How easy he made it to forget the resentment she held, the worries over what her life would be as his wife. With his lips moving with such decadent proficiency, her own name evaporated into the ether. But as quickly as the meeting of mouths had begun, he drew back, putting an end to it.
She was left breathless, wanting, staring up at him, her lips tingling.
“Say it,” he growled.
For a moment, her longing-fogged mind struggled and failed to comprehend. She did not know what he wanted of her.
“My name,” he elaborated. “Say it.”
“Jasper.” Suddenly, she was overcome by how much she wanted him. Her nipples ached, her breasts felt heavy and full trapped behind her stays and the confines of her bodice. Between her legs, she throbbed.
She was restless. Aching. He was the cure.
But she cast all caution to the wind. Her worries could wait.
“What am I?” he asked next, his long fingers playing with the strand of pearls at her throat.
His grin was sudden. He was so handsome and harsh and forbidding all at once. She had never known another man like him, and she knew with a clarity that seemed to come from another realm itself that she never would.
“I like the way that sounds on your pretty lips,” he said.
So do I.
Octavia bit her lip to keep from uttering the revelation. She was not entirely lost to her needs. Today was but the first of their union, and if he thought she had abandoned her hopes of beginning her own scandal journal just because he had cleverly forced her hand in marriage, he had underestimated her.
“Say it again.”
His voice was not harsh. Rather, it was almost tender. Coaxing.
“Husband,” she repeated, because he wanted her to say that word and because, heaven help her, she wanted to say it as well. She wanted to please him.
His fingertip brushed over the place where her pulse dwelled. “So fast. Do I frighten you, minx?”
“No.” The answer was swift. She did not believe he would harm her. If she had harbored a moment of doubt, she would have consigned herself to a life of drudgery as a companion instead.
“Good.” His head dipped, and he pressed a kiss to the place his finger had abandoned, mouth open and hot. He sucked her flesh in a way that made her shiver. “I don’t want you to fear me. I want you to want me.” His mouth coasted along her eager flesh, finding her ear. “I want you to want me desperately.”
To her shame, Octavia could not quell the moan that rose from her. His lips were learning the shell of her ear. One of his hands remained on her waist, and the other slid down her bodice to cup her left breast. They were fully clothed, nary an article of clothing removed.
But she wanted him as he had said.
Kisses and whispers and caresses were not enough to sate her.
His thumb rubbed tantalizing circles over her nipple, which was trapped behind her stays. And then his hand moved, traveling to her back, to the tapes fastening her gown. They loosened with ease as he sucked the fleshy lobe of her ear into his mouth, then nipped it with his teeth.
His head lifted and he pulled the sleeves down her arms with slow, efficient motions. Her dress pooled on the floor in a puddle of satin. He kissed her again as he removed her petticoat. Her fingers had a mind of their own, pulling at his coat. Needing to feel him. As if he understood the wild force of desire careening through her, Jasper helped. He shrugged out of the garment, then broke the kiss to work on the buttons of his waistcoat.
His gaze was hot and hungry on her, as potent as a touch. “Christ, look at you. So beautiful.”
Octavia had never felt beautiful before. After many disappointing seasons before settling herself firmly on the shelf, she knew she was no diamond of the first water. But there was something about the way Jasper Sutton kissed her, the reverence in his voice, the ferocity in his stare, the worshipful nature of his hands, that made her feel different.
Lovely. Powerful. Desirable.