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The Tryst by Kim Allison - HTML preview

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CHAPTER 14

 

Joel took Dominique out nearly every night that following week. Dominique found herself reluctantly looking around in fear that Derek might be at the same restaurant or theatre, but so far she was lucky. She adored Joel, she did, but it was Derek that continually stole into her dreams at night. Mocking her for thinking she could dare share such a passionate rendezvous with Derek and not be haunted by him for the rest of her life.

She couldn’t keep track of how many times Joel had been talking to her or asking her a question only to have to repeat himself because her mind had wandered off to another place and time. Lying in bed alone at night she sometimes cried with intense longing for Derek, hating her weakness for him. Her traitorous heart had in one brief afternoon fallen for the scoundrel, and she’d gone into it knowingly. She had tried faulting Derek for her vulnerability that day. He was a seasoned master of seduction, had no doubt shared countless liaisons with young women eager for his attentions. But in the end it had been her own decision. She had wanted him. For God’s sake, she had asked the man to make love to her! Had he laughed inside, she wondered, or was he used to women begging for his sexual favors?

There were times she could even swear she heard his voice. She would turn about, certain he was somehow inside her house, that he had been unable to stay away from her, was unable to forget the precious memories, but every time it was turned out to be just her imagination. Oh yes, she had it bad for Derek Montford.

The day after their interlude, Dominique had become panicked at the possibility that she could very well be pregnant. Had she truly been that naive? But of course, she was ignorant of sexual proprieties, had not been sexually active before Derek, and it had never occurred to her of the danger she’d been toying with. And what of Derek, why hadn’t he said anything? He most likely trusted her to be smart enough on her own.

And as the days passed, Dominique almost found herself wishing the ridiculous notion true that she might indeed be expecting. How wretched was she, how impossibly childish and living in a fantasy world, to have even the slightest desire to become pregnant by Derek! But a week after their afternoon together, Dominique’s menses started. She wasn’t certain which emotion won out, elation or despair.

It was nearly a week later that Dominique and Joel were attending a huge gala. It was one of society’s biggest events of the year and everyone that was anyone would be there. Joel’s sister had taken Dominique shopping and talked her into buying a beautiful gown, the latest fashion, even though Dominique was reluctant to purchase such a low-cut gown. It was pale yellow, the waist tight and the neckline extremely daring. It was the style, Fiona had declared. Dominique was simply a reluctant fashion participant.

Joel and Dominique had already danced together twice, and were currently enjoying a few moments alone on a terrace, having a drink and admiring the night sky. “You have been smiling all evening, Joel,” Dominique observed, her lips curving upward.

“And you have been looking beautiful all night,” he replied, taking a step closer to her. “Hell, why shouldn’t I be smiling? I’m the luckiest man in the world to have you on my arm.”

“Aren’t you growing tired of me yet? We’ve been going out nearly every night. I feel daggers from the other women’s eyes,” she laughed. “I swear they are positively jealous of me having all your attention.”

“You are the only woman I want to give attention to,” he said, putting his empty glass down on the ledge and pulling Dominique toward him. “And besides, if they are jealous, it’s not because of me, it is because you look positively sexy and dazzling in that dress. It brings out the amber in your eyes, you know.” He kissed her lips briefly and said, “Mmm, you taste good.”

“It’s called wine.” She allowed Joel to kiss her again. She hadn’t had wine since that day with Derek. Her treacherous mind was presently forcing her to compare Joel’s sweet kisses to Derek’s demanding, seductive assaults on her mouth. And she fit so perfectly in Joel’s arms, yet it was Derek’s even taller form that haunted her so.

“I’m afraid if we don’t stop now I won’t be able to control myself,” Joel said, a lazy grin on his handsome face. “Would you like to go back inside? Are you hungry?”

“I’m fine. But we can go back inside if you wish.” She reached up and tucked a wayward lock of dark hair behind his ear. “In case I forgot to mention it, you look incredibly handsome tonight, Joel. But then you always do.”

“Another reason I care so much for you, sweetheart.” Her heart tripped at his endearment, and although Derek’s image refused to free her, Dominique knew she would be a fool to take Joel Hampton for granted. He was a wonderful man, caring and gorgeous and attentive. He’d been her rescuer back when she had needed saving. She would always be indebted to him for that.

Dominique reached up to kiss Joel on the mouth, something she’d never been forward enough to initiate herself. He looked surprised but vastly pleased, drawing her closer for a sweeter, deeper kiss. “Joel, I want you to know how important you are to me. I know this isn’t forever, but I really do enjoy being with you. You are a wonderful man.”

Joel raised her hand to his lips, placing a sweet kiss on her fingers. “Nobody said this isn’t forever. And you’re extremely significant to me too.” A boyish grin claimed his lips and he added, “Dominique, when you say such sweet things, it makes me wonder why I brought you here around all these other people when all I really want is to be selfish and have you all to myself.”

Placing another brief kiss on her lips, Joel said, “See, this is why we can’t stay out here a moment longer. You are making me lose my head, darling. I’m really not the honorable man in total control that you think I am. I am only a man after all, and being out here alone with you in that gown, well...need I say more?”

Dominique was still smiling as Joel led her back into the massive ballroom, his hand protectively at her back. Jealous eyes flitted over at their reentrance, countless females wishing untold calamities on the beautiful young woman Joel had become smitten with. And envious yet discreet stares from men, married or not, at the enticing piece Hampton was apparently sleeping with these days.

One of those men in particular saw their object of desire and was unwilling to be a mere watcher. He was drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Or more aptly, like a beast to its prey.

Joel excused himself to briefly speak business with an associate, promising Dominique he would be back as soon as possible. She told him to take all the time he needed, that she would be waiting for his return. Derek’s eyes took note of the sweet demure smile she graced Joel with. His steps slowed as he neared her through the crowd and got a good look at her gown for the first time. By the time he reached Dominique, she had three or four young men making vain attempts at conversation with her. Clearing his throat, Derek gave them all a hard stare, his silent demand swiftly met as each of the men scattered on to other available ladies in need of their company.

Heart beating wildly, her eyes slowly made their way up to Derek’s face, her expression unreadable. “Lord Montford,” she finally said, barely nodding her head in acknowledgment of his presence.

“Lady Harrison,” he coolly replied. Dominique thought his sarcasm rather witty, though perhaps he was genuinely trying to stick to Joel’s plan that she be recognized as a distant relative, hence the titled address. More likely though, he was just trying to remind Dominique of her facade among high society.

“How proper sounding that is...Lady Harrison,” she remarked flippantly. Dominique was doing an excellent job of hiding her furiously beating heart and the tender aching behind her eyes. It was all she could do to refrain herself from wrapping her arms about Derek. It seemed an eternity since he’d held her like a cherished lover. Surely he was well past that now, for his gaze was anything but tender, the tone of his voice anything but soothing.

“Don’t you look at ease in this environment?” he commented accusingly.

Dominique’s eyes widened a bit, shocked at his clipped tone. “I apologize if that bothers you. On second thought, no, I don’t. Mingling with the elite of society really means nothing to me, Lord Montford. It was never part of my life before and I could certainly survive just fine without it.” Her voice lowered as she struggled to keep from crying. “Believe me, Derek, I know where I came from. I don’t need you to remind me.” Dominique didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at their silly idle chitchat, an obvious attempt at skirting the real issue, the fact that this was the first time they’d seen each other since their life altering experience. For her, leastways. It was torture to stand this close to Derek and pretend they were less than nothing to each other.

“That gown is quite....revealing,” he said, a trace of possessiveness in his voice.

“I am told it’s what all the women are wearing. Just look around you. I’ll wager your fiancée is wearing something just as daring.”

Ignoring her barb, Derek said, “Your breasts are huge. Are you pregnant?”

Dominique’s mouth dropped open in shock, a gasp escaping her mouth and she was too flustered to respond to Derek’s crude statement. He pulled her around the corner, away from prying eyes, in case there were any, and with that dress, Derek thought, there had to be plenty.

“Well?” he asked when they were alone on a terrace, the same one she’d been on with Joel only moments before. “I don’t suppose you’re going to try that age old trick of getting me to marry you by claiming you’re with child, are you?”

“I am not pregnant,” she bit out. “And even if I were, I believe it takes longer than a few weeks for a woman’s breasts to get bigger, if at all. My word, I cannot believe I’m discussing this with a man,” she said in mortification.

Her heart sank at his hurtful words, making their encounter seem like something dirty and best forgotten, when she’d been treasuring every moment of it since it had first happened. Derek saw the tears in her eyes and felt like a bloody bastard. In truth, he’d not been able to get their afternoon tryst out of his mind either. When he’d seen Dominique across the crowded ballroom, his heart had nearly slammed through his chest. He knew he had to see her, talk to her face to face, touch her. And so he’d offered Allison a lame excuse about seeing someone he needed to speak with, and immediately started off toward Dominique.

“I am sorry, Dominique. I know you’re not like that.”

“Derek, what do you want?” she asked wearily. Her nerves couldn’t take much more of his nearness. She was trembling from his closeness. Trembling! What kind of adolescent reaction was that to a worldly man like the Earl of Haversham? “Joel will be back any minute. Did you wish to speak with him?”

Derek’s jaw clenched at her facade of coldness. She was fast becoming an ice princess, and Derek supposed he was partly to blame for that. He had certainly showered more affection and sex on her than he had any other woman in his life at one time. She probably thought she’d conquered the infamous Lord Montford, and he currently wanted nothing more than to put Dominique in her place.

He had never before been condescended to by a woman, and certainly not by a female that affected him so. Derek had awaken repeatedly from erotic dreams involving Dominique Harrison, unwanted reminders of her voluptuous body pressed against his, her beautiful face smiling into his as he took her time and again. He couldn’t get her sweet voice out of his head, couldn’t force her image from his mind, whether he was sleeping or not, and it was damned confounding!

He had purposely avoided outings he thought Joel might be attending with Dominique, had been determined to wipe the memory of her from his mind. He was getting married in mere weeks and here he was imprisoned by a young lady he didn’t want to feel anything for!

And here the girl was, acting as if his presence was a non-issue. As if their afternoon together hadn’t been anything more than a passing fancy. Who was she to treat him as if he were nothing! She had begged him to take her that day, had responded to his lovemaking with the art of a practiced courtesan. But now that she was in Joel’s safe haven, he assumed Dominique had put Derek out of her mind. Well, he would remind her, and gladly.

Grabbing Dominique securely by the hand, Derek left the terrace with her, walking not back to the ballroom, but down the deserted hallway and up a flight of stairs. He ignored Dominique’s frantic questions about where he was taking her. The blood was pounding in his head and he refused to stop until they reached a spare bedroom far away enough for complete privacy.

Derek pulled her into the room, locking the door behind them. The room was dark but for the moonlight spilling through the far window, the only sound that of their tense breathing. He towered over Dominique and she stood silent, afraid to say anything. What could be so important that he had to have her all alone? Did he not realize how susceptible she was to him? He grabbed Dominique by the hand and pulled her over near the window to see her face more clearly. The sight of her in the crowded ballroom had been tempting as hell, but the vision of Dominique standing there graced by the moonlight was mesmerizing. She swallowed hard at his nearness, at the sight of his beautiful face so close. She longed to touch Derek, to kiss him. She wanted to lose herself in him forever.

Unable to stop himself, he grasped her head in his hands. Derek bent down and kissed her long and hard, tasting his fill of her. She was like water to a thirsting man, filling him with life for the first time since she’d left him alone in his carriage that evening.

 Finally Dominique began kissing him back. All thoughts of Joel, the party, all the other people below stairs, thoughts of them all fled. There was nothing, no one but Derek. He was becoming an addiction, a habit she couldn’t shake, and feared she never would. And it certainly didn’t help that he seemed to be feeling something other than disdain for her presently. Why was he making it so damnably hard to resist him?

And then as quickly as the kiss had started, it was over. Derek shoved his hands through his hair in frustration, a muttered expletive escaping his lips. His gaze turned toward the window, searching outside as if there was some ethereal answer to his problem to be found.

Questions unanswered, he returned to Dominique and she watched his harsh gaze turn down toward her chest. He continued leering as he asked, “Why are you wearing such a provocative gown? Your entire chest is practically on display. I didn’t realize you enjoyed having men ogle you.” He ignored her indignant gasp.

“Your remarks are crude, Derek. I vow you do not speak that way to Allison, do you?”

“You are dressed like a woman that wants to be fucked.” He ignored Dominique’s indrawn breath. Slowly looking back up into her eyes, he asked, “Well, Dominique, do you want me to fuck you again?

“How dare you,” she hissed, her hand coming up to soundly slap Derek across the face. He could have stopped her, should have stopped her, but instead welcomed the stinging slap. He was angry, and her bravado made him feel a bit more justified in the way he was acting.

“Oh, I dare, all right. And so did you not long ago. I guess you’re becoming quite the professional, eh? Dressing like that, then daring anybody to state the obvious.” Senseless with desire and an unfamiliar twinge of hurt, Derek grabbed Dominique about the waist and pulled her roughly against his chest, plunging his tongue into her mouth. She fought him at first, angry as hell, and fearful that someone might come knocking on the door. Joel would be looking for her soon. But Derek wouldn’t stop, his kisses starting to gentle until finally Dominique was helpless to kiss him in return.

Derek didn’t want her to kiss him back, he wanted to make her feel the same despair he was enveloped with. And so he pulled her arms from about his neck and yanked her over to the bed. He turned Dominique around, standing behind her, and snatched her dress up. “Is this what you want, Dominique, dressed like that?” he accused wickedly, his voice rasping near her ear. “Is this what you want Joel to do to you? Is that why you dressed so suggestively, for him?” His voice lowered, “Or for me, dare I hope?”

Dominique couldn’t find her voice, for Derek’s shocking touches as his fingers managed to slip inside her made her mind go to mush. Incoherent words slipped from her mouth as she panted, rousing Derek with her reaction. “Why are you doing this?” she managed. “Derek, why do you torture me so?”

Her questions went unanswered, Derek’s mind set on what, he wasn’t entirely certain. An attempt to make what they had shared, nothing more than two people having sex? Trying to forget the way she’d made him feel that special afternoon, protective of her, never wanting to leave her...loving her? And that was the real dilemma. He had never felt this way about a woman, not even Allison. And it scared the hell out of him. What was it about Dominique that made him so crazed?

He lowered his head to her neck, inhaling the scent of her. Every instinct inside Derek urged him to fuck her and be done with it. As much as he knew Dominique feared being alone with him when Joel was probably already searching for her, he knew she would succumb to his desires if he pressed the issue. Even now she was panting those seductive little sighs that he’d grown familiar with, signaling her inability to remain unaffected for much longer.

Ceasing his exquisite torture, Derek removed his fingers from her and lowered her gown back down. Dominique slowly turned about, astonished to witness his tongue licking the last of her essence from his fingers, his dark gaze unapologetic. The tiny sinful thrill she felt at his aberrant action made Dominique indeed feel the trollop Derek believed her to be. She should be disgusted with his sexual gesture surely meant to degrade her, to insult her. But Dominique was seduced by the forbidden intimacy of it, of him. She was afraid to speak, for presently she wanted nothing more than to beg Derek to make love to her.

Without any will left, Dominique stepped forward, pressing her lush body against him, standing on tiptoe to place a kiss against his mouth. The taste of herself on his tongue was lurid and seductive. Derek moaned as he accepted her silent offer, gently pushing her back onto the bed and making quick work of her gown once more. Undoing his pants in one swift motion, he was inside her with a force that stole Dominique’s breath. A moment later they both came with reckless abandon. He could have gone on and on, for the swift orgasm was hardly enough to satiate either of them. But he remembered where they were, and that there were people below waiting for their return. Derek gave Dominique a kiss and pulled her up, fastening his pants, then smoothing her gown down about her legs.

Time stood still as Dominique remained silent, waiting for Derek’s thoughts to settle. Finally he spoke, regret in his weary voice. “Dominique, I’ve been a complete bastard tonight. I don’t know what came over me. Perhaps seeing you looking so damn beautiful and knowing you are with Joel instead of me. There is no excuse for my boorish behavior. Can you ever forgive me?”

Seconds ticked by before she spoke. “You think I look beautiful?” Derek reached out to caress her cheek, astounded that after everything he had just put her through, Dominique was at all concerned about his opinion of her beauty.

“My darling, you are the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen.” He leaned in and kissed her gently, his arms pulling her against him. “What am I going to do with you, Dominique?”

A moment later Derek instructed Dominique to go back downstairs before her absence was noted. Derek opened the door for her to leave and told her he would follow a few moments later. And with that, she was gone. Once he was certain she’d had time to return to the ballroom, Derek left the bedroom and slowly returned downstairs. He forced a smile at Allison’s enthusiastic greeting once he found her.

He would surely burn in hell. Not for deceiving Allison. He wasn’t married to her yet. And not for stabbing Joel in the back. He was a grown man and could take care of himself. But for corrupting Dominique Harrison. For stealing her innocence, and even worse, for allowing her to possibly fall in love with a lost soul like himself. In truth, he wanted her heart, craved her soul, though he should be doing everything possible to stay away from her. But the truth was, he feared he was falling in love with Dominique. And he couldn’t let her go.