Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(27) by Lorraine Heath
The voice came from far away, through a tunnel. He couldn’t go out into the streets yet. He’d be staggering on unsteady legs.
He managed to turn toward the clerk, to hold his face in a mask of boredom. “No, I’ll take a large box of chocolates as well.”
The clerk gave a nod and reached for a dark brown box. “The large box holds twelve pieces and we offer a variety of twenty-four. Which would you like?”
Something to concentrate on. Good. He was beginning to feel more like himself. He looked at the display case and the assortment of chocolates. The various shapes, the tiny decorations on each of them. “Doesn’t matter.”
The clerk reached for a dark square.
“No, not that one,” Rafe said. “The one in the shape of a leaf.” Eve would like that one. It was intriguing with all the little lines carved in it.
“Very good, sir.”
“Then the clover . . . and the diamond-shaped one. But not the heart.” Wrong message would be sent there. He ended up selecting all the pieces because it seemed the clerk was a poor judge of what would appeal to a lady. He wasn’t certain when he decided the chocolates would be for Eve, or why it was important to him that the box contained the proper pieces for her. She might not even enjoy chocolate.
With box in hand, he strode from the shop and headed back toward the dressmaker’s. They should be finished by now. The farther he walked, the heavier the package became. It wasn’t something she’d asked for. Why did he even think she might desire it? She might misinterpret its purpose. Think he’d begun to develop feelings for her, or worse, that he cared.
Whatever had he been thinking to spend fifteen precious moments selecting bits of chocolate?
He spotted a bedraggled woman curled in a corner, pressed against some steps. He hardly broke his stride as he bent down and set the box beside her.
“Thank ye, kind sir!” she yelled after him.
Kind? If he was kind, he’d let Eve go. But then if he was kind, he never would have taken her to begin with.
When Evelyn heard the bell above the door tinkling, she knew it was him. She didn’t know how she knew. It should sound the same no matter who opened the door, and yet she knew.
Madame had just finished helping her dress—for which she was grateful. She suspected he wouldn’t care if she was clothed or not. If he wanted to see her, he would barge into the back room and see her.
Madame arched a brow. “You think it’s him.”
“How do you know?”
She smiled. “A little shiver went through you. Is he a good lover?”
She felt the heat of embarrassment swarm over her face, over her body.
“How can you be so innocent?” Madame asked.
“I should probably go.” She didn’t know why she walked with such purpose, why she didn’t linger. Being back in his company meant she might indeed discover if he was a good lover—tonight. How much of a reprieve was he giving her?
It was him. He was studying the bolts of cloth again. He held his hat in one hand, had removed his glove from the other, and was rubbing red silk between his fingers and thumb. His movements were so incredibly slow, as though he was savoring the sensation of each thread as he touched it. Would theirs be a leisurely mating? Would he relish the feel of her skin as much as he did the cloth?
Ever so casually he glanced over, his lids half lowered as though he wanted to shutter his thoughts, not that she would have been able to read them anyway. “Are you finished with the measurements?”
“We are, my lord,” Madame said, and Eve could have sworn that Rafe cringed, although the change to his expression happened so quickly that had she not been focused on him, she’d have not seen it.
And why was it that she seemed incapable of taking her eyes from him?
He was as handsome as ever, but something had changed. She couldn’t quite figure it out. It had to do with his mood. Angry? Frustrated? Disappointed? Would she ever learn to read him, to determine what he thought, what he felt?
“I have some designs in mind for your lady—”
And again there was that quick contortion of his features.
“—that I could share with you now,” Madame said. “If you have the time.”
“Yes, I’d like to get this matter finished as quickly as possible.”
Madame brought over sheaves of paper, and while they discussed patterns with their back to her as though her opinion was of no importance, she wandered over to the chair before the window where a true lady had been sitting earlier. She glanced out on the street, on people bustling by, going places, doing as they pleased, making their decisions.
Her father had told her to never envy anyone anything because she would never know what price they had paid for whatever she was envying. But at that moment it was very difficult not to covet the freedom to go about life as one pleased. She had no control over what she would wear, what it would look like, the shade of the material. She had no choice as to where she would live. She had no say in when she would be bedded—or even how she would be bedded, because he had rules. He governed all.
Perhaps she would be disagreeable. At the very least she could be unenthusiastic.
“I’m ready to leave.”
Startled, she looked out on the darkness and wondered when night had fallen. Glancing up at him, for a brief moment, she could have sworn that he looked as sad as she felt.
With a nod, she rose. He didn’t offer his arm, but merely led her out of the shop. She wasn’t good enough to touch in public. Perhaps she would be fortunate, and he would decide she wasn’t good enough to touch in private either.
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