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Welcome to another First Kiss Friday. Please help me welcome my dear friend Jude Knight who will give you an excerpt from her novella The Beast Next Door from the Bluestocking Belles’ box set, Valentines From Bath! Happy reading and enjoy.


“Are you cross with me for not kissing you, Charis?” Eric’s voice had dropped to a husky purr, and again, his thumb touched her, this time tracing her lips. “I was afraid.”

Without her volition, Charis turned her head to follow his hand as he went to draw it away. “A—afraid?” she stammered.

“You and I have been alone, dolcezza mia; no chaperone to protect your honor—and mine, for I feared that once I started I would be unable to stop. I long for you so. I imagine how soft your lips will be, how you will melt in my arms, how you would look…” he stopped, catching his lower lip in his teeth.

Charis blushed. “Did we need a chaperone, Eric?”

“You doubt it?” He lowered his face towards hers, slowly. Perhaps he was trying not to startle her. Perhaps he wanted to give her time to turn her head or to pull away. Charis waited, lifting her face to make her lips more accessible.

He was right to call himself a scoundrel, for he stopped just a couple of inches away. When he made no further move, she lifted onto her toes and closed the distance.

Eric greeted her initiative with an approving murmur, his mouth cruising in small kisses along hers. Was that his tongue sliding along the seam of her mouth? She opened her mouth to ask, and it darted inside, sending a bolt of sensation all the way to her female places. Dimly, she was aware of one large hand lifting her derrière, holding her up. Just as well. Without that support, she would have fallen from his lap, although how she had arrived in such a scandalous position she could not have said.

She essayed a foray with her own tongue and was rewarded by Eric’s groan as his hand pulled her even closer to his body, and something hard dug into her hip. She wriggled, and he groaned again, pulling away a fraction of an inch to say. “Amore mio,” in a strangled moan.

Charis wanted to moan herself. Her breasts felt hot and heavy, and the lower part of her torso was uncomfortable, as if each kiss pierced through to that forbidden place. She wanted. She gripped Eric’s nape and pulled him back to her mouth, and that both eased the ache and made it worse.

When Eric’s free hand first brushed and then cupped one of her breasts, she leaned into the new sensation eagerly, her own hands roaming down from Eric’s neck to the bare skin under his banyan. The hand behind her tugged her closer. “Bellisima,” Eric murmured.

Perhaps Eric could move whatever he had in the pocket of the silk trousers he wore under his banyan. “Something is digging into me,” she whispered, shifting uneasily.

It was the wrong thing to say. Eric stilled, and then lifted his head. With both hands on her hips, he shifted back onto the seat beside him, then tucked her head against his shoulder and wrapped his arms around her. “Thank you, dearest Charis,” he said.

“For the kiss?”

“Yes, definitely for the kiss. And for reminding me that you are an innocent and I am a gentleman who greatly esteems you and wishes to cherish you for all our days.” He was breathing hard, as if he had run a considerable distance, and Charis, too, felt short of breath.

The Beast Next Door in
Valentines From Bath
Just $0.99!


In all the assemblies and parties of Bath, no-one Charis met could ever match the beast next door.

Charis Fishingham has always felt more at home at Eastwood—Beastwood, as the neighbours called it, after the flawed child who once lived there. In the Eastwood gardens, Charis can escape her mother’s expectations, her sisters’ chatter, and her own worries about her future. There, she reads and remembers her secret friend, long gone into exile to have his birthmarks removed at his family’s command.

Now the Beast has returned. Eric Lord Wayford would rather face the surgeons of Naples and Napoleon’s armies than the tongues of the ton. He joyfully greets Charis, and their future looks to be full of hope.

But someone does not wish Charis to wed the Beast of Beastwood, and will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

25% of the proceeds benefit our mutual charity, the Malala Fund.

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About Jude Knight

Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

Website and blog: http://judeknightauthor.com/

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Email: jude@judeknightauthor.com