Chapter 13

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A fortnight after Lady Bell's party, Olivia found herself being packed into a carriage heading to Bedfordshire for a house party.

How she hated these endless rounds of balls and parties, hopping from one place to another with no aim whatsoever. But this time she'd been pleased to escape to the country for a few days. She'd been unable to forget Jacob Townshend and his kisses. She hadn't seen him in weeks and yet it was only his face that lingered in her mind. More than once she'd asked herself if she'd been unnecessarily rude. He'd seemed unfazed by her words that day, but then he'd simply disappeared. And she couldn't help but regret her demands that he stay away from her.

The man had waltzed into her life again without any leave and the effect was just as devastating as the first time. She knew she was a hypocrite to ask him to leave her alone at one time and then long for his presence the next. But...

She pushed aside the screen and peeped out of the window of the carriage. All she saw were miles and miles of green land. She wiped her palms on her gown impatiently. They were unusually sweaty.

"Do you want your gloves, my lady?" Sally asked, ever attentive.

"No, I'm fine," she smiled slightly. Was her discomfiture so obvious?

How she wished Aunt Mel was with her. She was happy for her, of course. She'd written to Olivia informing her about her upcoming nuptials and that had made her ecstatic. And yet, she'd been tempted to ask her if Mr.Townshend was there as well.

She was being ridiculous, she knew. But such was the nature of an infatuation-it pretty much ruined one's reasoning. Oh she was infatuated with him, of that she was certain. The question was what she was going to do about it.

Pursuing him was out of the question, it would be the most foolish thing to do. Staying away from him was the prudent thing to do and yet...

Olivia sat back with a sigh.

It was pointless to pretend that she didn't want him. She did, quite desperately. She knew that he wouldn't marry her and that didn't bother her as much as it should have. If she were honest, the prospect of marriage didn't excite her anymore-not after she'd witnessed her friends entering the cold, bloodless marriages that were fashionable in the ton. She wanted love, she wanted adventure. But she'd quite given up on finding love. If there ever was a man meant for her, he seemed to be lost to her.

So why was she protecting her virtue? Why was she keeping herself from experiencing whatever little happiness she could? It sounded idiotic at the moment.

"My lady, you seem agitated. Why don't you rest your eyes a while?" Her maid interrupted her thoughts.

She was about to protest, but then she thought Sally was on to something. She should sleep on this, she couldn't make this decision in haste.

She nodded and settled more comfortably in her seat. Soon she found herself falling asleep in the swaying carriage.

"We will have a grand time, you'll see," Peter grinned at Jacob.

"For your sake, I hope we do," he rolled his eyes.

"Lord Remington is known to host the best hunting parties. You will get a chance to hone your rusty skills."

Jacob arched a brow.

"You mustn't have hunted on the continent, yes?" Peter grinned again.

"Yes, but I have no doubt that I can still hold my own should we compete."

"Is that a challenge?" Pete asked, amused.

Jacob shrugged as if to say why not.

"I'm glad you've given up on your quest to ruin Lady Olivia, you know," he said suddenly. That darkened Jacob's mood instantly. He didn't want to hear about the exact reason Jacob had agreed to let Pete drag him to the country for some atrocious house party. He'd been trying to forget the damned woman for weeks. Her memory haunted him like a ghost.

He didn't know if he was annoyed or pleased that he wouldn't have any reason to see her again. He still wanted the papers and the necklace, but he'd find another way to get it. After all that his uncle had done for him, Jacob wouldn't insult him by defying his wishes.Uncle George wanted him to leave Olivia alone and he'd do just that. It didn't matter that he wanted her with an intensity that he'd never experienced before. It didn't matter that she'd kissed him as if she couldn't get enough of him, that the scent of roses always seem to cling to her...

"You're thinking about her, aren't you?" Peter smirked.

"Stuff it, Pete," he rolled his eyes and stopped the curricle. They reached Lord Remington's estate and Jacob hoped to indulge his hospitality with a nice warm bath and a few hours of sleep. The fact that he could be away from Pete's annoying smirks for the duration was an added bonus.

After an hour, Jacob was relaxing in the copper tub, the hot water soothing the cramps in his muscles after the long hours of driving. Not surprisingly, his thoughts automatically swayed to Olivia. His manhood was quick to respond and Jacob rather felt sorry for the appendage. The poor thing had been stiff for days, with no means of satiation. Jacob hadn't even tried to seek pleasure else where. He knew he wouldn't be able to touch another woman unless he was over this absurd obsession with Olivia. And so he began to stroke the length, his minds conjuring images of peachy flesh and tangled limbs. Olivia looked like a wicked temptress, luring him with her seductive smiles. Jacob had to grit his teeth at the image. He was almost there, his head fallen back when the door opened.

His eyes snapped open and he thought of calling out a warning, but then he heard a voice outside the partially open door.

"It was this chamber, wasn't it, Sally?"

"That's what the maid said, my lady."

"It's odd because Lord Remington always puts the bachelors in this wing. Oh la, what does it matter!" And with that the door opened fully to reveal Lady Olivia Cavendish.

She blinked when she saw him, sitting in a tub utterly naked. Her mouth dropped open and Jacob thought he should say something or try to cover himself-it was the gentlemanly thing to do-but the towel was on the bed and he found himself tongue tied.

"My lady?" Came her maid's voice from behind her. That seemed to jolt her because she squealed and shut the door close with a loud thud.

"It is indeed the wrong room," he heard her muffled voice. She sounded breathless and flustered.

Jacob found himself grinning despite himself even though his body screamed for some relief as he heard the sounds of her receding footsteps.

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