Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(11) by Lorraine Heath
Neither his brother nor his sister-by-marriage moved a muscle.
“Does Lady Hermione know you’re here?” Mary finally asked, and he wondered what the devil had prompted that question.
“Why should she?” She’d flirted with him two years ago when he and his brothers had first returned to Society.
“She’s written me from time to time asking after you,” Mary answered.
“Surely she’s married by now.”
“I fear not. Apparently she is holding out hope that you would return for her.”
“It was innocent flirtation. I never once declared any feelings for her.”
“Be that as it may, I think she was quite smitten.”
“She’s a child.”
“Old enough to marry.”
“Not me, by God. I have no intentions of ever being shackled—” He cut off his diatribe as Mary angled her chin defiantly.
“Well thank you for that,” she stated tartly.
“You’re an exception,” he reassured her.
“I should hope so.” She studied him for a moment, making him uncomfortable with her perusal. “Do you plan to ever return to Society?”
He shook his head. “It’s not for me. I’m happier on the sea.” Or at least he had been. He wasn’t quite certain why this last voyage had left him so unsettled.
“But you worked so hard to see that Sebastian regained his place—”
“My love,” Sebastian said quietly, “my brothers have their own paths to travel.”
“Except that I truly believe all of you should be where you would have been had your uncle not sought to kill you.”
But he had, and they were forever changed. Tristan wanted to get off this maudlin topic. He quirked an eyebrow. “Still famished here.”
Mary laughed, a bit of forcing behind the sound, giving him what she knew he wanted. Bless her. Sebastian was a most fortunate man. Tristan doubted he’d ever find a love such as these two shared. It was a rare thing.
In her haste to finally see the beginning of her quest, Anne had neglected to take into account that she had selected the one night of the week when her father insisted that all his children join him for dinner. If he and her brothers followed their usual habit, they would all head to their various clubs shortly after dessert was served, but still she was so distracted by her own plans that she wished she could have avoided this situation.
She loved her family, she truly did, but the preponderance of male virility could be quite claustrophobic at times, especially as they believed that because she was female she required constant looking after, their opinions mattered more than hers, and the slightest upset could cause her to swoon—even though she’d never swooned in her life. Not even when she received word of Walter’s passing. She’d put up a stoic front and shed her tears only in private. He’d have been proud of her performance—because that was what it had been. Appearances. Everything was always about blasted appearances.
She wondered how her family would perform once they learned of her plans. She was going to leave them a letter so they would not worry, but they would not discover it until sometime tomorrow when they were all sober again. The trick, of course, would be slipping out of the residence without servants raising an alarm. Fortunately, only she and Martha were aware of the small packed trunk in her bedchamber. She would require trusted footmen—
“Keswick has returned to London,” Viscount Jameson, her eldest brother, said. All of her brothers were fair, but their hair contained various shades of gold that she’d always envied.
Each of them set aside their utensils at Jameson’s announcement and took a sip of wine as though he’d declared that he spotted Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein wandering about, and they were having a difficult time comprehending what it might mean. She loved her brothers dearly but they were, by far, the worst gossips London had ever produced.
“For what purpose?” Stephan asked.
“To reenter Society, I suspect. I’ve been told he has an heir now.”
“That didn’t take long,” Phillip murmured.
“What of his brothers?” Edward asked.
“If it goes as before, they’ll be right on his heels, won’t they?” Jameson answered.
“Can’t have that,” their father muttered.
“Why not?” Anne asked.
They all looked at her as though she’d sprouted horns. She was tempted to touch her forehead to ensure herself she hadn’t.
“You were in mourning when the lords of Pembrook returned to London two years ago,” Jameson told her. “Rough lot. No manners to speak of. They were raised outside the confines of Society. Quite barbaric.”
She envisioned them prancing around the ballrooms without any clothing. “I thought they were dead. Wolves had eaten them or something.”
“Yes, quite, that’s what we all thought,” Stephan informed her. “But apparently they ran off. Thought their uncle wished them harm so he could inherit the dukedom.”
“Did he?” she asked pointedly.
Her brother shrugged. “Was never proven.”
“Fanciful tales,” her father said. “Men do not kill to obtain titles.”
“I should hope not,” Jameson said. “I rather fancy a long life.”
Her father laughed. “As do I.” He sobered. “Anne, if these lords of Pembrook do make an appearance in the ballrooms, you’re to avoid them. I believe the Marquess of Chetwyn may have set his cap on you.”
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