Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(28) by Lorraine Heath
The footman assisted her into the carriage while Rafe spoke to the driver. The carriage rocked as he climbed inside, sitting across from her. Then the conveyance was rattling along. She stared out the window, much safer than staring at him. She didn’t want him to think that he intrigued her with his quicksilver expressions, his caustic moods, his ability to know exactly what he wanted and to never doubt himself. She doubted so much. Doubted that she could do this.
“She intends to charge you triple,” she said quietly.
“I thought she might.”
She’d expected anger not amusement to accompany his reply. She peered over at him. “You don’t sound at all bothered by it.”
“I can hardly blame her when I practically forced her into doing my bidding at the expense of some highborn lady who might very well find herself without a new gown to wear to a ball.”
“She referred to you as a lost lord.”
He was the one to look out the window now. With the little bit of illumination filtering in from the gaslights, she could see his jaw clench, his eyes narrow. “We shan’t talk about that, Eve.”
She interlaced her fingers. She wanted to know about his past, to know what had shaped him into the man he was. Why did his servants not refer to him as my lord? Why did he have a gambling establishment? He should be like Geoffrey. A man of leisure.
Then she thought, Thank God he isn’t like Geoffrey.
“What shall we talk about then?” she asked.
“We shan’t talk at all. That’s not why you’re with me.”
“But if we don’t know anything at all about each other, it’s going to be incredibly awkward, don’t you think?” She didn’t want to sound mulish but she didn’t want her body to be the only thing about her with which he was familiar.
“I shall ensure it’s not awkward.”
“How can you do that when simply riding in a carriage together is awkward? And I don’t like the red that so fascinated you. I shan’t wear it.”
His gaze landed on her so swiftly and so heavily that she could have sworn she heard a thud. “You will.”
“You seem to have forgotten the terms of this arrangement.”
She clutched her fingers until they ached, until the pain traveled up her arms to her neck. “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can be your mistress.”
“Did I not tell you that I was a good judge of character?”
She swallowed hard. Was he not going to force her into this? “I can give you my jewelry to pay you back for the bed you gave me last night.” She started to reach into her pocket—
What did he mean by that? Keep it because he wasn’t going to let her go, or because he was and she would need it?
The carriage rolled to a stop.
“We’re here,” he said succinctly.
“Where is that?”
“The life you think you’d prefer.”
He was mucking things up. Royally. He couldn’t remember the last time that he had handled a situation so poorly. Perhaps when his brothers first returned. He remembered the hearty hug that Tristan had given Sebastian, and he’d ached because the thought of being wrapped that tightly by such strong arms had forced him to distance himself, to shove whiskey into their hands, to give no indication that he desperately wanted to share in such a joyous reunion. He’d been angry with them then. He still was, but it was the fear of what they might realize, what they might understand of his past that held him back.
He was having a difficult enough time as it was allowing Eve to cling to his arm as they strolled through the rookeries. But he couldn’t risk anyone thinking that she wasn’t with him. He had a reputation down here. He didn’t come often anymore, but legends grew with absence, and enough people would remember him that he knew they wouldn’t be accosted.
He had come to understand at breakfast that she wasn’t fully committed to being with him. He had sensed at the dressmaker’s that she was mortified by her place in his life. In spite of her father’s love for her, he had hidden her away, had made her more of a prisoner than Rafe ever would. Her brother had wanted her out of sight. Rafe had promised to flaunt her. She had to understand the price that entailed.
She also needed to understand the price of leaving. She needed to want to stay because he didn’t want her to go.
He wanted to see her in the red gown that she swore she wouldn’t wear. He wagered she’d change her mind when she saw it. He wanted her at his table during breakfast and dinner. He might even return to the residence for a midday meal.
He wanted to catch wafts of her rose fragrance as he walked through his residence, as he strode up the stairs to find her. He wanted her eyes to widen when she looked up and realized he stood beside her. He wanted her lids lowering when he bent in to kiss her.
He wanted her in his carriage laying out her terms, even knowing that he was the rule maker. He didn’t want to break her, but compromise had never been his strong suit. He had learned early that compromise signaled weakness, that men would take advantage. One’s guard could never be lowered.
Even she, as sweet and innocent as she was, would take advantage, would ruin him, would leave him. She didn’t much like him. He had expected that. He’d never cared one way or the other if anyone fancied him. He was a loner. It suited him.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online