A bath was pulled into the room and hot water filled the tub. He removed his clothes and eased himself down for a warm, soothing soak before scrubbing his skin.
If he married Charlie, he reasoned, it would be even easier to help Cassandra.
Raithe closed his eyes. But what about Jenni and the promises he’d made on her behalf? He frowned as he scrubbed his skin harder. He’d wanted to honor her memory. The love they’d shared, the sacrifice of her life to give him a child. He couldn’t allow an infatuation to diminish her loss during childbirth.
The tub was pushed close to the fire, despite the fact that no fire burned. He sat in the cooling water, no closer to an answer. He wanted Charlie in the worst way but he didn’t want to compromise his past.
A soft tapping from the patio caught his attention. Was there a bird at his door? Twisting his neck around, he caught a strip of purple in the narrow view the curtains provided and the delicate fingers of a lady.
He surged up from the tub, wrapping a towel about his waist as he made his way to the door. Sure enough, Charlie stood on the balcony of his room, one arm wrapped about her stomach, the other raised to knock again. Desire and irritation snaked down his body. He wanted to see her again. But he also knew, as he’d said earlier, they were playing with fire. He yanked open the door. “What are you doing here?”
She swallowed, glancing over her shoulder. “May I come in? I’m not terribly fond of heights.”
“Then why come out onto the balcony?” Many of the windows had individual balconies. But his was at the very top of the house and one long platform stretched across the entire floor, overlooking the ocean.
“I needed to speak with you…privately.”
He grabbed her elbow and pulled her into the room, leaving the doors open. “You shouldn’t have come.”
Her eyes started at his neck and slid down his body, color blooming in her cheeks. “Perhaps not.” Her gaze stopped at his midriff. “I did expect to find you dressed.”
“This is my private chamber. In which innocent ladies should not be present.”
Rather than answer, she lifted a hand and touched his collarbone, tracing a single finger over the protrusion before she slid her hand lower, tracing the muscles of his chest, then she flattened her palm and trailed it down the flat of his stomach. He caught the hand at his waist, his wayward body betraying his need for her.
“Charlie,” he groaned, squeezing her fingers in his own.
She gave a tiny nod. “I know. I shouldn’t.” Then she swallowed. “But you’re so beautiful.”
“Beautiful?” He couldn’t help it, that made him grin despite himself and he brought her fingers up to his lips, kissing her palm. “Not a word often used for men.”
She moved a bit closer. “I know. But your muscles, the way your body moves, I saw you fighting with Lord Craven today.”
He let out a low chuckle. She’d been impressed by masculinity, had she? His eyes drifted closed. There was so much simmering sexuality in Charlie just waiting for the right man to unlock it. Him.
He touched her waist and drew her to his still-wet chest. “What are you doing here, Charlie?”
She slid her fingers from his and rested them on the bare skin of his chest again. “I…” Her lashes fluttered as she looked down at his bare skin and then back up at his face. “I wanted to ask you something, but it required privacy.”
He thought of what he’d been about to do on the beach, before they’d been interrupted. Here she was, tucked in his room where no one would find them. He snaked his other arm just under her ass and lifted her into his arms. She let out a small gasp as her other arm wrapped about his neck. “Is it more questions about pleasure? Did you want to know the specific ways a man might give a woman what she needs?”
Her heart hammered against his chest as her fingers dug into his skin. “I do want to know that.”
Everything in him tightened and his manhood was at full staff, which would be completely obvious in nothing but a towel. Her fingers were dancing little circles on his flesh as they reached the bed. “Did you come up here so that I might show you?”
She shook her head, her tongue darting out to wet her lips. He tracked the movement, resisting the urge to nip at the flesh. “No. Maybe.” Then she leaned closer and placed a soft kiss on his mouth. “I told myself when I came here that I wouldn’t be distracted.”
He kissed her again and eased her back on the bed. “I have to confess that I am really enjoying these lessons. Though, I should likely hold some back. You’ve yet to fulfill a single bit of your side of the bargain.”
This time, her legs settled easily around his body, his rod poking into her skirts. The fabric irritated him and he reached for her hem, pulling it up. He’d suspected down on the beach but as his fingers grazed past her stockings, he realized she wasn’t wearing any pantaloons. His fingers hit her bare, creamy thighs and they both groaned. “Until you bring Cassandra here, it’s very difficult for me to uphold my end.”
“True,” he murmured as he kissed a trail down her throat. “What I wouldn’t give to strip you naked and see every inch of you.”
His fingers just brushed her soft folds and she gasped, parting for him in the most delicious way. “Can a woman give a man pleasure in multiple ways?”
He nearly came undone. The very idea of her pleasing him in any fashion made him throb. “God, Charlie. You could undo a man.”
He stroked his fingers down her seam, reveling in her slick folds. She was so wet for him and he wanted her so much.