tagNovels and NovellasMarrying for Money Ch. 02

Marrying for Money Ch. 02

byharemgirl©

True to his word, Trevor rang the doorbell promptly at seven o'clock that evening. He didn't have long to wait before the door was flung open, and he stood face to face with the woman who had dominated his thoughts all afternoon.

She was dressed in an emerald green evening gown of soft velvet that hugged her generous curves sublimely. The skirt was full, falling gracefully over a small bustle at her back, and the square neckline was cut low over her breasts. The combined effect of the daring neckline and the corset beneath displayed her gorgeous breasts to perfection, and Trevor's mouth began to water.

Leanna was not immune either, and she blinked in surprise to see her escort so well turned out in evening clothes. His trousers and waistcoat were of fine black wool, his coat was dark blue, and a crisp white shirt was buttoned neatly beneath his chin. He wore neither a cravat or fancy cuffs, as so many London dandies did, and Leanna found his simple, masculine garb very appealing. He definitely did not resemble the sea captain she had met earlier in the day.

"Good evening, Mr. Grayson," she breathed.

"Good evening, Miss Bradley. You are looking quite ravishing this evening." It took a conscious effort to keep his eyes away from her breasts, but he managed it.

Leanna smiled warmly and for the first time, he noticed the deep dimples that appeared in her cheeks. "You look quite handsome yourself. Let me just gather my cloak and we can be on our way," she murmured.

He waited impatiently for her to reappear, though it only took a moment.

"I hope you won't mind, but Jeremy insisted that we take our neighbor's coach tonight. He wasn't happy about the prospect of me being with you in the absence of a chaperone, and this was the only way I could get him to agree."

Trevor gave her a roguish grin. "Miss Bradley, I will eagerly comply with whatever stipulations your brother has put on our meeting, so long as I can enjoy your company this evening." He quirked a brow at her, smiling ruefully. "Actually, I am somewhat surprised that he has allowed you to accompany me in light of my proposition. I had almost expected that you would have changed your mind."

Leanna gave him a nervous smile. "Well, I didn't tell him about that. I merely told him that we were having dinner tonight and that you were considering my business proposition."

Trevor laughed, taking her arm. "I'll have to bear that in mind for future reference." When she gave him a confused frown, he grinned. "Should you agree to become my wife, I would be wise to keep in mind that you are well schooled in manipulating men."

They had reached the coach, and Trevor handed her inside. He gave instructions to the driver before he climbed in beside her, and the coach lurched into motion. He sat close beside her, his thigh pressing intimately against her own, and he placed an arm along the seat behind her as he smiled at her with mischief dancing in his eyes.

"Believe me, I have thought of nothing else but you since you left me this afternoon," he murmured in a husky voice.

Leanna's heart skipped a beat as she stared up at him, and she knew where his thoughts must have been centered. She blushed hotly, knowing that her own thoughts had no doubt been on the same path. She had thought of little else other than the kiss they had shared and the tingling pleasure of his mouth on her breast. She was still damp between her thighs! Still, she wasn't about to admit to those feelings, and instead, she quirked a brow and gave him a sidelong glance.

"Am I to understand, Mr. Grayson, that you spend all your time thinking about women? I have to say that would give me pause in considering you as a spouse."

Trevor merely laughed. "My dear Miss Grayson, my thoughts weren't centered on women, they were centered on you."

"So where are we going, Mr. Grayson?" Leanna asked.

Trevor smiled, knowing that she wanted to change the subject, and he let her. "I thought you might enjoy a dinner of American food, since hopefully you are considering becoming my wife." He winked at her, and she smiled shyly before looking down at her hands. "I happen to know of a very good inn that is owned by one of my countrymen. They have the best 'colonial food' as you Brits like to call it, on this side of the Atlantic. The atmosphere is not much to speak of, but I think you might enjoy it. Are you game?"

Leanna met his gaze without flinching, and she sensed that he was talking about more than just the dinner. "Yes, I am," she murmured.

Trevor caught his breath. That sweet promise was there again, in her eyes, and he had to fight the urge to steal another kiss. After all, he didn't want to frighten her off. He cleared his throat and settled in for the short ride to the inn.

"So Miss Bradley, tell me about yourself."

Leanna shrugged slightly. "There is not much to tell really. I grew up in London. I have one brother, Jeremy. My parents were very happy together until my mother died a few years ago. She was always rather frail, but I think losing her really broke my father's spirit. He was never the same after her death. Jeremy and I knew that his business was not faring well, but we didn't know just how poorly he was doing until after his death. That was when we got the news that he had mortgaged our home to his business partner. They hadn't been partners for very long, and the man turned out to be very greedy and self-serving after father's death."

Trevor watched her carefully. "And what about the young man you spoke of this morning, the one who propositioned you to become his mistress?"

Leanna's cheeks colored, but she looked him in the eye when she responded. "We had been engaged, but he said he couldn't marry me now that our financial situation was so disastrous. He offered to pay off our debt and to set me up as his mistress, but I refused."

Trevor found it hard to say the words, but he had to know where her loyalty was. "And what if I were to lend you the money without requiring you to marry me? Would you then marry your young man?" He held his breath for her response, amazed by how much her answer mattered to him.

Surprise was evident in her eyes as she watched him carefully. "Is that what you are offering?" She couldn't ignore a stab of disappointment. "Have you perhaps changed your mind since this morning?"

Trevor's gaze never wavered, but his voice sounded husky when he replied. "No, I still want you for my wife. However, I wouldn't want to stand between you and a man you truly loved."

Relief washed through her, solidifying her choice in her mind. She didn't understand why, but something felt very right about the idea of becoming this man's wife. "When Edward made his sordid offer, I realized that he wasn't the man I thought him to be." She stared up at Trevor for a long moment, her eyes assessing him. When she continued, her voice was quiet but firm.

"No, I do not love him. I only loved the fantasy that he had created, and even that was somehow lacking." A triumphant light flared in Trevor's eyes as he listened to her answer, but she forged on, not giving him a chance to respond. "But what about you? The purpose of having dinner was for me to learn more about you. Tell me about yourself."

Before he could respond, the coach pulled to a stop in front of the inn. Trevor handed her down, and they made their way into the bustling establishment. There were many tables, mostly gathered near the bar, but Trevor chose a quiet table near the back of the room, where they could dine with a bit more privacy.

He ordered for them, and they settled down to a hearty meal of honey-cured ham, and candied sweet potatoes. There were beans and turnip greens, as well as fluffy biscuits with butter and peach cobbler for dessert. The food was hearty but simple, and Leanna found it very appealing. She tackled her plate with a healthy appetite, as she listened to her handsome companion.

Trevor told her about his life, carefully avoiding the intricacies of his relationship with his former fiancée, Eliza. He simply said that he had been engaged once, before the war broke out, but that it had not worked out. He mentioned that his betrothed had married another man following the war. He skimmed over the details of his involvement in the war, telling her only briefly about his time in a northern prison. He told her about his plantation and his brother.

Leanna found herself laughing at his tales of growing up in Virginia. She could picture him as a wild and mischievous youth, and she had no doubt that he had tested his parents' patience. He made America sound very exotic and different from everything she had known, and she felt a thrill of anticipation at the prospect of living there.

They lingered over their dinner, enjoying a bottle of hearty burgundy wine that set her head to spinning and made her slightly giggly. Trevor eyed her with amusement, charmed by her fresh innocence. It incited his imagination to think that he might be the one to introduce her to the pleasures to be found in a marriage bed.

Despite her lack of experience, Leanna was intensely aware of the attraction flaring between them, and she noticed more than once the way his eyes lingered on her bosom. Whether it was the wine or simply his magnetic charm, she found his interest more than a little exciting, and her maidenly mind wondered how it would feel to have him make love to her, causing her pulse to race even faster.

She began to lean toward him often, pretending not to notice that she was providing him with an enticing view down her dress. The more he took advantage of the sight, the more her pussy throbbed and the wetter her pantalets got. By the time dinner was concluded, they were both breathless.

They concluded their meal and climbed back into the coach for the ride home. She had promised Jeremy that she would not be out late, and she didn't want to worry him. Trevor escorted her to the door. He didn't try to kiss her, instead bringing her hand to his lips. When he straightened, he gave Leanna a charming smile.

"It has been a pleasure spending the evening with you, Miss Bradley. Would you consider spending the day with me tomorrow? I thought you might enjoy a shopping trip to Bond Street, my treat of course."

Leanna flushed with pleasure at the prospect. It was, after all, quite common for a young man to take his lady out to purchase a new bonnet or some other trinket for her. Leanna smiled and nodded her acceptance. "I would be honored, Mr. Grayson. Shall we say ten o'clock?"

He gave her a brief bow and a smile. "I look forward to it. Sleep well, Leanna. You can be sure that I will see you in my dreams tonight."

The husky words sent a shiver of anticipation through her, and Leanna knew what she would be dreaming about.

The next day flew by in a whirlwind of activity. Trevor strolled with her through a parade of shops, and he insisted on buying her a number of small gifts. He took her to lunch in an elegant French café, and they went to the theatre that evening to see a musical. Leanna grew increasingly aware of the heat that simmered between them, and she would tremble with pleasure when she caught him watching her. His eyes captivated her attention, for they smoldered with a hunger she didn't understand, but when he was caught looking at her so intensely, he would quickly revert to casual frivolity.

The third day, the couple enjoyed a trip to London market followed by a picnic in the park. They were favored with sunshine, which was particularly unusual in fall. That evening, they again went to dinner, this time choosing to dine on the waterfront.

Trevor proved to have excellent taste in all things, and Leanna was happy to defer to his preferences, finding that he always ordered things that suited her taste. He was fascinating, and she found herself daydreaming of him with increasing regularity when they were apart. He had completely captured her imagination, and she fantasized about how it might be to be married to him. Those fantasies often left her flushed and breathless, wondering about the strange effect he was having on her.

He hadn't kissed her again since that first day, and Leanna found herself wishing he would. They were in the coach driving toward her house on the third evening, and he had yet to ask her what her decision would be. The anticipation mounted until she couldn't keep quiet any longer. Without preamble, Leanna turned toward Trevor in the dim light of the coach.

"There really is no reason to keep you waiting for my answer any longer. I have thought of nothing except your proposal for the past three days, and I have decided to accept. I will become your wife, if you still want me."

Trevor's hand dropped possessively onto her shoulder, and he pulled her slowly against him. He cupped her chin in his hand and searched the emerald depths of her eyes, finding honest commitment in the clear orbs.

"I will do everything in my power to ensure that you never regret your decision," he murmured. "Shall we seal our agreement with a kiss?"

Instead of giving an answer, Leanna reached up to thread her fingers through his hair, and she pulled his face down to meet hers. Their lips melded, their mutual excitement almost tangible in the air around them. He crushed her against his chest, as his lips played upon the softness of hers, and Leanna felt heat rising between them. She was acutely conscious of every place their bodies were in contact, while their surroundings seemed to fade into oblivion. Her heart was hammering in her breast, and her breathing was ragged when he finally raised his head to stare down at her. Her lids fluttered open, and her eyes were instantly snared by his smoldering gaze.

"I will do my best to make you happy," he said sincerely. "Should I speak with your brother tonight?"

Leanna bit her lip and looked up at him imploringly. "I don't know whether you will understand this or not, but I cannot tell Jeremy of our plan to wed. He would never allow it. I think it would be far better if we were simply to elope. By the time he finds out, we will have sailed, and he won't be able to stop us."

Trevor frowned harshly, knowing first hand how an elopement could hurt those who were left behind. However, he didn't want to risk losing Leanna, now that she had agreed to marry him, and he reluctantly nodded his head in acceptance.

"If you feel that is the only way, I will accede to your wishes. I'll make the arrangements to have a clergyman perform the wedding in the morning, and we will sail with the morning tide. Can you be ready at dawn?"

She nodded and reached up to offer her lips to him for another kiss. He didn't miss the opportunity, and their lips tangled in another heated exchange before he drew back, breathing raggedly. They were stopped in front of her house, and he reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out an envelope, handing it to her.

"This is a bank draft for twenty thousand pounds for you to give to Jeremy." Seeing her surprise at the generous amount, more than she had requested, he continued with a smile, "I wanted him to have plenty of money to get his business started smoothly."

Another thought occurred to Leanna, and she raised a suspicious brow. "If you have this with you, you must have been pretty confident that my answer would be yes!"

Trevor gave her a boyish grin. "No, I was very hopeful, but to tell you the truth, I had already made up my mind to loan Jeremy the money regardless of your answer."

His answer caused her heart to swell with joy and admiration. Trevor was turning out to be even more wonderful than she had imagined.

"Why did you change your mind . . . I mean about the conditions of loaning him the money?"

"Because I don't want you to marry me only because of the money. You still have the option to turn back, if you aren't sure. I don't want you to feel forced into marriage. I will loan Jeremy the money regardless of your decision."

The vulnerable look he gave her set her heart to soaring, and she squeezed his hand with tears in her eyes. "I don't know why, but everything feels very right about this. I am willing to take a chance that we can make things work." He crushed her against him for another urgent kiss. When he raised his head, they were both breathing hard.

"Until tomorrow morning, then. I will pick you up at dawn."

She nodded her head, and he escorted her to the door.

"Which window is yours?" he inquired. Leanna pointed to her window on the second floor and he merely nodded.

"Why?" she asked with a puzzled frown.

"Never mind," he murmured. "Goodnight, future wife."

They shared one more brief kiss before he departed, pausing to give her a rakish grin before he climbed into his coach. She sighed and went inside, leaning against the door once it had closed behind her. She would have stayed there for several moments, savoring the memory of the look in his eyes, but she heard her brother approaching the upstairs landing, and she wiped the dreamy expression from her face. She had told Jeremy that Trevor would give her an answer tonight about the money.

Jeremy's face appeared at the top of the stairs, looking down over the balustrade. "Thank God you are home! I have not stopped worrying about you for a single moment." He bounded down the stairs, taking them two at a time and reached to take her cloak. "How did it go? Was he receptive to our proposition?"

Leanna's smile was radiant. "He was more than receptive." She handed him the envelope Trevor had given her. "In fact, he loaned us more than we need. There is a draft for twenty thousand pounds here, more than enough to get your business started."

Jeremy's eyes bulged as he looked inside the envelope. "I cannot believe this!" he cried, clearly relieved and excited. "What were his terms?"

Leanna stammered for only a moment, caught off guard by his question. "He . . . he said he would not be back in London for at least a year and that he would visit you then to check on your progress. He didn't seem at all concerned about whether you would be able to repay him." The last part was true, and she was relieved that Jeremy did not probe any further.

Instead, he grabbed her in a fierce hug and swung her around until she squealed with delight. "Thank you, Leanna!" he cried, planting a kiss on her forehead. "I don't know how you managed it, but I will be eternally grateful!"

"You should share the good news with Christina right away," she urged. "I know she has been as worried as we have."

"Yes, I will!" With one final kiss and hug, he raced up the stairs, and Leanna could hear the excited murmur of his voice as he spoke with Christina in their bedroom. Leanna made her way to her own room and quietly began to gather the belongings she would need for her voyage. Her heart ached that she would not be able to say a proper goodbye to her brother and Christina, but she was too afraid that he would try to stop her.

It was impossible to take everything, so she chose her favorite clothes and most prized trinkets and packed them carefully into two large cases that she had. She felt a flutter of excitement as she smoothed the fabric of her bridal nightgown over her arm. She had purchased it only a few weeks ago for her upcoming wedding. The though of wearing it for Trevor made her tremble, and she wondered for the thousandth time what sharing his bed would be like. She realized she had been standing for several minutes stroking the nightgown, and she gave herself an impatient shake before resuming her packing.

When her cases were ready, Leanna sat at her desk and penned a brief note for Jeremy. She didn't know how to explain the situation to him, so she merely wrote that she and Trevor had been mutually attracted. She added that the necessity for him to leave so soon had forced their whirlwind marriage, and she hoped Jeremy could forgive her and not worry too much about her. She promised to write to him very soon with more news. She carefully folded the note and left it on her desk for the following morning.

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