Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(45) by Lorraine Heath
“The Duke of Keswick.”
She fought to remember everything her brothers had told her, what she’d heard over the years. She’d been a child when they went missing, yet she could remember the nightmares that had visited her, the fear that she, too, would suddenly disappear. “One of the lost lords. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m a lord by birth and blood, but not by life. I don’t fit comfortably here as you can well imagine, since you know something of my life beyond London. To be honest, I had no particular interest in claiming my place in Society until I realized that it would provide me with much easier access to you.”
“But you’re a ship captain.”
“Must a man be only one thing?”
She had shared her body, her soul, perhaps even a portion of her heart with this man, and yet she knew so little about him. It made her feel tainted in some way, less than she should be. “It was your uncle you were running away from, the one who wished you harm.”
The glimmer of teasing dimmed. “Yes.”
“Was he really going to kill you?”
“We had evidence to indicate so. But that was long ago. I’m much more interested in claiming a dance than talking of the past.”
How like him to avoid revealing the mysteries behind the myriad of stories that surrounded him.
“A dance?” she squeaked, irritated that she could not appear as composed as he.
“Yes, it’s an activity where one—”
“I know what a dance is. I’m simply having a difficult time comprehending your being here. I thought never to see you again.”
Which had made it so much easier to be with him on the ship. What they had shared would sail away with him. But he hadn’t sailed away. He was here. And if he told—
She jerked around to find Jameson studying her while managing to glare at Tristan at the same time. “Jameson, allow me to introduce Lord Tristan—”
“Easton. Yes, I know. Unfortunately, I saw him arrive with his brother.”
The duke was here? That must have set tongues to wagging. How had she managed to miss it? Was she so wrapped up in her own worries that she wasn’t paying attention to everything else happening around her?
“Lord Tristan, my brother. Viscount Jameson.”
“M’lord,” Tristan said with a slight bow. “A pleasure. I was about to ask your sister for a dance.”
“I fear you’ll find her dance card filled.”
Shock at his rudeness rippled through her, and she couldn’t help but blurt, “Pardon?”
“I believe the next dance is mine,” Jameson said, wrapping his hand possessively around her upper arm. He never danced with her, and she certainly didn’t appreciate his interference now.
“On the contrary. It belongs to Lord Tristan.”
The warning in his voice was unmistakable but she had to speak with Tristan, and on a crowded dance floor was the perfect place because if she sought a tryst in the garden, he would no doubt use the darkness to advantage and she would find her back up against a rose-covered trellis with his mouth devouring hers. She’d be so absorbed by the kiss that she’d not notice the prickle of thorns.
“Release her,” Tristan snarled, his voice low, but his threat evident.
“Or what?” Jameson challenged.
Tristan grinned, but there was nothing pleasant in it. Rather it reminded her of a predatory cat anticipating its next meal. “You’ll discover that I am the barbarian you and your brothers whisper me to be.”
“Jameson, please. It’s only a dance. If you don’t release me I shall be forced to kick you. And such unladylike behavior will no doubt make it much more difficult for me to secure a husband. Don’t make a scene and ruin my entrance back into Society.”
He released his hold, but not before saying, “One dance and then you leave her be.”
The very worst words he could have said. Tristan wouldn’t stand down. She knew him well enough to know that.
“Oh my word. Lord Tristan, I thought it was you.”
As Anne turned to the newest intruder, out of the corner of her eye she saw some emotion she couldn’t quite identify wash over her brother’s face. Longing, followed by stoicism? She couldn’t be sure. Then she was staring at a gorgeous lady with blond hair. The largest green eyes that Anne had ever seen were fastened on Tristan as though he were her favorite sweet.
He bowed slightly. “Lady Hermione.”
“Why ever did you not let me know you’d returned to London?”
“Yes, my lord,” her brother stated succinctly, “pray tell, why ever did you not inform the lovely lady of your return?”
“I’ve had other serious matters that required my attention.”
Anne felt herself floundering. What did this young woman mean to Tristan?
“It truly doesn’t matter,” Lady Hermione said. “You’re here now. I daresay that I’m free for the dance that’s just starting.”
“I’ve already promised to partner with Lady Anne,” Tristan said, a gentleness in his voice that reminded Anne of lying beneath him and hearing murmurings in the same tender tone. Had he bedded this girl? She certainly seemed to have cause to believe she meant something to him.
“Oh.” Lady Hermione looked at Anne. “Lady Anne, my apologies. I didn’t notice you standing there. You’re out of mourning, I see. Such a tragedy. To lose your love at such a young age. I daresay, the man can never be replaced. It is so kind of Lord Tristan to take pity and dance with you.”
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