Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(20) by Lorraine Heath
“Good morning, Eve. I trust you slept well.”
How could she have forgotten how incredibly handsome he was? He was properly dressed, with waistcoat, jacket, and cravat. His black hair was tamed. She missed the curls. They softened him a bit. But this morning nothing about him appeared soft.
“It’s Evelyn,” she informed him, trying to regain her bearings, trying to convince herself that she could handle the monstrously unappealing task that lay before her.
“Evelyn doesn’t suit me.”
“It doesn’t suit you?”
“I will be providing you with a home, food, clothing, jewelry, servants . . . everything about you will suit me. You will spend your day planning for my arrival. You will amuse me with discussion, entertain me with pianoforte. You shall read to me.”
What price would she pay if she left this instance, simply turned on her heel and walked out of the room, walked out the front door?
He was studying her intently, and she had a feeling that he knew exactly what she was thinking. Perhaps he was right that a change in name was in order. Evelyn was a far different woman than the one she would become. Evelyn had been loved. She doubted Eve ever would be—certainly not by this man who seemed incapable of harboring any emotion at all.
With a wave of his hand, he indicated the sideboard. “Tell Andrew what you’d like and he’ll prepare your plate.”
She turned toward the footman. Of course he would be tall and handsome as well. The most desired footmen were tall and in good form. It seemed Rafe Easton only went with the best. She wandered over to the sideboard. She selected poached egg, toast, ham. Not an abundance, but then she very much doubted she’d be able to eat. All this wonderful food would go to waste.
Andrew carried her plate over to the foot of the table. Setting it down, he pulled out her chair. She sat, watched as Rafe did the same, picked up his newspaper, and shook it. She reached for her napkin, froze.
Resting on the white linen was the sapphire encrusted necklace and matching bracelet that her father had given her for her nineteenth birthday. Gingerly she touched them, hardly daring to believe they were truly there.
She fought not to weep. Lifting her gaze to Rafe, she caught him watching her before jerking his attention to the paper as though he couldn’t be bothered by her reaction. “How did you get these?” she asked.
He didn’t look at her. Simply narrowed his eyes as though he was having difficulty making out the letters he was reading. “Paid a call on Wortham last night. If there is anything else you wish to have from his residence, let me know and we shall stop by there on the way to your seamstress this morning.” He lowered the paper. “Who is your seamstress, by the way?”
She shook her head. “Her name is Margaret, but she always came to the residence. I don’t know where she worked or how to contact her.”
He sighed. “I shall have to make inquiries then, regarding where I should take you for your clothing. I want to see you in only the best.”
His words hardly registered. She was still too stunned by the jewelry. “I can’t believe you did this, went to such bother.”
“Did I not explain that you would never lack for anything that was within my power to purchase?”
“You paid Geoffrey for these?”
“No, I paid the little rodent he’d sold them to. I’m relieved to know that he didn’t try to swindle me by giving me the incorrect pieces.”
“I can’t imagine anyone daring to swindle you.”
He bent his head to the side slightly in acknowledgment of her words. “It has been a good long while since anyone has tried to get the better of me. Do you read?”
She started at the abrupt change in topic. “Yes.”
“Good. You may read to me.” He folded the paper, signaled to the footman. The man brought it over, set it beside her fork.
“Why would you want me to read the news aloud?”
“Because I enjoy the sound of your voice.”
She released a tiny laugh. “Geoffrey once told me I had a man’s voice.”
“I believe we’ve already ascertained that he’s an idiot.”
Carefully, she eased the jewelry off her napkin, fluffed the linen in the air, and settled it across her lap. “How did you come to own a gambling establishment?”
“What does it matter?”
She toyed with the egg, darted a glance to the footman. Servants were discreet, she suspected his more so than most, but still this was awkward. “It just seems that I should come to know you, to understand you, before . . . that things will be more comfortable between us, that I will be able to more easily determine what you need.”
“I’ll tell you what I need.”
“Oh, I see.” She sliced off a piece of ham. “I enjoy riding.”
He looked at her as though she’d said, “Did you notice I have four arms?”
“I thought it might prove helpful if you knew something about me,” she offered.
“I know all I need to know.”
It was going to be so incredibly sterile, this arrangement between them. She didn’t know if she’d be able to stand it. She picked up the paper. “Where shall I begin?”
She hated that her voice quavered, that it threatened to reveal her doubts and her burgeoning regrets.
“Did you have a horse?” he asked, his voice flat, emotionless, as though he couldn’t be bothered to care, as though he didn’t really desire an answer.
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