In Bed With a Stranger

By: India Grey


London. March.

IT WAS just a tiny piece in the property section of one of the Sunday papers. Eating brioche spread thickly with raspberry jam in the crumpled ruins of the bed that had become their world for the last three weeks, Sophie gave a little squeal.

‘Listen to this!’

‘Unexpected Twist to Fitzroy Inheritance

Following the recent death of Ralph Fitzroy, eighth Earl of Hawksworth and owner of the Alnburgh estate, it has come to light that the expected heir is not, in fact, set to inherit. Sources close to the family have confirmed that the estate, which includes Alnburgh Castle and five hundred acres of land in Northumberland as well as a sizeable slice of premium real estate in Chelsea, will pass to Jasper Fitzroy, the earl’s younger son from his second marriage, rather than his older brother, Major Kit Fitzroy.’

Putting the last bit of brioche in her mouth, she continued.

‘Major Fitzroy, a serving member of the armed forces, was recently awarded the George Cross forbravery. However, it’s possible that his courage failed him when it came to taking on Alnburgh. According to locals, maintenance of the estate has been severely neglected in recent years, leaving the next owner with a heavy financial burden to bear. While Kit Fitzroy is rumoured to have considerable personal wealth, perhaps this is one rescue mission he just doesn’t want to take on …’

She tossed the newspaper aside and, licking jam off her fingers, cast Kit a sideways glance from under her lashes.

‘“Considerable personal wealth”?’ She wriggled down beneath the covers, smiling as she kissed his shoulder. ‘I like the sound of that.’

Kit, still surfacing from the depths of the sleep he’d been blessed with since he’d had Sophie in his bed, arched an eyebrow.

‘I thought as much.’ He sighed, turning over and looking straight into her sparkling, beautiful eyes. ‘You’re nothing but a shallow, cynical gold-digger.’

‘You’re right.’ Sophie nodded seriously, pressing her lips together to stop herself from smiling. ‘To be honest, I’m really only interested in your money, and your exceptionally gorgeous Chelsea house.’ The sweeping gesture she made with her arm took in the bedroom with its view of the garden square outside where daffodils nodded their heads along the iron railings. ‘It’s why I’ve decided to put up with your boring personality and frankly quite average looks. Not to mention your disappointing performance in bed—’

She broke off with a squeal as, beneath the sheets, he slid a languid hand between her thighs.

‘Sorry, what was that?’ he murmured gravely.

‘I said …’ she gasped ‘'… that I was only interested in your … money.’ He watched her eyes darken as he moved his hand higher. ‘I’ve always wanted to be a rich man’s plaything.’

He propped himself up on one elbow, so he could see her better. Her hair was spilling over the pillow—a gentler red than when he’d first seen her that day on the train; the colour of horse chestnuts rather than holly berries—and her face was bare of make-up. She had never looked more beautiful.

‘Not a rich man’s wife?’ he asked idly, leaning down to kiss the hollow above her collarbone.

‘Oh, no. If we’re talking marriage I’d be looking for a title as well as a fortune.’ Her voice turned husky as his lips moved to the base of her throat. ‘And a sizeable estate to go with it …’

He smiled, taking his time, breathing in the scent of her skin. ‘OK, that’s good to know. Since I’m fresh out of titles and estates there’s probably no point in asking.’

He felt her stiffen, heard her little gasp of shock and excitement. ‘Well, there might be some room for negotiation,’ she said breathlessly. ‘And I’d say that right now you’re in a pretty good bargaining position …’

‘Sophie Greenham,’ he said gravely, ‘I love you because you are beautiful and clever and honest and loyal …’

‘Flattery will get you a very long way.’ She sighed, closing her eyes as his fingertips trailed rapture over the quivering skin on the inside of her thighs. ‘And that will probably do the rest …’

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