Throughout their long engagement, James Camplyon, Earl of Somerset, has fantasized about Patience Hadley Mims' silken skin and voluptuous curves. He expects his witty, beautiful bride to be timid on their wedding night. But Patience is far more than shy. She's terrified.
James presents his reluctant bride with a box of risqu? novels, ordering her to choose a passage each night for them to act out. Despite her fears, Patience thinks being bound and blindfolded will undo the hard-learned lessons of a lifetime. But she doesn't count on her husband's patient resolve to strip away the dark secrets threatening to prevent her from giving herself to him completely.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Having Patience by Debra Glass
Hyde Park, 1838
James Camplyon, Earl of Somerset, closed the bedroom door and then turned to his bride.
Still clad in her wedding dress, Patience stood wringing her hands, head lowered, gaze cast to the floor.
James drew in a breath and then wet his lips with the tip of his tongue. Seducing virgins had never been his forte. Seducing women well versed in the pleasures of the body, on the other hand...
A wry grin tugged at one corner of his mouth. The fast life of a bachelor was behind him now. He was married. There were no regrets. He'd made a good match. Patience came from a good family. The only child of the Earl of Blickley, she'd been one of the most eligible marriage partners in all of England. Upon Blickley's death, due to the law of primogeniture, his estate would go to a cousin, but Patience had been entailed a vast sum of money which had been vested for her in the funds. Her dowry alone had been incentive enough for James.
But her hefty dowry was not the only reason he'd proposed marriage to Patience.
Ever quick‑witted, she was the life of every social gathering. Her razor‑sharp quips reduced even the stodgiest curmudgeons to blithering laughter. No one matched her at cards. She could play the pianoforte with skill and her singing voice was most pleasant.
Her beauty was unparalleled. Predominantly brown hair interspersed with strands of gold and auburn framed her heart‑shaped face. Dark eyes tinged with green peered from beneath a wealth of inky lashes. Her figure was pleasing. Copious cleavage bulged enticingly from her beaded, bone colored dress. Although the current fashion hid her curves from view, James knew from dancing with her tonight that her waist narrowed and her hips blossomed.
She was everything a man could want in a wife.
So why the diffidence? The hesitation?
Why had her maids not removed her wedding dress and why had they not taken down her hair?
James cleared his throat. "Darling?"
Her gaze lifted and a pretty blush rose to her cheeks. From here, James saw that she trembled. Ah, she was nervous. Well, he would remedy that. After one night, she would see what joys could be had in the dark.
"Do you wish me to take down your hair?" he asked gently.
She gave an almost imperceptible nod and moved to her dressing table. The beads on her gown rustled as she sat.
James shrugged off his dress coat and draped it over the back of a chair before he crossed the room to where his wife of only nine hours sat. Without words, he began to pull the pins and decorative beads from her hair.
Patience sat as still as a soldier at attention, her eyes closed as if she were awaiting something terrible...painful.
Her distress bothered James. It was so unlike her. "It is customary for a bride to be reticent on her wedding night," James murmured.
She drew in a quick breath.
He pulled the last pin out of her hair and let the dark honey waves fall around her shoulders. Her chest rose and fell with quick, shallow breaths. Her hands tightened into fists in her lap.
Frustration welled in James. He'd been blindsided. This was not how he had predicted his wedding night would be. Not in the least. He'd guessed she would be a bit reserved. But this?
Forcing himself to remain calm, he leaned down, bracing his hands on either side of the bench on which Patience sat. Her eyes snapped open and she stared at their reflections in the looking glass.
James nuzzled his face against her hair so that his mouth was next to her ear. "You are a beautiful bride, Lady Somerset."
Her throat muscles constricted as she swallowed thickly.
Despite her hesitation, James raked back the locks of her hair and pressed his mouth to the slender column of her neck. Something in her softened and gave--but only slightly. A whimper escaped her closed lips.
He kissed and the sucked, flicking his tongue over her wildly raging pulse point. She tilted her head a fraction to give him better access.
Triumph surged. All she'd needed was a little persuading. And James knew just how to persuade a woman. His hands moved under her arms, around the rough beading of her dress to where he cupped her breasts. She jolted when he gave them a gentle squeeze but then arched into his palms.
James lifted his gaze to her reflection. He expected to find ecstasy claiming her delicate features. Instead, her expression was stricken, pained. Graceful eyebrows knitted together in worry. Her teeth gnawed her bottom lip. "Relax, love," he encouraged her.
A rough breath betrayed her anxiety.
James moved around her just far enough to lift her chin. He'd kissed her chastely when she had accepted his proposal. He'd pressed a feathery kiss to her lips at the wedding. But now--
Now, they were alone and far away from the prying eyes of society. Now, he could claim her. He sought her lips, demanding her response. Holding her face in one hand, he plundered her mouth, expecting her, at any moment, to yield, to melt into his arms and to discover all the pleasures her body had to offer.
He was sorely mistaken.
Patience grew rigid. A mewling sound came from somewhere deep inside her. She shook.
James released her and took a step back.
A solitary tear spilled from the corner of one of her eyes and trailed down her cheek. She was utterly terrified.
Confident, witty, delightful Patience was terrified...of him.
James took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "Did your governess explain to you what consummating a marriage is about?"
She sniffed. "Yes."
"There is nothing to fear, Patience. I realize you have no knowledge of men."
Her eyes remained wide.
James unclenched his fists. It wouldn't do to show the frustration he felt. God, his cock throbbed madly against his breeches. And staring at his alluring wife with her hair in beautiful disarray and her breasts heaving out of the dress he'd married her in wasn't helping matters.
The beads on the hem of her dress tinkled as she came to her feet. Some renewed vigor flashed in her eyes and hope surged in James that she'd found her courage. He was not prepared at all for what she was about to say.
"Husband, as your wife, I am obligated to do as you bid," she said shakily. "I am not required to enjoy it."
James stared. He blinked. He couldn't believe he'd heard her utter those words.
Patience moved toward the bell pull. "I will ring for the maid to undress me so you can get...this...over with." She gestured toward her body.
Realization seeped in that she planned to merely appease his lust. This is not what he wanted. And yet, his cock begged for release. No. He would not take her this way. He was not an animal and neither was she.
He struggled to retain his composure as anger flared. He'd never been rebuked by a woman. He certainly hadn't expected rejection from his wife.
He stalked toward her secretary, yanked open the drawer and rifled it until he found a letter opener.
Gaping, Patience shrank.
"Oh, I don't intend to kill you with it," he said, reading her thoughts. "There are a good many willing women elsewhere." He strode toward her bed.
She gasped as he hauled back the covers.
"But I damn well won't have my own servants gossiping about my wife's honor under my roof." With that, he dug the point of the letter opener into the side of his hand.
The sharp pain did little to compete with the sour disappointment he felt at being rejected. What on earth was going on inside Patience's head? Blood beaded at the wound and he clenched his fist over the sheets. After he'd left a good-sized stain, he flung the letter opener back toward the secretary.
"Now, turn around," he ordered.
Her eyes grew impossibly wider.
"Turn around, dammit!" he thundered.
With unthinking force, he closed the distance between them and furiously worked the row of tiny buttons on the back of her dress. Several popped off and scattered haphazardly across the floor.
When he had enough of the buttons undone, he jerked her dress down her shoulders.
"My lord--" she began but he didn't give her a chance to finish her protest.
"Get this bloody thing off," he said.
Quaking, she dragged the dress down her arms. When the fabric was finally free of her wrists, it dropped to a heap of satin and beads around her stocking‑clad feet. Dressed only in her shift, she stood, hunched, hugging her arms.
"I trust you can manage the rest," he said through clenched teeth. He didn't trust himself. Not now. Not with this adrenaline flowing like hot lava through his veins and his lust unappeased.
"Good night, then," he said tersely and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Patience sank onto the bench. Her breath left her lungs in a ragged rush. Both relief and guilt flooded her in a conflicting mixture of emotions. What had she been thinking? Why had she been so cold? To her husband, a man she admired? And on her wedding night?
She closed her eyes briefly. She deserved his anger. She deserved much worse.
Most men would have come into the room, demanded what was by law, their right to take and been done with it.
Remorse swamped her. Remorse and something she could not define. His kisses had felt...good. So good in fact, that unbearable shame had replaced any desire that she could have allowed herself to feel. And when he'd undressed her, Patience had thought he was going to ravage her. The thought sent strange pulses stampeding downward inside her. She tamped the sensations down. Women were not supposed to enjoy physical pleasures. It was wrong. It was sacrilegious and not even the fact she'd been married by a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury could convince her otherwise. She was no wanton whore. She was a lady.
Still, her own reaction shocked her. She had wanted him. At his touch, something had twisted and then spiraled downward in her abdomen, setting unspoken places between her legs ablaze. Even now, she felt the wetness there.
Hugging her arms, she stood again and paced. How long could she hold out?
Her gaze drifted from her discarded wedding dress to the blood stain on the sheets.
"I damn well won't have my own servants gossiping about my wife's honor under my roof."
The memory of his words shook her to the core. Even though she had denied him, he had protected her. It was more than most men would have done. Much, much more.
Go to him, fool. Apologize. Welcome him into your bed.
After all, he was her husband. It was legal. It was expected. How else did she hope to produce heirs?
Debating, she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. No. She couldn't allow herself to willingly participate in...in conjugal relations. Even with her husband.
Her pulse accelerated. Her breathing quickened. Her heart pounded against her rib cage and nausea roiled. She grasped the bedpost and leaned against it for support. Why could she not go through with what every other couple in the world did on their wedding night?
All day, she'd told herself she was ready for this, for him. But the moment she'd begun to feel desire, everything inside her had shut down.
A cold chill washed over her. She would simply have to beg her husband's forgiveness, grit her teeth and bear it.