In artistic circles she is the Divine Dita, Paris’ most sought-after nude model. But now she’s not so much posing as playing a role: fiancée to the next Earl of Athal. The charade is a favor to Dita’s friend, Eddie Jago, a dissolute painter…and the aforementioned heir. As deceptions go, it is innocent compared with what will come.
On the grim Cornish coast, from the ashes of a ruined castle rises the Jagos’ sumptuous new manor house. The fresh-hewn stone, however, cannot absorb the blood of centuries or quiet the echoes of past crimes. Dita struggles to decipher the family: the infirm Earl and his inscrutable wife; resentful Eddie; sheltered sister Eleanor. And Cad: the handsome second son whose reputation is spotless in business—scandalous everywhere else.
Drawn by friendship, ensnared by lust, Dita uncovers a sordid tangle of murder, desire and madness. It will lay her bare as no portraitist has done before.
Sure enough, my golden-eyed stranger was lounging against a gatepost across the street. Just as I knew he would be. His hands were dug deep in his coat pockets, and a brooding, haunted look lowered his brow. I went and stood before him, so close that, when we both breathed out at the same time, our bodies touched. The spicy undertones of his cologne made my nostrils twitch appreciatively. He cupped my face in his hands, studying me intently.
“My God,” he said in English. “You are the most perfect thing I have ever seen.”
“Finish what you started,” I whispered, also in English.
And, obligingly, he pulled me to him, crushing me against his chest and bruising my lips with the intensity of his kiss. Dragging me along with him by the hand, he propelled us with long, urgent strides down the narrow, cobbled street. Because we had to stop to kiss under every streetlamp, by the time we reached his apartment, I was soaked to the skin and half-crazy with lust.
There were twelve stairs leading to his door. I know because he stopped to remove a piece of my wet clothing on every stair. By the time we crashed through the door of his two-room apartment, I was clad only in my underwear. Without removing his lips from mine, he slammed the door closed with one hand and shoved me hard against the wall.
In one swift movement, he hauled my petticoat skirts up around my waist and dragged my bloomers down. I fumbled desperately with the buttons on his trousers and, as soon as I had freed him, taut and throbbing, from the restraining cloth, he lifted me so that could I wrap my legs around his waist.
My shoulders slammed repeatedly against the wall as, buttocks pumping in a relentless rhythm, he drove himself hard into me. We rocked frantically together and, within seconds, I was gasping as wave upon wave of ecstasy shuddered through me. He jerked violently and groaned as his own orgasm tore him apart, pressing his face into the curve of my neck and muttering something appreciative, but unintelligible.
When our mutual trembling had subsided slightly, he carried me, with my legs still wound around his waist, into the bedroom and tumbled us both onto the bed.
“Where are you from?” he asked later, when, having removed what was left of our clothing, we lay wrapped in each other’s arms. He slid an admiring hand down the curve of my waist and over my naked buttocks as he spoke.
I paused. Had I really almost blurted out the truth? I had to be careful not to allow this burning attraction to cause me to lower my guard. “I came here from Austria.” The words came out on a sigh as his long fingers parted my legs and slid inside me.
“You accent does not sound Austrian,” he stated, the distant politeness of his tone contrasting with the relentless pressure of his thumb on my clitoris.
“My mother was English,” I gasped.
It was very difficult to remain aloof and evasive in the circumstances. He started to kiss my neck, and, hovering on the brink of orgasm, I found I couldn’t speak anymore.
“Well, wherever you are from, it’s very nice to meet you,” he murmured, as, with strong, commanding hands, he turned me onto my stomach and raised my buttocks.
In the same movement, he positioned himself between my legs and replaced his questing fingers with the iron-hard length of his cock. I came instantly, screaming with pleasure as, holding my hips steady, he thrust in and out of my shuddering body.