She moved behind the screen before he could question her further. Jade washed with the slivers of rose-scented soap and water from the basin. She only then realized how sore she was. She was thoroughly irritated with him and with herself by the time she returned to her bed.

Caine looked like he was settled in for the night. The pillows were now propped up behind his head. He looked extremely comfortable. She tightened the belt on her robe and frowned at him. "Caine, you really have to understand something," she began in a firm voice.

"What's that, sweet?" he asked.

She hated it when he smiled at her so innocently. It made her heart start pounding and her mind empty

of every thought. She had to stare at the floor in order to continue. "This can't happen again. Not ever.

It won't do you any good to argue with me, Caine. My mind's set. Now it's time for you to leave."

In answer to her fervent order, Caine lifted the covers and motioned her over with the crook of his finger. "Come to bed, Jade. You need your rest."

She let out a loud groan. "Are you going to be difficult?"

"I'm afraid so, love."

"Please be serious," she demanded when he winked at her.

"I am being serious," he countered. "But realistic, too."

"Realistic?" She moved closer to the side of the bed, nibbling on her lower lip while she thought about the best ploy to get him moving.

Her mistake was in getting too close, she realized a little too late. Caine easily captured her. She suddenly found herself flat on her back next to him. His warm, heavy thigh locked her legs in place and one of his hands held her high around her waist. Jade realized that even in the forceful action, he'd been careful not to touch her injury. He was such an incredibly gentle man. Arrogant, too. She was good and trapped, and he had the audacity to smile over it.

"Now then," he said. "I'm realistic because I know this has only just begun," he explained. "Jade, quit pinching me. You can't honestly believe I won't ever touch you again, can you? Married couples .. ."

"Don't you dare mention marriage to me again," she interjected.

"All right," he agreed. "Since it seems to be so upsetting to you, I'll wait awhile before bringing up that topic. Still, you agree that you'll be staying here for approximately two weeks, right?"

He was back to being logical. Jade actually found that flaw quite comforting now. "Yes, though it surely won't be two weeks now. I've already been here more than half a week."

"Fine," he returned. "Now then, do you think in all the time we have left that I'm going to live like a monk?"

"Yes."

"It isn't possible," he countered. "I'm already hurting."

"You aren't."

"I am," he muttered. "Damn it, Jade, I want you again. Now."

"Damn it, Caine, you have to behave yourself."

Her voice sounded hoarse to her, but it was all his doing, she told herself. He was deliberately provocative. He stared down into her eyes as he slowly untied the belt to her robe. Then his fingers grazed the tips of her breasts. While he continued to hold her gaze, he slowly stroked a path down her belly. His fingers moved lower into the soft curls at the junction of her thighs.

He kissed the valley between her br**sts while his fingers slowly stoked the fire in her. Jade closed her eyes and instinctively moved against his hand. His tongue made her ni**les hard and when he eased his fingers inside her, she let out a groan of half pleasure, half pain.

He moved upward to kiss her mouth, demanding her response. His tongue wet her lips. When he'd gained her cooperation, he leaned back. "You're already getting hot for me, aren't you, love?"

"Caine," She whispered his name as she tried to pull his hand away. He wouldn't be deterred. She could barely think. "You must stop this torment. You have to fight this attraction. Oh God, don't do that."

"I don't want to fight it," he returned. He nijjbled on her earlobe. "I like the attraction, Jade."

He was incorrigible. She let out a ragged sigh, then let him kiss her senseless again. She barely protested at all when he took her robe off and settled himself between her thighs. The hair on his legs tickled her toes and she was suddenly quite overwhelmed by all the wonderful differences in their bodies. He was so hard, so firm all over. Her toes rubbed against the backs of his legs and her ni**les strained for more of his touch.

"Caine? Will you promise me something?"

"Anything," he answered, his voice ragged.

"We can have this time together, but when Nathan returns, then it has to be over. We . . ."

"I won't make promises I won't keep," he interrupted.

He sounded angry. "You'll change your mind," she whispered.

"You sound damn certain. Why? What is it you're hiding from me?"

"I know you'll get bored with me," she rushed out. She wrapped her arms around him. "Kiss me, please."

There was a frantic edge to her voice. Caine responded in kind. The kiss was like wildfire, and soon completely out of control.

His full attention was centered on pleasing her. He took his time building the tension by slowly driving

her mad. He kissed each and every goose bump on her breasts, suckled both ni**les until she was whimpering for release.

And then he slowly moved down her body. His tongue teased her flat stomach, and when he moved lower still, her moans became gasps of raw pleasure.

His teeth deliberately scraped against the soft curls. His tongue stroked the silky petals until they were sleek with moisture. And all the while his fingers caressed her with erotic deliberation.

He couldn't get enough of her. His tongue repeatedly stabbed against her as his fingers slid in and out.

Her hands tore at the sheets. The pleasure he forced on her stunned her. She had no idea a man made love in such a way. It was obvious Caine knew what he was doing. He made her wild with her need for him.

When she felt the first rush of ecstasy, when she instinctively tightened in pleasure and agony around him, he moved up and over her. She couldn't stop the splendor from consuming her. Caine drove inside her, hard, hot, full, just as she found her own release. She squeezed him tight and clung to him in joyful surrender.

He tried to hold back, yet found himself powerless to stop.

She made him desperate for his own release. His seed poured into her in a blazing orgasm that made

him forget to breathe.

Until this night, he'd never given himself so completely. A part of him had always held back. He'd always been able to maintain his own rigid control. Yet he hadn't been able to withhold anything from this special woman. Odd, but he didn't look at his acceptance as surrender. In truth, it was a victory of sorts, for in his heart he knew she hadn't been able to hold back either.

He felt cleansed in body and soul. This incredible gift they'd just shared filled him with contentment.

It took all his strength to roll to his side. He was pleased when she followed him and snuggled up against him. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.

"I can still taste you."

"Oh, God." She sounded mortified.

He laughed. "I like the taste of you. You're all honey and female, love. It's a sexy combination. A man could become addicted."

"He could?"

"Yes," he growled. "But I'm the only one who's ever going to taste you. Isn't that right?"

He pinched her bottom to gain his answer. "Yes, Caine," she agreed.

"Did I hurt you again?"

"A little," she answered.

"I'm not sorry."

She feigned a sigh. "I know."

"I couldn't have stopped."

She tucked her face under his chin. Long minutes elapsed before she spoke again. "I shall never, ever forget you, Caine."

She knew he hadn't heard her. His deep, even breathing indicated he'd already fallen asleep.

She knew she should wake him and demand that he go back to his own room. Sterns was bound to be disappointed when he found them together.

He tightened his hold on her when she tried to roll away from him. Even in sleep, the man was as possessive as ever.

Jade didn't have the heart to wake him. She closed her eyes and let her thoughts scatter like the wind.

She fell asleep minutes later.

He dreamed of angels.

She dreamed of sharks.

Chapter Nine

The following morning the physician, Sir Harwick, arrived to have a look at Jade. He was an elderly man with dark gray hair and blue eyes that sparkled like the ocean on a calm day. He was impeccable in both his dress and manners. Jade thought he looked like a wily raccoon, for the hair on the sides of his face had been coached into sweeping curves that ended just a scant inch or so away from the edges of his severely pointed nose.

Just as she'd predicted to Caine, Sir Harwick did poke and prod at her. Caine stood at the foot of the bed, his hands clasped behind his back, acting like a sentinel guarding his treasure. When the physician finished his examination, he decreed that rest was the best ticket for her condition. Since Jade didn't believe she was in any special condition, she ignored all his suggestions.

Caine looked as if he were memorizing every dictate. He was determined to make an invalid out of her, she decided. When Harwick suggested a cold compress for the fading bump on the side of her temple, Caine immediately went to fetch it.

Jade was thankful she had the physician all to herself. "I understand you were called upon to examine Caine's father," she began. "I was sorry to hear he wasn't feeling well. Is he better now?"

The physician shook his head. "There's little anyone can do for him," he announced. "It's a pity. He's given up on life since Colin was taken from him. Why, Colin was his favorite son, you understand, and the loss has broken him." "Why do you say that Colin was his favorite?" she asked. "He's the firstborn from the second wife," Harwick explained. "Caine's mother died when he was just a youngster. The boy couldn't have been more than five or six."

It was apparent that Sir Harwick enjoyed a good gossip session. He pulled up a chair next to the side of the bed, took his time settling in, and then said in an enthusiastic whisper, "The first marriage was forced, you see, and from what I understand, it was a most unhappy union. Henry certainly tried to make a go

of it."

"Henry?"

"Caine's father," Harwick instructed. "Henry hadn't become the Duke of Williamshire yet as his own father was still living. For that reason, he had more time to devote to his marriage. It didn't wash, though. Caine's mother was a shrew. She made life a living hell for both her husband and her son. Why, she tried to turn him against his own father, if you can believe such blasphemy. When she died, no one mourned her long." "Did you ever meet this woman?" "I did," he answered. "She was attractive, but her beauty hid a black heart."

"And is the Duke's second marriage happy?"

"Oh my, yes," Harwick answered. He made a sweeping gesture with his hand. "Gweneth's a fine woman. She set the ton on its ear, she did, when she first started attending their functions with her husband.

Why, the elite follow her lead almost as fervently as they follow Brummel's dress and manners. I must say that Gweneth has been a good wife and mother. The children are all very close to each other鈥攖he proof, you see, that she did her job well."

"Do you include Caine, Sir Harwick, when you speak of the children?"

"I do," Harwick replied. "The others look up to Caine, for he is the eldest, but he tends to separate himself from the family. Unless someone tries to harm one of his brothers or sisters, of course. Then Caine involves himself." He paused to lean forward in his chair, then whispered in a conspiratorial

voice, "Some say with a vengeance." He wobbled his eyebrows to emphasize that remark.

"Why do they say with a vengeance?" she asked. Her voice sounded worried to her but Harwick didn't seem to notice. Jade didn't want him to quit the conversation just yet. She schooled her expression to show only mild interest and even managed a smile. "You've made me most curious, sir," she added.

Harwick looked pleased by her interest. "My dear, Caine's made it well known he's hunting Pagan. Why, he had his men post the reward notice all over town. The gamblers have given odds. Ten to one favor Caine, of course. He'll get the pirate," he predicted. "And when he does, God have mercy."

"Yes, God have mercy," she agreed. "But Caine's father is ill, you mentioned?" she asked again, trying

to pull him back to their initial topic. "Just how ill is he?"

"Gravely so," Harwick announced.

"Is there nothing that can be done?"

Harwick shook his head. "Gweneth's nearly out of her mind worrying about Henry. The man doesn't

eat or sleep. He can't go on this way. No, I fear he'll be the next one to die if he doesn't come to terms with Colin's death."

"Perhaps he needs a little assistance," Jade said.

"Who needs assistance?" Caine asked from the doorway.

"Your papa," Jade called out. She turned back to Sir Harwick then. "What is this I heard about a friend

of yours disappearing?"

"Oh, yes, poor Sir Winters," Harwick answered. "A fine physician he was, too," he added with a nod.

When he gave her such an expectant look, Jade said, "You speak as though he's dead."

"I'm certain he is," Sir Harwick stated.

Caine stood on the other side of Jade's bed, trying without much success to force the cold compress on her injury. Jade was far more interested in hearing the physician's opinions than bothering about her puny bump. She kept waving the cloth away. Caine kept pushing it back.

Harwick observed the silent struggle a long minute, trying all the while not to smile. These two were certainly a pair, all right.

Jade's next question pulled him back to their topic. "Why do you think Winters is dead?"

"Has to be," Harwick countered. "His cook was the last to see him alive," he explained. "Winters was strolling through his back gardens. He turned the corner and simply vanished."

"How long ago was this?" Caine asked.

"Near to three months now," the physician answered. "Of course we all know what happened to him."



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