Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(82) by Lorraine Heath
“Joy? Evie, you damned near killed me.”
He felt her jerk beneath him and lifted himself back up so he could look into her eyes. “That’s a good thing. It’s never—” Dear God, he couldn’t believe he was actually talking about this. The next thing he knew, he’d start wearing skirts. He combed her hair behind her ear. “It’s never been as fulfilling for me. I found it lonely as well.”
He wished he hadn’t admitted that, but he seemed unable to keep from telling her anything.
“The stitches held.” Although how they had managed to do that under the circumstances, he hadn’t a clue. He rolled off her and onto his back—and damned if he didn’t miss the nearness of her.
She snuggled against his side and placed her hand on his chest. “I won’t hold you, but feel free to hold me.”
He brought his arm down and around her. He held her there. Eventually, he heard her soft snoring and stared at the canopy. There was a tightness in his chest. He feared it was the stone wall around his heart crumbling.
Without it, how the hell would he protect himself?
The yacht sliced through the water, with Eve of all people at the helm. Some scrawny lad stood slightly behind her and guided her. Her smile was so bright as to be blinding. Her laughter was carried by the breeze, and sitting at the end of the boat, Rafe fought not to growl. He also fought to keep his stomach from heaving.
While they had missed the planned christening of the yacht, he had sent word to Tristan that the next time he took it out, Eve would like to join them. He had thought it would be weeks before he was forced to go sailing, but Tristan had promptly shown up at his club with a devilish smile. “Tomorrow. I’m not going to give you a chance to change your mind.”
So here he was, impressed with the beautiful woodwork and craftsmanship. Tristan had taken them on a tour when they’d first arrived. Below deck, he had shown them a library, a sitting room, three bedchambers, and Rafe had known that one was for him, that Tristan had designed the yacht hoping that all three brothers would take a long sojourn together. The thing was large enough that a man would be comfortable sailing the world in it.
Tristan sat on the bench beside him, placed his elbows on the railing, and stretched out his legs. “If you harm Mouse, you will have to deal with me.”
“Thought you introduced him as Martin.” He didn’t see any point in pretending he wasn’t contemplating taking his fist to the lad.
Tristan shrugged. “While he served under me on my ship, he was Mouse. Hard habit to break. He’s only become Martin as he’s become interested in the fairer sex. He thinks it’s a disadvantage to be named after a creature that makes women scream and leap onto furniture. Suppose he has a point there. But he’s a good lad, which is why I don’t want to see him hurt. He’s enjoying Eve’s company, but he won’t pursue her, so you’ve no worries there.”
“I’m not worried.”
“Ah, you just glower for the hell of it then.”
Rafe scowled. Tristan could irritate the devil out of him in short order.
“How’s your stomach holding up?” Tristan asked. “You seemed a bit green when we started out.”
“Nothing wrong with my stomach.”
“I spent the first six weeks hanging over the side of the ship.”
“Why didn’t you get off?”
“Have you not studied your globes adequately? When you’re on the water, land isn’t always within easy reach. So you suffer in silence, and hope you survive until you see land again. Eventually you get used to the roiling, but when you’re onshore, you find it odd not to have the constant movement beneath you.”
“Do you miss being out on the sea?”
Tristan smiled at his wife, who was standing near Mary. “Not really. The choice was the sea or Anne, which meant there was really no choice at all. I like Evelyn.”
Rafe scoffed. “As though I care what you like.”
Looking over at him, Tristan grinned. “Come on, Rafe. You know you care. You wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
Before Rafe could come up with an appropriate comeback, Sebastian wandered over and leaned his hip against the railing. “Much nicer vessel than the one I took to the Crimea.”
“Or back to England,” Tristan added.
Rafe had given little thought to how his brother had traveled to war.
“I barely remember the journey back. Sick most of the time.”
“You were recovering from your wounds,” Tristan reminded him.
“I suppose.” He looked at Rafe. “You have to admit it’s rather fine out here. Better than London anyway.”
“You don’t like London?”
“Despise it. I’d remain at Pembrook if Mary didn’t insist otherwise.”
“Plus there’s the little matter of the House of Lords,” Tristan muttered. “Don’t know why Uncle wanted that responsibility.”
Sebastian sighed. “Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years since he tried to do us in.”
Rafe was surprised to see Eve standing there, her expression one of absolute astonishment.
“Since you all became . . . lost?” she added.
“Since we first left Pembrook, yes,” Sebastian confirmed. “Fifteen. Give or take a few months. It was winter.”
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