Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(38) by Lorraine Heath
Perhaps someday she would meet a man who would respect her for doing what she had needed to in order to survive.
The following morning Evelyn enjoyed a solitary breakfast. It seemed Rafe had left for his club. He didn’t return that evening or the next. Or the one that followed. No word from him. Was this the uncertainty that would be her life?
Curiosity had gotten the better of her one night and she’d attempted to open the door to his bedchamber, only to find it locked. She’d tried both doors, the one that led into her room and the one in the hallway. She wondered what secrets he harbored in there, what she might learn about him. He was so mysterious, and if he wasn’t returning to the residence, how was she to come to know him better?
She knew all he desired was the bedding. Unfortunately she dreamed of more.
On the fourth afternoon, following a midday meal, she sat in a chair beneath the shade of a towering elm, near the brick wall that bordered the massive garden of the property beside this one. From a window at the end of the hallway in the wing where her bedchamber was located, she had been able to gaze out and see the large residence with its immaculate surroundings.
As usual, she had spent her morning wandering through the residence, imagining it as her own. She decided that she would convert it into a shelter for women who found themselves in a circumstance similar to hers. She would provide lessons in order for them to acquire skills that would allow them to secure gainful employment, so they were not dependent on others as she was.
Although it was quite possible that he was already done with her. She’d not heard a word from him. Had she done something to displease him? He seemed the sort to point out flaws. Perhaps she should visit a bookshop to see if she could find that book regarding the laws of mistresses. She felt quite ignorant about the whole affair. She supposed she should try to be seductive, but how did one go about that?
On the other hand, if he never bedded her, she’d never be ruined. She scoffed at that absurd thought. Living in a man’s residence was ruination enough. No one would believe that a man as virile and masculine as Rafe Easton had not taken her to his bed.
She heard the childish gleeful laughter that had made her smile on other afternoons. This had become her favorite time of the day.
“Lord Redley!” a woman called out. “Come here, child.”
More laughter, and she envisioned him running beyond the reach of his nurse. Based on the squealed pitch of his laughter, he couldn’t be more than a couple of years old.
She fought not to regret that she would have no children running about these grounds. As she was only two and twenty, she supposed if Rafe released her while she was still young, with all she would obtain from him, that she could secure a husband and perhaps have children. But she couldn’t stay here.
She was surprised that Rafe would situate his mistress beside a noble family, but then he did not seem to follow convention. She had considered introducing herself to the neighbors, but how would she explain her position here? She suspected they wouldn’t be at all pleased to know a woman of such questionable moral character resided within easy reach.
So she stayed in her own garden, sipping on her tea, alone with not even porcelain dolls to keep her company.
She watched as Laurence strode toward her. He was incredibly kind. Perhaps she could convince him to join her for a bit of tea. If she was going to be an unconventional woman then she could treat the servants unconventionally.
Stopping before her, he bowed slightly. “Afternoon, miss. Several large boxes have arrived from a Madame Charmaine. I’ve placed them in the parlor to await your inspection.”
“Oh.” She popped up out of her chair. “My wardrobe.” Already? She could hardly believe it. Nor could she believe her excitement at the prospect of having something to wear other than her one black dress. If Laurence didn’t have such long legs, she doubted he’d be able to keep up with her. She was fairly skipping over the lawn.
“Is it usual for Mr. Easton to stay away so long?” she asked.
“Yes, miss. Sometimes I wonder why he even bothers to have a residence. I believe he prefers his club.”
She peered at him out of the corner of her eye. “Have you ever been there, to his club?”
“Once or twice.”
His answer seemed a bit evasive, and she couldn’t help but wonder why. It seemed everyone associated with this residence held secrets.
He opened the door to the small sitting room and she skirted past him into the hallway. “Send Lila to me.”
Laurence veered off, while Evelyn carried on until she reached the entryway. She swept into the parlor and stumbled to a stop.
Rafe lounged in a chair near the window, with sunlight pouring in to bask him in its golden warmth. One leg was outstretched, the other bent at the knee, one elbow resting on the arm of the chair, a tumbler of honeyed liquid near his lips. Lips that had taunted and teased her, warmed her, sent pleasure whirling through her.
Pleasure very similar to what was thrumming through her now at the sight of him. He was so large, so very masculine, so incredibly beautiful even though it was obvious that he’d not bothered to shave in some time. But the stubble only served to make him appear more sensual, more enticing.
She clasped her hands together to stop herself from reaching for him. She feared she’d find not being able to hold him torturous in the days and nights to follow. Because if she couldn’t hold him, he in all likelihood wouldn’t hold her. And that seemed almost a sin.
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