Swept Away By A Wicked Rogue – A Novella
Roland Black was on the hunt.
He felt restless. On edge. Off his game.
In fact, he felt as though he had been shut in a cargo crate and tossed overboard a ship.
Something ailed him, and he didn’t know exactly what, although he had a suspicion he tried his best to ignore. What he did know with certainty, however, was that the only thing that would cure his condition was a connection with a woman. And not the sort of connection where one used words, but the kind that involved two parts and thrusting—lots of hard, steady thrusting.
In the past, whenever this disquietude happened to him, he would never attempt to decipher what the hell had gone wrong—at least, not more than in very general terms. The cure seemed simple enough, so why bother to discover the source of the affliction? Especially when the occurrence itself was rare. In fact, Roland recalled it only ever happening twice before. The day his father died and he had been saddled with the usual responsibilities of his title, and four years after that, when his mother passed away. Those were the only two times. Clearly, death was his trigger.
Until now. This time was different. No one had passed away. The few people that mattered to him were still very much alive. Although, if he cared to ponder the issue, which he didn’t but couldn’t seem not to, he had suffered another kind of recent loss, he supposed. The loss of his longtime friend. Not to death, but to marriage.
He had lost his wench-hunting partner.
That was a different sort of death altogether.
But even so, it was nothing that should have caused this malady to rear its uninvited little head. It wasn’t so serious. Which was why, for the first time in his life, Roland really looked deeper into the reason why this was happening. Death he understood—the whole mortality business plunging one into a state of quandary and all that. Simple enough, really.
This time was different, however. No matter how Roland attempted to administer the known cure for his unmoored feeling, his cock refused to rise to the occasion. Any occasion.
It was damn humiliating.
Why the hell did his friend’s marriage bother him so much? He certainly did not wish the same fate for himself. And he detected no jealousy simmering on the surface that another human being occupied his friend’s attention. Indeed, he was happy for his friend.
Roland wanted to be happy.
He shook his head at himself. He was happy. Happy as a bloody peach!
This was ridiculous.
What would it take to cure this sudden bedevilment?
Feminine charms, damnation! That’s what. And for his cock to bloody well accommodate them.
Roland stalked along the walls of the mansion where a masked ball of the morally unbound was in full swing, his hawkish eyes raking over every female in attendance. Usually, he wasn’t selective over the women he bedded, though the married ones held the most appeal. No entanglements, no attachments, and everyone walked away happy. At events such as these, however, he would usually snatch up the first chit that glanced his way. Short, tall, wide, narrow, a chit was a chit.
Tonight, however, something was different.
His urge to bed was there, and it wasn’t. What the hell was wrong with him? This was part of the reason for his edginess. In the past month, he had attended countless of events such as these and not one woman had caught his cock’s interest. In fact, he ended up leaving every single event unfulfilled and highly irritated.
Something was wrong.
“Hello, darling.” A woman murmured, sliding up to him and placing her hand on his chest. “Care to step outside for a breath of fresh air?” She batted her lashes, grinning coyly.
She was a lovely girl, tall, slender, and the type of woman who would shatter beneath a man if Roland’s instincts were still accurate. But he felt nothing, not even a small spark of interest, let alone the sudden urge to drag her off to the nearest dark corner. What the hell was the use of having a cock if the thing didn’t want to work?
“Not tonight, sweetheart.” The words left his mouth without thought.
Roland didn’t know who was more shocked, him or her. Her smile slipped, eyes widening before she lowered her lashes and sauntered away.
“Your loss,” she murmured over her shoulder.
This was the crux of his situation. The perfect opportunity presented itself, and he couldn’t even manage to muster some form of enthusiasm. A damn travesty.
For the next hour, Roland stalked every room of the party in hope of finding some woman who would catch his interest, but no luck. Never had shrill laughter and lewd glances annoyed him as much as they did tonight. He ought to just retire home and nurse his pride on a bottle of brandy. But to what end? It wouldn’t solve this problem—of that much, he was certain.
Still, what was left to do? Return home unsatisfied yet again?
A depressing notion.
He rounded a corner, then another and another. His avenue of escape was just within reach, so bloody close when a vision of supreme beauty stepped over the threshold.
Silk clung to a fine, generous figure in a breathtaking swirl of skirts. Like a beacon, she fired up every instinct in his body. A bundle of mystery wrapped up in crimson. She was the most exquisite being he had ever set his eyes upon.
Just like that, the edginess that had plagued him this past month eased and his restlessness calmed.
Down below he stirred.
Then, as if the breeze itself desired to undress her, it loosened her hair ribbon. He watched it flutter to the ground before his eyes lifted back to her face. She didn’t notice, stepping forward again and seeming almost hesitant—as if she didn’t quite belong.
A few nearby gentlemen turned their heads her way, their eyes gleaming with interest.
A roar of protest welled up in his chest, and he started forward.
The relief he felt at the sudden burst of sensation through his body drove him into action. The urge to stake his claim rose in him, raw and primal. He would be damned if he allowed any other man to put their paws on her first, not when she appeared to be the answer he’d been searching for.
Roland reached her just as she glanced his way, their eyes locking.
Her clear, nearly shining blue eyes, which were framed by impossibly long lashes, arrested his gaze. Her mask was matching red with black trimming on the edges, giving her an even more exotic look.
The blood in his veins warmed.
Christ, but she was beautiful.
“Angel,” he breathed.
Her eyes widened in her delicate face. At him, or his endearment, it mattered not. Come to think of it, it was the first time he had called a woman anything else but sweetheart or sweet. There was a comfortable distance in those words. To call a lady angel, at least for him, meant she had to have thoroughly captured his interest.
This one is different.
Big sapphire eyes blinked back at him, almost in awe. “Good evening.”
Her voice was soft. Husky.
What those two words did to him.
Roland offered her a wicked smile.
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