Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(3) by Lorraine Heath
But surely he didn’t intend to do it by holding her prisoner for the remainder of her life. Perhaps he simply wanted to spare her from seeing him grieve. He was such a proud man, so reserved. Much like his mother, he never revealed how he felt about anything.
Her lady’s maid, Hazel, brought her meals, but spoke sparingly. She informed Evelyn that the earl had been laid to rest. Evelyn wished that the earl’s son had allowed her to see him one more time. What would it have hurt?
But she forgave him his inconsideration because she knew how difficult it must be for him to bury his father, take on the mantle of earl, and find himself charged with her welfare as well as that of the estates. Besides, he’d really done her an immense favor with his inconsideration as she was forced, for comfort’s sake, to rely on her memories of her father while he was alive, rather than holding the image of him in stillness within a casket. He would always remain vivid and vibrant in her mind. Tossing her in the air, laughing boisterously, wrapping his larger hand around her smaller one. Kneeling before her shortly after her mother died, and assuring her that everything would be all right. She had loved him more at that moment than she thought it possible to love anyone.
It was early afternoon, on the seventh day, when she heard a key turn in the lock. Too soon for tea. She rose from her pink velvet chair at the window as the door opened, and Geoffrey strode into the room dominated by pink frills and lace.
Unlike her, he did not appear to have lost weight as he mourned. His gray eyes were not shadowed by grief. His blond hair was combed back, every strand in place. His black jacket, waistcoat, and trousers were pressed. His white shirt and cravat pristine. Only the black armband signaled that he had lost a family member.
He bore so little resemblance to his father. He took after his mother. She had been a cold woman who had done little more than look at Evelyn as though she wished she would fade into nothing. When in her ladyship’s presence, Evelyn often wished she could make herself do exactly that: disappear.
“I’m having a few friends over this evening.” He marched to her armoire, opened the door, and began riffling through her gowns as though he owned them. “I shall expect you to entertain them.”
“We’re in mourning,” she reminded him, abhorred by the notion of his going about as though this was not a house that had suffered a recent loss.
He pulled out a gown of lush purple silk and held it up for his inspection. She wanted to snatch it from him. He couldn’t just come in here and start pawing through her things. Even if he was now the earl. “This should do nicely.”
He tossed it negligently onto the bed before making his way toward the door. “Be ready at nine.”
Aghast at his callousness, she drew back her shoulders and said as forcefully as possible, “Geoffrey, I’m not entertaining.”
He came to an abrupt halt, but he did not look over at her. Rather he kept his gaze focused on the hallway. “I’ve told you before. I’m Wortham now. Don’t make that mistake again.”
“I don’t understand why you’re behaving so—”
“So what?” He spun around then and she saw the fury darkening his eyes, the hard set of his jawline. It took everything within her not to step back, not to give any indication that he frightened her. “You are his bastard. He brought you into this home, right beneath my mother’s nose, and flaunted the fact that he did not love her, but loved another woman. Do you think she died so young because of illness? No, she died of a broken heart. You are a constant reminder to me of all that she suffered. All I suffered. He didn’t love me either. Not once did he ever say that he loved me. Yet he poured those words over you as thick as honey.”
Her heart twisting for his pain, she took a step toward him before she recognized by his glower that her touch would only serve to worsen matters between them. Therefore, she filled her voice with all the empathy she could muster. “I’m so incredibly sorry for any hurt that you’ve suffered because of thoughtlessness.”
“I don’t want your apologies or sympathies. I gave him my word that I would see you well cared for. The first step in that endeavor is to introduce you to some lords. Tonight. So please make yourself presentable. Be charming. Flirtatious. Let them see that you are made of stern stuff, even when grieving. Convince them that you would be a satisfactory companion.”
“You intend to see me married off so quickly, even though I am in mourning? It’s not proper.”
“Proper? Dear girl, believe me, you are considered anything but proper. They will overlook the impropriety. Now then, be a good sport about it. If not for me, then for Father. If he can look down from above, he will be most pleased to know you shall never want for anything.”
With that, he strutted from the room and slammed the door in his wake. Hearing the grating of the key in the lock, she sank back into her chair. Her chest ached, her throat so thick with tears that she thought she might suffocate. She had lived such a blessed life, spoiled and pampered. She knew not all by-blows were fortunate enough to be treated as warmly and kindly as she’d been by her father.
She supposed she couldn’t blame Geoffrey—she couldn’t bring herself to think of him as Wortham, not yet. That name belonged with her father—for wanting to be rid of the burden of caring for her. He would be searching for his own wife soon. Best to see his father’s daughter well situated first and out of the household. She suspected once she left here, she would rarely see him—if at all.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online