The Iron Heart
By Leslie Dicken
Sexy, Victorian Steampunk!
One woman swears to avenge the savagery of a ruthless killer loose on the streets of Lundun; if only she can stay one step ahead of an inventor who fears his greatest work, a labor of love, has turned on humanity.
Grieving the loss of her beloved cousin, Ella Wilder is determined to catch the murderer. Infuriated by the fumblings of the constable, she seeks the assistance of a handsome Noble who seems to be looking for his own answers, and who’s reluctance tells her he has something to hide. Over time, hesitant intimacy grows into fiery passion but brings them no closer to finding the madman.
As the killer reveals darker inventions that blur the boundary between man and machine, Ella fights the fear he may be after her next. Can Ella trust her heart to the man who refuses to share his secrets yet swears to protect her? Will Bennett be able to choose between keeping terrifying family secrets…or losing Ella to the iron-hearted killer who stalks the night?
When they reached the top, Bennett stopped. Past this point there would be no turning back. She must realize this.
“You do understand you are bringing a man into your bedroom?”
Ellie dropped his hand and turned to face him. Low fires burned in her eyes. “Every move I make is done with full deliberation. I am no simpleton.”
He swept his gaze down her smooth neck to the straining fabric at her breasts.
Lord, was it only a few hours ago that he had her pushed up against the table, pressed his body against hers?
She opened a door. “Tell me what’s happened. You look as though you are in dire need of a friend.”
Light from inside the room illuminated beneath her dress. The features of her body outlined for his viewing pleasure. He could see every round curve, each flare and indentation.
It was becoming evident he needed more than just friendship from her tonight.
With his returning libido came a comforting sense of control. Weakness and vulnerability he could not tolerate. Seduction and yearning pulled him back to strength. He pushed aside the weighty drag of helplessness and the overwhelming ache for casual comfort.
Ecstasy would return him to full health again. Surely.
Bennett closed the door behind them. He glanced about the room. It was smaller than his servants’ rooms. A bed against each wall, an old wardrobe, small dresser and a fireplace. In the center of the room, a tub of still-scented water.
The thought that her naked body was just in there sent quivers down his spine. And a flush of hot blood to his groin.
Ella motioned to the chair beside the fireplace. “Won’t you sit? Perhaps tell me what is going on?”
Bennett continued standing. Sitting in a chair across the room from Ella was not at all in the plans.
Just a short time ago he’d have told her everything. What he’d done to his brother to create this monster, why it was so hard to capture him again.
He swallowed the pitying desire to have her brush her fingers through his hair, to have her hold him close to her heart.
It was the thrilling rush of pleasure he needed. Yes. It must be.
She shrugged and lowered herself to a bed. “Are you going to talk to me or have you just come to see if I was still awake?”
Bennett grinned, the first smile in hours.
“I came because I need you.” He glanced at the bathwater then back at Ella. “But I have found that my needs have changed since I arrived.”
A flush raced up from her chest to the tips of her ears. Once again he was charmed by her passionate blush.
“That is not the reason you came back to my door.”
“No,” he admitted, leaning against the wardrobe arms folded. “As much as my body yearns for you, it is never the initial motivation for me seeking your presence.”
She blinked, unable to answer.
“However, as seems to be the case with each time, my first cause slips away as I am drugged by your heavenly scent and seductive gaze.”
Her hand clenched a fistful of her nightdress.
“You are correct in that I came to you tonight because I was in dire need of a friend. I could not stomach the thought of spending the next few hours in futility. But that has now changed.”
Her chest rose, strained against the fabric. He could make the small outline of her nipples. A shot of electricity blasted to his groin.
Bennett licked his lips. He crossed the room in a few short strides. “You see, once again the sight and smell of you has brought me to my knees.” He sat on the bed next to her. “My body hungers for you.”
Her mouth opened then closed, as she seemed to search for the right words. And then, “Yet you stop us each time.”
He pulled off his gloves and tossed them to the floor. Next he shook his coat off and then his shoes.
All the while she watched with wide eyes and a nibbled lip.
“Yes, Ella, I have halted our progress us each time. And since I am still a gentleman, I will stop if you ask me to. Although it will be with great difficulty.”
He brushed his fingers across her chin. “But this time it will not be me who puts an end to the fire between us. As I stated, I need you. I hurt for you. I need the intimacy that only you can provide me.”
His face was just inches from hers. He could see her eyes searching his, her mind working. She tried to find reasons to put him off, to deny her desires. But she wouldn’t be able to. Ella was a passionate woman. She desired him as much as he yearned for her.
She drew in a deep breath. “Are you waiting for my permission?”
His lip curled. “No. I wanted to make the situation quite clear to you. We are on your bed. I have no intentions of leaving until I have found bliss inside your body.”
Her breath caught. It was the only invitation he required.
Bennett’s fingers went to the knot on her wrap. He quickly untied it and the thin cotton fell to the bed. Her creamy shoulders came into view and on impulse he pressed his lips to the round curve of her skin.
Heat blasted through his blood, hardening his flesh and increasing his pulse.
His hand slid down to her knees. She jumped but did not move away. The cotton was rough on his fingers, not the soft muslin of Noble women. Ella had made herself a Commoner. But it would not stop him from wanting her.
He scrunched up the fabric until it bunched under his hand. Then, to distract her, Bennett pressed his lips to her hair.
“Lord, you smell delightful.” Soothing and stirring, the lavender hummed in his blood.
He kissed his way down her forehead, over her nose, and finally to her lips.
“Bennett?” she said against his mouth.
“Hmm?” His hand slipped between her knees. The skin there was soft, so very soft.
“I-I thought we would go on the dirigible tomorrow. We might…”
“Are you asking me to stop? To wait for the morrow?”
Before she could answer, Bennett slipped his tongue between her lips. He angled his head to press deeper, and in doing so, she lost her resistance.
Her ramrod spine softened, shoulders bent. Bennett gently leaned her back, his mouth never leaving hers, until her head was upon the pillow.
He scooted next to her and pulled her legs up, skimming higher up her leg as he did so. Now they both lay upon the small bed, he partially on top of her, one hand between her thighs, his lips locked onto hers.
Her full body touching him sent the dizzying fog of lust to his brain. Like a bull rutting, need charged through his veins and clouded his mind. He could no longer be gentle.
Bennett thrust his tongue deep to find hers and his hand up beneath her night dress.
She moaned beneath him, responding as she did every other time they were together. Ella didn’t want his tenderness. No, she craved the urgent, desperate fire like he did.
Her tongue brushed his, pulling him further into her. She arched her back, pressing her breasts to his chest.
His fingers skimmed past the treasure between her legs to grasp a delicious mound of sweetness. Her nipple was hard against his palm and she cried out when he flicked it with his thumb.
His erection throbbed, hurt for release from the tight trousers. Soon, he promised, very soon.
Bennett tore his mouth from hers and kissed his way down her throat. He nibbled on a sensitive spot where her neck met her shoulders. She squirmed, but did not pull away.
His lips pushed down on the dress to find the swell of her breast. The shift would not go any lower. He must take it off of her.
“It has to come off,” he whispered. “Lift your hips.”
Her eyes opened and she stared at him. He waited for her to obey, but then she sat up. Instead of removing the night gown, Ella maneuvered herself from under him and got off the bed.
“What are you doing?” He reached out. “Come back.”
She took a step back. “I-I can’t.”
He must not have heard her properly. Ella was always the one urging him to continue. “You can’t? Why the hell not?”
Leslie is going to giveaway an e-copy of The Iron Heart.