Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(10) by Lorraine Heath
“Do take your leave before you begin spouting poetry. I have no stomach for it.”
Tristan disliked that Rafe was becoming more difficult and more of a recluse—at least where he and Sebastian were concerned. He accepted none of their invitations, but he wasn’t yet ready to give up on him.
“You know,” Tristan began, eager to change the subject, “most fellows would at least inquire as to what a man was holding if he walked into a room carrying a large box.”
Rafe shifted his gaze over. “I would have to care to ask. I don’t. It’s your box.”
“Actually, it’s not.” Tristan set it in the center of the desk. “It’s yours. Well, not the box really. But what’s inside. Although you’re more than welcome to keep the box.”
He didn’t know why he was rambling on stupidly. He wasn’t anxious regarding what Rafe might think of his offering. He’d battled the sea, tempests, pirates, and sharks. He had no worries here. Still he watched as Rafe eyed the package as though he thought it might attack him.
“What do you mean it’s mine?”
Tristan wondered once again, as he often did, what sort of life his brother had led since the night they escaped Pembrook. None of them ever talked about their years apart. Sebastian had left half his face on some godforsaken battlefield in the Crimea. Tristan bore the scars of a lash that had flayed his back. He suspected, had always suspected, that Rafe bore scars as well, but that they ran much deeper than the skin, and he had little doubt that made them much harder to heal. “It’s a gift.”
“No reason in particular.” He knew he should have said because you’re my brother and I love you, but the words were as difficult for him to speak as he suspected they would be for Rafe to hear.
Rafe set his tumbler aside and pulled the present nearer. He removed the lid from the box, tipped it cautiously toward him—
Jerked his gaze up to Tristan, who squirmed, feeling a bit self-conscious. “I know it’s not perfect. I carved it during the two years I was at sea, after Sebastian again had his title.”
Slowly Rafe stood, reached in, and withdrew the wooden globe attached to a stand in such a way that his brother could spin the world as he pleased.
“Although I’m not so nimble with a brush, I thought about painting the land masses green and the ocean blue—”
“I like it plain.” Rafe was trailing his fingers over every indention and relief, studying them as though they were of great importance.
“Do you? Like it, I mean?” Tristan asked.
Rafe nodded. “I didn’t know you carved.”
There’s a lot you don’t about me, Brother, and I suspect even more that I don’t know about you.
“One gets bored on a ship. Unlike working here, in a gambling den.”
“It gets boring, looking at ledgers and such all the time.”
Tristan grinned. “What do you do when you get bored?”
Rafe looked at him as though he’d asked if he could fly. “I continue working. Boredom is not an excuse not to work.”
“Do you ever go sailing?”
Rafe returned his attention to the sphere. “No.”
“I’ve started a business of designing yachts, having them built. The first, I just finished, is mine of course, but I thought the second could be yours.”
“I have no need of a boat.”
Tristan fought not to clench his jaw. A yacht was not a boat. Especially the ones he was designing. By God, the luxury built into his own vessel was appalling. “You might be surprised. The sea can bring calm to the soul.”
“If one has a soul, but still it’s not something on which I wish to waste my hard-earned coin.”
“I wasn’t going to have you pay for it. It would be another gift. God knows I don’t need the money, and I enjoy designing something that so closely resembles a ship.”
Rafe studied him. “What are you doing here, Tristan? We’re not friends, acquaintances, or even brothers, really.”
Tristan shoved himself to his feet. “We are brothers.”
“Why? Because we came from the same mother, had the same father? Being a brother is more than that.”
“Why will you not let go of the past? It’s tearing Sebastian up that you’ve yet to forgive him for leaving you at that blasted workhouse. Do you really think he had a choice?”
“We all have choices.”
Tristan knew this discourse was pointless. Rafe was beyond listening. Tristan took some comfort in the fact that Rafe hadn’t flung the globe across the room. He sighed. “I’m going to christen my new yacht in two weeks. I thought you might like to go sailing with us.”
“I shall be too busy.”
“Enjoying your new mistress?”
“She’s none of your concern.”
Rafe’s brow furrowed. “You’re joking. She’s the by-blow of an earl. I’m sure her presence would offend the sensibilities of your wife.”
“If you think that, then you don’t know my Anne very well. And I wish you did. She’s a remarkable woman. You’d like her. Anyway—” Tristan set his empty glass on the desk. “—the invitation is open should you change your mind. Two weeks from Friday, be at Easton House at eleven.”
“Sebastian’s invited as well.”
“Of course he is. He, his wife, and his heir.”
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