“Yes.” He slid out his fingers and plunged in again. “Third base, second…first…are there any others?”

She giggled, and then moaned when he nipped at her shoulder. “Home, you forgot home.”

“You are my home,” Sebastian said, gazing into her beautiful face. Her cheeks were stained pink and her eyes were smoky with desire. He wasn’t a glib man, not like his brother or cousin. He wasn’t given to quoting poetry. Occasionally quoting pop culture references wasn’t by any means romantic, but he could use his hands, his lips, and tongue to worship her. He would use every part of his body to bring her pleasure.

So he did just that, until she trembled and cried out his name. Watching her come undone in his arms was the most powerful thing he’d ever done in his life.

“I love you,” he said softly.

Her lashes fluttered, eyes refocusing as she came down to earth. “What did you say?”

“I—” He couldn’t say it again, not even knowing she felt the same way. Something held him back. “I love the way you look when you orgasm.”

“Oh.” She sounded disappointed but he wasn’t sure, because she gave him a blinding smile and kissed him softly. “Thank you for a very nice time.”

Thank you, he wanted to reply, for saving me from my bleak existence, but he didn’t. “You’re welcome.


Four days later, after dining on an amazing lunch prepared by Daisy, Sebastian took her by the hand and led her away from the kitchen. “We’ll wash them up later.”

“Where are you taking me?”

“You’ll see,” he said and opened the door at the end of the hallway with a flourish. “This is one thing you don’t know about me. No one does, in fact.”

Her eyes grew wide, taking in the paintings and sketches. Some were priceless works by artists long dead while their names lived on while others were his, humble and framed on the opposite wall. Maybe one day.

“Did you paint all these?” She gestured to the wall with his work.

“Yes.” He wrapped his arms around her, settling his hands around her waist and clasping them in the front. “Does that impress you?”

She turned in his arms. “A lot.” Rising on her tiptoes, she kissed him and said, “Maybe our baby will have your talent.”

Something sweet washed over him. “Would it be so bad if he or she were entirely like you instead?”

Sympathy clouded her eyes. “I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”

He had. He’d seen himself at his worst, cruelly mocking her. “Hmm,” he said and guided her to the fainting couch by a set of French doors.

“What are you up to?” Sympathy gave way to sparkling anticipation.

“Lie there and don’t move,” he ordered, taking great delight as she did as he asked. He unbuttoned her shirt, spreading it outward and revealing the curves of her br**sts and creamy skin.

For days, he had wanted to share his studio, where he painted and sketched. It was his favorite room in the house, aside from the bedroom, to be in. And now she was here, lying on an antique fainting couch made of silk and velvet.

She raised her hands over her head and stretched. His mouth ran dry. “Like this?” Her full lips curved and he sucked in a breath.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to do you justice, but I shall endeavor.” He kneeled beside her and dipped his head, dropping a kiss in the deep vee of her cle**age. “The bra will have to go.”

“Really, son, in the middle of the day?”

Sebastian jumped up and away from the lounger, heat creeping up his neck as he turned to face their intruder. “Hello, Mother.”

Chapter Twenty-Five

“Now she shows up?” Daisy muttered. She scrambled off the lounger and onto her feet, buttoning her shirt. She slipped her hand in his and gave it a supportive squeeze.

“Don’t bloody stand there like a plank, Sebastian. Mind your manners and properly greet your mother,” Lady Francesca ordered, sweeping into the room.

“Why are you here?” Sebastian asked.

Francesca swept off her hat. “No maid or butler?” She held out the hat to Daisy. “Take this and put—”

Sebastian stepped in front of Daisy, obscuring her view of his mother. “She’s not your servant.”

“However, I’m sure she is serving you. You’ve certainly brought her to the right place.”

The right place? Daisy frowned. A preacher and his family had lived here.

“I’ll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself.”

“Fact number one: Your father used this house to keep his English mistresses here. Fact number two: I’ve come to warn your fiancée.”

Daisy stuck her head out from behind Sebastian’s wide shoulders and let go of his hand. “About what?”

“Oh she speaks, and you allow it.” Francesca smirked. “How charming.”

“Mother,” Sebastian growled.

“Leave him. Immediately.”

Stepping around Sebastian, she faced his mother head on. “I don’t want to leave him.”

“Not now you don’t. Not while he’s so like his father at the beginning of things: charming, lovable, vulnerable…sharing the bits about his oh so very tragic childhood. Poor, misunderstood man that can only be changed for the better with the love of a good woman. How could anyone resist that? I certainly didn’t. But when reality sinks in and you realize that you’ll always be second and sometimes third best, you’ll wish you had listened to me.” Francesca extended her hand. “Come, let’s go for a drive and I’ll give you the real story.”

Daisy glanced up at Sebastian. There was a tic in jaw and his hands had clenched into fists. “Bastian?”

“Go if you like,” he bit out. “I’ll not make the choice for you.”

“You don’t have to.”

He slid his gaze to her, his eyes flashing.

“I choose you,” she said simply, taking his hand and gently prying it open. She pressed a kiss to the center of his palm. “I choose your facts. Your memories over a woman who couldn’t be bothered to stay or even fight for her children.”

“Be bothered?” Francesca screeched. “I discovered Vladimir banging my sister on that very lounger, in this very room. And you knew about the affair the entire time.”

Sebastian shook his head. “Christian knew, not me. He was our father’s lookout.”

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