Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(33) by Lorraine Heath
Perhaps in the bedchamber was where he unleashed everything. If so, he might reduce her to a heap of cinders. She didn’t know whether to anticipate it, or be terrified.
Setting aside the bottle, she lifted the glass, tipped it toward lips that were still tingling with his assault.
She released a tiny screech at Laurence’s voice intruding from the darkness. The wine sloshed over the sides, onto her hand and, she imagined, her gown. She cradled the bowl of the wineglass with both hands, to steady it as much as herself.
“Apologies, miss. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“No, I’m sorry. I wasn’t expecting you.” She released a self-conscious laugh. “Which I suppose is obvious.”
He smiled. It wasn’t quick or feral or predatory. It didn’t hide secrets. “I saw the master leave. I came to see if there was anything else you required.”
“No, I think I shall just enjoy the garden for a bit.”
“As you wish. I shall retreat to the shadows and keep watch.”
Her fingers tightened on the glass. She was surprised it didn’t shatter. “No need to inconvenience yourself so. I’ll be fine.”
“If anything happened to you because of my negligence, the master would beat me to within an inch of my life.”
Surely he jested. “At least he won’t kill you.”
“Killing would be merciful.”
Her heart lurched. “Are you saying he’s not merciful?”
“I’m saying that he’s very skilled at making his enemies or those who disappoint him live with regret.”
“Has he many enemies?”
“I’ve said far too much. You are quite easy to talk to. I should learn to hold my tongue around you.”
“You’re quite safe. I won’t tell him what you tell me.”
“He has a way of finding things out. Enjoy the garden.”
He slipped away into the darkness, but she could sense him still watching her. She sat in the chair and looked out on the foliage. The gaslights glowed, but fog was beginning to seep in. She could see the mist trailing around the lamps. She should go in, and yet she couldn’t quite bring herself to do so yet. Beyond the fragrance of the flowers, she could still detect his lingering scent. He was a man whose presence remained, even after he left.
“Are you afraid of him?” she asked, knowing Laurence was hovering near enough to hear.
“But you said he would beat you.”
“Only if I disappoint him. Then, yes, I would be afraid of him. Very afraid.”
Sipping her wine, she realized her lips were no longer swollen from his kiss. She skimmed her tongue over them. She’d lost the taste of him. “Is he a bad man, then?”
Silence stretched between them. She wished she hadn’t begun this conversation. She needed to draw her own conclusions regarding Rafe, not base them on someone else’s opinion. It was just that he was so difficult to characterize.
“I once thought he was,” Laurence finally said, so quietly that Evelyn almost didn’t hear him. “It’s the reason I tried to kill him.”
Jerking around in her chair, she couldn’t see him. She could hear a slight breeze rustling the trees, hoped it masked her stuttering breath. “Why would you try to kill him?”
“Once again I’ve said too much.” The disappointment in himself riffled through his voice. She thought if she persisted, he would eventually tell her. Instead, she turned back around and sipped on her wine.
Obviously Laurence had not succeeded in killing Rafe. She wondered how close he might have come. She couldn’t deny the spark of admiration that flitted through her, because Rafe had not only fended off the attack but had converted Laurence into someone he trusted to look after his things. He’d provided him with something much better than what he’d obviously had in St. Giles.
Was he not doing the same for her? Begrudgingly, to be sure, and completely on his terms, but still he was offering her things no one else had. She wondered how different her life might be this evening if Ekroth had won out and taken her as his mistress. Would she be sitting in the garden enjoying the night? Or would she be waiting for moments to pass while he took his pleasure with her?
Would he have kissed her? Would he have gone to the bother of finding her jewelry? Would he have claimed her father’s portrait and had it displayed in the morning room?
She wondered how her mother had come to her father’s attention. Had she fallen in love with him before she became his mistress, or had the falling happened slowly, over time? She could not claim to love Rafe Easton, was not certain she ever would.
But she was beginning to be very glad that he had carried her through the rain, and not abandoned her on Geoffrey’s stoop.
She’d left a lamp burning by the bed. Rafe wondered if she suffered from nightmares, if monsters visited her in sleep as they did him. But then he suspected the existence of monsters was a recent discovery for her. Soon she’d add him to the list, if she hadn’t already.
She appeared so innocent in sleep. On her back, but not completely, twisted a little to the side, her hip raised slightly, one bent leg resting over the other. One of her hands lay near her head on the pillow, fingers curled. So trusting, certain he wouldn’t come to her tonight, wouldn’t claim what he was owed.
He didn’t know why he was here and not at his club. He’d planned to work until dawn, until he was too exhausted to think of her, to want her. Instead the clock had barely struck midnight when he left. Like some misguided fool, he’d hoped to find her sitting in the morning room, staring at her father’s portrait, sipping wine or rum or Scotch. He’d hoped she’d not yet retired, but then she was still not a woman of the night. Her habits would change, would begin to mirror his as she learned to wait for him, to be ready to receive him whenever he was ready to have her.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online