The
Club
Sharon Page
A D E L L B O O K
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this
book is stolen property. It was reported as “uns...
Acknowledgements
Many, many thanks to my editor Shauna Summers for
seeing the promise in this book and for being so enthus...
How am I going to explain to a man I’ve paid
that I do not actually want him to make love to me?”
Jane St. Giles, Lady She...
Would he come to her aroused? Fear coiled, tight and
cold, around her heart. She knew—though she had
never experienced it ...
eyes had been wide and in their cornflower blue depths,
Jane had read surprising horror and shame.
“That is the novelty of ...
by a combination of citrusy bergamot and sultry sandal-
wood. She certainly couldn’t smell his perspiration, and
oddly, he...
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Transcript of "The Club"

  1. 1. The Club Sharon Page A D E L L B O O K
  2. 2. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.” THE CLUB A Dell Book / March 2009 Published by Bantam Dell A Division of Random House, Inc. New York, New York This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved Copyright © 2009 by Sharon Page Cover illustration © by tk Dell is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc., and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc. ISBN 978-0-440-24490-5 Printed in the United States of America Published simultaneously in Canada www.bantamdell.com (Printer’s ID - tk) 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  3. 3. Acknowledgements Many, many thanks to my editor Shauna Summers for seeing the promise in this book and for being so enthusi- astic as I developed the story into what it is here. Thank you, also, to her wonderful assistant Jessica Sebor for the many details she smoothed for me. And, of course, thank you to the art department for the breathtaking cover on The Club. Much gratitude as always to my agent Jessica Faust, who said the right things at the right times and who as- tutely commented on the story as it evolved, and to my wonderful critique partners—Candice, Teresa, Vanessa, and Sandra—who looked at this book in its early stages. Thank you to my husband for all his help and sup- port, and to my children for giving me smiles that always make me smile, too.
  4. 4. How am I going to explain to a man I’ve paid that I do not actually want him to make love to me?” Jane St. Giles, Lady Sherringham, asked the question of her image in the cheval mirror, but her reflection could provide no answers, obviously, that she could not think of herself. So speaking aloud to it was quite pointless. Groaning, Jane stalked around the brothel’s bed- chamber, biting her thumbnail, and dreading the knock that was soon to come. She had come here searching for her best friend Delphina, LadyTreyworth. She had come for answers. She’d paid a veritable fortune for the services of one of the young men employed by Mrs. Brougham, the woman who ran this Georgian house on the fringe of Mayfair, known simply as the “The Club.” But since it had been a ruse, she now had to convince the man to leave without touching her. Would he be angry? She shivered. Chapter One London, May 1818
  5. 5. Would he come to her aroused? Fear coiled, tight and cold, around her heart. She knew—though she had never experienced it with her own late husband—a man could become belligerent when he was aroused and the woman refused to play. With Sherringham, she’d never had the courage to re- fuse to play. She had always toed his line, terrified how brutal he would be if she pushed him too far. But he had now been dead for thirteen months, and she no longer had to endure the nights he came to her bedroom. She no longer had to fight to find the nerve to send him away, then despise herself when she couldn’t. Jane paced, hugging her chest. Surely a large tip would soothe any ruffled...well, what- ever might be ruffled on a randy young man.The man she’d hired ahd intimate relations for money, so wasn’t money the most important thing? And there were dozens of soci- ety ladies in attendance. Any reasonably attractive, healthy, and erect young man wouldn’t be frustrated for long. Oh, dear God, she thought, and she took hold of one of the bedposts for support. The ostentatious bed almost filled the entire room. Shackles of iron—lined with velvet—hung from the carved gilt bedposts. Jane’s stomach roiled as she stared at the relief crafted on the posts: entwined serpents and something that might be a sword, or could be the male privy part. She remembered the afternoon two months ago when her two dearest friends had told her their husbands brought them to this club. Despite the sun pouring into her morn- ing room and the cheery promise of the early spring day, a shiver of dread had rippled down her spine. “But ladies do not join a gentleman’s club,” she had said slowly. “This one, they do,” Charlotte had breathed. Her Sharon Page2
  6. 6. eyes had been wide and in their cornflower blue depths, Jane had read surprising horror and shame. “That is the novelty of this club,” Del had explained, her voice as demure as if she were speaking of a success- ful rout. “The gentlemen bring their wives—in costume. Every Friday evening, the ladies are required to dress as nuns.” Then her voice had lowered and her lashes had dropped. “I still have the marks on my derriere from the spankings with the crop.” Jane had felt her mouth form a soundless O of horror. She’d endured Sherringham’s punishments with the flat of his hand, but he’d never dared touch her with a crop. Now, she shuddered as she gazed around the bed- chamber. Del, is this horrible club the reason that you’ve disappeared? A sharp rap echoed on the door and Jane jolted so abruptly she stubbed her toe on the post. “Madam? May I enter?” Her hired man possessed a seductive voice—low- timbered, not entirely cultured, but with a growling note that sent a shiver of fear... it must be fear... down her spine. What did it signify that he spoke so politely? Would the sort of prostitute who had an educated voice be easier to manage or more difficult? “Y—yes,” she answered shakily. She had not even removed her cloak and she had cho- sen to wear her widow’s weeds, with the veil lowered to shroud her face. But still, as the door opened, she turned her face so no one would see her, and waited with rigid shoulders for the door to click, the signal her male pros- titute had shut it behind him. While her husband had generally smelled of sweat, drink, and other women’s perfume, this man was preceded t h e c l u b 3
  7. 7. by a combination of citrusy bergamot and sultry sandal- wood. She certainly couldn’t smell his perspiration, and oddly, he didn’t smell as though he had come to her from another woman. But really, that didn’t matter. All she had to do was get rid of him. There was no reason to feel so unnerved. She’d survived a whole half hour so far in this wretched club, after all. But before she could force herself to face him, he asked, “Is—is there something wrong, love?” Concern laced his gentle voice, and there was a sur- prising vulnerability in his hesitation. Obviously he wasn’t accustomed to a woman who looked as though she wanted to hide from him. Jane glanced to the cheval mirror to see what he looked like, but the glass only reflected part of his side. She saw a large hand clad in a black leather glove, and a long, long leg in well-tailored trousers. A lean line of hip that vanished into a tailcoat, a glimpse of a very broad shoulder, and that was all. Big. He was big and male. Panic flared in her chest and she struggled to breathe. He can’t hurt you. Here you can scream. You can scream and bring help and he has no right to hurt you. She must search inside to find greater strength. She’d vowed to herself that this time—finally—she would take action. How many times had she made that promise be- fore, then taken the easy path, and slipped back into be- ing a coward? And because she had been a coward, Delphina had disappeared. Del was in trouble. “Turn around, love.” Grasping for that courage, Jane did. “I am so sorry, but—” Sharon Page4

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