The Seduction of Sebastian St. James
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
THE SEDUCTION OF SEBASTIAN ST. JAMES
Copyright © 2011 RACHEL VAN DYKEN
Cover Art Designed by Paragraphic Designs
Edited by Kim Bowman
To my Grandpa, who has always supported and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I love you! Smooches!
Miss Emma Gates loved to dance. Not that she would ever share this private information with anyone but her dear sister, who was easily bribed and young enough not to care. No. A lady was entitled to her secrets and this was one of hers.
It wasn’t just any kind of dancing she was fond of. No, because dancing with the gentry was quite acceptable for a girl getting ready for her come out. The dancing she enjoyed was more passion-filled than waltzing, although she had to admit waltzing was another favorite.
For some time, she had been practicing the dance of the gypsies. In her heart she knew it was wrong to spy. But every so often a traveling gypsy family would be allowed to stay near their large estate.
One night a few months ago, Emma had been absolutely dying with curiosity as she heard the foreign music glide through her windows. Carefully, she rose from her bed and tiptoed to her door. Looking out the hallway, she took a steadying breathe and made the decision to sneak out of the house. Always accused of being too inquisitive and adventurous for her own good, Emma had told herself this would be the last time she would do something rash before her come out this Season.
Nearing the campground, fire light glowed in the distance. Unable to tear her eyes away, she watched in utter fascination as the bronze-colored girls danced with jewelry trilling on their ankles and hands, swishing their fingers this way and that.
It was powerful and fascinating.
Men were captivated, drawn in by the sensual sway of their hips and promise of desire in their eyes. How could they not be? There was something so alluring about the way the gypsies danced, as if they held some secret nobody else in the world knew about. Men weren’t just full of desire for the women, though she could see plenty of that in the way their gazes seemed to follow every sway of the gypsies’ hips. The way the gypsies danced transported Emma and all those who watched to a place of mystery and enticement.
It made her wonder what it would be like to be able to deliver a siren call without speaking at all. To communicate without words. The gypsies’ music spoke to her like nothing else. The idea that she could express her deepest desires through such movements had her bewitched.
The first night she had been too nervous to show herself to the crowd, worried someone might recognize her and tell her parents.
The second night she had ventured out and sat near the edge of the campground.
And the third night, a young girl had approached and offered to teach her, asking for nothing in payment, merely the enjoyment of seeing Emma learn something she obviously found so much delight in.
Emma had been dancing ever since.
She promised herself she would quit once she had a Season, but the temptation was too great. Soon after she made the decision to stop, her fingers and legs would twitch with excitement, begging to be set free by the dance of the gypsies.
Life had a way of making more sense when she could dance. The troubles of the world, of her current betrothal seemed to melt away with the sway of her hips.
Being betrothed was another reason for her current fascination with all things adventurous and forbidden. Her life was over before it started. The man she was betrothed to was a good man, if one could call him a man. At one and twenty he was two years her senior and in a terrible state to be a husband. Having only just finished at University, his only goal in life was to warm the beds of courtesans and gamble away his inheritance. With striking features and a rakish grin, he could easily get away with all seven of the deadly sins and come out unscathed.
So in one last fit of going against the demands of society and her parents, she snuck away to dance. It was the last night before they were to leave for London. After all, the Season would start soon, and although she was betrothed, her parents wanted her to attend. They hoped she would gain some friends, considering most her time would now be spent in London, once the wedding was completed. Not wanting to take any chances of getting caught, she would often practice in the small hunters lodge next to the stream. It was only a mile from her house, close enough for her to feel safe but far enough away she felt she wouldn’t be discovered.
Laughter bubbled out of her as she reached the cabin and slammed the door behind her. The air was charged with excitement. Emma made sure to lock the large wooden door, as was tradition, and then turned to start the fire.
After lighting the nearest lamp, she began swaying her hips. The rhythm started slow and sensual as she lifted her arms above her head and snapped her wrists. And as her hips continued to sway, she allowed her hands to twist and turn, convulsing her body into the familiar rhythm taught to her by her Romany friend.
A loud thump jolted her out of her haze.
She shrieked as a cloaked figure walked toward her.
“I’ve been waiting for you.”
His voice sounded gentry. Too much like a gentleman, but there were no gentleman in the area she knew of, other than her betrothed and his family.
She swallowed and slowly walked backward toward the locked door, her mind a jumble of ways she could escape without the man grabbing her. How could she have been so stupid to come out her alone? Yet she had done so for the past two months without disturbance.
“Aw, my pet, do not run away from me just yet. I have something special planned for you.”
“No thank you.” Her voice was weak. Quickly, she turned the notch to unlock the door, but the man's hands pushed her against the wooden frame.
“Oh, you won’t be leaving. There is no way out.”
He slammed her body into the door and began rustling with her skirts.
This was not happening; it could not be happening.
She tried to scream but was immediately silenced by his large hand.
The other hand continued to frantically grab at her skirts. She kicked him in the shin and tried for the door again.
“Okay, pet, now you’ve made me angry.”
With a guttural growl, he ripped open her dress, revealing her bodice, and leered at her breasts. Her corset and chemise still covered her body, but she felt horribly exposed and dirty.
“So you like to tease, do you? You little witch, I should have known you would want me like this. You’ve been begging for months. I almost had you so many times, but now I’ll have you as much as I want. I know you want it too. If you scream it will just make it better for me.” He leaned in so she could smell the reek of brandy on his breath. “Nobody will want you now. Nobody will have you but me.”
Her pulse raced as she fought frantically to free herself from his grasp. Her prayers were answered as the door she was leaning against began to move wildly behind her. Shouts were heard on the other side of the wooden door.
The man cursed and pushed her down before opening the back window and escaping. Utterly exhausted and weak she fell to the ground
The door opened revealing her father and their nearest neighbors the Rawlings and, to her horror, the man she was betrothed to. Naturally all they saw was a young girl with her clothes torn, alone and crying.
Nothing needed to be said, because no matter how many times she tried to explain what had happened, nobody believed she hadn’t invited advances from a man. Not even her own parents, and especially not the man who had earlier that year pledged himself to be her husband.
Emma never danced again.
Four Years Later
Nicholas was convinced his wife of five years had gotten used to his habit of pacing when he had something on his mind. Yet back and forth he went as the clock on the wall chimed noon. He felt it in his skin, in his bones.
She was going to protest.
They’d both been in his study since he brought the suggestion to her ears, and her expression in those past few hours hadn’t changed to anything more agreeable than it was at this moment.
“What exactly do you mean when you say he’s already here?” she inquired, the slight rise in her voice giving away that she was a little more annoyed than he had previously guessed. In a span of five seconds, her mouth was open to ask another question, and he silenced her with his hand.
Usually their arguments went the other way around. All she needed to do was flash a smile in his direction and he would buy the blasted moon, if it would make her happy. But today the tables were turned, because it was he who was asking the favor.
And it was obvious she had more self control than he did, which oddly enough wasn’t surprising, given the circumstances of their marriage. Naturally he assumed it was because she was a woman, but mentioning that around her wasn’t good for his health, which meant he kept his mouth good and shut. Yes, compromising his dear wife before she had any chance to protest had turned out to be the best mistake of his life.
He flashed one of his most genuine and sensual smiles, and noticing the breath steal from her lungs, he leaned over and kissed her firmly on the mouth.
“I did give you his title, did I not? The Good Duke of Tempest? Or as some call him The Angel Duke? He isn’t the sort of rake people describe him as,” he mumbled against her already swollen lips. “Furthermore, I don’t think he’s here to create scandal. Quite the opposite, in fact.” He placed a hand on her cheek. “Need I add he wasn’t nearly as wild as I was in my—" He stopped short of finishing that sentence when he noted the flash of anger on Sara’s face.
“Admittedly, not the best reasoning I could come up with,” he confessed teasingly. “But you must trust me on this.”
She shook her head, wise enough not to speak for fear she might kill him with her pointed words. Her expression did the talking as she widened her eyes and tilted her head for more. A better reason was expected, this was Nicholas Renwick speaking. He had a purpose and excuse for everything, God bless him.
Sara cleared her throat, and Nicholas bit his lip and looked away. The tension in the room was enough to send her over the edge of sanity, then again most of the strain had to do with the fact that Nicholas had been denied access to Sara’s bed for the past week on account of being away at their country estate.
Now that he was in the city, it was hard to think of anything else but having her husband in her arms again. It was obvious he shared her feelings, considering every time he looked at her she felt vulnerable enough to blush. The man made no apologies for the way he looked at her. He merely raised an eyebrow and winked in her direction as if that would solve the argument.
Nicholas got up to pace again then stopped and grabbed Sara by the shoulders. “Sweetheart, Seb’s reputation is spotless. His own grandmother even tried to trip him up on account of he’s too concerned for his reputation. Like I said, he’s harmless and quite the uh…gentlemen once you get to know him. I don’t see why letting him stay here will pose a problem for us or for our guest. Do you even know why his reputation is so famous? It’s not because he was a rake of the first order. It was because nobody could seem to catch him.”
Sara let out the breath she had been mindlessly holding. “So he’s an arrogant rake?” Nicholas gave her a warning look. “Well, why doesn’t he just stay in his townhome? He is a duke, and a wealthy one at that.”
“You are correct, but you’re forgetting that his sister and her cousins are staying there for the Season. It wouldn’t be appropriate for him to be in a house full of unmarried ladies. It would be more comfortable for him to stay here instead of a house full of green girls. His grandmother is chaperoning them for the Season.” Nicholas knelt next to Sara. “And I haven’t seen him in years. It would be nice to have him near. Don’t we have enough space to accommodate ten families if we desired?”
It was true, Sara thought. Renwick House was one of the larger mansions in Mayfair, bigger than the duke’s own home, which was almost blinding to look at it was so massive. And Nicholas hadn’t seen his friend in so long…
Yes, it would probably be best for Sebastian to stay with them. But what of her cousin? She was to arrive any minute. She was also coming to town for the Season. Her cousin was two years past a marriageable age and while not desperate, needed to secure a husband before her return to the country estate.
Her cousin Emma was of good birth and breeding. Honestly she just didn’t want the infamous rake to gain wind of the scandal that had taken place with her dear cousin. Even Nicholas wasn’t aware of the girl’s sordid past. Although she loathed keeping things from her husband, this was one secret that wasn’t hers to tell. It would be up to Emma whom she would deem worthy of her tragic tale.
Sara had been wondering for months how the girl had faired after such an ordeal. Hopefully the emotional scars did not run too deep. Obviously she felt ready for marriage or she would not have asked for Sara to chaperone.
Resting her head on her hands, she sighed as her husband continued with reasons why the duke must stay with them.
“Sara, he’s looking for a wife, not a mistress,” Nicholas argued.
She had only caught the last part and nodded.
The mention of a mistress sent Sara’s blood to boil. Nicholas took note and grinned wildly before he said, “Do you trust me?”
“No.” She crossed her arms and scowled.
“Liar,” he whispered in her ear. The air around her face tensed as he trailed hot kisses down her neck. “I’ve missed you.” He moaned into her hair before kissing her ear, alternating between licking and biting. She closed her eyes in ecstasy.
His mouth soon found hers. Minutes later she was splayed across him, absolutely wrung with pleasure. Drat the man and his seduction abilities.
“Fine,” she mumbled as she fixed the front of her dress. “He can stay.”
Both Sara and Nicholas turned toward the door, scurrying to straighten their wrinkled clothing.
Sara was too focused on her own embarrassment to take in the man who had interrupted them, until the maid walked in and promptly dropped the refreshments on the floor. With a blush, she fell to her knees and began cleaning up the mess. Sara watched utterly puzzled as the maid frantically stacked the china onto her tray. Within minutes she had finished, albeit loudly as china moved around the tray, and with a squeal scurried out of the room.
Sebastian had been turned toward the exiting maid, and then his gaze was back on Sara.
Her mouth dropped open.
Nicholas leaned in. “It’s not polite to stare, m’dear.”
Her eyes widened in shock. Next to her husband, the man standing before her was the most beautiful creature she had ever laid eyes on.
A warning label should come with such men. Not that it would have kept her away from Nicholas, but still.
From his rakishly charming smile to his haunting blue eyes, the man was a force to be reckoned with. His
As if reading her thoughts, the golden-haired Adonis smiled, making Sara immediately close her eyes and shake her head. His perfectly straight teeth and dimples added to the already devastating effect.
“Sara, are you unwell?” Nicholas asked, concern lacing his voice. “Here, why don’t you sit down?”
She shook her head, then glanced between the two men, mumbling under her breath, “I don’t even want to know. I truly don’t.” It was impossible to imagine what the two men had done to the ladies of the ton in their day.
Sebastian and Nicholas grinned at one another then embraced.
“Both of you were launched into society at the same time?” she asked.
Nicholas nodded while Sebastian winked. And though she didn’t think it possible, his dimples became more pronounced, making it blasted hard not to smile back.
Sara took a steadying breath and smiled for the first time at Sebastian. “Your grace, words cannot even begin to describe how interesting I feel the next couple of weeks will be.”
“My sentiments exactly,” he murmured, kissing her outstretched hand.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, I’m going to go make sure our maid is still breathing. Good day.” She curtsied and floated out of the room.
Sebastian was still staring at her disappearing figure when Nicholas cleared his throat.
“Catching a cold, my friend?” Sebastian teased.
Nicholas shook his head in warning at Sebastian’s obvious interest in his wife.
Sebastian grinned. “I was just taking in the beauty of the only woman who was brave enough to shackle you.”
Nicholas grunted. “Be that as it may, I would like you to keep your appreciation of my wife’s many charms to yourself, if it’s not too much to ask.”
Sebastian chuckled. He’d always liked Nicholas. Correction, he loved Nicholas. They were like brothers. It still pained Sebastian that he hadn’t been in the country when Nicholas had been going through such a rough time in his life. The guilt, although small, still ate at him when he thought of not being able to offer the support Nicholas had so obviously needed.