Commanded to His Bed [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Denise Lynn
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: He was taken from Adrienna on their wedding night, and sold as a slave. Now, released from captivity, Hugh of Ryebourne wants revenge. Believing Adrienna played a part in his capture, he plans to seduce his wife into bed--but he won't use force. He wants her to come willingly ... Adrienna is shocked by the reappearance of her estranged husband. She can't deny the desire this dark, brooding man arouses in her, but Hugh is no longer the young boy she once knew. He is all man now, rugged and very dangerous.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Historical, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2007
13 Reader Ratings:
Queen Eleanor's Court at Poitiers—May 1171
In the three months she'd been at Queen Eleanor's court, men had called her many things—the least unpleasant, and familiar, had something to do with ice and frost. She'd heard that complaint more times than not.
Yet now, each article of clothing seemed to evaporate like the morning mists. Her gown fell from her body, leaving the evening air free to whisper across her quivering flesh. With nothing more than a smoldering stare, he undressed her slowly, one agonizing layer at a time.
Adrienna of Hallison trembled with anticipation, fear and a longing so intense she was certain she'd die. She wanted more than just his gaze. She wanted his breath on her neck, his lips against hers. Her breasts strained against the bodice of her gown, seeking his caress, aching for the touch of his hands.
Beneath the tight layers of linen and silk that concealed her body, her skin tingled. Fire and ice coursed through her veins. She prayed she'd not reveal her desire by blushing. To her utter dismay, heat filled her cheeks. She studied the richly laden table before her, hoping to hide her flaming face from him.
Men were the same everywhere. Fortified keep or lush palace mattered not. They had fought for the right to thaw her composure. All had failed.
Their false, near-fawning attention held little interest. At times, when it wasn't downright tiresome, it bordered on the ridiculous.
If they could perceive her thoughts at this moment they would be shocked. No man had ever caused her blood to rush in this manner. Never had anyone conjured this unbidden state of desire from her. They would be appalled by the heat coursing through her body at the mere stare of a stranger. A dark and dangerous stranger dressed in the deepest shade of blue she'd ever seen. The near-black attire made him even more noticeable than the brightly adorned peacocks that filled Eleanor's court.
Yet, those peacocks had been correct. Her body, as well as her heart, had been frozen for what seemed a lifetime.
The stranger's stare bore through her, forcing her attention back to him. His eyes stripped away her clothing and laid her body bare.
With a quick ragged breath she yearned for his touch. Would his fingers be rough against her soft flesh? Would his hands carry the same flame that burned from his eyes?
Adrienna tore her gaze away and stared at the ornate tapestries hanging on the walls. His unwanted attention would do naught but give lie to her carefully built reputation. He would peel away the cloak she'd so carefully wrapped around herself in an attempt to shield her heart from pain.
Nay. No matter how extreme the temptation, she'd not let any man, especially this unknown one, break through. She'd cared about one man and he'd deserted her, leaving her alone and a maiden still in her father's keep.
Never again would she be drawn into any man's promises or lies. No. This time she would do the choosing. Her life, her future, would be laid out by her own hand alone.
Torn from her thoughts, Adrienna leaned toward her dinner partner.
Elise of Fairway nodded toward the stranger. "Who do you think he is? I've not seen him here before."
With feigned indifference, Adrienna glanced about the crowded hall. "Who? There are so many strangers here this night."
Her friend lowered her voice to a whisper. "The one staring at you as if he'd like to dine on your body for his supper."
There was little she could hide from Elise. They'd been friends since the moment they'd both arrived at the queen's court. Two not-quite-young widows with little to offer except the power inherent in land and men. They shared a common bond—both had been sent to court to find a husband.
Not just any husband, but someone who could advance their fathers' ambitions. A goal neither of them cherished.
When faced with the options her father dangled before her, Adrienna chose marriage. It had been an easy choice. Her sire had offered to find her a position with the court, or to remove her from his keep and allow her to fend for herself. Marriage, or certain death.
Adrienna was not ready to die. But neither was she ready to become some man's chattel.
"Oh, him. Hopefully he finds someone else to play the gallant with this night." She studied those seated at the high table. "Ah, no worry. Sarah has spied him."
Elise's unladylike chortle drew the attention of several nearby diners. She covered her lapse in manners with a cough, managing to hide her mirth. "The poor man. Shall we pray for him?"
Adrienna did her best not to imitate her friend's reaction. "What and spoil Sarah's fun?"
Startled by the queen's page standing at her elbow, Adrienna hastily swallowed. She wiped the amusement from her voice. "Yes?"
The youth looked down his nose at her. "Queen Eleanor requests your presence." His voice cracked, giving lie to his manly attitude.
Elise asked, "Would you care to guess who is with her?"
The question required little thought. Adrienna knew the answer before she looked toward the queen, and the stranger beside her. He caught Adrienna's perusal and nodded in a knowing, near-intimate manner. Dear God, could he read her thoughts? Did he know of her desire? Her stomach fluttered. Her pulse raced. She silently cursed her body's reaction, the queen and the stranger all in one thought.
The page held out his arm and announced, "Milady, I am here to escort you."
Copyright © 2007 by Denise L. Koch.