The next morning when the baron came to escort Delilah down to breakfast, she attempted to offer him a pleasant smile, but it felt stiff and forced. When she went even further to pick at her food, he finally set down his fork. “What’s happened to upset you?”
She chewed a small bite of ham and choked it down. “What do you mean, Papa?”
He snorted. “I should think I know my only daughter,” he returned. “I thought our extended trip to London might have been met with more excitement than you’ve been expressing of late. I thought it was what you wanted.”
“So did I,” Delilah muttered, not really meaning to say it aloud. She shrugged. “I suppose I thought it might be a bit more… fun.” It was a terrible comparison, but all that she could think of to say. In truth, she hadn’t been this miserable since the day her mother had died, and even then, it was a different sort of pain. She would always mourn the loss of her mother, but what she would mourn the most when it came to Conor was that he wasn’t even willing to trust her enough to confide in her, to take the true risk that actually mattered and try to build something substantial between them. It was much too easy for him to give up and look for his next adventure than continue pursuing this dangerous love that he abhorred so much.
He set down his napkin with a considering expression. “If you don’t mind an old man escorting you about the city, perhaps I can assist with some of your current doldrums.”
Delilah smiled. “I’d like that.”
Once breakfast was concluded, the baron took Delilah to some of the places he said he’d enjoyed when he’d been a young man let loose on the city.
They toured the British Museum, the Royal Academy of the Arts, and ended the afternoon with an ice at Gunther’s Tea Shop. As they sat in the crowded establishment and enjoyed their treats, Delilah had to admit that her spirits were much improved. She had enjoyed this time spent with her father. While she did so on their country estate, generally anything they talked about had to do with horses, so it was a nice change to be able to learn about the man that her mother had fallen in love with all those years ago.
At times, Delilah felt sorry that he hadn’t chosen to remarry, for she thought it might cure some of his own loneliness, but she never broached the subject, for she decided that he knew what he wanted and if he chose to change his circumstances, then he would do so.
As they were deposited back at the hotel, a true contentment had fallen over her shoulders—until she walked inside the lobby and saw a man rise to his feet upon their entrance. Delilah’s heart thumped nervously in her chest as her father walked over to greet Conor.
“Lord Castlemaine. What a surprise.”
“My lord.” Conor inclined his head.
Her father glanced back and forth between them but kept the subject strictly neutral. “I understand I’ll be seeing you at Newmarket this weekend before the St. James Park festivities.”
“Aye. And I intend to win.”
Delilah noted that Conor’s gaze slid to hers when he said that, which made her wonder if he was still referring to the race to come.
“I wish you the best of luck,” the baron returned. “Now, if you will excuse me, it’s been a long day for this old man, and I need to be getting these bones down to rest. I’m still not fully acclimated to town hours just yet.” He walked over and kissed the top of Delilah’s head. “Let me know if you need anything.”
He offered her a silent wink, and she had to wonder if he knew what was going on here and decided to give them a few moments alone.
Once he was gone, Delilah remained where she was, but didn’t look at Conor again until he said, “Can we talk?”
She reluctantly agreed, so he started to head upstairs. “Where are you going?” She frowned.
“To yer rooms. Where we’re offered full privacy.”
She narrowed her eyes on him. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
He held up his hands. “I vow that I won’t touch ye.” He paused. “Unless ye ask me.”
“Rest assured, I will not,” she said firmly and reluctantly led the way. When they reached her room, she glanced around to make sure the hallway was clear before she ushered him inside.
The moment she shut the door, she leaned against it and glared at him. “I thought we said everything that was required yesterday.”
“Aye,” he agreed with a nod of his head. “I thought so too. But then I realized something.”
She could feel a megrim beginning to form behind her eyelids. “Oh? And what is that?”
She glanced at the bouquet of pink blooms curiously, the ones that she had wept over the night before, and said, “The camellias?”
“Aye. The very same.” He walked over and rubbed one of the soft petals between his thumb and forefinger and Delilah couldn’t help but remember how it felt when he had done the same to her nipple. They hardened even now, aching for his touch. “I remember how ye felt beneath me, yer softness surrounding me, and as much as I wanted to fight my feelings for ye, it’s a losing battle. I’ve never met anyone like ye, never imagined that I would.” He turned to her then. “And yet, here ye are. Ye quite literally stumbled into my arms that day at Tattersall’s and yet, I’ve been doing my best to forget about ye, when I should have been thanking my lucky stars that ye were brought into my path.” His shook his head. “I still can’t promise ye everything that ye might be hoping for, but I don’t want the best thing I’ve ever had in my arms to just slip away.”
Delilah’s throat was thick with emotion. It wasn’t exactly an apology, but so much more. But since she didn’t want to engage all of her hopes just yet, she asked, “What are you suggesting?”
He inhaled deeply. “The Newmarket race will be my last. And ye should know that I don’t say that lightly.”
Delilah was in awe that he would be willing to give up so much for her, and yet, she couldn’t, in all good conscience, ask him to choose between her and something that had always meant so much to him. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” He didn’t even hesitate but walked over to her and laid his hands on her shoulders. “I have no idea what else to do to prove how much ye’ve come to mean to me.”
“Just kiss me,” she breathed, unable to hold back anymore. She grasped his jacket lapels as her gaze dropped to his chiseled lips. “That’s all I really want.”
Delilah was grateful when he didn’t hold back but kissed her with all the passion she could feel coursing through her veins. It was as if they were truly made for each other, for the attraction was unmistakable, and powerful, and… wonderful.
She pushed the jacket off his shoulders and started to work to untie the knot of his cravat. Once it was discarded, she started on his shirt. That’s when he finally stopped her. With labored breathing, he asked, “Delilah, are ye sure—”
“Yes.” She boldly ran her hand down the front of his shirt and further, to rub his hard length straining beneath his trousers. He groaned. “But this time, I want to see all of you.”
He whipped off his shirt and tossed it aside. “As my lady wishes.”
She took a moment to drink in the sight of his firm chest, his muscles rippling with his every movement. She ran her fingertips along his biceps and down the front of his chest with a slight patch of hair in the middle, which trailed down past his stomach and disappeared. She traced a palm along the indentions lining his hips. “You’re magnificent,” she breathed.
She lifted her eyes and leaned forward to run her tongue around the flat circle of his nipple, using her teeth to gently bite the tip. He inhaled sharply as she continued her trek upward, along the curve where his neck met his shoulder and flicked her tongue out to tease his ear. She drew the lobe into her mouth and sucked gently.
“If ye want something to suck on…” His voice trailed off as he pushed his trousers down his hips. They hit the floor and he kicked them to the side.
She glanced down to see his rather impressive erection. She licked her lips in anticipation. Could she pleasure him the same way he had her?
She fell to her knees and licked the tip of his swollen cock. When he responded favorably to that, putting his hands on her shoulders, she dared to open her mouth and bring him into the cavern of her mouth. “Delilah. My god, woman…” he uttered hoarsely, and feeling suddenly empowered, she began to slide her lips back and forth along his thick length.
His fingers tightened, but not to the point of pain as she continued to pleasure him. She slowly sped up her pace, mimicking their sensual dance from before. It wasn’t long before he held his hips still. “Ye have to stop now.”
She ran her tongue around his girth. “Why? Don’t you enjoy it?”