By Emma Wildes
Third Place Winner in the 2006 Lories!
Serena Prentice's only hope for happiness is to learn to seduce herindifferent husband-to-be, the devastating attractive Rayne Talbot.Unfortunately, since he is being forced to marry her, Rayne wantsnothing to do with her. Desperate, she plots a visit to his rumoredmistress, the beautiful Countess Van Herold, only to find herselfseduced instead, the experience awakening an unexpected sensual sideto her nature she never dreamed existed.
Rayne cannot decide if he is intrigued or outraged at the thought ofhis former mistress tutoring his innocent young bride in the art ofcarnal pleasure, until he yields to his growing curiosity and takesher to bed himself. Blackmailed into the unwanted marriage, he issurprised to find himself captivated by Serena's loveliness ...andher uninhibited sexual abandon.
Exploring together a world of unbridled pleasure, Serena and Raynefind that their unlikely union might just be a match made in heaven,after all...
Rayne Talbot slammed his hand down on the desk so hard, the pictures rattled on the walls. "Are you telling me," he said in a lethal whisper, "that these documents are inviolate?"
His solicitor, sweating and obviously uncomfortable with his client's potent anger, mumbled, "They're genuine, yes. The clandestine purchase of portions of the company have been going on for some time now--"
"Yes, I know. My father explained in great deal his blackmail scheme." Biting out those words, Rayne stalked across the room and looked out the window. "I just hoped that perhaps somewhere he had overlooked a small detail, something we could take to court."
"I am afraid not, sir."
God in heaven, his father--and his friend, the esteemed Duke of Carlton, were like despotic, grasping evil brothers. He could not believe that two men so close in personality and single-minded intent had not sprung from the same womb. Jesus, it looked like he might actually have to go through with this ... insanity. He ground out with difficulty, "Did you look over the other papers, the marriage settlement?"
"Is there anything there against the possibility of annulment or divorce?"
He heard the man swallow. "I'm afraid there is a clause against both, sir. The agreement is locked up tight with, in my opinion, no room for negotiation."
"Hell and blast!"
"However," the timid offering was said in a squeak, "I'm sure it has been explained that for every male offspring your ... er ... wife, produces, you regain a significant block of control, and--"
"I am well aware of the price of my stud service on Carlton's young daughter, thank you, Simmons." Rayne's smile was a mere baring of his teeth. "What if every child is a girl?"
"For every four female children born, you get the same as if it were a male child."
"Points for effort, how very generous. Is there anything else I should know?"
"I don't think so. I'll read them through again, if you like."
"I like nothing about this, but look and see if there is a ridiculous clause forcing me to go through with a formal ceremony."
"Very well, sir, if we're through here, may I go?" The hasty sound of the man's departure followed Rayne's curt nod.
Alone in his study, he stared at the hated documents left on his desk. His father had pulled a master stroke of manipulative genius this time, he thought bleakly, insisting he marry some vapid girl barely out of the schoolroom and breed children, simply because Carlton wanted an heir. And his arrogant father detested him enough--he would rather will his fortune to a grandson.
He'd only met this prospective bride a few times, and he'd been so damned angry, he'd barely looked at her. She was blonde, if he recalled, and slender.
Not that it mattered.
He could hardly stand to think of her.
"Fine," he muttered out loud, scattering the papers with a vicious swipe of his hand, "I'll fuck her half to death, if that's what you want."