Trenton Lindsey is brother to Leah, who has wed Nicholas, Earl of Bellefonte. Nick has many friends, and much correspondence, though his new countess proves quite a distraction from his letters…
“Darius is accompanying Valentine Lindsey on some queer start out to Oxfordshire,” Nicholas Haddonfield, Earl of Bellefonte, let his glasses slip down his nose, his wife being ever so much lovelier a sight than his missives. “Your hair is getting longer.”
“Hair will do that,” Leah Haddonfield, nee Lindsey, smiled at him in her vanity mirror. He watched her from the expanse of their enormous bed, correspondence spread all about him, his dressing gown all that stood between his lady wife and marital bliss, did she put know it.
“Hair will particularly do that”—Nick uncurled from the bed—“when one is healthy, well fed, and content with one’s lot in life. You are, aren’t you?” He crossed the room to stand behind his wife, his hands resting on her shoulders. “Content?”
“Blissful.” Leah rested her cheek on the back of his hand. “But tired. Might you bundle up your correspondence, and make some room for me in that bed?”
“No,” Nick leaned down to kiss her shoulder and to make her sigh. “You will have to cuddle up smack against my side, lest the affairs of the earldom be thrown into disarray.”
“What else does Dare say?”
Nick straightened, because coaxing Leah to marital intimacies was a wonderful game of advance and retreat, advance and retreat. The trick was to retreat before she noticed he was advancing.
“He says Trent’s still at Crossbridge, and Dare’s spies say Trent is doing better.”
“What’s better?” Leah finished with her braid, which Nick intended to unravel at the first opportunity, and crossed to the bed, even as Nick was still tidying up his papers.
“Sober,” Nick frowned at a document, “Getting off his backside, out into the sun. He’s without a steward, so he’ll have to see to much himself. He’s called on some of the neighbors, and received a few in addition to the mandatory chat with the vicar. You can just take that off right now.”
Leah looked down at her summer nightgown, a pretty garment it would be shame to rip avoidably.
“Leonie did the embroidery, and I promised her I’d wear it tonight,” Leah yawned, and stretched with her hands on the small of her back, which did scandalously lovely things for her breasts. “Did Darius have anything to report about himself?”
“Not much,” Nick set his bundle of papers aside, and came around the bed to untie his wife’s nightgown. “Val won an estate in a card game, but it needs attention, so they’re off to bivouac on the grounds while they assess the property. How is it, you always smell so lovely?”
He drew the nightgown off her shoulders and bunched it against his nose.
“Give that back,” Leah tried to tug it away from him—not very hard.
“You promised you’d wear it.” Nick tossed it across the bed. “You’ve worn it, and now I will guard it beneath my pillow the live long night—where I can catch your scent while I dream–to make sure it comes to no harm. Into bed.” He patted her derriere, drew off his dressing gown, and laid it across the foot of the bed. “And none of this pouting over here on your side of the bed, wife. I’ll steal a march on you in the dark, so you’d be wise to come peacefully now.”
“You have such a wonderfully naughty mind,” Nick said, climbing in on his side, “I wonder how I bear your influence with my lordly dignity in tact.”
“I don’t suppose Darius mentioned if Trent will be retrieving his children?” She was drawn into the curve of Nick’s body as she spoke, but she was used to being handled as if she were both weightless and precious.
“He did not,” Nick rubbed his chin on her crown, “But I can write to dear Trenton, and remind him his offspring are having a smashing good time here with my brother’s children.”
“They do get along well,” Leah scooted her hips back against her husband’s growing erection. “Trent should miss his children.”
“Are they missing him?” Nick’s hand had been missing his wife’s breasts, and sought to remedy the situation.
“Lanie’s too little to say much,” Leah arched her back, just slightly. “And Michael isn’t much better, but Ford writes to Trent, or draws him pictures, and dictates letters every few days.”
“I’ll remind Trent to write to his children, and his sister,” Nick rumbled, his lips against Leah’s nape. “But Leah? Sometimes, it’s all a man can do to draw the next breath, you know?”
“Or a woman. Trent’s been troubled since Paula died, and one just hasn’t known what to do for him.”
Nick shifted, bringing his body over Leah’s, sheltering her beneath him. “If anything happened to you, wife, I would be so far beyond troubled, they’d have to make me an entire suite at Bedlam, and use chains to restrain me from joining you in heaven.”
“Don’t speak thus,” Leah pressed fingers to his mouth. “You’d miss me, but you’d cope, Nicholas, for the children, if nothing else.”
“I’d go mad first,” he assured her, “And for a good long time, too.”
“Maybe Trent’s been mad.” Leah snuggled up to her husband, “but only in his own quiet, contained way.”
“I’d like to drive you mad,” Nick kissed the side of her neck, as a change in topic was in order. Breeding women were not to be upset, particularly not his countess.
“You drive me mad regularly,” Leah smiled at him. “It wasn’t in the vows, but you seem dedicated to the task nonetheless.”
Advance and retreat bedamned. Nick couldn’t allow his countess to fret over her infernal moping brother, so Nick treated her to a full out charge, even though she’d already surrendered, foot, horse and cannon.