Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(2) by Lorraine Heath
The word was barely a whisper, scratchy and rough, as though it had taken all his effort to form the syllables.
His son stood there, leaning against the bedpost, arms folded over his chest, his strikingly handsome face showing no emotion whatsoever. He might as well be one of the many porcelain dolls that the earl had given Evelyn when she was a mere slip of a girl.
“Promise me . . . you’ll see her . . . well taken care of.”
“I give you my word that she shall have all she deserves.”
For some reason which she could not fathom, a shiver coursed quickly up her spine. Geoffrey Litton, presently Viscount Litton, had never been cruel to her, but then neither had he ever been kind. He had, for the most part, simply ignored her. She thought it sad that they knew so little of each other, especially as now they would have only each other for comfort.
The earl nodded once, before giving her a weak smile, his eyes no longer glittering with the pride and joy that they usually did when he gazed on her. They simply appeared incredibly weary. “You’re as beautiful . . . as your mother.”
Tears prickled, threatened to roll down her cheeks. “You’ll see her soon. She’s waiting for you, you know?”
“It’s the only thing . . . makes leaving you not quite so painful—to see her again.” His gaze wandered to the canopy above his bed as his smile softened and a distant look came into his violet eyes, eyes she’d inherited. “Ah, how she did make me laugh. That’s the secret to love, Evelyn. Laughter. Remember that.”
With his words, he seemed to have regained his strength, and she considered that perhaps the physician had been wrong, that his leaving would not come tonight. Still, she couldn’t chance not letting him know how much he meant to her. Had always meant to her. He would have been within his rights to pretend she didn’t exist. Instead he had made her to feel like a treasured princess. “I shall remember every word you’ve ever spoken, every smile you ever gave me, every laugh we shared, everything about you. I love you so much, Papa.”
His tired gaze settled back on her. “You were always the light of my life.”
“As you were mine.”
Then the light was gone. One second it was there, the next it was simply gone.
“Father?” She pressed her lips to his hand, allowed the tears she’d been holding at bay so as not to upset him to silently scald her cheeks. Her chest felt as though a massive rock was pressing down on it.
“Go to your chambers, Evelyn.”
Snapping up her head, she twisted around and stared at Geoffrey. He’d not moved a muscle. He appeared no different. It was as though nothing at all had happened. As though death had not made a visit, as though everything in their lives had not suddenly changed for the worse. The clock on the mantel continued to tick. Someone should stop it. All clocks needed to be stopped. A house in mourning did not have ticking clocks. Suddenly, irrationally, it became very important to her that the blasted clocks cease their infernal ticking.
“Go to your chambers,” he repeated in a flat emotionless voice, “and wait there until I come for you.”
“I thought to help prepare him.” To wash him, to dress him in his finest clothes, to comb his hair, to give him the dignity in death that his illness had stolen from him during the final days of his life.
“The servants will see to it.”
“Then I would at least like another mo—”
“It’s Wortham now, and you will do as I command. Go to your room willingly, or I shall drag you there.”
She wanted to ask why he was being unkind, what she’d done to garner his lack of sympathy during this devastating moment, but she knew the answer. She’d been born.
She gazed at her father, so pale, so small, so fragile. His hand was lax in hers. She slipped hers from his, stood, and studied his quiet frail features. He hardly looked like himself. She did hope her mother would recognize him.
“Evelyn, you are testing my patience.”
With only the tiniest bit of rebellion, she delayed her parting, determined to have the few seconds she so desired. She combed her fingers through her father’s snowy white hair, then leaned over and pressed a kiss to the wrinkles that had begun to mar his forehead of late. “Good-bye, Father. Be at peace.”
I doubt that I shall ever be, now that you are gone. You were my safe harbor, and suddenly I feel as though I am cast out to sea, adrift.
Without looking at her half brother, she slowly wandered from the room. She’d never felt so lonely, so sad, so wretchedly alone.
A week passed. She’d discovered rather quickly that leaving her bedchamber was not an option. He’d locked the blasted door.
Evelyn didn’t shout, cry, scream, pound her fists on the thick wood, or kick against it as she wanted. She maintained her dignity. She simply sat and waited, gazing out the window onto the glorious garden that continued to flourish. Should it not be draped in black? It seemed disrespectful for it to remain so brightly colored, but then she supposed it was simply demonstrating that the world carried on. Tears dried, hearts healed. Things would never again be as they were, but that didn’t mean that all wouldn’t be good.
Geoffrey had promised that he would see she was taken care of. She was not overly concerned, as promises were not to be broken, especially the ones made to someone who was dying. In spite of the fact that he did not seem to favor her in the least, he would provide for her.
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