Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(88) by Lorraine Heath
Perhaps later this afternoon, Lord Tristan would take Hermione aboard his ship. They could sail the world—even if she got dreadfully sick in a rowboat. A ship would be different. His ship would be different. Perhaps they would even kiss. It wasn’t fair that he’d never even tried to steal a kiss from her.
She was startled from her reverie as Lord Jameson edged onto the pew beside her.
Organ music floated toward the rafters and everyone stood as Lady Anne glided down the aisle, her hand on her father’s arm. As she neared the altar, Lord Tristan stepped out from behind Lord Chetwyn and took his place beside her.
“No,” she whispered and started to move past Lord Jameson.
“Let my sister have her moment.”
She jerked her gaze up to Lord Jameson. His eyes held pity—no, sadness. For her. She wanted to weep. Lord Tristan would forever be beyond her reach if she didn’t stop it. But then she realized he had always been so. She simply had been too foolish to admit it.
As everyone took their seats, Lady Hermione sank onto the hard pew.
Lord Jameson leaned near her and whispered, “At the reception at my father’s house there will be dancing. Perhaps you would honor me with your first dance.”
She looked at him then, really looked at him. Hadn’t Lord Tristan told her that Lord Jameson was for her? Hadn’t he bid on her at that awful charity ball when no one else had?
In answer to his question, she simply wrapped her hand around his. He gave her a small smile before turning his attention to the ceremony.
Something in her shifted and she saw him quite differently. He was far more handsome than Lord Tristan. More polished. And someday he would be an earl. Lord Tristan, well, he would always be merely a second son.
She realized something else as well. Lord Jameson had always been there for her. How could she have overlooked him with such ease? What a silly chit she’d been.
Anne watched as Tristan stepped around Chetwyn to take his place beside her. The favor he had asked of Chetwyn was to stand in the groom’s place until Anne arrived at the altar. He feared if he was initially standing there that the speculation and gossip would create a stir that would detract from her entrance.
Based on the sharp intakes of breath, gasps, murmurings, and whispers, she suspected he’d been right. She imagined the loudest of all was Lady Hermione’s but Jameson was with her now, and he would keep her from ruining this moment, even if it meant carrying the barnacle out of the church.
Then Anne was no longer thinking of Lady Hermione or the people in the pews. All her attention was focused on the strong handsome man standing in front of her. She didn’t know what had possessed her to think she could have married anyone else, that she would have been content with him off sailing the world without her at his side.
She loved him so much, wounded soul and all. They were each broken in their own way, but somehow the cracks and fissures allowed them to fit together perfectly.
He looked so deeply into her eyes that she felt as though he touched the very core of her. In his improper way, he’d managed to do everything right. He’d asked her father for his blessing. He’d included Chetwyn so he wouldn’t feel completely cast aside.
As words about love and devotion echoed around her, she slid her gaze to Chetwyn. With a smile, he winked at her. She did hope he would find someone worthy of him. She was glad that he didn’t hold it against her for not being that person. He was so remarkably good. She would always be grateful to him.
As she exchanged vows with Tristan, she knew Chetwyn was correct: she was on the path to having a very wonderful life, indeed.
With the moon turning the water to silver, Anne stood on the deck of the Revenge with Tristan’s arms wrapped tightly around her. It seemed an appropriate place to be for their first night together as husband and wife. He’d paid Jenkins to take them to Yorkshire. They planned to stay at the ancestral estate at Pembrook, in his brother’s new residence, while they searched for a home of their own.
She didn’t think she’d ever known such happiness.
He pressed his lips to the nape of her neck. “Had enough of the sea, my love?”
She leaned back against him. “Will you truly be able to stay away from it?”
“Bit late to be questioning me about it now.”
“Tristan, I’m serious.”
“I thought it was the traveling I loved, the exploration, the adventure. But I came to realize it was simply that I was lost. I thought my home was the sea, and instead, I finally realized that my home was with you.”
She turned about in his arms and cradled his face between her hands. “Poetic words, Tristan, but not an answer.”
“I might need the sea from time to time, but not the far side of the world. We’ll get a smaller ship, perhaps. We’ll sail around Great Britain. Picnic on an island. I can be content with a piece of the sea as long as I have you.”
“You shall always have me.”
Rising up on her toes, she pressed her body to his as she kissed him. She could hardly countenance now that she had thought she could not endure the loneliness if she married him. A bit of time with him was preferable to none at all. She would always have a tender regard for Chetwyn for his forcing her to face that fact. Walter had taught her that life was short, could be snatched away at any moment. Chetwyn had shown her that it was not enough to be content. Tristan had revealed to her that love was based on choices, sacrifices, and passion. A passion that was not limited to bedchambers.
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