The Duke's Match Girl(Fiery Tales Series)(3)By: Lila DiPasqua
Years later, he was still reeling.
He’d had no right to make promises he couldn’t keep just to have her. He’d fought the sexual pull that had been mounting fiercely over time as hard as he could. Merde, he’d even left Montbrison for several months, staying at his family’s hôtel in Paris hoping to snap the allure.
It didn’t work.
The moment he returned, the attraction between them ignited into an inferno once more. The air practically crackled with the fire that burned between them. It was so deliciously hot. So completely untamable. He found himself having to control his breathing and his gaze around her so he wasn’t gawking at her. Or panting like a bloody dog. It didn’t help that he’d stolen a kiss before he left for Paris. The memory of that kiss burned in his mind and body the entire time he’d been away.
He returned famished for another taste.
Worse, he was still just as ravenous today.
Leo cast a sidelong glance at his brothers. “Don’t the two of you have something better to do today than annoy me? Have another brandy. Play some Basset. Perhaps take a walk off a cliff?”
They burst into good-natured laughter, not in the least bit offended.
Daniel shook his head. “I cannot believe our brother isn’t sharing with us, Bernard.”
“Yes, and I’m quite wounded by it.” Bernard placed a hand over his chest as if pained.
Bernard had no idea what wounded felt like. Neither had he, until the morning after their night together, that Christmas Day, when everything imploded. The look of devastation on her lovely face still tormented him. The very next day, Suzanne’s father, Richard Matchet, respectfully resigned his post and left with his brokenhearted daughter.
She was gone from Leo’s life. For good. In an instant.
For months he walked around feeling winded, as though someone had slammed him in the chest.
Two months later, Leo learned Suzanne’s father had become the town doctor in Maillard, attending to those less fortunate. Barely scraping by. He’d traded the opulence of his private apartments in Château Montbrison, with a personal staff to attend to him and his daughter, for a humble hovel.
And that tormented Leo, too.
After all this time, she still lingered on the fringes of his mind and made appearances in more erotic dreams than he could comfortably count.
There were too many things left unsaid.
There were too many unresolved emotions and desires that ran so deep, they’d become imprinted on his very marrow.
He’d no idea if the connection they’d once shared still existed. Or if it would even be possible to recapture even a fraction of what had slipped through his fingers. But he had to try.
Or he’d never have a moment of mental peace.
Nor vanquish the ache in his gut that hadn’t abated since the day she left.
Dieu , was she going to accept his offer? Leo glanced at the clock, unable to help himself. Only five minutes had passed since the last time he looked.
And still no Gilles. Fuck.
“You’ll survive, Bernard.” He managed to keep his tone bland, belying the tension inside him.
“Can you at least tell us why in the world there is such a flurry of activity among the servants?” Bernard pressed. “And they are all quite tight-lipped about it, too.”
“They have been attending to your needs during your visit, and they are preparing for the arrivals of Elisabeth and Aurore.” Not exactly the whole truth. But that was all Bernard was going to get for now. It was a believable partial truth. Christmas was in a mere ten days. The balance of Leo’s siblings would be arriving soon.
But none of that was going to be a hindrance to his objective—getting Suzanne back under his roof.
He never expected to see his brown-eyed beauty again.
He certainly never expected his life to take the shocking turn it had four months ago.
His disastrous marriage to Constance had come to an abrupt end. Her sensational death brought to light her affair with the Marquis de Chermont and set the gossipmongers’ tongues wagging in every salon in Paris.
He didn’t care a whit what people had to say.
He’d known of Constance’s extramarital indulgence with Chermont for a long time—or at least suspected as much. Leo hadn’t lived under the same roof as his wife for years.