Welcome to another First Kiss Friday! Today’s guest is my dear friend Jude Knight. This excerpt is from Farewell to Kindness, the first novel in the series The Golden Redepennings. Farewell to Kindness is on special until the end of June, price reduced to 99c. In the excerpt, Rede, the Earl of Chirbury, has taken Anne and her family into his house after the roof of her cottage collapsed. They have encountered one another late at night, and he is showing Anne how to drink brandy. Happy reading and enjoy!
“No. Wait,” Rede said. “Swirl, sniff, and then sip. Here, let me show you.” He leaned forward and cupped his hand around the glass over hers.
“Swirl.” He moved her hand gently in a small, tight circle.
“Sniff.” He held the glass several inches from her nose and again swirled it slightly, then shifted it closer.
“Now sip. Just a small amount, slowly. Let it slide over your tongue.”
Anne followed his directions, not taking her eyes off Rede. This time, the brandy seemed a lot smoother. The flavour filled her mouth, the fiery liquid warmed her throat.
Rede had not removed his hands, and now he leaned forward still further, his eyes holding her motionless.
He came closer and closer, slowly. He would stop if she protested. She should protest. She would not.
The first brush of his lips on hers was brief, and light as a feather. He drew back enough to look into her eyes, then leaned in again. This time, his lips landed and stayed, moulding to the shape of her mouth. After a moment, he began to move, cruising along her upper lip with tiny pecks and then along the lower. He settled again, this time his mouth slightly open. Was that his tongue, sliding along her lips? How odd. How… pleasant.
She opened her own lips, and was rewarded with a hum of approval before he dipped his tongue into her mouth. Tentatively she touched his tongue with her own, which sent a tingle down through her breasts to her belly.
He hummed again, this time almost a moan.
So he liked that, did he? She began to copy, doing to him what he was doing to her. At some level, she was conscious that he had removed the brandy glass from her hands and set it to one side. With that out of the way, he came to his knees before her chair, and she found herself widening her legs so that he could press up against her.
She was aflame with sensation, barely aware of all the ways he was touching her; his hand on the curve of her waist, pulling her into his body; his lips, teeth and tongue teasing and tasting. His other hand had somehow found its way inside her robe, and was lightly stroking its way up her breast, ever closer and closer to the nipple, which had pebbled so hard it was almost painful.
She moaned, asking for something, but what she did not know.
Rede seemed to understand. His lips left her mouth, and skimmed their way down her throat, pausing for a moment to nibble and lick at the nape of her neck, then continuing downwards. He must have nudged the robe and her nightgown aside, because all of a sudden his tongue was laving one nipple while his clever fingers gently rolled and squeezed the other.
Then he began to suck.
“Rede!” She pressed closer, desperate for the feelings to stop, to continue, to go away, to go further. She didn’t know, but Rede did. “Rede?” she said again, a question this time.
“I have you, Anne,” he soothed, and bent back to his task, changing to give his intimate attentions to her other breast.
Meanwhile, his hands slipped lower, one now cupping her buttocks and the other—surely he didn’t mean to touch her there?
He did. His fingers stroked her most private place through the fine lawn of the nightgown, sending the biggest shockwave of sensation yet cascading through her body.
“Ah, Anne,” he whispered, his voice husky, “you are wet for me.” His voice was warm with approval. He bent to lave her nipple once more, before straightening, grasping her buttocks in both hands and pulling her hard up against him.
The length of the male part Hannah had described now rubbed where his fingers had been a moment before. It was bigger than she expected.
“See how hard you make me?” he murmured. He kissed her again. She squirmed, unable to resist rubbing against him. The same amazing shock drowned her still deeper in sensation, and she moaned again.
“I have dreamed of this,” Rede said. “I’ve dreamed of holding you like this, kissing you like this. Of spreading you beneath me and bringing you to pleasure such as you’ve never known. Oh, Anne,” he groaned as he kissed her again, and that same questing hand began to inch her nightgown up her thigh.
At that moment, a door opened at the far end of the gallery. Anne looked around Rede’s shoulder. Susan was there, holding a candle.
“Oh!” Susan said. “I beg your pardon. I heard a noise. Please, just carry on. I am going back to bed now.” The last said as she shut the door.
Rede sat back on his heels, his expression wry. “I suppose you do not wish to take her advice?”
Anne, recalled to herself, was blushing furiously again. Honestly, she blushed more in Rede’s presence than she could remember doing for years.
“I think I had better go to bed now,” she told him. “Alone,” she added, so that there should be no doubt, and blushed even deeper.
Silent, he stood and offered her a hand to her feet, then gave her the candleholder. He followed her out into the hall, but said nothing till they turned the corner after Ruth’s room.
“I am sorry, Anne,” he told her. “When I kissed you… I stopped thinking. I should not have kissed you in a place we could be interrupted. I would not embarrass you for the world. I won’t say I am sorry I kissed you, though. It was everything I dreamed and more.”
“What Susan must think!” Anne said.
“Do not worry about Susan. She will not betray us. Next time…”
She spun back to face him. “There will be no next time, Rede. I have to think of Kitty, and Ruth and Daisy too. It would take very little to make a scandal, and a scandal could destroy them. I cannot do this.”
He nodded. “I know, I know. I do not mean to threaten your reputation or endanger your family. I promise.”
“How can you understand? You are a man. And a peer.”
“I am. But nonetheless, I understand. I will not harm you, Anne. Tonight… I have thought of you for so long. When I kissed you, I lost control. I will not steal another kiss, I promise. Not until I can find a way for us to safely be together without risk to your reputation.”
“There is no way.”
He denied that with a shake of his head. “I will find a way. What we have together, it is extraordinary, Anne.”
It was her turn to shake her head. “It does not matter. Kitty matters. Daisy matters.”
She turned back to finish the walk to her room, and he continued to follow her.
She refused to look at him until they reached her door, then he caught her hand and held it for a moment to his heart. “See how it beats? It beats for you. Go to bed now, and know that I am three rooms away, lying in my bed, remembering how you taste, dreaming of tasting you again.”
“I cannot do this.” She could. She could take his hand and pull him into her room, and no-one would be the wiser.
What nonsense. She shook her head again. Early in the morning as it was, the servants would soon be up and about. Or one of the other members of the house party might wander the halls as she had herself. She had to think of her family.
“You mustn’t be afraid, Anne.”
How could she tell him that it was not him that she feared? It was herself.
As if he could hear her most wanton thoughts, he took her hand again; but then he pressed her glass into it. “Here. Finish your brandy. It will help you sleep. Goodnight, Anne. Lock your door.”
He waited until she was inside and closing the door, watching him through the diminishing opening. He was turning away when she spoke, in barely a whisper. “Rede. I am not sorry, either.”
She closed the door before he could reply, and went to bed. She should be horrified at what had happened, at what had nearly happened. But she found herself smiling. At least she had the answer to whether or not this inconvenient desire was one-sided.
He thought he had buried his heart with his children. He was wrong.
Hidden from the earl who hunts them, Anne and her sisters have been accepted into the heart of a tiny rural village. Until another earl comes visiting.
Rede lives to avenge the deaths of his wife and children. After three long years of searching, he is closing in on the ruthless villains who gave the orders, and he does not hope to survive the final encounter. Until he meets Anne.
As their inconvenient attraction grows, a series of near fatal attacks draws them together and drives them apart. When their desperate enemies combine forces, Anne and Rede must trust one another to survive.
Farewell to Kindness is Book 1 in the series The Golden Redepennings. Read more about the series at: http://judeknightauthor.com/the-golden-redepennings/
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/