Read An Excerpt

by Marissa Day

Genre: Historical Erotic Romance, Erotic Romance, Paranormal

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Corwin Rathe knew he was in the presence of a Catalyst as soon as he entered the house, or rather his cock did.

Corwin paused in the threshold to admire the glittering private ballroom. As he inhaled the richly mingled scents of perfume and humanity, his cock began to swell, hot and eager. There was most certainly a Catalyst amid the sparkling throng. It was summer, and most of London society was making ready to retire to the country to escape the heat and stink of town. For Lady Viola Thayer, this was the perfect excuse for a party. She had thrown open the doors of her Mayfair home for approximately two hundred of society’s finest. They moved about the room, dancing, chattering and, no doubt, intriguing. Despite the seriousness of his errand, and despite the fact that he suddenly had to resist the strong urge to stroke himself, Corwin grinned. With any luck the evening would prove productive, and very pleasant.

A liveried servant hastened toward Corwin, ready to eject him as an interloper. Corwin met the man’s gaze directly.

“I have an invitation,” he said in a tone that was firm yet conversational. “You will announce Mr. Corwin Rathe.”

The footman’s eyes unfocused briefly under the force of Corwin’s bespelling gaze. “Yes, sir.” He bowed, turned and did precisely as he was instructed.

“Mr. Corwin Rathe!”

Curious heads turned. Curious eyes narrowed. Corwin stood in place, giving the assembly sufficient time to look him over. He was a tall man with a form that was the result of an active and dangerous life: broad in the shoulder and narrow in the hip, with strong legs. His hair was midnight black, and his eyes nearly as dark. Tonight, he dressed in a burgundy coat cut away to show his patterned waistcoat, a spotless linen shirt and tight fawn breeches—a choice he was beginning to regret, due to the fullness of his erection.

As the company took his measure, Corwin returned the favor. He surveyed the ballroom, his gaze lingering on the delightful variety of women present (although any number of the men looked as if they also would be intriguing company, were they so inclined). It would surely take a while to select the Catalyst from so many fine flowers, but he was quite prepared . . .

Then he saw her.

Her hair was as black has his own, piled high on top of her head and crowned in the style a la minute with glittering gems and a trio of pale ostrich feathers. Her skin was tawny rather than pale cream. It went well with her black hair and her rich brown eyes. Her high-waisted gown was a bold, emerald green silk trimmed with pure white lace. It had been cut low, allowing him the delectable sight of her ample breasts. More feathers decorated the fan held to her gloved wrist by a slender chain. Her skirts were somewhat fuller than those of most of the other ladies in the room, done in an utterly mistaken—and futile—attempt to disguise the luscious curves of her hips and thighs.

But despite all these enticing attributes, she sat alone on a little gilt chair at the edge of the room.

As Corwin gazed at her, a quick pulse of blood to his cock told him she was indeed the Catalyst. He breathed a silent prayer of thanks to all the gods and goddesses. Not only was he in time; she was surely one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.

Corwin’s cock pulsed again, its urgency bordering on pain, but that only made him grin harder.

Soon, he told his eager member. Very soon.

Like everyone else in Lady Thayer’s ballroom, Miranda Prosper turned to look at the stranger. Despite rumors of an indiscreet past, Lady Thayer now gave the most exclusive, elaborate and dullest parties on record. To Miranda’s way of thinking, that was a very long record indeed. For her end-of-season party, Lady Viola Thayer had spared no expense. Each of the three chandeliers was fully lit, flooding the room with rich, warm light. Draperies of gold and ivory silk glimmered on the walls and festooned the high-arched windows. The parquet floor had been polished mirror bright. As for the guests, they were all the cream of London society, arrayed in their summer finery; a human garden of silks, laces and jewels.

But Miranda had been staring at them all for several hours now and was bored to tears by their glamour. A stranger might provide something new to speculate about, if only for a few minutes.

She was, however, utterly unprepared for what she saw, or for what that sight did to her.

Mr. Corwin Rathe was tall and broad. His supple fawn breeches showed off magnificently muscled legs. His face was chiseled, with high cheekbones, a long, straight nose, a strong jaw, and eyes like midnight.

It was those eyes that did Miranda in. Although Mr. Rathe bowed to the whole of the company, it seemed as if those deep, black eyes gazed only at her. She felt hot. She felt cold. No, she wasn’t cold; she was fevered. That was the only explanation for the tremors running down her spine, and the flush rising to her cheeks. But there was no explanation at all for the sudden yearning that rose up from deep within her at the sight of the stranger. It was as if she had been starving for years, but had discovered the fact only at this moment.