Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(57) by Lorraine Heath
He tipped his hat at Anne. “I look forward to our meeting again.”
Dear God, help her. She knew exactly when that meeting was going to take place and where. Tonight. Her bedchamber. She was not so much scandalized by the notion of it as she was by her anticipation of it.
As the carriage bolted away, Tristan wondered if Anne knew how grateful she should be for Lady Hermione’s appearance. He’d been close to leaning down and snagging her out of that contraption, settling her on the saddle between his thighs, and whisking her away to someplace private so he could claim her. She was holding the blasted marquess’s hand with fingers that had stroked him in the early hours of the morning. Tristan’s only consolation was that she was wearing gloves.
He didn’t know what to make of this fury that was rampaging through him. He’d never been a possessive sort, perhaps because he’d never had to be. When he was with a woman, she was his sole focus and he was hers. There was none of this flitting about from man to man nonsense. When he wearied of a woman, she moved on and he thought nothing of it. The trouble here was that he had yet to lose interest. Far from it, truth be told.
Well, he thought sarcastically, one should specify. He was not bored with Anne. He was bored silly with Lady Hermione.
“—made her look like a ripe strawberry. Honestly, she shouldn’t wear that shade of red.”
He had no idea which lady she was referring to or why he should care one whit that she had the appearance of fruit. Lady Victoria was trailing along at a discreet distance. It seemed Hermione wanted to follow in her friend’s footsteps and marry the second son of a lord. He wondered how she would take the news that she could marry the first son. Anne’s brother would no doubt still take her if she were to make herself presentable to him, instead of latching onto Tristan as though she were a trailing vine.
“You don’t fancy her, do you?” Lady Hermione asked.
“Women who favor fruit have never appealed to me.”
She tsked. “I was referring to Lady Anne Hayworth. It seems whenever my path crosses with yours that you are speaking with her.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
With a sigh, he brought his horse to a halt, and she quickly followed suit. She had such large expressive green eyes. One never had to wonder what she was thinking. Tristan preferred a woman with a bit of mystery to her. Anne had that in abundance.
“Hermione . . .”
He hated the anticipation shimmering off her. He didn’t want to hurt her, but neither could he abide with her following him around like a faithful pup. “You’re a beautiful woman. But not for me.”
Her face had started to beam with his first sentence, before it fell flat with the second.
“I don’t understand,” she said quietly.
“I enjoy dancing with you, but you will never have more than an occasional waltz with me.”
“Are you tossing me over? It’s Lady Anne, isn’t it? You do feel something for her. But she is not worthy of you. She loved someone else. It was a grand love. Everyone spoke of it. It was legendary. You cannot compete with that. While I have always loved only you.”
He barked out his laughter, then bit off the harsh sound at her crestfallen expression. “Hermione, you can’t love me.”
“But I do and it wounds my heart terribly—”
“You don’t know me and if you did you wouldn’t love me at all. I daresay, you’d probably not even like me very much.” Did those same words apply to Anne? She certainly gave the impression that she liked him.
“You can’t sway my feelings toward you. I know all I need to know.”
He wanted to tell her to play a bit harder at getting caught. Every man enjoyed a challenge. Tristan also wanted to confess that he had killed, stolen, beaten, seduced. He was not one to settle down. He went where the winds blew him. At the moment they were blowing him toward Anne.
Inwardly he groaned. Lady Hermione was prattling on again. He glanced over at her. She sat a horse well. She was beautiful. She would fall easily into his bed. Yet he had no interest in her whatsoever.
“My family would be so pleased if you would join us.” She looked so hopeful. He didn’t want to crush her spirit, but she was such a child that he couldn’t in all good conscience lead her on. Taking advantage of the innocent had never been one of his sins.
“I already have plans for the evening, sweetheart.”
“Tomorrow evening then.”
“Have you considered that it will upset your father’s digestion to share his table with me?”
“But I want you there and my father never denies me what I want.”
Which explained some of her dogged determination. He wanted to be impressed by it. Instead, he was merely annoyed. “Lord Jameson would be a better choice.”
“Lord Jameson? He is so terribly droll.”
“But titled. More impressive than a second son.”
With eyes twinkling, she laughed. “No one is more impressive than you, my lord.”
He couldn’t help but return her smile. Two years ago she had been a frustrating delight and, to his shame, he’d not minded using a bit of harmless flirtation to irritate the nobles who looked down on him and his brothers. It seemed that the devil that had sat on his shoulder then wanted his due.
The only thing worse than watching a ticking clock was watching a window.
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