Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(41) by Lorraine Heath
She heard him issue orders for someone to get her trunk. Then he escorted her down the gangway and along the docks. His arm remained inappropriately around her, nestling her against his side. She couldn’t bring herself to step away.
When they reached the area where hackneys waited, he hired two and she watched as her trunk was loaded into one.
“I should go with you,” he said.
“No. I want to say good-bye here, to remember you here.” Turning into him, to face him fully, she touched her gloved hand to his jaw. “May the winds always deliver you safely to your destination.”
Rising up, she brushed a quick kiss over his lips before scrambling into the hackney. Martha settled in beside her and the wheels were soon clattering, carrying them away.
“We will never speak of this, Martha,” she said tersely, shoring up her resolve not to weep.
“We must move forward. See to our duties.”
No matter how much it pained them to do so.
Tristan watched the hackney roll away into the night, the emptiness engulfing him similar to one he’d experienced fourteen years earlier on the Yorkshire docks. It didn’t bear thinking about.
“What now, Cap’n?” Peterson asked.
“I intend to get bloody well drunk. Care to join me?”
“What in God’s name were you thinking?”
Anne stood within her father’s study. Knowing that she would be brought to task for her actions did not make the actual bringing any easier. Her father and brothers had not yet left for their clubs when she arrived home. It was the one night of the week that her father insisted they enjoy a meal together. She’d arrived too late to partake in dinner, but early enough to receive a scolding.
Her brothers had taken up various positions around the room, arms crossed, stances erect, obviously fully in support of the tongue-lashing she was on the cusp of enduring.
“As I discussed with you previously and reiterated in my letter, I needed to say good-bye to Walter so that I could move on with my life, fully embrace the upcoming Season, present an engaging front, and entice a lord into finding me worthy of becoming his wife. That is my duty, is it not?”
“Your duty is to obey your father and I had forbidden you to go.”
“Yes, well, I’m home now so it seems rather pointless to harp on what I’ve done. I achieved my goal and am ready to reenter Society.”
She’d never seen her father appear so flummoxed. He blinked, opened his mouth, shut it.
“Upon what ship did you book passage?” Jameson asked. As her father grew older, so her brother was beginning to assert himself, to prepare for the day when he would step seamlessly into their father’s shoes. “I made inquiries but had little success in determining—”
“I hired a ship.”
“What do you mean you hired a ship?”
“Honestly, Jameson, did you lose your comprehension of the English language while I was away?”
“You’ll answer your brother,” her father snapped, obviously regaining his faculties.
“I hired a captain willing to sail on my schedule.”
“Who is the captain? What ship?” Jameson barked.
“I don’t see that it’s relevant. The matter is done.”
“Do you have any idea what could have happened?”
“He came highly recommended.”
“These pointless questions are becoming quite tedious.”
“Did you tell people what I’d done?” she snapped.
“Absolutely not. We said you had determined you were not yet ready to step out of mourning, required additional seclusion, and returned to the country.”
“Then my reputation remains untarnished. And I’m quite weary from my travels so if you’ll excuse me, I wish to retire.”
She turned to go.
“I’m not finished with you yet,” her father shouted.
She sank into a chair, folded her hands on her lap, and met his gaze. “By all means, then, proceed.”
“I don’t believe you fully comprehend the seriousness of what you did.”
“And I’m not certain you fully comprehend that the matter is done. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever have another need to leave England’s shores. Hopefully it shall be many years before I lose someone else whom I love. And even then, he shall in all likelihood die here. I shall have no further adventures.”
More’s the pity, a little corner of her mind squeaked.
“It is only that we love you and were worried,” her father reiterated.
“I know.” She gave him a warm smile. “I believe your clubs await.”
“Indeed they do.”
Grateful that the matter was being put to rest, she rose.
“The Greystone ball is next week,” Jameson informed her. “I assume you will attend.”
“Most assuredly. And I shall put my best foot forward.”
She strolled from the room, thinking how odd it was that the house didn’t pitch at all. It seemed she’d finally gotten her sea legs when it was a bit too late.
In her bedchamber she found Martha putting away the last items from the trunk. Her maid looked up as though guilty. “Did all go well?”
“As well as it could.” She began tugging off her gloves.
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