Derek’s side and casually reached out to stroke the horse. Lady snorted at the
unwanted intrusion and Derek was hard put not to chuckle aloud at the offended look that crossed
Bethany’s features as she took a step back.
“I would have thought you were at the party with everyone else,” he commented. Derek was
referring to the annual gala his aunt and uncle threw every year. It was an outdoor affair with quaint
dancing about the maypole, refreshments and entertainment galore. It was more of a county fair really,
and a delightful if rare thing within the realm of sophisticated London.
Derek had first come to live on the immense estate with his aunt and uncle several years before,
when his father had decreed him unmanageable and difficult at best. He’d been eleven at the time his
mother died unexpectedly and Derek had never imagined such pain could exist.