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The Royal Conquest

By:Stacy Reid

The Royal Conquest (Scandalous House of Calydon), - Stacy Reid

Chapter One

October, 1883

England, Norfolk, Sherring Cross

The thief smelled exotically alluring—sweet, feminine, an elusive whisper of spiced wine and strawberries. Very much at odds with the tightly fitted trousers, billowing white shirt, and cap the person wore. The shadows shifted in the prodigious Calydon stables, and the interloper slinked forward, moving with the elegance of a sensual feline.

A woman. Without any doubt. Only an imbecile would ever imagine those delightful curves belonged to a young man, despite the mode of dress. She strode forward, the strong breeze lifting her shirt, baring to his eyes the delectable curve of her mouth-watering rump. The shadows dipped, and she disappeared with the darkness. Why was she creeping about around the stables in the dead of night? A maid meeting her lover for a tryst? With her clandestine approach, it was more likely for her to be doing something underhanded. Who would be so bold as to sneak into the Duke of Calydon’s property to steal one of his prized stallions?

Mikhail moved with the silent grace of a predator, using his sharpened senses, honed from being a grand general in the Russian Army, to track the woman, not even a whisper of sound betraying his movements. Shrouding himself in the pockets of darkness, he wove through the stalls, listening to the soft footfall of the intruder.

There was a rustle of sound, a sharp inhalation of what could be appreciation…or desire.

“You beautiful, magnificent beast. I want to ride you so desperately,” a low husky voice crooned. “I want to feel your power and strength between my thighs. Will you allow me to mount you?”

Sweet merciful Christ.

Mikhail’s body reacted with painful immediacy to the woman’s words. The softly purring voice stoked his intrigue. Suddenly, irrationally, he wanted to be the one to be ridden, hard and desperately by this faceless female. Absurd to be sure, for he was not a man to be led around by his cock…ever. He had always selected his lovers with utter discretion and only succumbed to pleasures of the flesh after conversing at length with a potential bedmate. Not to mention conducting a thorough investigation into her background. He assuredly did not jump into meaningless encounters, no matter how tempting. He had more control over his desires than that, especially after his days of torment under Madam Anya. Yet with innocent words, this unknown woman had his mouth drying and lust rising hot and thick inside him.

“Will you allow me to ride you? Please allow me… I need to feel you underneath me,” she purred.

A sharp neigh sounded, and a throaty laugh spilled into the air. “It seems as if we are in agreement.” Her murmur was filled with awe and triumph.

Moonlight sliced through the darkness of the vast stables, and he was able to make out her form as she stopped at his horse Sage’s stall. She moved with liquid grace as she eased closer to the massive black horse. Stallions were considered unsuitable mounts for young ladies, yet she seemed determined to ride Sage. Mikhail wondered if he should speak, but he dismissed the idea. He was too enthralled by the unconventionality playing before him. She roused his interest, a curious change from the bitter desolateness and icy disdain that had shrouded his heart for years.

Who is she?

A thief? If so, she picked the wrong night to pilfer from the Calydon stables. She opened the latch to the stall, all the while crooning sweet nonsense. Sage seemed to lap it up, because Mikhail’s damn temperamental stallion allowed her closer, nickering his welcome, nudging her shoulders playfully. With an efficiency and strength that was surprising, she saddled Sage and fitted his reins.

Definitely not a novice.

Using the mounting block, she seated herself atop the horse with supreme confidence, no hesitation or fear displayed at the sheer size of the beast beneath her. She sighed, stretched, and then pouting lips, the only visible part of her face, curved into an irresistibly alluring smile.

An intense jolt of lust hardened Mikhail’s length with such swiftness that for a heartbeat he felt light-headed. What the hell is this? Must be the vodka he had drunk earlier. It was the only explanation for his lack of restraint over his desires. His heart pounded, and he breathed evenly, controlling his body’s startling reaction to such raw sensuality.

Thunder rumbled and light flashed across the sky. Sage did not shift, but she gripped his reins tighter, glancing through the massive open slat windows into the night. Mikhail could smell the storm in the air, feel the vibrations of the thunder. Do not leave, he urged silently. He did not want to have to track her down, and until he chose to make his presence known to London society it was best to keep a low profile. Mikhail certainly did not want Princess Tatiana Ivanovna tracking him to England to plead her case. God save him from perfidious females. But most importantly he wanted—no, he needed—some peace before wading back into the fray of society. He doubted revealing his presence to this unknown woman would compromise his plan, but caution still curled inside him.