Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(25) by Lorraine Heath
“I want a dozen dresses for her within the week,” Rafe said, distracted by his perusal of the fabrics.
“I fear, sir, that my schedule is quite full. You might have better success at another shop.”
Rafe stopped riffling through the fabrics and faced her. “My sister by marriage, the Duchess of Keswick, assures me you are the best.”
“I am, sir, but—”
“Apologies for not introducing myself earlier. Lord Rafe Easton. I don’t imagine the Duchess would continue to shop here if I informed her I was turned away.”
“It is only that to meet your deadline with my current workload—”
“Yes, I quite understand, but here’s the thing: Miss Chambers requires clothing due to an unfortunate circumstance that left her with nothing save the dress she is now wearing.” His voice grew lower with each word spoken until Madame Charmaine was leaning toward him in an attempt to properly hear. “A sad state of affairs indeed for a lady to have to go about with only one dress to see her through, wouldn’t you agree? What will it cost me to have you open up your schedule for her?”
“My lord, it’s quite impossible. I have an incredible number of orders to fulfill—”
“Shall we say double the outrageous amount you were going to charge me anyway?”
The woman glanced at the fabrics, the ceiling, the floor, and Evelyn could see her calculating. “I suppose I could see my way clear to complete an item or two within the week.”
“Splendid. I so admire the rare woman who exhibits good sense. I’ve no doubt that we shall get along famously. I shall want to approve all designs and fabrics.”
“An unusual request. Most gentlemen don’t care, but I’m sure I can accommodate. I shall need to get some measurements.”
Evelyn had watched the entire encounter with a measure of horror. Did he think the moon and stars revolved around him? That only his wants and needs mattered? What of her other customers?
He turned to her. “I have some things to see to. I’ll return for you within the hour. Enjoy your time with Madame Charmaine.”
The bell above the door tinkled when he went out. How could it sound so innocent when someone so determined passed beneath it?
“The elusive Rafe Easton. I daresay I’d never expected to cross paths with him,” Madame muttered. “However did you manage to find yourself tangled up with one of the lost lords of Pembrook?”
Evelyn turned to her. “The lost lords?”
“Do you live beneath a rock?”
Evelyn fought not to start laughing maniacally. “No, just in a residence, protected by my father, the Earl of Wortham.”
“Ahhh.” Madame looked at her with sympathy. “I’ve heard a bit about that. The good news I suppose is that you’ve landed with a man who will do everything to protect you.”
“But he was so insistent that you put everyone else’s needs aside and see to mine.”
She scoffed. “Negotiations, my dear. I’ll charge him triple. He won’t know the difference. And you shan’t tell him.”
“I’m not certain I would try to cheat him.”
“Oh, he may bark very loudly, but I don’t think he bites women. Not if the way he looked at you is any indication. Now come along to the back room. You’ll need to remove your clothing so I can get proper measurements.”
“Why did you call them the lost lords?” Evelyn asked as she followed Madame into a small room.
As Madame helped Evelyn out of her clothing, she said, “Now that’s a story. When they were lads, they disappeared after their father died. Rumors abounded. Some said they’d fallen ill. Some that they were murdered by gypsies. Some that they were eaten by wolves. Then I suppose it was . . . what, three years ago? Something like that. I remember because Lady Mary—who is now the Duchess of Keswick—had just come to London, and I’d made her a ball gown. Anyway, the lords appeared at the ball. Caused quite the stir.”
“Where were they all those years?”
“Keswick was in the army, fought in the Crimea. Ghastly business that. Lord Tristan returned as captain of a ship, so I assume he was on the sea. Lord Rafe was about here somewhere. Not much is known of him. He shuns Society, or perhaps it shuns him.”
Evelyn thought of the empty feeling of his residence, the way he had sat alone during her coming out, his gruff manner, his rule that she could never hold him. She wondered if his claiming her for a mistress had nothing at all to do with Ekroth, but with his own loneliness.
Leaving his carriage near the dressmaker’s, Rafe strode with purpose down the street. He needed a sweet, a nice, hard, sugary sweet. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d had such a craving. He wanted something to make him feel good instead of like a rotten bastard.
Whatever had overcome him to press the dressmaker as he had? It was Eve, dammit all. The look of mortification and a wish for death that had crossed her face when she realized that an inconsequential shop owner had determined her purpose in Rafe’s life—and disapproved of it. Who was this woman to disapprove of anything he did?
He was providing Eve with a sanctuary. Yes, she had to pay a price for it, but then nothing in life came free. Not even freedom. It was the highest price of all.
To make matters worse, he’d fallen back on his heritage to get the respect he wanted for Eve. Lord Rafe Easton. He’d not referred to himself as lord since Sebastian’s place was secure. He couldn’t be more disappointed in himself. He was his own man. He didn’t need to tie himself in with his brothers to gain what he desired.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online