Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(12) by Lorraine Heath
“I see Laurence didn’t adequately see to your comfort, didn’t bother to take your wrap.”
She brought it more closely about her. “No, he offered, but I’ve been chilled, even with the fire.”
“Scotch should help there.” He went to a table in the corner and poured a generous amount into two glasses, concentrating on his actions because for some damned reason his hands were shaking. It had nothing to do with the notion that he would soon be touching her, stripping her clothes from her body, ordering her to lie on his bed—
Later, that would all come later. He’d been fighting all day not to think about it. Lust. It was all lust, animalistic, barbaric needs that a man possessed, that consumed him. He shoved aside all thoughts of what secrets might be hidden from him beneath her clothing, picked up the glasses, and crossed over to where she waited beside a chair near the fireplace. At least she’d moved away from the window.
He could not mistake the wariness in her eyes as she took the glass he extended toward her. She was right to fear him. He wouldn’t abuse her, he would never willingly hurt her, but he had little doubt that eventually he would cause her pain. Even the women he paid for his pleasures suffered some because he gave them nothing beyond the physical, and women, bless them, seemed to need more than that.
He simply didn’t have it to give. Which was the reason that he’d avoided feminine encounters for a good long while now, because he couldn’t stand the disappointment that always seem to punctuate his leaving. He did not hold, he did not cuddle, he did not allow them to hold him.
Taking a chair by the fire, he indicated the one opposite him. Slowly, gracefully, she sank into it. Both her gloved hands circled the glass. Such small hands. He imagined them circling him. He’d barely know they were there. Perhaps—
He forced away the thoughts because his body was reacting and the last thing he wanted to do was frighten her. He sipped slowly on his Scotch while she studied the fire. Finally she brought her gaze to bear on him.
“Geoffrey—” she began.
She gave him a small smile. “Lord Wortham. I’m afraid I’ve not quite accepted that my father is gone. Anyway, he said I was here to manage your household, but quite honestly it appears to be well managed already, so I’m not quite certain what I could contribute.”
“I’m certain you can contribute quite a bit.” He savored another long sip. “What were his exact words?”
Her delicate brow furrowed, she looked back at the fire. “That I was to see to your needs.”
“My needs,” he emphasized. “Not those of my residence.”
Her gaze swung back to him, the furrow deeper. “I’m not sure I understand. Do you not have a valet to see to your needs?”
“I have a valet.”
“Then I can’t see that I would have much to do.”
She was too innocent, far too innocent for the likes of him. He should send her back to her brother, but unfortunately for Evelyn, he had decided that he wanted her. He wasn’t quite certain when it struck him so forcefully that he did. Perhaps when he opened the parlor door and saw her waiting there. Waiting for him. When had anyone ever been waiting for him?
“What did you think was the purpose of last night’s . . . entertainment?”
“To secure me a husband.”
He nearly choked on his Scotch. The very last thing he would ever contemplate was marriage. If she knew him at all, she’d know that. But therein resided part of the problem: she didn’t know him, and he preferred to keep it that way.
“I was most surprised,” she continued, “to find myself arriving at your residence when I was left with the distinct impression that you found me hardly worth a thought.”
Hardly worth a thought? How he wished that was true. He’d been unable to stop thinking about her since he’d first seen her. She invaded his dreams, inhabited his thoughts, occupied his mind.
“To be quite honest,” she carried on, “I suspect I will not be here long before someone offers for me. I doubt it is worth it to either of us for me to be in your employ.”
While he didn’t relish the thought of shattering her naiveté, he didn’t much like this dancing about either. Best to just get it said. “You’re not to be in my employ. You’re to be in my bed.”
She blinked, blinked, blinked. Opened her mouth, closed it. Blinked again. “I beg your pardon?”
“Your brother was seeking to find a man to take you as his mistress, not as his wife.”
She shook her head slightly as though she were almost frozen in disbelief, as though working out what he’d said was taking all her energy. “That can’t be. He promised Father that he would see that I was well taken care of.”
“Mistresses are often treated better than wives. At least I have no wife on the side, which is more than I can say for a few of the gents who were in attendance last night. As my mistress—”
“You can’t possibly want me to be your mistress. You don’t even like me.”
“I don’t have to like you to bed you. Truth be told, it’s better that there be no sentiment between us.”
She came to her feet in such a rush he was surprised she didn’t stumble. However, she did drop her glass. It fell to the carpet, spilling his extremely expensive Scotch.
“You’re wrong about last night,” she announced, her eyes welling with tears. “About Geoffrey’s intentions. He wouldn’t have brought me here if he’d known what you assumed, what you planned. He promised. He promised Father . . .”
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