War Chest: Even Gods Fall In Love Book 5
At the very least, she means to ensure her sister’s twins are raised properly. A task she suspects is beyond the duke, who wanders away at night, comes to dinner disheveled, and stirs desires she’s never felt before.
Marcus isn’t just the Duke of Lyndhurst. He is Mars, god of war, and his nightly dinners with Ruth—during which he allows her to ask him one question—are his only respite from his desperate struggle with the Titans.
Little does the drably dressed, socially inept woman realize she is a constant temptation to him—and he is losing the battle to resist. But if he allows her to break the chains around his heart, their love will make her a target in a fight to the death.
A door opened. Riveted, Marcus watched the sliver of light glimmering from a single candle. He didn’t need to see her to know it was her. From the minute she had eliminated the barriers between them, he’d known.
Her shocked gasp rang around the space, but she did not scream, nor did she retreat. She stood, the candle casting a golden glow on her face, making her eyes sparkle in the dark. She said nothing. Her hair fell over one shoulder, fastened into one long, neat, plait. He could use that to bind her to him, to hold her in place while he kissed her senseless. She wore a plain dark wool gown, hastily pulled on so her pure white night rail peeped through the join in the middle.
He stayed where he was, ignoring the urge to take the three strides that lay between them. “I told you,” he said.
“You did,” she replied.
He smiled. “Do I not daunt you? Terrify you?”
“No, sir, you do not. I thought I heard something.”
When he noticed she kept her gaze firmly on his face, his smile broadened. It was so like her, to make the situation more bearable. “I will not apologize for appearing before you in this way.”
“Because it is your house and I am your servant?” She took a step then, just one, half the length of one of his. It demonstrated intent. Her chin lifted, a sure sign she was firming her jaw and forcing courage. He would have teased her just to see that telltale movement.
He already gave her more leeway than he usually did to anyone, but his refusal to read her mind, to discover what he wanted to know for himself had become more than a game. The question a day was keeping him going. He looked forward to it. “It occurs to me I have not yet asked you a question today, Ruth. Are you ready?”
Her eyes widened slightly, then she blinked. “Yes, sir.”
“Am I the first naked man you’ve seen?”
To his surprise she gave a sharp bark of laughter before smothering the sound with her free hand. She shook her head before she lowered her hand. “Sir, I’m a country girl. No, you are not. I have seen men work the fields naked, or as good as naked. Men bathing in the stream in summer. I never stopped to look.” She paused, and her eyes danced. “I have never seen a man worth wasting time watching.”
“Indeed.” He enjoyed her joke. “You are indeed a remarkable woman, Ruth. A remarkable virgin?”
“Sir, you go too far! I told you I am a respectable woman, and unmarried. I am not a widow, so I that leaves one thing, does it not?”
He wanted to touch her so badly, but perversely he kept away. What he was doing was like taming a wild creature, luring it to his hand. If he touched her, she would bolt, and he didn’t want that to happen. The magic had hit him full-square, the beast inside him soothed.
More than soothed. If she looked down, she would discover how much. However, she kept her gaze firmly on the top half of his body. He could feel it like a touch. More than anything he wanted her to touch him, but if she did, he would most likely lose his mind.
No, he would not do that. Not with her. That was for spells and magic, and the things that belonged in a different part of his world. Here there was only human comfort and understanding.
“So you are a virgin.” The beast in him, the part of him that belonged to the god stretched out, put protective arms around her. Being the god of war had more than one aspect, and his protective instincts were strong. He wanted to take care of her. He wanted to own her. While he knew that was wrong, denying his urges would lead to problems for both of them.
The candle flickered. “Is that so surprising?” she said.
“No. But it is a shame.”
“The world does not run on intimate relations.”
“If it does not, then there would be nobody in it to continue.” He needed to say that, but he did not understand his urge to continue to needle her. Perhaps to make her understand herself more. He saw a great deal of courage and fortitude in Ruth, but he doubted she saw it for herself. He wanted her to become everything she could be.
No more. Abruptly, he stepped back. He had pushed his will to its furthest extent.
“Good night, Miss Carter. I believe I heard a movement from the nursery.”
He walked away. He would do nothing about his erection. It served him right for teasing her.
God in heaven, he wanted her.