Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(47) by Lorraine Heath
“He’s my twin,” Tristan said quietly.
“I can see a bit of resemblance.” The dark hair, the jawline—
“Most people don’t look beyond the scars.”
She studied the duchess. She had vibrant red hair and was smiling up at her husband as though she adored him, as though he had no hideous countenance to look upon.
“She doesn’t seem bothered by them.”
“But then she loves him.”
That much was obvious. She returned her attention to Tristan. “Do all of you bear scars?”
“None we can’t live with.”
Why could others not see what these brothers had endured to reclaim what they’d lost? Why were they not welcomed? Because they’d not grown up within the familiar confines, because they stood out as different.
She realized the music had drifted into silence as their movements came to a halt.
“Will you keep your promise to Lady Hermione?” she asked.
“If would be cruel of me not to, don’t you think? But I want another dance with you.”
“That would be most unwise.”
She hated the words even as she spoke them. He didn’t argue. He simply began to lead her from the dance floor. Tense and bristling, Jameson was standing at its edge. She was surprised he didn’t charge into the fray and snatch her away.
Just before they reached her brother, Tristan said, “The last dance of the evening is mine.”
Before she could object to his possessive tone—or admit how it thrilled her—he released her and strode away.
For the first time that night she was truly looking forward to something, and that filled her with a certain amount of dread. Nothing could exist between them beyond what they’d already shared. In spite of his being a lord, his life was the sea. Hers was here.
“The ladies are all atwitter,” Sarah said as she cornered Anne in the ladies retiring room.
“Ladies are always atwitter,” Anne responded coolly. She’d needed a moment alone to regain her composure. Lie, lie, lie. She’d needed to be away from the dance floor so she wasn’t watching Tristan waltzing about with Lady Hermione. He smiled at her; he spoke with her; he was holding her in his arms only moments after doing the same with Anne. She wasn’t jealous. That would be ridiculous. But she didn’t much like seeing him with another lady. Especially as he seemed to be enjoying himself so much.
“You danced with Lord Tristan,” Sarah said.
“I’m well aware with whom I danced. He wasn’t in disguise, for goodness’ sake.”
“He’s dangerous, Anne.”
I’m well aware of that, and in ways you can’t even imagine. “It was merely a dance.”
“You weren’t here when he and his brothers returned two years ago. They were savages.”
“Because they reclaimed what was stolen from them?”
“It was the manner in which they did it. They burst in, uninvited, to Lord David’s ball and ordered him to leave the residence.”
“It was their residence, was it not? It was Easton House, wasn’t it, which belonged to their father and thus his son, the next duke?”
“Well, yes, I suppose if one were to be literal about—”
“I don’t see how one could be anything else.”
Sarah glared at her. “The residence aside, they made quite the spectacle of themselves. Why the eldest brother almost choked his uncle to death.”
Anne wasn’t certain she could blame him for such an action.
“And poor Lady Lucretia has been in seclusion ever since,” Sarah continued.
Their uncle’s wife. “She’s a widow now, isn’t she?”
“Quite. After her husband’s mysterious death. Slipped from a tower, in the rain. Supposedly.”
“What do you think happened?”
“I think they killed him.”
She didn’t want to admit that she could quite easily see Tristan killing someone. But not without very good reason.
Tristan stood in a darkened corner of the terrace and smoked on a cheroot. Dancing with Lady Hermione had been an exercise in frustration. The silly chit talked incessantly. She invited him to ride with her in the park, to have dinner with her family, to dance with her again. He’d made up one excuse after another. Perhaps it would have been kinder in the long run not to have danced with her, not to give her any hope at all that more could be between them.
Two years ago, he had wanted nothing more from her than a bit of innocent flirtation. He’d certainly never considered wooing her into his bed. She was a child. She didn’t have Anne’s allure.
Now, Anne . . . damnation, but he was obsessed with thoughts of her. She invaded his waking hours as much as she did his sleeping ones. He would be studying charts or discussing with merchants the possibility of carrying their cargo—and there she would appear. He thought he should be envisioning her hair draped over her nude body or her slender form writhing beneath him. And he did visit those images from time to time. But more often than not, he thought of her smile or her laughter or the way it had felt to have her standing near him on the deck, listening to the whales. Or sharing meals with her. Verbally sparring with her, the challenging glint in her eyes when she gave no quarter.
He should be back at sea, yet here he was in a place that he loathed. He thought one more sighting of her would have satisfied him, but he’d seen her and wanted more. To speak with her.
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