Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(6) by Lorraine Heath
“Are you titled?”
Perhaps she wasn’t as innocent as he’d surmised. She wanted to ensure that she was well cared for, was going to be particular about whose bed she warmed. He supposed he couldn’t hold that against her. She was on the hunt for a man to please, one who would serve as her protector. She had a right to be particular.
“No,” he finally answered.
“I see you’re a man of few words.” She gnawed on her lower lip, which served to plump it up and darken its red hue. He wondered how often she’d been kissed. Had she ever let a man press his mouth to hers? Had a man ever touched her skin, trailed his fingers along her high cheekbones, folded his rough hand around her neck, and brought her in close? “What are your interests?”
“None that would amuse you.”
“You might be surprised.”
“I doubt it. I’m a rather good judge of character.”
“A quick judge it would seem. I’m left with the impression that you don’t think very highly of me.”
He slid his gaze over her, admiring the curves, the dips, and swells. He couldn’t deny that she was a fine piece, but she would require a certain . . . gentleness and care, neither of which was in his repertoire of behavior. “I’ve not yet decided.”
“Unfortunately, I have, I’m afraid. I don’t believe we’d be well suited. I hope you won’t take offense.”
“I would have to give a care what you thought to be offended. I don’t.”
She opened her mouth—
“Evelyn, you’re done here,” Wortham said as he grabbed her arm and began madly ushering her toward the door.
Almost tripping over her small feet encased in satin slippers, she appeared to be attempting to shake off the earl. She was gazing over her bared shoulder at Rafe as though she was determined to have the final word, but she was no match for Wortham’s strength as they both disappeared through the open doorway. It was some minutes before Wortham returned. Rafe was surprised Miss Chambers didn’t barge in behind him. No doubt he’d dissuaded her, convinced her to lay low so as not to discourage any of the lords from having an interest in her.
“All right, gentlemen,” Wortham said, rubbing his hands together. “Does anyone wish to bid on her?”
So that was how he was going to handle the matter, Rafe mused. He’d wondered. He didn’t know why the manner in which Wortham was proceeding caused a chill in his bones. The girl meant nothing to him. It might prove interesting to see what sort of value the other lords placed on her. Especially if he could determine a way to use that knowledge to his advantage.
“I say, Wortham,” Lord Ekroth sneered, “I’ll give you five hundred quid for her, but I’ve a mind to examine her first and ensure she is a virgin as you claim.”
A round of raucous laughter accompanied the ribald suggestion. Rafe suspected those who laughed the loudest were striving to cover the fact that they weren’t quite comfortable with the direction in which the evening was going.
“By all means, each of you may examine her,” Wortham said callously as though he were offering little more than a mare for purchase. “Then I shall entertain further bids.”
“Excellent. I’ll go first, shall I?” Ekroth and Wortham headed for the door.
Rafe envisioned Ekroth’s pudgy sausage-like fingers traveling over her silky thighs, ripping at her undergarments, shoving into—
“I’m taking her.” Rafe could hardly countenance the words that burst from his mouth with such authority that Ekroth and Wortham stumbled in their tracks, while the other lords gaped at him. Obviously, he’d imbibed a bit more than he’d thought, but it didn’t matter now. The challenge had been spoken, and he never recanted his statements.
Standing, he tugged on his black brocade waistcoat that suddenly felt far too tight. “If any of you touch her, I shall separate from you the particular part that touched her. Wortham has assured us that she is pure. I don’t want her soiled by your sweaty hands or anything else. Have I made myself clear?”
“But you were only here to watch, to ascertain—” Wortham cut off his sentence and stepped nearer, lowering his voice, “—to ascertain my ability to cover my debt.”
“When have I ever confided my plans in you?”
“Then you’ll pay me the five hundred quid that Ekroth was willing to pony up?”
“I’ll allow you to continue to breathe. We’ll call it even, shall we?”
“But the terms of this meeting were that she would go to the highest bidder.”
“What value do you place on your life? Do you think anyone here can match it?” He waited a heartbeat. “I thought not.”
He downed what remained of his Scotch before striding to the desk, lords leaping out of his way. If he were not a stranger to laughter, he might have at least chuckled at their antics. He found a scrap of paper, dipped a pen in the inkwell, and scratched out the address of his residence. Placing a blotter on it to keep it in place, he turned and headed toward the door. “My address. Have her there at four tomorrow. Good evening, gentlemen. As always, it’s been a pleasure to be in such esteemed company.”
He was in his carriage, traveling through the London streets, before it resonated within him exactly what he’d done.
“Good God,” he muttered, even though no one was about to hear. What the devil had he been thinking? Obviously, he hadn’t.
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