?中文字幕2020每日更新_RBD-018中文字幕在线播放 - 第2页

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson #1) Point of Retreat (Slammed #2)

Amy had been SO pleased to hear Cam and I were going cycling. Mum, off with Aunt Stacey for the day, thinks we are chaperoning each other, and I wonder what Amy and Jazz will get up to. Amy had smirked at Cam and me when we left. She assumes things about us that arent true.

Where have you been? Blake repeated. I could do with a few more candles, Caroline said to James. Yes, I can see where it would grow quite dark in here, he replied. That window is abysmally small. Where have you BEEN? Blake roared. Caroline and James looked at him with identically blank expressions. Were you talking to us? James asked. I'm sorry? Caroline said at the very same time. Where, Blake said through clenched teeth, have you been? They looked at each other and shrugged. I don't know, James said. Oh, out and about, Caroline added. For two hours? I had to fill him in on all of the details, she said. After all, you wouldn't want him to say something wrong to Penelope. I could have told him all the pertinent facts in under fifteen minutes, Blake grumbled. I'm sure you could have done, James replied, but it wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining. Well, Penelope wants to know where you've been, Blake said testily. She wants to throw a fête in your honor, Riverdale. But I thought she was planning on leaving in two days, Caroline said. She was, he snapped, but now that our dear friend James is here she's decided to extend her stay. Says it isn't every day we've a marquis in residence. She's married to a bloody earl, James said. What does she care? She doesn't, Blake replied. She just wants to marry the lot of us off. To whom? Preferably to each other. All three of us? Caroline looked from man to man. Isn't that illegal? James laughed. Blake just shot her the most contemptuous of stares. Then he said, We've got to get rid of her. Caroline crossed her arms. I refuse to do anything mean to your sister. She is a kind and gentle person. Ha! Blake barked. Gentle, my foot. She is the most determined, interfering woman of my acquaintance, except, perhaps, for you. Caroline stuck out her tongue. Blake ignored her. We need to find a way to get her to go back to London. It should be easy to fake a message from her husband, James said. Blake shook his head. Not nearly as easy as you'd think. He's in the Caribbean. Caroline felt a pang of heartsickness. He'd once described her eyes as the color of water in the tropics. It was a memory she'd have to carry with her the rest of her days, as it was becoming increasingly obvious that she wouldn't have the man. Well, then, James said, what about a note from her housekeeper or butler? Something saying the house burned down. That is too cruel, Caroline said. She would be beside herself with worry. That's the point, Blake put in. We want her worried enough to leave. Couldn't you allude to a flood? she asked. It's ever so much less worrisome than a fire. While we're at it, James said, why not throw in a rodent infestation? Then she'll never leave! Caroline exclaimed. Who'd want to go home to a rat? Many women of my acquaintance do, Blake said dryly. That's a terrible thing to say! But true, James agreed. Nobody said anything for a few moments, and then Caroline suggested, I suppose we could just go on as we have been. It hasn't been so bad here in the bathroom now that Blake has taken to bringing me reading material. Although I would appreciate it if we could work out new arrangements regarding our meals. May I remind you, Blake said, that in two weeks Riverdale and I will be launching our attack on Prewitt? Attack? Caroline exclaimed, clearly horrified. Attack, arrest, James said with a wave of his hand, it all amounts to the same thing. Whatever the case, Blake said loudly, trying to regain their attention, the last thing we need is the presence of my sister. He turned to Caroline. I couldn't care less if you spend the next two weeks chained to my washbasin, but— How hospitable of you, she muttered. He ignored her. I'll be damned if Prewitt slips through my fingers due to my sister's misplaced desire to see me married. I don't like the idea of playing a cruel prank on Penelope, Caroline said, but I'm sure if the three of us put our heads together we can devise some sort of acceptable plan. I have a feeling that your definition of acceptable and mine are vastly different, Blake commented. Caroline scowled at him, then turned to James and smiled. What do you think, James? He shrugged, looking more interested in the way Blake was glaring at the both of them than he was in her words. But that was before they heard someone banging at the door. They froze. Blake! Blake! Who are you talking to? Penelope. Blake started motioning frantically toward the door to the side stairs while James pushed Caroline out. As soon as the door clicked behind her, Blake opened the bathroom door, and, with an utterly bland expression on his face, said, Yes? Penelope peered in, her eyes darting from corner to corner. What's going on?Blake blinked. I beg your pardon? Who were you talking to? James stepped out from behind a dressing screen. Me. Penelope's lips parted in surprise. What are you doing here? I didn't realize you were back. He leaned against the wall as if it were the most natural thing in the world for him to be in Blake's bathroom. I returned about ten minutes ago. We had a few matters to discuss, Blake added. In the washing room? Brings back memories of Eton and all that, James said with a devastating smile. Really? Penelope did not sound convinced. No one had any privacy there, you know, Blake said. It was really quite barbaric. Penelope pointed to the pile of blankets on the floor. What are those doing here? What? Blake asked, stalling for time. The blankets. He blinked. Those? I have no idea. You have a pile of blankets and pillows on the floor of your washing room and you don't know why? I suppose Perriwick might have left them there. Maybe he meant to have them cleaned. Penelope scowled. Blake, you're an abominable liar. Actually, I'm a rather good liar. I'm just a touch out of practice. Then you do admit you're lying to me? I don't think I admitted any such thing. He turned to James with a guileless expression. Did I, Riverdale? I don't think so. What do you think, Penelope? I think, Penelope growled, that neither of you is leaving this room until you tell me what is going on. Caroline listened to the conversation through the door, holding her breath as Penelope grilled the two gentlemen with the skill of an executioner. Caroline let out a silent sigh and sat down. The way things sounded in the bathroom, she might be stuck in the stairwell for hours. Penelope certainly exhibited no signs of giving up her interrogation. Time to look on the bright side, she decided, dismissing the fact that it was dark as pitch in the stairwell. She might be trapped in the most bizarre of situations, but it was still heads and tails above being stuck with the Prewitts. Good heavens, if she hadn't run off, she'd probably be a Prewitt herself by now. What a hideous thought. But not nearly as hideous as what happened next. Maybe she'd stirred up some dust when she sat down, maybe the gods were simply aligned against her, but her nose began to tickle. Then it began to itch. She jammed the side of her index finger up against her nostrils, but it was to no avail. Tickle, itch, tickle, itch. Ah…Ah…Ah… AH-CHOO! What was that? Penelope demanded. What was what? Blake replied at the very same moment James began to sneeze uncontrollably. Stop that ridiculous act, Penelope snapped at James. I heard a female sneeze, and I heard it distinctly. James started sneezing at a higher pitch. Cease! Penelope ordered, striding toward the door to the stairs. Blake and James made a mad dash toward her, but they were too late. Penelope had already wrenched the door open. And there, on the landing, sat Caroline, hunched over, her entire body wracked by sneezes. Chapter 19 lat-i-tu-di-nar-i-an (adjective). Allowing, favoring, or characterized by latitude in opinion or action; not insisting on strict adherence to conformity with an established code. In Bournemouth—as opposed to London—one can act in a more latitudinarian manner, but still, even when in the country, there are certain rules of conduct to which one must subscribe. —From the personal dictionary of Caroline Trent You! Penelope accused. What are you doing here? But her voice was drowned out by that of Blake, who was yelling at Caroline, Why the hell didn't you run down the stairs when you heard us coming? His only answer was a sneeze. James, who was rarely ruffled by anything, raised a brow and said, It appears she's a bit incapacitated. Caroline sneezed again. Penelope turned to James, her expression furious. I suppose you're in some way connected to this subterfuge as well. He shrugged. In some way. Caroline sneezed. For heaven's sake, Penelope said testily, get her out of the stairwell. Clearly there is something putrid amid the dust that is sending her into convulsions. She isn't having a bloody convulsive fit, Blake said. She's sneezing. Caroline sneezed. Well, whatever the case, move her into your bedroom. No! Not your bedroom. Move her into my bedroom. Penelope planted her hands on her hips and glared at everyone in turn. And what the devil is going on here? I want to be apprised of the situation this very minute. If someone doesn't— If I might be so bold, James interrupted. Shut up, Riverdale, Blake snapped as he picked up Caroline. You sound like my damned butler. I'm sure Perriwick would be most flattered by the comparison, James said. However, I was merely going to point out to Penelope that there is very little untoward about Caroline being in your bedroom, seeing as how she and I are also in attendance. Very well, Penelope conceded. Set her down in your bedroom, Blake. Then I want to know what is going on. And no more nonsense about honey and pet birds.

Ripped (Real #5)

Caroline sneezed. Blake turned to his sister and suggested, Maybe you could get her some tea? Ha! If you think I'm going to leave her alone in here with the two of you— I'll get some tea, James interrupted. As soon as he left, Penelope narrowed her eyes at Blake and Caroline and demanded, Are you having an affair? No! Caroline managed to exclaim between sneezes. Then you had best start explaining your presence. I had judged you to be a lady of stern moral character, and it is requiring all of my tolerance and broad-mindedness not to alter that opinion. Caroline looked to Blake. She wasn't about to give away his secrets without his permission. But he just groaned, rolled his eyes, and said, We might as well tell her the truth. Lord knows she's going to ferret it out eventually. The entire tale took twenty minutes. It probably would have only required fifteen, except that James returned with the tea—thankfully accompanied by fresh scones—and the narrative naturally slowed while they all partook of it. Penelope asked no questions during the telling except for Milk? and Sugar? which really didn't signify as she was pouring the tea. Blake, James, and Caroline, however, interrupted one another to an astonishing degree. Still, after a quarter of an hour, they managed to relate the events of the past few weeks to everyone's satisfaction. When they were through, Caroline watched Penelope's impassive face with a mixture of curiosity and dread. She had grown quite fond of Blake's sister, and it tore her heart in two to think that the countess would cut her off completely. But Penelope surprised them all by murmuring a quiet, I see, followed by an even quieter, Hmmm. Caroline leaned forward. James leaned forward. Blake started to lean forward, then caught himself and snorted in disgust. He was well used to his sister's tactics. Finally Penelope took a deep breath, turned to Blake, and said, You are a beast not to have informed the family of your governmental activities, but I will not address that insult now. How kind of you, he murmured. It is indeed lucky for you, she continued, that the thoughtlessness of your secrecy has been eclipsed by a matter of even graver concern. Indeed. Penelope glared at him as she jabbed her finger first at the marquis, then back at her brother. One of you, she announced, is going to have to marry her. Caroline, who had been studiously examining the tips of her shoes so as not to give Blake an I-told-you-so smirk when Penelope scolded him about his secrecy, jerked her head up. The sight that awaited her was not reassuring. Penelope was pointing her long index finger directly at her, and Blake and James had gone utterly white. That evening found Blake having an exceedingly unpleasant conversation with his sister. She was trying to convince him to marry Caroline with all possible haste, and he was doing his best to ignore her. He wasn't terribly worried about the outcome of this latest debacle. He had sworn never to marry; Penelope knew it, Caroline knew it, James knew it. Hell, the entire world knew it. And James wasn't the sort to let his best friend's sister goad him into doing anything he didn't want to do. In fact, the only way that Penelope could ensure that Caroline would be swiftly married would be to tell tales and create a huge scandal. That, Blake was sure, was not a danger. Penelope might be willing to create a little gossip, but she wasn't about to ruin the woman she was now calling my dearest, closest friend. Penelope, could, however, endeavor to make a general nuisance of herself and annoy the hell out of everyone at Seacrest Manor. And in Blake's case, she was succeeding handily. Blake, she said, you know you need a wife. I know no such thing. Caroline has been irrevocably compromised. Only if you decide to tell tales in London. That is beside the point. That is exactly the point, Blake growled. She has been living here to safeguard national security. Oh please, Penelope said disdainfully. She is staying here to escape the clutches of that guardian of hers. A guardian who is a threat to national security, Blake shot back. And Caroline has been assisting us in his apprehension. A most noble endeavor if you ask me. I didn't ask you, Penelope said with a sniff. You should have, he snapped. Caroline's presence here is vital to the security of England, and only the worst sort of unpatriotic buffoon would use that to ruin her reputation. So he was exaggerating a bit about the national security. Desperate times did occasionally call for desperate measures. James chose that moment to wander in. I suppose you're still talking circles around Caroline's future, he said. They both leveled annoyed stares in his direction. Well, James said, stretching his arms like a cat and yawning as he sank onto a sofa, I've been thinking about marrying her. Oh, how lovely! Penelope exclaimed, clapping her hands together, but her comment was drowned out by Blake's yell of, WHAT? James shrugged. Why not? I have to get married eventually. Caroline deserves someone who will love her, Blake bit off. I certainly like her. That is more than most marriages can claim. That is true, Penelope said.You, Blake snapped, pointing at his sister. Be quiet. And you— He turned his furious visage toward the marquis, but intelligent discourse escaped him, so he just blurted out, You be quiet, too. Well said. James chuckled. Blake glared at him, feeling quite capable of murder. Tell me more, Penelope begged. I think that Caroline will make a lovely marchioness. Indeed she would, James replied. And it would be a rather convenient match. I do need to marry at some point, and it appears that Caroline needs to marry quite soon. There is no reason for her to marry, Blake growled, as long as my sister keeps her mouth shut. Penelope is certainly discreet, James continued in a voice that Blake was beginning to find irritatingly jovial, but that cannot be a guarantee that no one will find out about our peculiar living arrangements. Caroline might not be a member of the ton, but that does not mean that she deserves to have her name dragged through the mud. Blake jumped to his feet and roared, Don't you dare accuse me of wanting to sully her good name. Everything I have done— The problem, Penelope smoothly interrupted, is that you have done nothing. I refuse to sit here and— You're standing, Penelope pointed out. James, Blake said in a dangerously low voice, if you don't restrain me, I shall surely commit a great many crimes in the next ten seconds, the least regretful of which shall involve the painful death of my sister. Er…Penelope, James said, I'd move out of his reach were I you. I think he might be serious. Bah! was Penelope's response. He's just out of sorts because he knows I'm right. A muscle started twitching in Blake's jaw and he didn't even bother to look at James when he said, You don't have a sister, do you, Riverdale? No. Consider yourself blessed. Then he turned on his heel and stalked away. James and Penelope stared at the doorway through which Blake had just exited until Penelope finally blinked a few times, turned to James and said, I don't think he's very pleased with us just now. No. Were you serious? About marrying Caroline? Penelope nodded. I would hardly make a statement like that if I weren't prepared to see it through. But you don't want to marry her, Penelope said, her eyes narrowing. Certainly not the way Blake does. Hmmm. She crossed the room and sat down. You're quite clever, Riverdale, but your plan may very well backfire. Blake can be very stubborn. James sat down across from her. A fact of which I am well aware. I'm sure you are. She curved her lips, but it wasn't really a smile. And are you also aware that I share the same trait? Stubbornness, you mean? My dear Penelope, I would run unclothed across England in the dead of winter just to escape a battle of wills with the likes of you. Nicely put, but if your little declaration fails to produce the desired results, you will marry Caroline. I have no doubt that you will hold a pistol to my back until I do. Penelope's voice rose. This is not a joke, Riverdale. I know. But I meant what I said earlier. I need to marry eventually, and Caroline is a damned sight better than I'm likely to do if I go hunting for a wife in London. Riverdale! He shrugged. It's true. I quite like Caroline, and if I have to marry her because Blake is too cowardly to do it himself—well, then, so be it. Frankly, I can think of worse fates. What a coil. Penelope sighed. Don't worry. Blake will propose, James said with a confident wave of his hand. It'd kill him to see me married to her. I hope you're right. Lord knows he needs a little happiness. And then Penelope sighed and sagged back against the back of her chair. I just want him to be happy. Is that so very much to ask? Outside the doorway, Caroline stood with her hand over her open mouth. She'd thought her humiliation was complete when Penelope had demanded that someone—anyone!—marry her. But this— She choked back a sob. This went beyond humiliation. Humiliation was something she could live through, something she could endure and eventually put behind her. But this was different. Something inside her was dying, and Caroline wasn't sure whether it was her heart or her soul. It didn't matter which, she realized as she ran back up to her room. All that mattered was that she was hurting, and the pain was going to last the rest of her lifetime. It took two hours, but eventually Caroline was able to compose herself. A bit of cold water reduced the puffiness around her eyes, and several minutes of deep breaths had managed to remove the quaver from her voice. Unfortunately, there wasn't much she could do to take her heart out of her eyes. She made her way down the stairs and wasn't surprised to find James and Penelope still sitting in the drawing room. Their conversation drifted down the hall, and Caroline was thankful to hear that they had moved on to more ordinary topics. They were discussing the theatre when she reached the doorway, and she knocked softly against the doorframe. James stood up instantly when he saw her. May I come in? she asked.Of course, Penelope said. Here, sit by me. Caroline shook her head. I'd rather stand, thank you. As you wish. Do you know where Blake is? Caroline asked, her posture as regal as a queen's. I wish to say this only once. I'm right here. Caroline whipped her head around. Blake was standing in the doorway, his body somehow rigid and weary at the same time. His cheeks were touched with color, and she wondered if he'd been walking in the chill night air. Good. I would like to say something if I may. Please do, Blake said. Caroline gave each of the room's three other occupants an assessing glance and then finally said, I do not require a husband. I certainly do not require a husband who does not require a wife. All I wish is to be allowed to remain here, in hiding, until my twenty-first birthday. But Caroline! Penelope protested. These gentlemen have compromised you. You must allow one of them to make it right. Caroline swallowed. She didn't have much in life, but she did have her pride, and she wasn't about to let Blake Ravenscroft humiliate her any more than he had already. She looked straight at him even as she addressed her words to his sister. Lady Fairwich, these gentlemen have done nothing to compromise me. Nothing? Blake asked. Caroline glared at him, wondering what devil had prompted him to speak when he was so vocal about avoiding marriage. Nothing which meant anything, she said in a scathing voice. Their eyes met, and both knew she was talking about their encounter on the beach. The difference was that only Caroline knew she was lying. Her time with Blake had meant everything to her. Every minute of every encounter was held close to her heart. She blinked back tears. Soon she'd be gone, and all she'd have to keep her warm inside were memories. There would be no man to hold her, no friends to tease her, no seaside manor that had, in just a few short weeks, become home. But of all the things she would miss, the absence that would hurt the most was that of Blake's smile. It was so rare, but when his lips turned up at the edges…And then when he actually laughed, the pure joy of the sound made her want to sing. But he wasn't smiling now. His face was hard, and he was glaring at her as if she were some sort of antidote, and she knew that if she didn't get out of the room that instant she was going to make an utter fool of herself. Excuse me, she said quickly, rushing toward the door. You can't go now! Penelope exclaimed, jumping to her feet. Caroline didn't turn around as she said, I've said what I came here to say. But where are you going? Out. Caroline. It was Blake's voice, and just the sound of it made her eyes tear up. What? she managed to say. Perhaps it was a rude reply, but it was the best she could do. It's dark out. Or hadn't you noticed? I'm going out to look at the stars. She heard his footsteps and then felt his hand on her shoulder, slowly drawing her away from the door. The night is cloudy, he said, his voice surprisingly gentle. You won't be able to see the stars. She didn't even turn around as she said, I know they're there. And that's all that matters. Blake closed his eyes as she ran from the room, for some reason not wanting to see her retreating form. Now look what you've done, he heard his sister say. You've broken that poor girl's heart. He didn't answer, not knowing—hell, not wanting to know if his sister's words were true. If he had broken her heart, then he was a bastard of the worst sort. And if it wasn't true, it meant that Caroline didn't care about him, that their one night of passion hadn't meant anything to her. And that was almost too painful to bear. He didn't want to think about what he felt for her. He didn't want to analyze it, to pick it to pieces, or to try to put a label on it. Because he was terrified that if he did, the only word he'd be able to come up with was love, and that would have to be the cruelest joke of all. Blake opened his eyes just in time to see the expression of disgust on Riverdale's face as he said, You're an ass, Ravenscroft. Blake said nothing. Marabelle is dead, James hissed. Blake turned on his friend with such violence that Penelope flinched. Don't mention her, he said in a threatening voice. She has no place in this conversation. Exactly, James replied. She's dead, and you can't go on mourning her forever. You don't know, Blake said, shaking his head. You don't know what it's like to love. And you know all too well, James murmured. In fact, you've known twice. Blake, Penelope said softly, putting her hand on his arm. I know you loved her. We all loved her. But Marabelle wouldn't have wanted you to go on like this. You're just a shell. You buried your soul along with hers. Blake swallowed convulsively, wanting more than anything to flee the room, yet somehow he remained rooted to the spot. Let her go, Penelope whispered. It's time, Blake. And Caroline loves you. His head whipped around. She said that? Penelope wanted to lie. He could see it in her eyes. But finally she shook her head. No, but it's easy to see. I won't hurt her, he vowed. She deserves better.

The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise #1)

Then marry her, Penelope implored. He shook his head. If I marry her…God, I'd hurt her in more ways than you could imagine. Bloody hell! James burst out. Stop being so damned afraid. You're afraid of loving, you're afraid of living. The only bloody thing you're not afraid of is death. I'll give you one night. One night only. Blake narrowed his eyes. For what? To make up your mind. But I promise you this: I will marry Caroline if you don't. So ask yourself if you'll be able to bear that for a lifetime. James turned on his heel and stalked from the room. He's not making an idle threat, Penelope said. He's quite fond of her. I know that, Blake snapped. Penelope gave him a brief nod, then walked to the door. I'll leave you to your thoughts. That, Blake thought bitterly, was the last thing he wanted. Chapter 20 bal-cy-on (adjective). Calm, quiet, peaceful, undisturbed. I shan't look back upon these as halcyon days. —From the personal dictionary of Caroline Trent Caroline was sitting on the sandy portion of the beach, gazing up at the sky. Just as Blake had pointed out, it was cloudy, so all she could see was the pale, blurry glow of the moon. She wrapped her arms around her bent knees and huddled against the cool breeze, her shoes lying next to her. It doesn't matter, she told herself, wiggling her toes in the coarse sand. It just doesn't matter. What doesn't matter? Her head jerked up. Blake. How did you get here without my hearing you? He motioned behind him. There is another path about fifty yards back. Oh. Well, if you have come to check up on me, you'll see that I am perfectly fine, and you can go back to the house. Caroline. He cleared his throat. There are a few things I need to tell you. She looked away. You don't owe me any explanations. He sat down beside her, unconsciously adopting the same position. He rested his chin on his knees and said, There were reasons I swore never to marry. I don't want to hear it. Nonetheless, I need to say it. She didn't say anything, so he continued. When Marabelle died… His voice caught. You don't have to do this, she said quickly. Please. He ignored her. When she died, I thought—I felt—God, it's so hard to put into words. He exhaled, a world of heartbreak in that rush of air. I was dead inside. That's the only way to describe it. Caroline swallowed, barely able to resist the impulse to offer him the comfort of her hand on his arm. I can't be what you need. I know, she said bitterly. I can't compete with a dead woman, after all. He flinched at her words. I swore I'd never marry. I— I never asked that of you. I may have—Never mind. You may have what? Caroline just shook her head, unwilling to tell him that she may have wished for it. Please continue, she said in a distracted voice. He nodded, although it was clear that he was still curious about what she'd almost said. I always told myself that I could not marry out of respect for Marabelle, that I didn't want to be disloyal to her memory. And I think I really believed it. But tonight I realized that was no longer true. She turned to face him, a thousand questions in her eyes. Marabelle's dead, he said in a hollow voice. And I know that. I can't bring her back. I never thought I could. It's just… It's just what, Blake? she prompted in a low, urgent voice. Please tell me. Make me understand. I felt I couldn't fail her in death as I had in life. Oh, Blake. You've never failed anyone. She touched his arm. Someday you'll have to realize that. I know. He closed his eyes for a moment. I've always known that, deep down. She was so headstrong. I couldn't have stopped her. Then why are you so determined to be unhappy? It isn't about Marabelle any longer. It's me. I don't understand. Somewhere along the way I lost something inside. I don't know whether it was the grief or the bitterness, but I just stopped caring. That's not true. I know you better than you think. Caroline, I feel nothing! he burst out. Nothing deep and meaningful, at least. Don't you see that I'm dead inside? She shook her head. Don't say that. It's not true. He grasped her shoulder with startling urgency. It is true. And you deserve more than I can give you. She stared at his hand. You don't know what you're saying, she whispered. The hell I don't. He wrenched himself away from her and stood, his posture bleak as he stared at the surf. After a moment of silence he said, James has said he will marry you. I see. Is that all you have to say? She let out an impatient exhale. What do you want me to say, Blake? Tell me, and I'll say it. But I don't know what you want. I don't even know what I want anymore. She buried her face in her knees. That was a lie. She knew exactly what she wanted, and he was standing next to her, telling her to marry another man. She wasn't surprised, but she hadn't expected it to hurt so much.He'll take care of you, Blake said in a low voice. I'm sure he will. Will you accept? She looked up sharply. Do you care? How can you ask that? I thought you didn't feel. I thought you didn't care about anything. Caroline, I do care about your future. I just can't be what you need in a husband. That's an excuse. She stood, her posture militant. You're nothing but a coward, Blake Ravenscroft. She started to walk away, but her feet sank in the sand, and he was able to catch up with her quickly. Don't touch me! she yelled when his hand closed around her arm. Leave me alone. He didn't let go. I want you to accept Riverdale's proposal. You have no right to tell me what to do. I know that. But I'm asking nonetheless. Caroline let her head fall back. Her breath came in short, shallow pants, and she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment against the emotions colliding in her mind. Go away, she finally managed to say. Not until I have your word that you will marry Riverdale. No! she cried out. No! I won't marry him. I don't love him and he doesn't love me, and that's not what I want. His grip tightened around her arm. Caroline, you must listen to me. Riverdale will— No! With strength that was born of fury and heartbreak, she yanked her arm away and started to run down the beach. She ran until her lungs burned, until her eyes were so filled with tears that she couldn't see. She ran until the pain in her body finally eclipsed that in her heart. She stumbled along the sand, trying to ignore the sound of Blake's footsteps drawing closer. Then his body slammed into hers with stunning force, knocking them both to the ground. Caroline landed on her back, with Blake's body covering hers intimately. Caroline, he said, his breath coming in hard pants. She stared up at him, her eyes wildly searching his face for some sign that he loved her. And then she reached out, grabbed the back of his head, and pulled his mouth down to hers, kissing him with all the love and desperation in her heart. Blake tried to resist. He couldn't have her; he knew that. She was going to marry his best friend. But her lips were sweet and demanding, and the press of her body against his turned his blood to flame. He murmured her name over and over, like a mantra. He'd tried to be noble, he'd tried to push her away, but he wasn't strong enough to say no when her tongue was on his lips and her bare feet were rubbing along his calves. His hands were nimble and quick, and he had her dress off in under ten seconds. He laid it down beneath her to protect her from the sand, but that was his last rational thought before his entire being was overtaken by the need to possess her. I will have you, he vowed, rubbing his fingertips past her calves to her thighs. I will have you, he pledged, yanking off her chemise and placing his hand over her heart. I will have you, he groaned, just before his mouth closed over her nipple. All she said was, Yes. And Blake's heart soared. Caroline arched her back as high-pitched sounds of desire escaped her mouth. It seemed that for every longing he fulfilled, he created two more, whipping her body into a frenzy of need. She wasn't certain what to do, but she knew she wanted to feel his skin against hers, so she moved her hands to the buttons of his shirt. Her movements were rough and clumsy, however, and she soon found herself pushed aside by Blake, who tore the garment off with a savage cry. A second later, he was back on top of her, the heat of his bare chest against hers. His mouth slanted over hers, and he devoured her from the inside out. She moaned into him, clutching at his back, then skimming her hands down to the waistband of his breeches. She paused, gathered her courage, then hooked one finger underneath., touching the smooth skin of his buttocks. Blake's lips slid across her cheek to her ear, murmuring, I want to feel you, against her skin. His breath was hot and moist, and so very erotic. She could feel each of his words even more than she could hear them. I want to feel you, too, she whispered. Oh, you shall. You shall. He rolled off her just long enough to divest himself of the rest of his clothing, and then he was on top of her again, the hot, naked length of him burning into her skin. The surf was rising, and the cold water tickled her bare toes. Caroline shivered, but the movement only rubbed her more intimately against Blake, and she heard him groan with desire. I'm going to touch you, he whispered, his voice hot against her cheek. She knew what he meant, but it was still a shock when he brushed his fingers against her most intimate place. She stiffened, then relaxed as his lips pressed up against her ear with a soft, Shhh. One finger slipped inside her, and she gasped with pleasure. I want to touch you, too, she said. He let out a ragged breath. It would probably kill me if you did. Her eyes flew to his face. I want you so much, he tried to explain. I'm damned near bursting with it, and I can't— Shhh. It was her turn now to comfort him, and she placed a gentle finger on his lips. Just show me. Show me everything. I want to please you. A hoarse sound came from deep in Blake's throat as he nudged her legs apart. He touched her with the very tip of his manhood and nearly flinched at the pleasure of the contact. She was so hot and willing, and he knew she wanted him, damaged soul and all.

Oh, Caroline, I'll make this good for you, he vowed. I'll bring you such joy. I promise. You already have, she said softly, then gasped as he began to penetrate her. He took her slowly, giving her body time to adjust to his size and strength. It was so difficult to hold back when every fiber of his being ached to pound into her, branding her as his own. Something very primitive had been awakened inside him, and he didn't just want to make love to her; he wanted to devour her, possess her, bring her such pleasure that she couldn't even dream of giving herself to another. But he held back, straining to maintain a gentle touch. She wasn't ready for the ferocity of his desire. She wouldn't understand it. And he cared too much to frighten her. He cared. It was a stunning revelation, and his entire body froze. Blake? He'd known he liked her, he'd known he desired her. But it had taken this moment of intimacy to realize that his emotions were far more intense. He, who had thought that he'd lost the power to feel anything deeply, had been touched by this woman, and— Blake? He looked down. Is something wrong? No, he said, a touch of wonder in his voice. No. As a matter of fact, I think that everything might actually be just right. A hint of a smile graced her lips. What do you mean? I'll tell you later, he said, worried that this magical feeling might disappear if he examined it too closely. But for now… He pushed forward. Caroline gasped. Did I hurt you? he asked. No. It's just that—I feel so, well, full somehow. Blake let out a shout of laughter. I'm not even halfway there, he said with an amused smile. Her mouth fell open. You're not? Not yet, he said solemnly. Although this—he pressed forward, the motion bringing exquisite friction to them both—does bring me a little closer. She gulped. Only closer? Not all the way there? He smiled slowly and shook his head. Of course if I did this—he gave his hips a tiny thrust—I'd be almost there. But did you—Am I still— —a virgin? he completed for her. Technically, I suppose, yes, but as far as I'm concerned, you're mine. Caroline swallowed and blinked back tears, barely able to contain her emotions. It was amazing what a simple sentence could do to her. You're mine. Oh, how she wanted that to be true. Forever. Make me yours, she whispered. In every way. She could see in his face how much his restraint was costing him. The night air was chilly, but Blake's brow was beaded with sweat, and the muscular cords of his throat stood out prominently. I don't want to hurt you, he said, his voice straining against itself. You won't. And then, as if the last bit of his reserve had been used up, he let out a hoarse cry and plunged forward, sheathing himself within her completely. Sweet Lord, he gasped. Caroline. She couldn't fight off a crazy urge to laugh. Oh, Blake, she gasped. I see the difference now. Do you? There's more? He nodded. Just wait and see. And then he began to move. * * * Later Caroline couldn't decide which part she'd liked best. Was it the feeling of completeness she felt when they were joined as one? Was it the primitive rhythm of his body as he claimed her as his own? Certainly she couldn't discount the explosive climax she'd felt, immediately followed by Blake's shout of passion as he left his seed in her. But now, as she lay in his arms, the ocean breeze caressing their bodies, she thought that this might be the best of all. He was so warm and close, and she could hear his heartbeat as it slowed to its normal, sedate pace. She could smell the salt on his skin and the passion in the air. And there was something so right about it all, as if she'd waited her whole life just for this moment. But mixed in with her happiness was an uneasy fear. What happened now? Did this mean he wanted to marry her? And if he did, was that only because he now felt it was the right thing to do? And if that were the case, did she care? Well, of course she cared. She wanted him to love her with the intensity of emotion she felt for him. But maybe he would learn to love her if they were married. She might be miserable if she married a man who didn't love her, but she knew she'd be miserable without him. Maybe she should just close her eyes, jump in, and hope for the best. Or maybe, she thought with a frown, she ought to remember that he hadn't said more than two words to her since they'd made love, and certainly nothing about marriage. Why the long face? Blake asked, idly stroking her hair with his fingers. She shook her head. Nothing. Just woolgathering. About me, I imagine, he said quietly. And my intentions. She drew back in horror. I would never dream of manipulating you into— Shush, he said with soft authority. I know. You do? We will be married as soon as I can obtain a special license. Her heart leaped. Are you sure? What kind of question is that? A stupid one, she mumbled. Hadn't she just decided that she didn't care if he wanted to marry her just because it was the right thing to do? No, that wasn't right. She did care. She was just going to marry him anyway.

Caroline? Amusement was evident in his voice. Yes? Are you going to answer my question? She blinked. Did you ask me one? I asked you if you would… He paused. No, actually I didn't ask. Before Caroline realized what he was about, he rolled over and got up on one knee. Caroline Trent, soon to be Ravenscroft, he said, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? If her eyes hadn't filled with so many tears, she might have actually chuckled at the sight of him proposing to her stark naked. Yes, she said, nodding furiously. Yes, yes, yes. He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. Good. Caroline closed her eyes for a few seconds. She wanted to close off all her senses so that she might savor the moment in her mind. No sight, no touch, no smell—nothing to distract her from the exquisite joy in her heart. Caroline? Shhh. She waved her hand at him and then, a few seconds later, opened her eyes and said, There. What were you going to say? His expression was curious. What was that all about? Nothing, I—Oh look! She pointed up at the sky. What? he asked, his eyes following her finger. The sky must have cleared up. The stars are out. So they are, he murmured, a ghost of a smile touching his lips. But then again, you were the one who said they were there all along. Caroline squeezed his hand in hers. Yes, she agreed. They were. A half hour later they were dressed—albeit rather disheveled—and trying to slip into the house as quietly as possible. James, however, was waiting in the front hall. I told you we should have used the back stairs, Caroline muttered. I assume you're back for the night? James said mildly. Perriwick wanted to lock the door, but I wasn't sure you'd brought a key. We've decided to be married, Blake blurted out. James merely lifted one eyebrow and murmured, I thought you might. Chapter 21 prov-e-nance (noun). Origin, derivation. I cannot claim to know or understand the provenance of romantic love, but I'm not sure that it is something that needs to be understood, just appreciated and revered. —From the personal dictionary of Caroline Ravenscroft They were married one week later, much to the delight of Penelope, who insisted upon purchasing a trousseau for the bride. Caroline had thought that the two ready-made dresses Blake had purchased for her were a luxury, but nothing could compare to Penelope's idea of a suitable wardrobe. Caroline let her soon-to-be sister choose every-thing—with one exception. The dressmaker owned a bolt of blue-green silk the exact color of her eyes, and Caroline insisted upon having an evening gown fashioned out of it. She had never given much thought to her eyes before, but after Blake had skimmed his fingers across her eyelids and declared her eyes the exact color of the ocean at the equator…Well, she really couldn't help becoming a little bit proud of them. The wedding ceremony was small and private, with only Penelope, James, and Seacrest Manor's servants in attendance. Blake's older brother had wanted to come, but one of his daughters had taken ill, and he didn't want to leave her. Caroline thought that was as it should be and penned him a note expressing her desire to meet him at a more convenient time. Perriwick gave the bride away. Mrs. Mickle was so jealous she insisted upon playing the part of mother of the bride, even though that role didn't entail her actually taking part in the ceremony. Penelope was matron of honor, and James was best man, and a lovely time was had by all. Caroline smiled her way through the next few days. She couldn't ever remember being as happy as she was as Caroline Ravenscroft of Seacrest Manor. She had a husband and a home, and her life was as near to perfect as she could imagine. Blake hadn't professed his love to her, but she supposed that was too much to expect from a man who had until recently been in so much emotional pain. In the meantime, she would make him as happy as she could, and let him do the same for her. * * * Now that Caroline truly belonged to Seacrest Manor and vice versa, she was determined to make her mark on the small estate. She was puttering in the garden when Perriwick approached her. Mrs. Ravenscroft, he said, you have a visitor. I do? she asked in surprise. Hardly anyone even knew she was Mrs. Ravenscroft. Who? A Mr. Oliver Prewitt. She paled. Oliver? But why… Do you want me to send him away? Or I could have Mr. Ravenscroft deal with him, if that is preferable. No, no, she said quickly. She didn't want her husband seeing Oliver. Blake was likely to lose his temper, and he'd hate himself later for it. She knew how important it was to him to apprehend Oliver and his entire ring of spies. If he blew his cover now, he'd never get the chance. I'll see him, she said in a firm voice. She took a deep, cleansing breath and set down her work gloves. Oliver had no power over her now, and she refused to be afraid of him. Perriwick motioned for her to follow him into the house, and they made their way to the drawing room. As she passed through the doorway, she saw Oliver's back, and her entire body tensed. She'd almost forgotten how much she hated him. What do you want, Oliver? she said in a flat voice. He looked up at her, seven different kinds of menace lurking in his eyes. That isn't a very affectionate greeting for your guardian.Can anyone else see how he watches? I glance about, then with a start spot Nico sitting with his tutor group, off to the left and several rows back. His eyes flit to mine and then away. Did Coulson see?

Face carefully blank, I focus on the Head as he goes on about school inspections. Inside, all is turmoil: those two, together, breathing the same air in the same room. Perhaps I could point them out to each other and let them get on with it.No. It isnt fair to put them together in my mind like that. Lorders are evil: thinking about what happened to Tori in their hands turns my stomach. And to so many others, who go missing without explanation. Nico is right to want to put an end to them and their ways.

Death Screams (Death #4)

Yet what Nico is to me…that is complicated.I should have told him. Right from the start, as soon as it happened, I should have told Nico about Coulson and his deal. Let Nico decide how to handle it, how to turn it back on them. The old Rain would have done.

But I didnt. I couldnt risk Ben; or Cam either, for that matter. But that isnt the Free UK way. They will rescue their own if they can without undue risk. Otherwise, all are expendable; we know this. Its part of the deal. The safety of the group – the cause – is more important than any individual, in the group or outside it.I feel sick inside. It is too late to tell Nico about any of it; Id be damned by the delay. Hed see I am divided. That I am weak.

No matter what I do, it is wrong.Jazz winks and slips an envelope in my hand when we get home after school. I race up to my room, and shut the door. He made sure to do it when Amy wasnt looking. What could it be? My hands are shaking so hard it takes longer than it should to open, and I almost rip it.

Inside is a photograph. A runner: slightly out of focus, taken on a track from some distance. His hair, his build, the away look on his face as he runs.Flipped over a few words are written faint in pencil: Is it him?