When her fianceacute; trades her for an heirloom ring to a dashing highwayman who holds up their coach on a desolate country road, Sophia Astley is hurt and shocked. However, it soon becomes strikingly apparent to Sophia that she is the true gem Bad Jack sought. Intrigued, she willingly submits to every tantalizing taboo he metes out to her. Dressed as a masked highwayman, Jack Badcock, Earl of Stafford, thinks he is acting out the fantasies of a woman he knows only through lurid letters. As Jack tames her with blindfolds, sensual spankings and an array of torrid toys, she plays her role as the abducted, submissive virgin convincingly-too convincingly. By the time Jack uncovers his fantasy lover's true identity, it's far, far too late.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Badcock by Debra Glass
"Stand and deliver!"
Sophia Astley glanced at her fianc�. "A highwayman? I told you we shouldn't have taken the Hounslow Road."
"Damn the luck," Ralph Crichton, Duke of Wisbech, muttered. "That carriage we passed with the broken wheel should have been the victim of this rogue. Now here we are alone without our entourage."
Ralph had insisted the second carriage in the ducal procession remain so his footmen could help repair Lord and Lady Huntingdon's wheel.
Sophia shook her head. "No one should have to be the victim of a robber."
"What's going on?" Ralph's aunt Millicent roused from her sleep.
"It's a highwayman," Ralph said through clenched teeth.
"A what?" Millicent asked, fumbling to hold her ear trumpet in place.
"A highwayman! We're being held up by a highwayman," he yelled into the device and gestured to the window.
"Marvelous," Millicent said, reclining against her seat once more.
Sophia dared to take a gander at the highwayman through the glass. Before today, she'd guessed highway robbers to be dashing, romantic figures who could have played the tragic heroes of romantic novels. She swallowed. Hard. In the case of this man, her preconceived idea had been correct.
He sat astride a black stallion, a pistol pointed skyward. The horse danced beneath him but he controlled it expertly, squeezing the animal with his thighs. Wearing a three-cornered cocked hat and black mask, the robber loomed salient against the backdrop of the stormy sky.
"Step out of the carriage!" he ordered.
Ralph leaned forward and looked past Sophia at the highwayman. "Begone. We've nothing for you."
The highwayman leveled the weapon at the window. "Step out. I'll not ask again."
Sophia reached for the handle on the carriage door.
"What are you doing?" Ralph demanded.
"He said to step out," she argued.
"He means to rob us!" Ralph cried.
"Of course he does," Sophia said and twisted the handle. "Would you rather him shoot one of us?"
Ralph groaned and moved past her. He leaped out of the carriage and pulled the step out for Sophia. Taking her fianc�'s hand, Sophia alighted and joined him on the muddy road. She grimaced as the heels of her shoes sank into the mire.
The coach driver sat atop his seat, eyes wide, hands in the air. His blunderbuss rested uselessly at his feet.
"My aunt is within. She is aged and deaf," Ralph said. "Would you have me bring her out into the elements?"
"No need. I see exactly what I want," the highwayman said. A wicked grin claimed his sensuous lips and then he gave a devilish chortle. "Your money--or your wife."
Sophia bit her bottom lip as the robber's lurid gaze raked her in blatant appraisal.
"Get on with it!" Ralph declared. "We need to be on our way."
Sophia took an instinctive step back as the robber walked his horse closer. For a heart-stopping moment, his eyes held her whole. Her pulse pounded. She knew she should be repulsed by the brash stranger. Instead, she was intrigued.
The way his gaze lingered on her d�colletage caused her nipples to pebble underneath her tight stays. She could not resist the urge to drag in as deep a breath as she could manage, knowing her breasts rose enticingly.
The highwayman's lurid grin widened. He swung lithely down from his horse and approached them. Dressed completely in black, he reminded her of the ghost in Mozart's Don Giovanni, mysterious and darkly dangerous.
Sophia had the distinct impression he was more interested in her than in robbing them. The idea of this tall, blatantly sexual man ravaging her filled her head with deliciously sinful thoughts. Despite her entreaties, Ralph had hardly even kissed her. In fact, he'd chastised her when she'd indicated she was willing to bed him. While she knew it was inappropriate for a maiden to want more from a fianc� before marriage, she could not help her curiosity.
Shaking visibly, Ralph thrust his hands into the air. Sophia resisted the petulant urge to roll her eyes. All he had to lose was money. She, on the other hand, had much more at stake.
An image of the highwayman forcing her to commit unspeakable acts swirled in her head. Tendrils of desire spiraled into her loins in spite of their obviously dire circumstances. Doubtless this little encounter with this dandy highwayman would be the fodder for her fantasies for nights to come.
"That's quite a large gemstone on your finger," the highwayman said, pointing to Sophia's hand with his pistol.
She held up the garish ruby Ralph had given her as an engagement ring.
"D-don't take that!" Ralph squeaked. "It belonged to my mother. It's a family heirloom."
The highwayman chuckled. "Remove it for me, would you, dear lady?"
"Don't you dare take off that ring!" Ralph ordered.
A snort came from the highwayman. "M'lord, I would remind you that I am the one with the cocked pistol." His emphasis of the word cock was positively indecent. Sophia's stomach fluttered.
Ralph seethed. "Do not take off that ring."
Sophia's gaze darted from the highwayman to Ralph and back to the robber once more. She gripped the tight band of the ring and started to pull it off.
"That belongs to my mother!" Ralph cried.
"Darling, can't you see that he means to shoot me if I don't do as he says?" Sophia argued.
"I forbid you to remove that ring," Ralph said. By now his face was flushed scarlet.
"Well, well," the highwayman said. Something sexually sinister flashed in his eyes. "I wouldn't want you to disobey your husband. Come here."
He curled his fingers, motioning her to him.
Ralph grasped at her arm but Sophia tore away from him and crossed the road to where the highwayman stood. Up close, he loomed larger than life. Up close, she could see that his eyes were ice blue. Up close, he seemed far more dangerous than before.
Dark strands of hair escaped his queue and wisped across his sculpted cheekbones in the warm spring breeze. The rough black stubble shadowing his rigid jaw filled her with the urge to brush her fingers along his cheek. It was an urge she resisted.
He looked about thirty, the same age as Ralph. But this man wore his years far better than her fianc�.
"Aren't you voluptuous?" he asked. The hint of lavender mingled with horseflesh and leather wafted from his clothes. His breath smelled faintly of brandy.
Sophia tingled at his suggestive words and inviting stare. "T-thank you."
He chuckled again. The sound of it was evocative. Intimate.
Sophia could barely breathe. He studied her face as if he'd seen her before, as if he were trying to remember where. But they couldn't possibly have met. She would remember a man like this. Mask or no mask.
And then, he did the unthinkable.
Sophia gasped as his arm snaked around her waist. He hauled her against him and his mouth descended on hers, entreating her response. His lips tasted, nibbled and pried. His tongue teased and intruded. Sophia melted, opening her mouth to his, allowing him to plunder there as he would surely plunder their purses.
Awareness consumed her from the top of her coiffed head to the toes of her riding boots. His long, hard body pressed the length hers, crushing her breasts against his chest. His arm tightened, drawing her impossibly closer, causing her back to arch. His fingers splayed and ventured lower to cup her bottom and pull her loins against his. Some part of her was aware of Ralph's impotent protests but she shut that out. In her twenty-one years of life, she had never--not ever--been kissed like this before.
The highwayman kissed her as if he were well and intimately acquainted with her--as if it had never occurred to him that she might not want to be kissed by him.
And when he released her, Sophia staggered a step backward. Her entire body ached at the loss of his contact. She blinked, trying to regain her composure, wondering how he'd dared taken such liberties with her--and desperately wishing he'd do it again.
"You...you kissed that blackguard!" Ralph ranted at her rather than the highwayman.
Sophia ignored him. Her gaze linked with the highwayman's and held. Promise lurked in those blue eyes. She made an attempt to swallow but couldn't. Finally, he broke the spell by turning on Ralph. "If you forbid her to remove the ring, then I shall simply be forced to take the ring as is."
"As is?" Ralph asked.
"On the woman," he said and then turned to Sophia once more. "Get on the horse, love."
Her lips parted.
The robber gestured with his head toward his mount. "Get on the horse or--not that you would miss him much--I shall shoot your valiant knight." His tone was acerbic. In the course of a few minutes, the man had summed up Ralph's character and Sophia could not help but be amused.
He aimed the pistol at Ralph again. "As for you, m'lord, take down your breeches."
Ralph stared, aghast.
The highwayman smiled. "Take them down or I shall surely put in a bullet in you and you will lie dying knowing I am enjoying the pleasures of the flesh with your lovely lady fair."
Sophia's heart skipped a beat. Terror and lust entwined and rampaged inside her. Somehow, she knew her life would never be same when this day ended.
Ralph's hands trembled as he began fumbling with the fastenings on his breeches. "You are no gentleman!" he cried.
"Fear not," the highwayman chortled. "I don't intend to roger you." And with that, he cast a furtive glance at Sophia. "You, on the other hand..."
Her face flamed. He intended to ravish her. If she'd thought he was teasing before, she certainly didn't now.
"Get on the horse," he said, his voice low. Velvety. It wasn't an order but rather...an invitation.
The highwayman turned to Ralph. "Had you rather I take your woman or your ring, m'lord? Your choice."
"The ring is a priceless heirloom," Ralph blundered.
Sophia's gaze shot to Ralph. He stood with his breeches around his knees, the long tail of his shirt concealing his tackle. His face was mottled red with rage and Sophia could not help but think he'd been thoroughly unmanned.
Up until now, she'd thought--she'd been told, rather--marrying him would cause her star to rise to untold heights. But what kind of man would give up his fianc�e for a ring?
"Well, well," the highwayman said. "That was an easy enough choice for you."
Sophia's lips parted as she looked to Ralph for some protest. Sneering, he looked away.
The highwayman flashed her a brilliant smile. "Sold for the price of a ring."
She knew she should object. This was impetuous, foolhardy even, but consumed with rage, she gripped the pommel and put her foot in the stirrup.
"The ring?" Ralph demanded.
Ignoring him, she climbed into the saddle and seated herself upon the massive stallion.
"My ring?" Ralph gaped, his expression betraying what he really was. Desperate and weak. Disgusted, Sophia looked away.
The highwayman laughed and then mounted behind her in the saddle. Sophia's back prickled at the sudden heat of his body, at the sensation of his thighs cradling her. He shoved the pistol in his belt.
"Let me see that ring of yours, love," he said, his lips brushing her ear as he spoke.
Shaking, Sophia held up her hand and then she watched, utterly stunned, as he took her hand in his and slipped the ring off her finger. His hand lingered, caressing for a moment before he flung the ring into the road.
"I say we've made a fair trade," the highwayman called to Ralph.
Sophia wound her fingers into the horse's mane as her abductor snapped the reins, wheeled the horse around and galloped away. She glanced back and her last image of Ralph was of him hobbling across the road to retrieve his mother's ring, his breeches around his knees.
He wasn't running after her. He wasn't reaching for the driver's gun. He wasn't even calling for her.
"Your husband is quite the imbecile," the highwayman said over the pounding of the horse's hooves.
Sophia turned away from the embarrassing sight. "He's not my husband."
The highwayman laughed heartily. "All the better, then!"
Holding both reins in one hand, he slid his other hand up the front of her bodice with shocking familiarity. Sophia cried out as he cupped and then squeezed one of her breasts. He let out a husky chuckle. "I can't wait to get you to the lodge," he said.
Dear Lord, what had she done? She should have fought. She should have played on his sensibilities as a gentleman who possessed at least some sort of conscience. She should have declared that she was a maiden, as yet unmarried.
Somehow, she didn't think any of it would have mattered.
Regret and expectation vied for prominence in her thoughts. In hindsight, she realized what he'd done to Ralph was reprehensible. The highwayman had humiliated him beyond reproach. But then again, Ralph had not even made an attempt to defend her honor.
Her abductor guided the horse off the main road and onto a narrow path. "Put your head down, love, lest you be scratched to pieces by briars and branches."
Sophia ducked and laid her cheek against the thick neck of the horse. Somehow, the highwayman wriggled out of his frock coat and threw it protectively over her head. She didn't know exactly how long they rode that way until he removed the coat.
Blinking, she straightened to discover they'd ridden deep into the woods. A rustic lodge sat nestled in the thick trees. Sophia wondered if it belonged to the highwayman or if it was just a place he'd happened upon. From the appearance of the moss-kissed roof and the well-kept exterior, she could tell someone of means maintained the lodge.
The highwayman swung from the saddle and leapt to the ground. "It's hardly Kensington but it will serve our purposes nicely for a couple of days."
Kensington? He spoke as if he were accustomed to much nicer lodgings. But what struck fear in Sophia's heart was his reference to a couple of days.
He reached up to her. Sophia hesitated. She debated snatching the reins and making a mad dash for it but she realized she couldn't tell which way they'd come. She sighed. She had little other choice to accept this man's offer to help her down from his mount. He lifted her easily and set her on the ground with a gentleness he didn't look capable of.
She stared as he brushed a loose strand of hair from her cheek. A lurid smile twisted his lips. "That was exhilarating. But I'll wager not half as exhilarating as what is yet to come."
"Are...are you going to hurt me?" she asked, suddenly terrified now that she was completely alone with this masked man.
"I'm going to follow your instructions to the letter, love," he said and lifted her chin so that he could press a kiss to her lips.
The word instructions played in her head, but only for a moment, chased away by the feel of his mouth on hers again. She wanted him to crush her against him and pillage her mouth again but he did not.
Instead, he kissed her lightly, released her and looped the reins around a hitching post. He patted the black beast on the neck. "I'll be back to see after you later, Armageddon." After that, he gripped her arm and manhandled her into the lodge.
The interior was cozily dark and consisted of one large room with a bed, a sitting area and a table and chairs.
Already, a fire smoldered in the hearth. A bottle of wine and fine crystal glasses awaited them. Luxuriant sheets had been turned back on the bed. Sophia's forehead furrowed. It looked as if he'd been expecting her.
But how could that be? He couldn't have possibly known she would have been traveling down the Hounslow Road today.
In addition to being made off with by a highwayman, there was something else amiss but Sophia couldn't quite figure out what.
He raked off his cocked hat and hung it on a peg along with his frockcoat. Dread washed over her anew when he began unfastening the buttons on his waistcoat. His clothing was far too fine for that of a man reduced to highway robbery. His speech was impeccable. In fact, Sophia wondered if he was really a highwayman at all.
After he draped his waistcoat on a peg, he strode confidently across the floor to the table and poured two glasses full of wine. He took a hearty drink of his and handed her a glass.
"Sir, exactly what do you intend to do with me?" she asked.
He laughed. "Oh, you do play your part well, love." His gaze dropped to the glass in her hand. "Drink! Or would you rather get straight to fucking?"
Shocked, Sophia gasped. "I...I am a maiden!"
At that he laughed so hard that he sputtered wine. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Once he regained a semblance of composure, he looked at her as if he were trying to be serious and was failing miserably. "And I am the lecher who will deflower you."
Trying not to show her fear, Sophia stared. "Are you mocking me?"
His smile faded into a leer and he took her glass from her. He downed the contents of his own and set both glasses on the table.
Sophia sensed something was about to change between them and although she'd been stunned by his passionate kiss earlier, cold terror seized her. His hand threaded around her waist and he dragged her into his arms. With bruising force, his mouth claimed hers. She tried to resist. In vain, she pushed at his iron shoulders and struggled in the vice grip of his arms. It was futile.
His hand caught her head, cradling it, holding her to him until he took his fill of her mouth. "That's right," he murmured, his lips still against hers. "Fight me all you want but I wager you'll be begging me for this within the hour." He took her hand in his and thrust it between their bodies, pressing her palm over his arousal.
His very hard--very big--arousal.
Sophia tried to wrest her hand free but he only laughed and held her closer.
"Before this day is over you're going to feel my prick in each and every one of your delectably fuckable holes," he said in such a tone his threat sounded very much like a promise.
She gulped at the thought of him doing just that. The dark part of her wanted to try those things she'd only heard whispered about. The more practical side of her wanted to bolt out that door and run.
The dark chocolate overcoat of her riding habit fell down her shoulders, exposing her robin's egg blue waistcoat. When had he unbuttoned it?
He cocked his head to the side as he admired her. "Not quite as I remembered but beautiful nonetheless."
Sophia's kiss-swollen lips parted. "Do...do you know me?"
He traced a finger down the row of buttons on her chest, working his finger beneath and just between her breasts before tugging her so that she stumbled closer. "Intimately," he whispered, deftly unfastening the buttons of her waistcoat with one hand.