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Sweet Torture (Fated For Love Series Book 2)

Sweet Torture (Fated For Love Series Book 2)

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 When Devon Brentton, Viscount Wilhelm, teasingly threatens to kiss Lady Lydia Covvington to ruin her day, it was meant as a jest. However, the proclaimed Ice Queen of London is in need of some thawing, and he is just the rake to do it. A little kiss is only the beginning. They soon find their animosity towards each other hid a spark of attraction that bursts into flame.

But Lydia is no meek miss. Learning from her mothers awful experience with a philandering husband, she knows that handsome rakes never reform. She will never wed a man like Devon, but cannot deny herself the chance to experience the heat and desire, and dare she think it, love, that Devon can show her. She strikes up a bargain he can't resist. A journey of passion that will end with her marriage to an older, respectable gentleman, who will never break her heart.

But Devon cant let her go. For him, there is only one outcome and it ends with her seduction and her hand in marriage. However, Lydia proves not only rakes can break hearts, and when he thinks he has won her heart at last, she denies him. Devastated, he leaves England so that he will never see her and the man she chose over him again.

When at last he is found and brought home against his will, he finds the woman who shattered his heart is there, and determined to mend it. Can he forgive her? Lydia will not give up on him again, but the tables have turned, and it is up to Devon to take a second chance at love.

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London, April 17, 1816

This is a nightmare!” Olivia cried in the parlor of her parent's Mayfair townhouse. Her devilishly handsome brother sat beside her as a shoulder to weep upon, while her dearest friend Lydia Covington sat across from her, worrying a tear-soaked handkerchief.

“What can we do?” Olivia sniffed.

“Nothing, it would ruin us.” Lydia frowned at the twisted handkerchief in her hands.

Devon scowled at her. “We will do whatever we can, Lydia.”

“Which is what?” She looked up and met his scorn. “Lilly has gone into hiding. Her name is tarnished—by treason of all things. We don’t know where she is and least of all how to help her.

“Ever the voice of hope,” Devon sneered. “If you cannot be supportive, maybe you should leave.”

Tears welled in Lydia’s pale blue eyes. “I am trying to be reasonable. Lilly is my friend, too. Even if I could help her, she never came to me and asked.”

“Perhaps because you’re so cold,” Devon snapped back at her.

“Devon!” Olivia gasped. “How could you say such a thing?”

Lydia stood and walked away. She exited the French doors left open to the brisk spring air, still chilled from a winter refusing to release London. 

“Devon, go apologize at once,” Olivia scolded. “I’ve already lost one friend. I won’t let you drive away another.”

Devon rose and cursed as he strode through the open doors into the weak afternoon sun. He caught sight of the willowy blonde, who sat crying in the rose-shrouded gazebo. He walked to the arched entry and climbed the steps. He stopped just inside the shadowed interior and leaned back against the entryway post, hands in pockets, ankles crossed leisurely.

“I apologize for my hurtful words, Lydia.”

She turned away from him and sniffed. She didn't like to cry in front of others. From the time she was a small girl, she was taught to keep her composure in any situation. It was the mark of true breeding as her mother always said.

Somehow, Devon Brentton always got the best of her. His words could cut to the quick, and when his emerald-green eyes looked at her with such disdain, it hurt more than she could bear. 

“I should not have called you cold. I know you care for Lilly, too.”

Still, Lydia only gave him her profile, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he had hurt her.

“Oh hell, for Christ’s sake, look at me!” Devon grabbed her elbow and pulled her to her feet to face him.

“Do not handle me so, it isn’t proper,” Lydia snapped.

“Perhaps I should kiss you and truly ruin your day.”

Lydia froze as she met his gaze. “You… You wouldn’t dare.” she blushed from a mixture of illicit shock and indignation.

“Ah, a chink in the great Lydia Covington’s icy armor.”

“Is this an apology?” Lydia’s body warred between hot and cold, anger and…excitement?

“You would never accept an apology from me. In your eyes, I’m nothing but a scoundrel.”

“Surely, not just mine,” Lydia responded dryly. Anger was a much more familiar emotion when dealing with this rogue. She allowed it to soothe her frayed nerves. “If you have not yet grasped the notion, I came out here to escape you.”

Devon ignored the insult. “What would you do if I kissed you, Lydia? Would you melt? I quite like the idea. In fact, I think I would become famous. ‘Lord Wilhelm melted the puritanical ice queen of London.’”

“You are not amusing. I’ll thank you to let me go now.”

“I’m really warming to this idea, Lydia.” He smiled.

“Devon, please.” Lydia tugged at her arm. The effect of his smile was like liquid heat down her spine. 

“In fact, I think it would be good for you.”

“Let me go, you impudent rogue.” Lydia fairly growled the words.

“Come now, Lydia, a little kiss never hurt anyone.” He shrugged innocently.

“On the contrary, a single kiss has ruined many young ladies. I also would not like to have anything in common with the legions of loose women with which you associate.”

Devon laughed buoyantly while still holding her arm. The sight scattered Lydia’s composure. When Devon genuinely smiled, not the cool aloof smile he showed society, or heaven forbid laughed, he was truly a demigod among men. Lydia was not one to be swayed by a man’s looks, but she had never seen a man more handsome than Devon Brentton. He had the same flashing green eyes as his sister and twin dimples known to cause swoons. Not Lydia, of course, but Devon in full force—as he was now—was an assault to the female senses. Lydia would only grudgingly admit, and only to herself, that she was susceptible. She looked away from him, feigning annoyance. In truth, it was self-preservation.

They were enclosed in a dome of roses ultimately hidden from all eyes, with only one exit currently blocked by one broad-shouldered male. He stopped laughing and now stared openly at her with that mocking smile.

“I’m serious, Devon, release me,” she demanded.

“I am serious, as well. I really think I should kiss you.”

Lydia’s eyes widened in alarm. “Don’t think, it doesn’t suit you.” She tugged at her arm again but his grasp was firm. He stepped closer, bringing them together in the shadows. Vibrant pink roses bobbed and stared as if cheering him on. It would have been romantic if Lydia were some pea-brained half-wit in her first season. But Lydia was Lydia, and as a paragon of proper decorum in society, she was immune to situations such as this except… Devon Brentton was going to kiss her. Fear and excitement skittered over her skin, but she fought against it. 

“Devon, really. Stop this nonsense and let me leave. This is highly improper.”

“Indeed it is. It will be over before you know it, Lydia.”

“I bet you say that to all your strumpets.”

“Touché.” He laughed as he pulled her ever closer until there was nothing between them but clothing. He pulled her arms up around his neck, and her traitorous hands clasped together at his nape.

Lydia could do naught but stare into the shadowed emerald of his eyes as his head moved closer, blocking out everything but him. She closed her eyes involuntarily and felt his lips brush against hers. 

“Devon.” She didn’t even realize she had said his name aloud. She should tell him to stop, but the words wouldn’t form. His hands moved to her hips, and he pulled her tightly against him. She gasped, and he took advantage of her open mouth to deepen the kiss.

His mouth slanted over hers. Lydia’s mind scattered as his warm velvet tongue stroked hers, and she responded in kind. Her body was a traitor. Eagerly they dueled until finally, as stars glittered behind her eyelids, she pushed against him and he broke the kiss. They were both breathing heavily.

“That was foolish… I apologize,” he said stiltedly.

“We are both fools.” Lydia stared in bewilderment. “That can never happen again.”

“I agree,” he stated solemnly as he stepped away. His fingertips dragged against her hips as if reluctant to let go.

“If someone had seen…” Lydia felt a fissure of panic.

“No one saw,” he reassured her.

“How do you know?”

“I’m a rake, I know these things.”

Lydia paused then smiled nervously. “That is strangely comforting but I must leave. Goodbye, Devon.” She moved past him, no longer able to meet his gaze or make awkward small talk. Her color was high, and her heart was beating fiercely in her chest like a little trapped bird. Her steps quickly carried her across the garden. She flew through the French doors, absently noting Olivia sitting demurely on the sofa, hands clasped in her lap.

“I’m sorry, Livie, I must leave.” Lydia didn’t even halt her exodus to hear a response. She was behaving horribly, she knew, but could not stop her frantic escape. As she reached the front hall, the butler appeared. “My cloak, please, and my carriage.”

“As you wish,” he intoned and soberly walked away after bowing.

Lydia was tempted to give him a swift kick in the rump to hasten him. Apparently, a kiss from Devon Brentton caused one to lose one’s mind. Lydia tried to calm herself. She was being a complete ninny over something that Devon probably did to women daily. It meant nothing, of course. It was just shocking, was all. It was Lydia’s first kiss, and it had shocked her to her very toes. She looked down at her slippers peeking out from her hem; somehow, shocked toes should look different from regular toes but maybe not with slippers on.

The butler appeared with her cloak.

“Thank you.” She hastily donned it as he opened the door for her, and Lydia made her escape. Sitting inside the carriage, she felt composed once again. She had been kissed by Devon and survived. Really, she had overreacted. She could see that now. She would think nothing of it from now on, and hopefully, Devon would do the same.

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