Bonus Scene: Olivia and the Masked Duke

A Steamy Night at the Museum

cover olivia and the masked dukeThis bonus chapter takes place during Livy and Ben’s engagement.

“Here we are,” Ben said as he handed Livy down from his carriage.

His duchess-to-be gazed up at the neoclassical building with the colonnaded front, and her incomparable green eyes widened. “What are we doing at the British Museum?”

“I’ve arranged for a special evening showing,” he replied. “Of a recently acquired collection of arachnids.”

“You’re taking me to see spiders? Livy’s voice squeaked.

The flush of excitement on her cheeks put the sunset behind her to shame. She was so goddamned beautiful. This evening, she wore a white muslin frock that accentuated her full breasts and narrow waist, her chestnut hair gathered in thick curls over one shoulder. She looked both virginal and sensual. When she gazed at him with unabashed love and wonder, he felt those same emotions pounding in his chest. And, in truth, farther south.

This was nothing new; his desire for Livy eclipsed anything he’d felt before. While Ben had been relieved by the Strathavens’ gracious acceptance of his suit and proud beyond words to present Livy to the world as his fiancée, he couldn’t deny that he missed his clandestine rendezvous with his little queen. A week into their properly chaperoned engagement and he was already randy as hell for her.

Yet he reminded himself to be patient. What were five more weeks, after all, when he had waited a lifetime for Livy? In the interim, he had the privilege of spending time with her. Of trying to make her as happy as she made him. Some gentlemen might court their ladies with trinkets and poesies, but Ben knew the way to his little queen’s heart.

“You say that as if seeing spiders is a thing to be desired, Livy dear,” Ben’s sister said.

Beatrice was being assisted out of the carriage by her husband, Wickham Murray. The two made a stunning pair, Bea with her white-gold hair and Murray with his golden Adonis looks, but more than that, it was their mutual adoration that gave them a special glow. For the first time in Ben’s life, he understood that glow…because he had it himself.

He was a man in love and who was loved in return.

Ben was glad that his sister had found happiness; no one deserved it more. He was also grateful that their estrangement seemed to be healing at last. Having Livy by his side helped, of course. Livy and Bea had always rubbed along well, and the two were clearly excited about being sisters-in-law in the not-too-distant future.

“Oh, it is, Aunt Bea,” Livy exclaimed. “Spiders are the most incredible creatures!”

“I am sure Beatrice would agree…” Murray slid his wife a mischievous look. “If she wasn’t so afraid of them.”

Bea narrowed her lavender eyes at her husband. “I am not afraid of spiders.”

Murray put a proprietary arm around her waist. “Don’t worry, angel. If you get too frightened, I’ll take care of you.” He winked at her. “You know how fond I am of playing hero to your damsel in distress.”

Beatrice rolled her gaze heavenward, blushing all the while.

Ben offered Livy his arm. “Shall we, little queen?”

Livy placed her gloved fingers on his, her white skirts rustling as they made their way up the steps to the entrance. A bespectacled clerk was waiting for them and ushered them through the grand repository of priceless artifacts. As the museum was currently closed to the general public, they had unimpeded views of some of the world’s most magnificent objects, from the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon marbles.

The clerk led them to a chamber on the second floor, opening the door with a key.

“The arachnid collection is in here, Your Grace. Would you like a guided tour?”

“We shall manage on our own,” Ben replied.

The clerk bowed. “Very good, Your Grace. I will be outside if you need me.”

Ben escorted Livy inside, his sister and Murray following. Gas lamps illuminated a large chamber with a soaring ceiling. The carpeted room was filled with cabinets of insects. A narrow spiral staircase with black iron spindles led up to the upper portion of the room, which had shelves of books and a narrow walkway lining its perimeter.

Livy dashed to the nearest glass-fronted cabinet. At her girlish squeal of delight, Ben’s lips twitched.

“Theraphosidae,” she breathed. “Just like in the book you gave me for my birthday, Ben!”

“What are…oh.” Bea visibly paled as she peered at the well-preserved specimens. “Heavens, those spiders are hairy.”

“The bristly hairs help the tarantula to defend itself,” Livy explained. “It can flick the hairs at attackers like a weapon.”

“Indeed,” Bea said in a faint voice.

“They can be quite fierce, especially the females,” Livy chattered on, going from case to case with her usual feminine zeal. “After mating, the male has to leave quickly for fear that the female will eat him.”

“My goodness,” Bea said.

Ben had never seen his sister look queasy before.

Murray gave a muffled laugh and took his wife’s hand. “Come, angel. I think you have seen enough. Why don’t we have a closer look at some of the old stones downstairs? I am certain Hadleigh and Livy will be fine on their own for a few minutes.”

Beatrice did not put up a fight. As the door closed behind the pair, Ben heard his brother-in-law ask the clerk waiting outside for a tour of the Greek statuary. Ben made mental note to express his gratitude to Murray later for giving him precious time alone with his duchess-to-be.

“Zounds.” Livy was staring into a cabinet, her nose nearly touching the glass. “I cannot believe they have one!”

Coming up behind her, Ben asked, “Have one of what?”

“A theraphosi blondi,” she breathed.

Ben looked around her into the case. The theraphosi blondi, or Goliath bird-eating spider was indeed a sight to behold. Around five inches across, with a hairy, rust-brown body, the insect would have most ladies of Ben’s acquaintance calling for smelling salts.

Livy turned to him, her expression hopeful. “I don’t suppose the clerk would unlock the cabinet and let me touch it?”

“I doubt it, sweeting.” Ben swallowed a laugh. “Didn’t you say the hairs are like weapons? What if you pricked yourself?”

“I would touch it carefully. Being a trained investigator,” she said with a touch of smugness, “I am experienced at handling dangerous weapons.”

He chucked her beneath her chin. “I am afraid you will have to content yourself with observing only.”

“In that case…” She peered up at him through her thick lashes. “Perhaps I will have to find some other large object to touch.”

At her naughty innuendo, all the blood dropped from his brain to his groin. A teasing glint in her eyes, she brushed her fingertips over the rapidly growing bulge in his trousers. Her feather-soft touch made his balls throb in anticipation.

His little queen wanted to play, did she?

In a deliberately stern tone, he said, “Did I give you permission to touch my cock in a public place, Livy?”

“Um, no.” At his words, her cheeks pinkened, her pearly teeth sinking into her bottom lip.

He was quite certain she was wet.

“No, what?” he inquired.

“No, sir.” Her breathless voice told him she’d gotten even wetter. “You didn’t say I could touch your cock. But you didn’t say I couldn’t either,” she added.

His lips twitched, and he had to firm them. “Naughty and saucy.”

“You like me that way,” she said confidently.

He adored her that way. Adored everything about her. Adored her so much, in fact, that he was done with their repartee and ready to move on to other things.

She let out a squeak as he swept her off her feet.

***

“Oh, heavens. Oh, Ben. Oh…oh…”

Livy clutched the metal spindles of the spiral staircase, her back arching against the steps where Ben had deposited her. He, himself, was kneeling a few steps down, his head beneath her skirts, and he was doing the most wicked, decadent things with his tongue.

“You taste delicious.” His voice, growly with arousal, made her squirm against his demanding kiss. “I have missed eating this sweet pussy of mine.”

Her hips bucked at his hot words and even hotter licking. She’d missed this too—missed the intimacies that their properly chaperoned engagement had precluded.  When he laved her pearl with masterful strokes, at the same time sliding a long, thick finger inside her clenching passage, ecstasy burst inside her.

Ben reached up, his hand clamping over her mouth to muffle her cries of completion. He licked her through her climax, wringing every last drop of pleasure from her. Only then did he lift his head from beneath her skirts. The wicked look in his sapphire eyes, as well as the way he ran his tongue over his reddened lips, added to her tremoring aftermath.

“Shh, little one,” he murmured. “Or everyone in the damned museum will know what we’re up to.”

When she managed a nod, he removed his hand from her mouth, trailing his knuckles against her cheek.

“What that as good as it looked?” he asked.

“It was better.” A giddy laugh bubbled from her as she imagined how she must appear, wantonly reposed upon the staircase, her skirts bunched around her waist. “I must look like a frightful mess.”

“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on,” he said huskily.

Livy’s heart sighed at her fiancé’s gallantry. She reached up to brush aside a lock of thick brown hair that had fallen over his brow, and he caught her gloved hand. Their gazes held as he kissed her palm, his heated tenderness permeating the layer of silk. Then he helped set her to rights and, rising, escorted her down the steps.

When they were on level ground once more, he drew her close and kissed her. The passionate melding spun her senses…as did tasting herself on his lips. He’d given her such pleasure, and she was determined to do the same for him. Breaking the kiss, she pushed him away.

“Livy?” He stood against the staircase, his brows drawing together. “What is the matter…”

He trailed off, probably because she’d arranged herself in a kneeling position before him. Her insides fluttered as she eyed the huge ridge straining the placket of his trousers. When she reached for his waistband, he closed his hands over hers.

“As much as I appreciate the gesture, sweeting,” he said in a raspy voice, “we do not have enough time. I don’t wish to compromise your reputation.”

“Please, sir?” She fluttered her lashes at him. It was strange how she found flirting tiresome, except with Ben. With him, it was fun to play the part of the coquette. “I’ll try to be efficient.”

His eyes smoldered with desire. And a hint of amusement.

“Be quick about it then,” he said sternly.

She deftly undid the fastenings of his trousers, her breath catching as his erection fell into her hands. He was thick and long, ruddy and veined against the white silk of her gloves. She circled him with her fingers, frigging him like he’d taught her to do, with pressure and velocity.

His lean cheeks were flushed with arousal, highlighting the brilliance of his heavy-lidded eyes. “Christ, you know just how to touch me.”

“I love touching you,” she whispered. “And kissing you, too.”

She brought the rounded tip to her mouth. When she licked the crown, he hissed out a breath, his big body bracing against the railing. It made her feel powerful that she could make her elegant, experienced duke come undone for her. That he was hers and hers alone. She swirled her tongue over his salty dome, humming as his essence infused her senses. Seeing the need carved upon his handsome features, she took him deeper. Practice made perfect, and she felt more confident in what she was doing this time around.

Ben seemed to approve of her technique, letting out a low groan as her cheeks hollowed in synchrony with her gliding fist. When she relaxed her muscles further, taking him into her throat, he grabbed onto the iron spindles behind him.

He bit out her name, his jaw clenched above his cravat. “God, your mouth…”

She took him deeper, faster, her pleasure fed by his. Her heart thumped in unison to the heaving of his chest, her insides warmed by the friction of his flesh moving with rough reverence inside her own. She tended to him with all the love in her heart, the way he tended to her.

Suddenly, he snatched something from his pocket…his handkerchief.

“Let me go, love.” His voice had a feral edge, his face taut with arousal. “I cannot hold back. I’m going to…”

Her response was to suck him harder. He groaned, his hand tangling in her curls, the handkerchief falling unheeded to the ground. He thrust helplessly into her kiss, and she gloried in his unleashed maleness. In the way he threw back his head, biting his lip and shuddering heavily as he reached his finish. His hot bliss filled her mouth and aroused her all over again.

“Holy hell.” He took several ragged breaths. Then he buttoned himself, retrieved his handkerchief, and helped her to her feet. He dabbed at her mouth, gazing at her with love-drunk eyes. “Livy, that was…it was…”

He couldn’t seem to find the words. Then again, he didn’t need to.

“It was exactly that for me, too,” she told him tremulously. “It is like that every time we are together. I cannot wait to be yours, Ben. Five weeks feels like an eternity.”

“I know,” he said ruefully. “But it will pass soon enough, sweeting. Then we’ll be able to spend all night, every night, together.”

He kissed her softly, and she pressed up against him, wanting more. Always wanting more of her lover, her soul mate, her Ben. Yet voices sounded in the distance, and they parted hastily. They made it back to the display case of the theraphosi blondi just as Uncle Wick could be heard saying loudly outside the door, “I wonder if Livy and Hadleigh have finished examining the specimens?”

“I examined a specimen, all right,” Livy said under her breath, giggling.

“Hush, brat.” Ben’s censorious look was undermined by the sultry humor in his blue eyes. “Or I will have to punish you later.”

She fluttered her lashes at him. “Promise?”

They were both laughing when Aunt Bea and Uncle Wick entered the room. 

***

I hope you enjoyed this extra visit with Livy and Ben! I loved these two so much and wanted to spend a bit more time in their well-earned happily ever after. And speaking of long-awaited happy endings…the next book in this series features Pippa, daughter of Gavin and Percy Hunt (Her Wanton Wager) and Timothy Cullen (first introduced in Never Say Never to an Earl)!

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