Fumbling in her pocket, Amelia retrieved the heavy silver seal. "Where does this go?"

"On the right side of his desk, near the inkwell," Rohan said. "How did you come by it?"

"I'll explain later. I beg you, don't tell anyone." She went to place the silver seal on the desk. "I only hope he didn't notice it was missing."

"Why would you want it in the first place?" Rohan asked idly. "Resorting to forgery, are we?"


"Forgery!" Amelia turned pale. A letter in Westcliff's name, sealed with his family emblem, would be a powerful instrument, indeed. What other interpretation could be drawn from the borrowing of the sterling seal? "Oh, no, I wouldn't haveā€”that is, I didn't want?

She was interrupted by the heart-stopping sound of the doorknob turning. In that one instant she was pierced with simultaneous anguish and resignation. It was over. She had been so close, and now she'd been caught, and God knew what the repercussions would be. There was no way to explain her presence in Westcliff's office other than to divulge Beatrix's problem, which would bring shame on the family and ruin the girl's future in polite society. A pet lizard was one thing, but thievery was another matter entirely.

All these thoughts flashed through Amelia's mind in one searing mass. But as she stiffened and waited for the ax to fall, Rohan came to her in two long strides. And before Amelia could move, or think, or even breathe, he had jerked her full length against him, and pulled her head to his.

Rohan kissed her with an indecent frankness that sent her reeling. His arms were firm around her, keeping her steady while his mouth caught hers at just the right angle. Her hands moved in tentative objection, her palms encountering the tough muscles of his chest, the catch of his shirt buttons. He was the only solid thing in a kaleidoscopic world. She stopped pushing as her body absorbed the arousing details of him, the hard masculine contours, the fresh outdoors scent, the sensuous probing of his mouth. She had relived his kiss a thousand times in her dreams. She just hadn't realized it until now.

Graceful fingers cupped around her neck and jaw, turning her face upward. The tips of his fingers found the fine skin behind her ears, where it met the silken edge of he hairline. And all the while he continued to fill her with concentrated fire, until the inside of her mouth prickled sweetly and her legs shook beneath her. He used his tongue delicately, exploring without haste, entering her repeatedly while she clung to him in bewildered pleasure.

His mouth lifted, his breath a hot caress against her lips. He turned his head as he spoke to whoever had entered the room.

"I beg your pardon, my lord. We wanted a moment of privacy."

Amelia turned crimson as she followed his gaze to the doorway, where Lord Westcliff stood with an unfathomable expression.

An electric moment passed while Westcliff appeared to marshal his thoughts. His gaze moved to Amelia's face, then back to Rohan's. A smile flickered in his dark eyes. "I intend to return in approximately a half hour. It would probably be best if my study were vacated by then." Giving a courteous nod, he took his leave.

As soon as the door closed behind him, Amelia dropped her forehead to Rohan's shoulder with a groan. She would have pulled away, but she didn't trust her knees to hold. "Why did you do that?"

He didn't look at all repentant. "I had to come up with a reason for both of us to be in here. It seemed the best option," Amelia shook her head slowly, still resting her forehead against him. The dry sweetness of his scent reminded her of a sun-warmed meadow. "Do you think he'll tell anyone?"

"No," he said immediately, reassuring her. "Westcliff isn't given to gossip. He won't say a word to anyone, except..."

"Except?"

"Lady Westcliff. He'll probably tell her."

Amelia considered that, thinking perhaps it wasn't so terrible. Lady Westcliff didn't seem like the kind of person who would condemn her for this. The countess seemed quite tolerant of scandalous behavior.

"Of course," Rohan continued, "if Lady Westcliff knows, there's a high probability she'll tell Lady St. Vincent, who's due to arrive with Lord St. Vincent by the end of the week. And since Lady St. Vincent tells her husband everything, he'll know about it, too. Other than that, no one will find out. Unless ..."

Her head jerked upward like a string puppet's. "Unless what?"

"Unless Lord St. Vincent mentions it to Mr. Hunt, who would undoubtedly tell Mrs. Hunt, and then ... everyone would find out."

"Oh, no. I can't bear it"


He gave her an alert glance. "Why? Because you were caught kissing a Gypsy?"

"No, because I'm not the kind of woman who is caught kissing anyone. I don't have rendezvous! When everyone finds out, I'll have no dignity left. No reputation. No?What are you smiling at?"

"You. I wouldn't have expected such melodrama."

That annoyed Amelia, who was not the kind of woman who indulged in theatrics. She wedged her arms more firmly between them. "My reaction is perfectly reasonable considering?

"You're not bad at it."

She blinked in confusion. "Melodrama?"

"No, kissing. With a little practice, you'd be exceptional. But you need to relax."

"I don't want to relax. I don't want to ... oh, dear Lord." He had bent his head to her throat, searching for the visible thrum of her pulse. A light, hot shock went through her. "Don't do that," she said weakly, but he was insistent, his mouth wickedly soft, and her breath hitched as she felt the brush of his tongue.

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