Sara pressed her fingers to her mouth to stop from gasping as she watched the man and woman writhe together on the tangled bedsheets. Daisy's plump thighs were locked around the hips of the man who pushed relentlessly inside her. The violent rhythm of his thrusts made the iron bedstead creak as Daisy moaned and cried out his name.
Sara knew she should move away from the half-opened door. But she couldn't take her gaze away from the frenzied activity on the bed. Her skin prickled, and her heart thumped hard against her breasts.
When Daisy screeched and convulsed as if she were suffering a fit, a small sound escaped Sara's lips. To her horror, the man on top of Daisy reared back as though he'd heard something. He turned his head, and his eyes locked with hers. Sara spun away, gathered her shawl around her shoulders, and stumbled back along the corridor. She had her hand on the landing door when footsteps behind her made her pause.
"Did you enjoy that?"
Lord Valentin Sokorvsky's amused voice halted Sara's hurried retreat. Reluctantly she turned to face him. He strolled toward her, tucking his white shirt into his unfastened breeches. His discarded coat, waistcoat, and cravat hung over his arm. A thin glow of perspiration covered his tanned skin, a testament to his recent exertions.
Sara drew herself up to her full height. "The question of enjoyment did not arise, my lord. I merely confirmed my suspicions that you are not a fit mate for my youngest sister."
Lord Valentin was close enough now for Sara to stare into his violet eyes. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. His body was as graceful as a Greek sculpture, and he moved like a trained dancer. Although she mistrusted him, she yearned to reach out and stroke his lush lower lip just to see if he was real. His hair was a rich chestnut brown, held back from his face with a black silk ribbon. An unfashionable style, but it suited him.
He arched one eyebrow. Every movement he made was so polished, she suspected he practiced each one in the mirror until he perfected it. His open-necked shirt revealed half a bronzed coin strung on a strand of leather and hinted at the thickness of the hair on his chest.
"Men have ... needs, Miss Harrison. I'm sure your sister is aware of that."
As he moved closer, Sara tried to take shallow breaths. His citrus scent was underscored by another more powerful and elusive smell that she realized must be sex. She'd never imagined lovemaking had a particular scent. She'd always thought procreation would be a quiet orderly affair in the privacy of a marriage bed, not the primitive, noisy, exuberant mating she'd just witnessed.
"My sister is a lady, Lord Sokorvsky. What would she know of men's desires?"
"Enough to know that a man looks for heirs and obedience from his wife and pleasure from his mistress."
She felt a rush of anger on her sister's behalf. "Perhaps she deserves more. Personally, I cannot think of anything worse than being trapped in a marriage like that."
His extraordinary eyes sparked with interest as he appeared to notice her nightclothes and bare feet for the first time. Sara edged back toward the door. He angled his body to block her exit.
"Is that why you frequent the servants' wing in the dead of night? Have you decided to risk all for the love of a common man?"
Sara blushed and clutched her shawl tightly to her breasts. "I came to see if what my maid told me was true."
"Ah." He glanced back down the corridor. "Daisy is your maid?" He swept her an elegant bow. "Consider me well and truly compromised. What do you intend to do? Insist I marry her? Go and tell tales to your father?"
She glared at him. How could she tell her father that the man he regarded as a prot