She Tempts the Duke(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 1)(30) by Lorraine Heath
His brother settled into the chair across from him, reached for a glass, and filled it with whiskey. “You should have simply tossed down the card, made light of it.”
“Do you not think it would have embarrassed the girl?”
“No more so than she was already. It was a game, Sebastian. It meant nothing.”
He knew that, but he was not yet to the point where he could laugh about his disfigurement. He didn’t know if he ever would be.
“What did you think of Fitzwilliam?” he asked, to direct the conversation away from his poor handling of the situation.
“Don’t like him.”
Sebastian studied his brother who was studying his glass of whiskey as though he could read the future in it. “Why not?”
Tristan lifted his gaze over the rim of the glass. “Do I require a reason?”
“Opinions are usually based on some foundation.”
“Surely there was more than that.”
“I don’t need more. I trust my instincts.”
“Do you think he will make Mary happy?”
“I think you would make her happier.” He tossed back his whiskey as Sebastian grunted.
“We hardly know each other any longer.”
“Yet you seemed incapable of taking your gaze from her.” He held up a hand. “Not that I blame you. She is quite fetching.”
“She’s more than that. She’s beautiful.”
“I’m only half-blind.”
“There you are,” Tristan said with a grin. “Exactly what you should have said during that wretched game. ‘I’m only half-handsome.’ People might have laughed.”
Sebastian scowled. “I don’t enjoy people laughing at me.”
“Which is why we must laugh at ourselves first. But then you were always the more serious.”
“I had heavier burdens to bear.”
“That you did.” With a sigh, he rose. “I’m off to Rafe’s for a bit of sport. Care to join me?”
Tristan glanced around. “The place doesn’t smell as much like Uncle tonight.”
No, it didn’t. “The servants worked hard to achieve that end. Perhaps they disliked his stench as much as we do.”
“I rather think it’s more that you terrify them. Which is not always a bad thing.” Before Sebastian could comment, Tristan said, “Was your man able to follow him?”
“Yes. He moved into a room at a boarding house on the outskirts of London.”
“Didn’t go far then. I’d advise you to sleep with one eye open.”
Sebastian saw that his brother regretted the words as soon as they were spoken. He held up a hand to forestall any forthcoming apologies. “You have no need to watch your words around me.”
“You should have gone to the sea and I to the army.”
“Our fates might not have changed. I’ve seen seamen aplenty with only one eye. Besides I have a tendency toward seasickness.”
Tristan stared at him. “You’re jesting.”
“Afraid not. I spent most of my journey back from the Crimea with my head hung over a bucket.”
Tristan craned back his head and released a bold laugh. His legs were braced far apart as though even now he stood on the deck of a bucking ship. When only the crackling of the fire in the hearth again filled the room he said, “Good night, Brother.”
He strode purposely from the room, leaving Sebastian to his demons.
During the week since his return to Easton House, Sebastian had been busy sorting through the mess of records and documents that his uncle had left behind. The man was a slovenly slob when it came to keeping a tight accounting of all five estates that had been under his care. He had managers and solicitors handling various aspects, but little had been arranged in any sort of order.
Sitting at his desk in the library, he glanced over at Tristan, casually sprawled on the sofa—obviously life at sea was not as regimented as the army—leisurely reading an assortment of documents they’d discovered in a drawer. They looked to be little more than reports from various overseers, but it was imperative that Sebastian learn as much of the important matters in as short a span of time as possible. If not for his devious uncle, he would have been at his father’s side, learning all that he needed to know to manage his estates. As it was, he had to ferret out information. He was simply grateful that his brother had decided to join him in residence and assist with the monstrous task. It made sense that he be as familiar as possible with everything associated with the titles and estates. He was, after all, the spare.
And if Sebastian had no luck securing a wife, it would be Tristan or his son who would eventually inherit and hold the titles. Sebastian intended to ensure that his heir presumptive was educated in all things. If it came to that.
“You should consider joining me at Rafe’s tonight,” Tristan said distractedly. “His gaming tables are excellent.”
“Which I suppose means that no one catches you cheating.”
Tristan grinned. Even as a lad he’d had a penchant for seeking shortcuts. “A man caught cheating on the seas is tossed to the sharks . . . or feels the bite of a cat-o-nine.”
It was the opening Sebastian had been waiting for. He leaned back and kept his voice as casual as possible. “Is that what happened to you? You were found guilty of cheating?”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online