Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(7) by Lorraine Heath
He glared out the window at the fog-shrouded night. His taking her had nothing to do with the fact that she was in effect being abandoned, because she wasn’t. She was being given to someone to care for her. She wouldn’t go hungry, she wouldn’t be smacked about, she wouldn’t have to work until her fingers bled and the small of her back ached so hideously that she feared she might never be able to straighten. She would lie in silk on beds and fainting couches, and wait for a man to part her thighs. She would eat chocolates and plump her lips. She would run her tongue around those lips, and gaze at her benefactor through half-lowered lids.
And he was her benefactor. Damnation.
He should have allowed Ekroth to have her. His fingers weren’t all that pudgy. He could call on him in the morning, barter, let him take her.
But then he’d appear to be a man who didn’t know his own mind.
So he was stuck with her. For a time anyway.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so awful. She’d never had a man. He could guide her toward pleasing him in the manner he required. She would have no other experience, so she would know nothing different, and therefore, she would not be disappointed.
The possibilities began to have merit. He didn’t have to care about her. He wouldn’t care about her.
But he could damn well make use of her.
Evelyn had never been quick to temper. But Geoffrey was testing her patience beyond all measure. In spite of her protests, he’d dragged her up the stairs and locked her in her bedchamber again. She’d wanted to tell that Rafe fellow that he was impossibly rude. Why would he say such a horrid thing? Why would he deliberately attempt to make her feel as though she was nothing?
Sitting at the window, she gazed out on the garden and wondered if the gentlemen were still at the residence. She contemplated tearing off strips of her sheets and fashioning a rope so she could climb out the window. She would march into the library, confront Rafe, and . . . say what exactly?
That he was the most refreshingly honest man there?
That was the thing of it. The other gents had been so . . . oddly behaving. Of course, having never attended any sort of formal—or informal for that matter—affair where lords were attempting to impress a lady, she wasn’t quite certain how they should behave, but she’d thought they’d be more complimentary, more flirtatious, would seek to engage her mind. Instead, it seemed as though they expected her to compliment them, to shower them with praises, to make them feel good about themselves.
All except Rafe. It was as though he couldn’t be bothered with her at all. Perhaps he wasn’t there looking for a wife. He’d certainly made no effort to approach her. Maybe he was simply Geoffrey’s friend, and he’d been in attendance for some other reason.
But if that were the case, why had she felt his gaze on her from the moment she’d walked into the room? It had unsettled her, knowing he was watching as she introduced herself to one man and then another. Was he judging her, considering her, intrigued by her?
She couldn’t tell. What she did know was that he was the handsomest devil she’d ever clapped eyes on. His hair, black as midnight, was unfashionably long, but it framed his face and made his pale blue eyes more noticeable. They reminded her of a frozen lake she’d once walked across as a child. The water that had appeared so blue in summer had seemed faded when peered through a shield of ice. Standing on the frigid banks, she’d shivered, just as she shivered standing before Rafe tonight.
She saw no softness in his features, no gentleness in his manners. She was rather glad she’d not appealed to him. She didn’t want him sending her flowers or reading her poetry or taking her on walks through the park.
Although if she was quite honest with herself, she wasn’t certain that she wanted those considerations from any of the gentlemen she’d met tonight. They’d made her feel as though she were a prized mare they were contemplating purchasing rather than a woman that they wished to woo to the altar.
Perhaps that was how courtship began. She felt so uneducated in that regard. She had not attended a girls’ preparatory school, but had been tutored. Her only friends had been her father and a few of the younger maids. She was familiar with so little of the world beyond the walls of the residence. She knew only that her father had taken great pains to protect her from it, even as he’d sought to prepare her for it with various lessons in etiquette and proper comportment. She understood everything in theory, and so little in practice. She didn’t want to find fault with him, but she did wish he’d seen her settled before he died.
She suspected Geoffrey would see her married to the first man who offered for her hand, rather than determining if he was the man who would make her the most happy.
But then happiness was relative. Being released from this room would bring a great deal of happiness, even if it involved marriage to a man she barely knew.
With a sigh she set her elbow on the windowsill, her chin on her palm, and tried to run through her mind the faces of all the other gentlemen, but each one morphed into someone with coal black hair and ice-blue eyes.
Late the following afternoon, freed from her lovely prison, Evelyn couldn’t recall a single time when she’d ridden in a carriage with Geoffrey. It was odd to have him sitting across from her, staring out the window at the darkening skies. It would no doubt be raining by nightfall. The air felt heavy and damp, as though it were simply waiting to unburden itself. She didn’t even know where they were going, although she recognized the area as they’d not yet traveled far from their residence.
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