Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(56) by Lorraine Heath
He brought his horse to a halt on her side of the carriage, even though it meant going around the contraption and confirming that his interest was in her. He swept his beaver hat from his head and bowed slightly, his ice blue eyes glittering with a possessiveness that she wanted to deny. “Lady Anne.”
She wished they were in the country so they could go galloping over the rolling hills together. She wished she hadn’t felt a need to be polite and accept Chetwyn’s offer to accompany her. She wished she understood this excitement that thrummed through her simply because Tristan was near enough to breathe the same air as she. “Lord Tristan, what a pleasant surprise.”
What in the world was wrong with her voice? She sounded like a pesky little dormouse.
“Surprise indicates that you weren’t expecting me. Did I not make clear that I would join you at the park?”
She stopped breathing, waiting in horror for him to reveal exactly when they had the conversation, but apparently even he realized that would be a step too far and would neatly slice her reputation to ribbons. With her worry dissipating, her anger sparked. She’d not have him playing games with her in public that would serve only to start tongues wagging. “During our dance I recall mentioning, offhandedly, that I would be riding this afternoon. I expected to be alone. Instead Lord Chetwyn was kind enough to give me the pleasure of his company.” Ignoring the tightening of Tristan’s jaw, she turned to her traveling companion. “Lord Chetwyn, allow me to introduce—”
“I’ve had the privilege.” He spoke the last word as though it left a bitter taste in his mouth.
She’d never heard him speak so succinctly, and realized he was no happier than Tristan. “Oh, I see. Of course.”
Tristan’s gaze dropped to her lap. No, not hers. Chetwyn’s. Her hand was still entangled with his. She wanted to snatch hers free, but he closed his fingers so tightly around them that they were beginning to go numb. To separate them now would do little more than cause a scene.
“A lovely day isn’t it?” she offered.
“A storm’s coming,” Tristan answered, and she suspected he wasn’t talking about the weather.
“Do you find the park to your liking?”
The right side of his mouth hitched up into a grin with which she’d become far too familiar. It was a portent of teasing. Don’t, she wanted to beg, don’t say anything that will give Chetwyn cause to believe we are more than acquaintances.
“I prefer the sea.”
“When will you be returning to it, my lord?” Chetwyn asked.
“When my business here is completed.”
His gaze settled on her. To her shame, she was keenly aware of pleasure spiraling through her. She was his business. But for how long and to what purpose? A few more nights between the sheets? He’d certainly given no indication that he desired more from her. Even his suggestion that they sail the sea together gave way to the promise of an end. A year or two at the most. Then she would be returned to shore a shattered woman, because she feared during that length of time she would give him her heart.
“Am I correct, my lord, in understanding that you own a ship?” Chetwyn asked.
“You are indeed, sir.”
“By what name does it go?”
“What’s your interest?”
“Why the secrecy?”
“I simply wouldn’t want to go to the docks one night and discover it ablaze.”
Anne didn’t understand this verbal sparring, but she did know for certain one thing. “Chetwyn would never destroy your ship. Where is the harm in revealing its name?”
Tristan studied her for a moment before saying, “Revenge.”
“An homage to your uncle?” Chetwyn asked.
“To my lost youth.”
“You may not give credence to my words, my lord, but I, for one, never faulted you or your brothers for the manner in which you treated your uncle. Quite honestly, I found him to be a pompous prig.”
Tristan flashed a grin. “My lord, my respect for you has increased tenfold.”
He shifted his gaze to Anne and she couldn’t help but think that his respect for Chetwyn hadn’t increased at all. She wanted each man to appreciate the other, but she felt instead that they were sizing each other up, searching for flaws and weaknesses, analyzing strengths. She very much felt caught in the middle.
“I suppose we should be off,” Chetwyn suddenly announced.
“Yes, by all means,” she said. Although she didn’t really want to go, but she was acutely aware of the storm Tristan had mentioned brewing.
“My lord! My Lord Tristan!”
She thought if he were a man prone to rolling his eyes, he’d have done so at that moment. Instead, he forced a smile that was filled with none of the subtle nuances and emotions that usually accompanied it.
Ladies Hermione and Victoria brought their horses to a halt near Tristan’s.
“My Lord Tristan, I was so dearly hoping that I should cross paths with you here today,” Lady Hermione said breathlessly, leaving Anne to wonder what Jameson might have seen in such a flighty girl. “I trust you remember my dearest friend, Lady Victoria. She is now married to the Earl of Whitby’s second son. She is serving as my chaperone. We were so hoping that you would join us in a turn about the park.”
“It would be my pleasure to accompany two such lovely ladies.”
Anne didn’t know why his words stung. She was here with another man. Why shouldn’t Tristan prance about with another lady or two?
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