Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(52) by Lorraine Heath
It was early afternoon by the time she was in the carriage, heading toward her destination. It struck her that within the space of a sennight her life had changed immeasurably. She had never called for a carriage while at her father’s residence. She only went out when he accompanied her. She never instructed servants regarding her preferences on meals. She had never served as mistress of a household.
She’d learned something valuable about Rafe in the shadows of her room last night. He’d said that he didn’t give a bloody damn, but he did. Far more than he realized and was willing to admit, even to himself. If he didn’t care, he’d not take to task any men who hurt the women in his establishment, he wouldn’t have given her lessons on how to protect herself. While she had suspected from the first that he’d not hurt her physically, she was now certain of it.
What he might do with her heart, however, was another matter entirely. She feared that unlike him, she didn’t have the strength to keep it locked away. It was easily found and bruised. She had even allowed Geoffrey to cause her pain. He had never given her cause to think he cared for her, but she had never realized that he despised her. Her father’s unconditional adoration had allowed her to embrace the fantasy of being special. Geoffrey had most cruelly torn her whimsy into shreds.
The carriage turned down a drive and finally came to a stop in front of a residence that no longer looked as elegant or impressive to her as it once had. The carriage door opened, and a footman handed her down. Once the others were gathered around, she said, “When the door opens, you may have to shove your way in as I’ve been told that entry is barred to me. But I want to enter.”
She marched up the path, up the steps, and tried the door. To her immense surprise, it opened. Obviously they had expected her to never return. She swept inside, with her entourage on her heels. Manson came scurrying out of one of the hallways. His eyes widened, his mouth gaped before he got control of himself. He rushed forward.
“I’m sorry, miss, but—”
One of her footmen blocked him. She turned for the stairs and headed up them. “I won’t be long, Manson. I just need a few things. Feel free to alert his lordship that I’m here.”
At the landing, she turned into the corridor that branched into the east wing and went to the room located at the corner. Her bedchamber. Placing her hand on the knob, she hesitated a moment before shoving open the door. She strode in with purpose and staggered to a stop. The vanity, the bedside tables, the dresser—they were all bare of her things. The few dolls that remained after her smashing spree were nowhere to be seen. She walked quickly to the armoire. It was empty. The lush purple gown that she had purchased in hopes of wearing to a ball, the one Geoffrey had insisted she don on the most humiliating night of her life, was gone.
She heard the tread of footsteps pounded in anger. Surprised by the calm that settled over her, she faced the door. Geoffrey barged through, his face a mottled red.
“Now, see here—”
He’d taken but two steps when two of the footmen grabbed him. He tried to shake them off but they held firm. Finally he stopped struggling and glared at her. “You have no right to be here.”
“You packed up all my things. Where are they?”
“I sold them.”
The words slammed into her like a hard fist to her stomach, but she refused to show any reaction. She could be as stoic, as unrevealing as Rafe. “I see.”
“Everything in this residence belongs to me now. I shall do with it as I please.”
Did she hear guilt, remorse? She couldn’t be sure but she was done with giving him the benefit of the doubt. His gray eyes were shooting daggers at her. His behavior saddened her for so many reasons. “I always admired you so much. My older brother, the future earl. But at this moment I don’t like you very much. Father asked you to see to my care, and you did a rather poor job of it. You led me to believe you were seeking to find me a husband.”
“I never said that. I told you that I was going to introduce you to some gentlemen.”
“But you knew what I thought.”
He sneered. “You were always a little fool.”
“I find you remarkably sad.”
“Don’t you dare pity me.”
“Oh, I don’t pity you. You told Father that I would have had all I deserve. Eventually, Geoffrey, I shall be a very wealthy woman. You, on the other hand, will be insignificant.”
“I’m a lord and you’re a bastard.”
How could he be so hateful? How could he despise her so much? She was wasting her time. He would never listen, never truly understand what a wretched creature he was.
“We’re going to leave now and if you make a fuss, my footmen are going to pummel you. So please don’t make a fuss.”
With her head held high, she strode from the bedchamber that had once been hers, where she had once been happy. She supposed she would soon discover if happiness was to be found in another bedchamber.
In the late afternoon Rafe stood at the window of his office, looking out on the street, watching as people bustled by.
He didn’t know why he’d not returned to his residence with Eve. He’d wanted her, God how he’d wanted her. Standing there in his apartments with the lights from outside, and the dim glow inside casting her in shadows that ebbed and flowed with her movements, she’d been a seductress. Her smoky voice and her throaty laughter had added to the allure.
His eyes slid closed as he remembered the kiss. She was becoming quite masterful at parrying. He’d almost given her rein to wrap her arms around him, almost. He’d felt the brush of her hands, craved the touch as much as it repelled him. His chest had tightened, sweat had popped out on his forehead, and he’d known that he’d shove her aside, possibly hurt her, so he’d snatched her wrists before any damage was done.
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