A Matter of Grave Concern
by Brenda Novak
When Maximillian Wilder joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but he has to gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could bring.
Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene and protect her, no matter the risk to his plan . . . or his heart.
“Ouch! That hurts! What are you doing?” she asked, trying to wiggle away from the roughness of his chin as he chafed it against her face and neck.
Max could feel the ridge of Miss Hale’s collarbone beneath his cheek, then more smooth skin as he slid his chin up the column of her throat. “I am leaving a few marks on you, for Jack’s edification,” he said. “He will never believe you were ravished without something to show for it.” Pausing just below her left earlobe, he began to suck on her neck.
She squirmed some more, resisting, but that soon subsided and she started to giggle. He guessed from her bossiness that she didn’t laugh often but, strangely enough considering all the trouble she had caused him, he liked the sound of it.
“Nothing in my father’s books said anything about this,” she said. “What on earth are you doing? Stop! It tickles. What could possibly be the point?”
He lifted his head only when he was satisfied that he had left a deep purple mark. “What your father’s books didn’t tell you, Miss Hale, is that much of what goes on between a man and a woman, at least in the bedroom, has no point. It is simply for the sake of pleasure, for the pure, heady passion of reveling in the opposite sex, of letting go of all inhibition long enough to enjoy giving everything and receiving everything all at the same time.”
He knew his voice sounded slightly hoarse, but she smelled so damn clean and fresh. And her skin—it had to be the softest he had ever touched.
Moonlight lit her face as she cocked a finely arched eyebrow at him. “You seem quite well-versed on the subject.”
“I have never read any bloody medical journals, that’s for damn sure. After hearing what they have to say, I think I’m glad.”
“What’s wrong with what they say?”
Max ignored her in favor of nipping at her neck again. Why did she have to feel so good? Not five minutes earlier, he had told himself he wouldn’t have any difficulty sharing a room, even a bed, with Miss Hale. He could control his “drive to mate” as she put it.
But that was before, when Miss Hale—Abigail—was at an arm’s distance. Now that she was so close and not nearly as stiff as he had expected, he found his perspective changing. And he was only rubbing his chin on her cheeks and neck. What would it feel like to part her lips and slip his tongue inside her mouth for that first sweet taste?
Under the guise of more chafing, he let their lips brush once, felt their breath mingle, and measured Miss Hale’s response. The tension in her shoulders, where he had anchored his hands, relaxed ever so slightly. Her eyelids lowered as her gaze fell to his mouth, and she kept her head tilted at just the right angle for their lips to brush again.
She’s curious, he realized. She has never been kissed.
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