To Bed a Libertine

To Bed a Libertine by Amanda Mccabe Read Free Book Online

Book: To Bed a Libertine by Amanda Mccabe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amanda Mccabe
chaise.
    “Tristan?” she called, as if startled she could not find him.
    “I am here,” he answered. He glanced over and smiled at the beautiful image of her as she sat up against the cushions. Her hair spilled over one shoulder, concealing one breast while leaving the other bare. Any picture he painted could never reveal the reality of her.
    “Are you working?” She drew the velvet blanket around her, wrapping it like a tunic.
    “I’m sorry if I woke you,” he said. “I just had the sense that I needed to paint, right now.”
    “I’m glad to hear that. Can I see?”
    He studied the canvas. Despite his feverish pace it was only half-done, the lines rough, the paint still not smoothed. “Not yet. Soon.”
    “And are you pleased with it thus far?”
    “It is the finest thing I have done,” he said. “But it can’t begin to compare with the original.”
    She laughed. “I’m so happy you’re happy.”
    Happy? He had to stop and consider that. Happiness was something he had little experience of, much like home and love. But he seemed filled with a bright contentment, a sense that now, finally, everything had come right.
    “I am,” he said. “I am happy.” And it was all thanks to her. He sat down beside her again, taking her in his arms to kiss her lips. “Are you happy, too?”
    “I have never felt so marvelously happy,” she answered. She kissed him back as her slender arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders. She clung to him, almost as if she feared he would fly away.
    If only she knew. He could never leave her.
    “I think I need to show you something,” she said. She drew back, her eyes full of sadness as she gazed up at him.
    Tristan laughed, and reached up to frame her face in his hands. He could look into those eyes, study her forever. “What have I not seen yet of you, Contessa?”
    A pale pink blush covered her cheeks, and she touched the stain wonderingly with her fingertips, as if she had never felt such a thing before. “I—I am blushing!”
    He laughed even harder, completely delighted. “So you are.”
    “Oh, Tristan, you are a miracle.” She kissed him again, fiercely, but just as he tried to deepen the caress she drew away. “But there is something you should see, something you must know before we go any further.”
    Tristan frowned, unsettled by her solemn tone. “What is it? I promise you, nothing can change my feelings for you.”
    “Just close your eyes,” she whispered, stroking her hand softly over his face. “And hold onto me.”
     
    Slowly, the scent of roses and lilacs suffused the air, replacing the dusty smell of paint and paper. The breeze turned warm and soft, bearing the sounds of laughter and water flowing from fountains and splashing against marble. There were the faint strains of music, much like that heard at Lady Russell’s drawing room, except full of life and freshness.
    Erato was home.
    She opened her eyes and gazed around the marble pavilion. It was just as she had left it, yet something was different. She was different. The boredom and restlessness that had plagued her before she left had vanished, and she felt new and free.
    All because of Tristan. She held tightly to his hands, half-afraid of what he might say or do when he saw the truth. Would he be angry, reject her and insist on returning to England? If he did, she would have to let him go. The other gods sometimes held humans against their wills—look what happened with Apollo and poor Daphne. The Muses never did. Their task was to bring enlightenment and happiness.
    And, more than she had ever wanted anything, she wanted Tristan to be happy.
    “Open your eyes,” she whispered.
    He opened his eyes and blinked at her. For a moment, it seemed all he could see was her. He gave her his beautiful smile, the one that made her forget everything else, and leaned in to kiss her.
    Erato knew that if he kissed her she could never let him go. She would be as bad as those selfish gods, and unworthy of

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