Jennifer Ashley · 298 pages
Rating: (11.3K votes)
“The count said in careful English, "That was perhaps not, as you English say, very sporting."
"Games are played to win," Cameron said. "And we're Scottish.”
“No one had explained to Cameron when he was twenty years old and proud as hell that he’d managed to get his wife with child, how difficult it would be to raise a son. Nannies and tutors and schools were supposed to do that, weren’t they? But sons needed so much more than food, clothing, and tutoring. They expected fathers to know things, to teach them about life, to be there when needed.”
“I don't want to be friends with you, Ainsley Douglas. I want to be your lover. I want to bury myself inside you, I want to find out whether you taste as good all the way down, I want to feel you squeezing me, and I want to hear your cries as you take me inside you.”
“He'd done everything in his power to make damn certain that Daniel never had to fear coming home. At that endeavor, Cameron knew he'd already surpassed his own father.”
“In the past, Cameron, worrying about Ian, would go make sure that he wasn’t sitting alone in a huddle, or staring for hours at a Ming bowl, or pouring over some endless mathematical exercise. These days, Cameron knew that Ian used the excuse of not liking crowds to spend more time alone with his wife – in bed.”
“Ian slid the pot of honey toward his plate. "We should go back upstairs," he said to Beth.
"What?" Beth looked up from a list she was writing. "Why?"
Ian rose and pulled back Beth's chair without answering. Ian had difficulty lying, so when he knew he shouldn't say what was on his mind, he'd learned to keep his mouth firmly closed.
Beth knew him well, though. Without arguing, she let him take her arm and steer her from the table. Before he walked away, Ian reached back and snatched the honey pot from the table, balancing the pot in his hand as he led Beth from the room.”
“A couple can be quite intimate without sharing bodies - though you will likely not believe that, my Cam. But it can be true. What I feel for you is highly intense, whether you are standing next to me or living a hundred miles away. I do not have to be touching you at all to experience what I feel.”
“Daniel walked as tall and strong as Ian or Mac, even Hart. "They grow up so fast," Angelo said when he reacheed Cam.
Cameron glanced at him, thinking the man joking, but Angelo's dark eyes were serious.
"Chilhood is gone in the wink of an eye, and then they have to be men. You Anglos are strange, sending your sons out into the world as soon as they get tall enough. My family has been together forever."
"I notice you don't live with them, Angelo, so don't become sentimental. Besides my family is together. Just a bit spread out."
"Rich Anglos need too much space."
"That is true, but it keeps us from killing each other.”
“Get me into the game, Izzy," Cameron said when he reached Isabella at the edge of Hart’s well-groomed lawn. Pairs of ladies and gentlemen waited beyond, a few gentlemen swinging mallets and rolling shoulders to show off for the ladies.
Isabella turned to Cameron in surprise. "We’re playing croquet."
"Yes, I know what the devil it is. Give me a damned mallet."
"But you hate croquet." Isabella continued to blink green eyes at him.
"I don’t hate it today. I want you to pair me with Mrs. Douglas."
"Ah." Isabella’s surprised look turned to one of interest. "Mrs. Douglas, is it?”
“El, you are telling me to run away with a man to become his mistress."
"I am telling you to be happy. Even if it lasts only a little while. We must snatch what we can when we have the chance. Life is so very lonely when we don't.”
“Daniel swept Ainsley into a strong hug. "I knew you'd come back. Didn't I say so? Dad!” he bellowed up the stairs as he set Ainsley on her feet. "It’s Ainsley!"
"He knows, lad". Mac laughed. "I think the whole county knows.”
“Why are you all buttoned up like that?" Cameron ran his gaze down the blackberry-shaped buttons of her bodice.[...] "You were happy to bare all last night," Cameron said. He let his mallet handler hover an inch from her chest. "Your bodice was down here."
Ainsley cleared her throat. "Low neckline for evening, high for morning."[...]
"This doesn’t suit you," Cameron said.
"I can’t help the fashion, Lord Cameron."
Cameron poked the top button with his gloved finder. "Undo this."
Ainsley jumped. "What?"
"Unbutton your damned frock."
She nearly choked. "Why?"
"Because I want you to." Cameron's smile spread across his face, slow and sinful, and his voice went low. Dangerous. "Tell me, Mrs. Douglas. How many buttons will you undo for me?”
“Blackmailers are never satisfied." His laughter faded into bitterness.
"Aren't they? How do you know?"
His words were empty, hollow. "When you're the brother of a duke and your wife died in mysterious circumstances, sharks come out of the woodwork."
"That's a mixed metaphor."
"Bugger metaphors. They're human sharks and they come out of the shadows when you least expect them.”
“I'm not here to talk about my wife," he said.
Ainsley's eyes were filled with anger for him. "Very well, what did you come here to talk about?"
Cameron touched the top button of her dull gray afternoon dress and forced his voice to soften "I came to ask how many buttons you'll undo for me today.”
“I assume we'll make a stop in London?" Ainsley asked. "I can't imagine you'd run straight through to Paris tonight, would you? If I could find a room at a respectable hotel, I can sort through my things and decide what I truly need to take. Isabella thought the lot, but I think she is optimistic."
Cameron unstuck his tongue from the roof of his mouth. "We'll stop in London," he said, his voice gruff. "Not in a hotel. In Hart's house; he keeps it ready. In the morning, we'll marry.”
“I don't want you back because you feel obligated to me, love," he said. "That's the devil of wedding vows - they make you do things for a person you maybe should run away from. Come back to me because you want to, not because you think you ought to. Do you understand?”
“My heart is where you are, Ainsley. So when you leave..." Cameron made an empty gesture.
"I'll come back," she said stubbornly.
"To this wreck of a man? Why should you?"
"Because I love you”
“I will write as often as I can, but truth be told, I don't have many moments to myself. The queen is in a very bad way and needs everyone who can be at her side. But whenever I undo my buttons to ready myself for bed, I think of you. I imagine your fingers unfastening my gown, opening me like a Christmas parcel for your pleasure. I tingle even now as I think of it, and so I will close before I quite combust and burn the paper.”
“You never forget the love of your life, Ainsley Douglas, no matter what he did to anger you, and no matter how much time has passed.”
“They all had them, dark secrets of the soul. The only way to deal with them was to live, and forget.”
“I am a bad man, very bad, but in a different way. I want to ravish you until we’re both senseless with it, and then I want to do it all over again.”
“He’d wanted only to be inside Ainsley and stay there, where everything was safe and splendid, and her tenderness wrapped him and eased every hurt in his soul.”
“An individual, a thing apart from its environment, and apart from all things in that environment; an individual was a type of thing for which symbols were inadequate, and so names were invented . I am invented. I am not a round warm blue room. I am someone in that room; I am—”
“They got everything money can buy, their bank accounts are fat, but they ain't happy. They ain't ever gonna be happy. You know why? They soul broke. And money can't fix that, no sir.”
“I missed you but I knew you were in the best place for you. I would have been a terrible mother. I had no patience. Maya, when you were about two years old, you asked me for something. I was busy talking, so you hit my hand, and I slapped you off the porch without thinking. It didn’t mean I didn’t love you; it just meant I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I’m explaining to you, not apologizing. We would have all been sorry had I kept you.”
“physical beauty should have no importance in a lasting relationship.”
“A flor e até mesmo o fruto são apenas o começo. Na semente está a vida e o futuro.”
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