Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(69) by Lorraine Heath
“I acquired it when I was seventeen, but I used the name Rafe Weston.”
“Clever. East. West. But no one recognized you?”
“I was ten when we . . . disappeared, as it was so gently put. No one looked for us. No one tried to find us. The most popular tale was that we were eaten by wolves. Wolves, Evie. One of us perhaps, but all three of us? The other two wouldn’t have stood around, twiddling their thumbs waiting to be devoured. Yet people believed it.”
He sounded so incredibly offended. She supposed that she could hardly blame him. “But surely once you returned, they were glad to see you.”
“Not as glad as you might think. Uncle had made friends. We weren’t very polished, but mostly, this isn’t the world in which I grew up. I’m far more comfortable walking through St. Giles.”
Which she found so very sad. He should have been comfortable here. She wouldn’t ask him to stay any longer than this dance. So she decided to make the most of these few precious moments. A month ago, a week ago, she would have looked around, taking in all the beautiful gowns, the well-dressed gentlemen. She would have noticed hairstyles and jewelry. She would have watched the orchestra playing, the flames flickering in the chandeliers. Now she merely focused on him. The way his ice-blue eyes remained on her, the set of his mouth and how she longed for it to curl up into a smile. The weight of his touch at her waist. The gentleness with which he held her hand. The feel of her palm curved around his strong shoulder. The heat in his gaze. The promise she saw there that the night would end with pleasure in her bed. She had never wanted to be a mistress, but she did acknowledge that she wanted to be with him.
When the final strains of the song drifted away, she knew she would remember them always, and the gift he had given her of waltzing in a ballroom. “We should leave now, I think.”
His gaze intense, he gave her a quick nod. Then he did something he’d never done. He laced his fingers through hers. The small act seemed almost as intimate as being in bed with him. Wending their way through the throng, he guided her around the couples until they reached the outer edge. His hold on her hand tightened as Lord Tristan, Lady Anne beside him, stepped into their path.
Lord Tristan smiled broadly. “Heard you were about. Thought you might join me for a drink in the library.”
“We’re leaving now.”
“So soon?” Lady Anne asked, clear disappointment in her voice. She looked at Evelyn. “I thought we might get a chance to visit, just for a moment. We have so much in common.”
Evelyn wasn’t quite sure what to say. “I’m not certain we do.”
“We’re both on the arm of a Pembrook lord. I find it terribly challenging. We could discuss it. You don’t mind, do you, Rafe?”
“One drink,” Tristan said. “Just to be polite.”
“Being polite is not what I’m known for.”
“Don’t be stubborn. Five minutes is all we’re asking.”
Evelyn didn’t want to interfere. This matter was between Rafe and his brothers, but neither did she want a lovely evening spoiled for everyone simply because he’d given her the gift of dance in a ballroom. She squeezed his hand. He looked down at her and she smiled. “I’ll be perfectly fine with Lady Anne if you wish to join them.”
He sighed heavily. “I don’t wish it, but I suppose a few minutes delay will cause no harm.” His fingers released their hold on hers. “I won’t be long.”
She watched him stride away with his brother. They cut fine figures, both tall and broad-shouldered, dark hair shining almost blue in the candlelight. She could see people turning to observe them.
“They gather attention wherever they go,” Lady Anne said.
“Yes, I’ve heard they’re a curiosity.”
“Oh, there is that, but mostly I think it’s because they’re so devilishly handsome and they strut about with such confidence. They intimidate a good many.”
Yes, Evelyn could see that.
“Will you join me on the terrace for some fresh air?” Lady Anne asked.
Evelyn was surprised by the invitation. Obviously Lady Anne didn’t truly understand Evelyn’s role in Rafe’s life. “That’s very kind but—”
“Don’t even think of refusing me.” She slipped her arm through Evelyn’s and began strolling toward the open doors. “I know what it is to be a curiosity myself. I mourned my fiancé’s passing for two years. When I finally returned to Society, everyone was scrutinizing my behavior. It was quite irritating. We tend to judge far too much I think.”
They walked onto the cobblestone and crossed over to the railing that bordered the terrace. From here, Evelyn could make out the rooftop of Rafe’s residence in the distance. With the brick fence and the trees and shrubbery, it was impossible to see into the next yard, and each house sat on a lovely plot of land that put distance between the residences.
“I can’t believe that’s Rafe’s property,” Lady Anne said. “We didn’t know.”
“I live there. You really shouldn’t befriend me.”
“Why? Because you’re his mistress? None of us are completely pure. Would you feel more comfortable with me knowing that Lord Tristan and I were lovers before we married?”
Evelyn knew her eyes widened. Fortunately she was able to keep her mouth from gaping open.
“I only tell you,” Lady Anne began, “because I can see what you mean to him. I was rude enough to watch as you were dancing. He never took his gaze from you. I think he cares for you, so I want you to feel at ease with us.”
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