The bright winter sun had chased away the gray clouds from an hour previous and was now warming the windows of the library. Lysandra Russell was perched on a window seat, cheek pressed to the glass enjoying the pane’s chill and the sun’s warmth as they offered a strange contrast. Her red hair, not so bright as her brothers, was closer to auburn. She’d collected it loosely in a tail at the nape of her neck and fastened it with an emerald ribbon to match her green gown.
Lysandra often ignored the most current fashion trends, but she had a particular talent for buying gowns with simplistic designs that offered no real opportunity for criticism of her fashion sense. She rarely dressed lavishly and yet she managed to achieve an elegance that even her mother could not find fault with. But Lysandra was not thinking of such trivial things now. She was a great reader, loving to improve her mind by reading any and everything she came across. To her mother’s dismay Lysandra had a knack for predicting the arrival of guests and promptly vanishing deep into the nooks and crannies of Russell Hall to hide and read. It was inevitable that she would be found in time for dinner but until then she wished to savor this solitary moment.
Closing her chosen book with a sigh, she counted herself lucky that she had not suffered one prank at Linus’s hands all day. He must have been busy with Audrey and Horatia. Poor Horatia, she and Lysandra were the same age and often they hid together in this very library to avoid Linus’s tricks. Lysandra was disturbed from her thoughts by the sound of booted footsteps in the hall, which paused near the door to the library. She leapt to her feet, knowing Linus had come to torture her with his pranks. Skidding to a halt just as she came to within inches of the door; she had no time to move back as the heavy oak door swung open and struck her fully. With a cry of pain, Lysandra fell back to the floor, and held her throbbing head with a hand.
“Oh my god! Miss Russell!” A voice, with a rich timbre broke out as the door swung shut closing her in with the man who’d hit her. Lysandra blinked in a daze as strong warm hands wrapped around her waist and lifted her up. But the masculine invasion did not stop there. She was cradled against a strong firm chest. Her eyes focused intently on the navy blue waistcoat embroidered with green leaves. If was a festive design and very fetching on its wearer. The movement stopped and Lysandra realized she was once more nestled against the window seat but this time her body was boxed in by a man, and not just any man.
Mr. Gregory Cavendish, with his blond hair like a loosely spun halo about his face. The winter sun cast a loving glow about his skin and his blue eyes were angelic in their concern for her. The position of their bodies, however, was highly improper. She was sitting crossways on his lap, trapped by the embrace of his arms in a tight cradle. Sudden flashes in her mind of twining limbs and lips pressed together made her flush with heat.
“Are you alright Miss Russell? I daresay with that bump on your head, you must be rattled. Forgive me for hurting you; I opened that door too quickly.” Gregory swept the pads of his fingers over her cheek and then up to her forehead over the bruised spot. Lysandra winced in as pain shot through her and ducked her head instinctively in embarrassment. Unfortunately that only brought her closer to Gregory’s chest. Her face brushed against the top of his immaculately white styled neckcloth and the underside of his chin. The feel of his skin was slightly rough with the hint of stubble and it made her shiver. She’d never felt such a thing like that before, the sensation was exotic, enticing. She moved closer, rubbing her check against his jaw, like a cat seeking affection.
Surprisingly, he did not pull away. Gregory’s breath quickened and the arm about her waist banded tighter as though to say “Escape from me is impossible.” He was twenty six years old and the age difference had always felt like a lifetime to her, especially in past years when she’d felt so much younger, a mere child. But now she was older, and had had two years on the Marriage Mart and she’d changed so much. He’d always attracted her attention, Gregory Cavendish. He had visited often over the years to see Avery, but it had been four years since the Cavendishes and Russells had met. The move to Brighton had come as a sad blow to the future Lysandra had often day dreamed about.
“Miss Russell?” Gregory was speaking to her again.
“Call me Lysa,” she managed at last.
“Lysa,” he tried her nickname out, letting it roll of his tongue. He’d always been one for observing propriety and obeying the dictates of polite behavior. It had often amused Lysandra that Gregory, so honorable and upright would pair up with Avery, an infamous Russell rakehell. Lady Russell had never been more thankful for the developing friendship, hoping that Gregory would have a tempering effect on her wild son.
“I apologize Lysa, for hitting you with a door.” The statement was so completely absurd that Lysandra laughed, but the action made her wince again. Gregory shifted beneath her, reminding her that she was snuggled against his lap.
“I thought you were Linus,” she said, looking up at him, her hazel eyes softening as she focused on his lips.
“Beg pardon?” Gregory’s face was inches from hers, his chiseled jaw and aristocratic nose a perfect match for his gold hair and fine eyes. Lysandra realized if anyone were to come upon them, in this position she’d be in trouble.
“He often plays pranks. I’d been free all day, but when I heard your steps, I thought it was him. I wanted to cut him off before he could do something dreadful to me.”
“Why would anyone wish to do you harm?” Gregory asked in polite amusement.
“Not anyone, just Linus. I suppose you’ve never tortured your sister?”
“Not really, no.”
Lysandra was distracted from his response as she looked up.
“What is it?” Gregory asked as he noticed a rising blush in her cheeks.
“It seems he’s already been here and left his mark, the devil.” Lysandra raised a finger and pointed to the mistletoe above their heads. Gregory eyed it curiously and laughed softly, the rumble of his chest against her made her body shiver.
“Your brother seems to have left that bit of botany everywhere. I suppose you would disapprove if I made my intentions known?”
“To kiss you. Befuddled and helpless that you are, I would still very much like to kiss you under the mistletoe.” Gregory’s blue eyes were bright, like late summer skies. Lysandra found her breath shortening and the devil rose up in her as she replied.
“If those are your intentions, then I my only disapproval lies in the fact that you’ve not acted upon them yet.” Where she found her bravery, she didn’t know.
Gregory hesitated only a second, there was a flash in his eyes of something dark and primitive before he buried it beneath his gentlemanly demeanor. He caught her chin and raised it with his hand, so her lips were offered up for the taking. A soft brush, a more firm press and then a tongue tracing the seam of her lips, entreated her to open to him. Lysandra melted with a little purr of pleasure as she enjoyed Gregory’s tender ravishment of her mouth. His taste was dark and intoxicating like the brandy he’d had before coming to the library.
Lysandra needed to be closer to him, needed more contact with his body. He shifted, growling in warning against her lips as she brushed a naïve hand over the aching bulge in his breeches. His reaction fascinated her and she succumbed to the urge to stroke him again. Gregory reacted almost violently, his mouth slanting over hers harder, his lips forcing hers to open wider, his tongue thrusting in deep slow patterns. Her body infused with a dizzying heat.
Happy Holidays to all my readers! Comment by sharing a mischievous moment under the mistletoe and you'll be entered to a win a present from me!