The day her sister murdered their abusive father, Elizabeth Wilcox stopped being a gentleman’s daughter. Willing to do anything to save her sister from the hangman’s noose, now she is a spy… A servant. A liar. A thief. A submissive.
Masquerading as a parlor maid and entrenched in the Duke of Montague’s estate, Liz is willing to risk all to uncover the secrets that would save her sister. But submitting to the duke’s peculiar brand of discipline surprises her with a heady mixture of pleasure and pain. Eager to relinquish control of her messy life, Liz soon craves the rough hands of Montague and his powerful, passionate attentions. Can she succumb to the hot sting of his hand and the gentleness of his kisses without revealing her true identity and darkest secrets? And what punishment will she face when he realizes her betrayal?
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He looked down at the woman beside him, eating as sparingly as a bird. She was his responsibility, too, but one that wasn’t a burden. He craved to take her in hand, give her the calm purpose that a disciplined mind could achieve.
He forced his muscles to relax. Because of their different stations, that wasn’t possible. So he would make sure she was safe and healthy, and discipline himself not to touch her.
She didn’t eat everything on the plate before she sat back with a hand to her stomach, but it was a good start, he decided. Marcus filled another small plate with fruit and held it up to her.
“No more.” She shook her head. “I couldn’t possibly eat another bite.”
“Every meal needs a little dessert to finish it.” He picked up a ripe strawberry and held it to her lips. “Open up.”
Eyes on his, she slowly opened her mouth, and all the blood in Marcus’s body rushed south. When her small white teeth bit into the red flesh, he nearly groaned. Shifting his legs, he held up another morsel. Bit by bit she ate the fruit he fed her.
“Why had he never fed a woman before? This was quickly becoming one of the most sensuous experiences in his life. Her little moans of appreciation thrummed through his body. Each time her pink tongue darted out to lap at the juice on her lip his stomach clenched. Her warm breath caressed his fingers, making him wonder what it would feel like if her breath caressed other parts of him. The black of her eyes and heaving of her chest told him she wasn’t immune to the experience, either.
He held up a bit of melon, the juice running down his fingers. He brushed her lips with the peach-colored fruit. Instead of opening up for him, she wrapped her fingers around his wrist and stared at him. Her eyes were a plea, a question.
He put the plate of food down. “Miss Smith. Elizabeth.”
“Liz. Please call me Liz. It’s been so long since anyone has.”
“Liz.” He cupped her face, his thumbs tracing her cheekbones. “This isn’t right. You’re my servant. You might feel obligated to me because of our relative positions.”
“I don’t feel obligated.” A wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows. “I don’t know what it is I’m feeling exactly, but it isn’t that.”
His heart skipped. He was on the edge of a cliff. He shouldn’t take that leap, but, god, he wanted to. “What is it you want?”
Her cheeks heated under his hands, and she bit her lip. He tilted her head to face his better. “Look at me. Tell me what you want, but remember, all actions have consequences.”
She lowered her gaze to his lips, took a deep breath. “I want you to kiss me,” she whispered.
He hadn’t expected her to be so forthright. So honest. Pain pierced his heart, and he didn’t know if the woman in front of him was opening a hole in his heart or filling one. Her face ran the gamut of emotions. Longing and hope. Fear that he might reject her. Curiosity over what she was feeling. He saw her, and she was beautiful.
She was a magnet, drawing him in. His lips hovered above hers for an instant, inhaling the breath she released. He brushed his mouth against hers, once, twice, before pulling back to look at her again. Her eyes were closed, lips slightly parted, looking for all the world like a woman aching to be touched.
Sod it all to hell. He crushed his mouth to hers and drank of her like she was a spring and he was dying of thirst.
Alyson Chase has written paranormal erotic romance novels for Ellora’s Cave as Alyson Conrad and is currently writing small-town contemporary romances for Lyrical as Allyson Charles. Disciplined by the Duke is her first historical romance and first book with SMP Swerve.