Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(6) by Lorraine Heath
Studying him intently, Rafe leaned back in his chair and rubbed a thumb over his smooth chin, making Tristan wish he’d tidied up a bit; on the docks the rougher one looked, the tougher he was thought to be. Although Tristan had obtained a reputation for being incredibly tough. He suspected he could prance around in lacy shirts and no one would mess with him. At least not with Crimson Jack.
“Does Sebastian know you’re back?”
With a sigh Tristan dropped into a chair across from Rafe. “I’ve not alerted him to my return.”
“He has an heir now, you know.”
He waited as Rafe poured whiskey into a tumbler and set it before him. He downed the amber liquid in one long swallow before saying, “I hadn’t heard, but I’m relieved. Takes the pressure off me.”
“You’ve no desire to be a duke?”
“You’re not going to follow in uncle’s footsteps and try to take the dukedom?”
“Uncle’s actions would indicate that he was mad, I believe. I’m not. His demise was welcome.” Especially as his last act was an attempt to kill Mary. Attacking the brothers was one thing, but to turn his bloodlust on sweet Mary—
“Sebastian and Mary should be arriving for the Season soon,” Rafe said.
Tristan tried not to look taken aback. “I assumed they would forever stay at Pembrook.”
“I think Mary convinced him that he must be accepted by Society for the sake of his heir, and any other children that come their way.”
They could be of assistance in his quest to entice Lady Anne into his arms, but he didn’t want to wait until she returned from sailing on another ship.
“So—Blackwood. What do you know of him?” Tristan prodded, wanting to get the conversation back to his purpose for being there.
“He doesn’t belong to my club. His two youngest sons do. Mine is not quite as posh as other clubs, so it appeals more to younger men who are not so keen about keeping up appearances.”
“And his daughter? What do you know of her?”
Rafe arched a brow. “I don’t believe she’s a member of my club.”
“Aren’t you quite the hilarious one? I see you’ve not grown more communicative in the months I’ve been away.”
“Why do you care about her?”
“She sought to hire me to take her to Scutari.”
“Why? The war is over. Nightingale is no longer there to lure nurses.”
“She wishes to visit with her fiancé.”
“Are you taking her?”
“Only if she’s willing to pay my price.”
“And that would be?”
He grinned wolfishly. “Between the lady and me.”
Rafe scowled. “I see you’ve not grown more communicative either. But if she is betrothed and a lady, you would be unwise to seek a dalliance. Especially as she has four strapping brothers. You could very well find yourself in a bit of bother.”
“I’m not certain she has shared with them her desire to make this trip.”
“Why would you think that?”
“She has an air of mystery about her, and she is almost as tight-lipped as you. I sensed there was a good deal she had no wish to share. I rather enjoy unraveling mysteries.”
“Let her go, Brother.”
“My gut tells me that nothing except trouble awaits if you pursue this path.”
“You’re no doubt correct.”
But in his experience trouble was seldom boring.
It was a week before she returned to the tavern. He’d known sooner or later she’d seek him out. What surprised him was how quickly the sight of her inflamed his desire. He knew, as a gentleman, he should stand as she approached but then all would know how badly he wanted her. So he stayed as he was, lounging in his chair, stroking the dew from his tankard as lazily as he’d like to caress her damp skin after a rousing session in his bed.
She marched across the room with the force of a summer gale, purpose in every stride. Fire ignited those silver eyes, turning them pewter. He could see the pulse at her throat fluttering with her anger. Her high cheekbones carried a red hue. Her lips were pursed tightly. How he dearly wanted to part them, dart his tongue between them, and taste the honeyed nectar of her mouth.
He’d never in his life had such a strong reaction to a woman he barely knew. He wanted her, he couldn’t deny that. But it was more than the physical that appealed to him. What sort of woman would risk life and reputation to journey toward a man she’d not seen in four years?
He was not a great believer in love, could not claim to have ever loved a woman enough to risk all for her. Love was the domain of poets . . . and perhaps Sebastian. The last time Tristan had seen him, he’d claimed to love Mary. While Tristan held a fondness for her, he wouldn’t change his life for her. He didn’t understand emotions that ran so deeply.
“You cur!” Lady Anne spat.
Tristan arched an eyebrow and lifted a corner of his mouth in a mocking smile. “Good evening to you as well, Lady Anne.”
“I’ve approached five captains, seeking passage on their ships. They’ve each turned me away.”
“I told you: women on a ship is considered bad luck. Sailors are a suspicious sort. I doubt you’ll find any willing to risk it.”
“Not when you’re paying double what I offer to those who turn me down.”
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