Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(28) by Lorraine Heath
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think we imagined the horrors of last night,” Martha said.
Only Anne did know better. The leather strip with which the captain had bound her hair was tucked into a hidden pocket on her skirt.
“Oh my God, land.” She walked to the edge of the ship and gripped the railing. “We can’t be too far from our destination, do you think?”
“Not too far,” a deep voice responded.
She spun around, her heart seizing as she gazed at the captain. He, too, looked as though last night had never happened, as though he hadn’t held her, as though they hadn’t shared a strange sort of intimacy. She wanted to reach out, touch him, curl her fingers around his shirt, and bury her face in his shoulder, inhale deeply of his now familiar fragrance. Instead she balled her hands into achingly tights fists. “How soon?”
“A few more days.”
They turned out to be the longest and loneliest of her life. He didn’t have dinner with her. If she was on deck, he was below or on the opposite side of the ship. She knew it was just as well that they weren’t in each other’s company. Each day she recovered a little more from the illness she experienced during the storm, but as they neared their destination a weariness settled over her.
Finally, she saw the spires of the city as they pulled into the harbor. They were here. They had arrived.
But a secret mourning part of her wished they hadn’t.
Standing on the deck in the predawn, Tristan waited for the night to retreat.
They’d arrived in the harbor yesterday afternoon. He’d expected Anne to go flying off the ship to be with her fiancé. Did she even know where he was? Surely, she did.
Instead, she retired to her quarters, maid in tow. Mouse reported that she’d asked for hot water, enough to fill the copper tub. Tristan had forced himself to stay on deck, because he wanted nothing more than to burst through the door and watch as she luxuriated in the bath. At first he’d imagined a soapy cloth skimming over her skin, but then the cloth became his hands. Beginning at her neck he would glide his large hands along her shoulders and circle around until he cupped her breasts. He could almost feel the weight of them against his palms. He thought of going into his quarters and claiming his kiss then. Leaning over the tub, taking her mouth as though he owned it. Claiming it. Claiming her. Making it clear that when she returned to the ship, he would be waiting.
He’d barely slept last night, twisting and turning in the blasted hammock, almost upending himself. A foul mood hung around him when he returned to the deck before the sunrise. He wanted to be there when she left. He would be there when she returned.
It occurred to him, belatedly, that he’d never asked her how long she wanted to be in port. As she’d said that she wanted to travel on her own schedule, she no doubt wanted to remain here for days, possibly weeks. He’d become so obsessed with obtaining the kiss that he’d given little thought to the inconvenience of it all.
He didn’t like being here. The war was over, but still the ghosts of it remained. Sebastian had been here, recovering from the wounds he’d suffered during the devastating battle at Balaclava. Tristan had been half a world away, but still he’d sensed when his brother was wounded. Perhaps because they were twins, they shared a connection. Tristan seemed to have the stronger bond, was often troubled when Sebastian suffered. He frequently prayed that Sebastian never knew how much he himself endured during their time apart.
Strange that they were not in each other’s company now, but Tristan no longer viewed them as being apart. Simply separated by distance, no longer hiding from their dreaded uncle. Amazing how the blighter’s death could restore a sense of rightness.
As the sun began easing over the horizon, Tristan could make out the spires of a large building. He wondered if Sebastian had gazed at them, how much might have changed in the few years since he was here.
“That’s the hospital,” Anne said softly coming to stand beside him, bringing her lavender and citrus scent with her.
Her hair was pinned up beneath an elegant hat with a broad brim decorated with ribbons and delicate bows. Beneath her pelisse, her lilac dress had prim buttons and a high collar. He didn’t like considering that her fiancé might be loosening those buttons shortly after the sun set, if not before.
“Florence said I would recognize it by the spires,” she continued.
“Florence Nightingale?” His voice came out terse, angry, but she seemed not to notice. He was regretting that he’d brought her here. He wished the ship had gone down in the storm, that she and he had swum to a deserted island where they could be alone forever.
“Yes. There are other hospitals, but that’s the Barrack Hospital where she did most of her good works. She provided me with a map of things so I could find my way. The General Hospital is where I need to go.”
She finally lifted her gaze to his. He was surprised by the doubts and uncertainty he saw there.
“I was wondering if you would be kind enough to go with me,” she said. “Martha’s not quite recovered from her seasickness during the ordeal of the storm.”
The words that he recognized to be a lie came out in a rush and he wondered why she would want him at her side when she met with this Walter fellow. She had to know it would be incredibly awkward. “Your fiancé won’t be pleased by my presence.”
“He won’t mind, I assure you. Besides, I suspect I’d be safer walking the streets with you there.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online