She Tempts the Duke(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 1)(45) by Lorraine Heath
“I don’t need you telling me how to behave. I’ve apologized to her. It won’t happen again.”
“Why not?” Tristan asked. “If you want her, take her.”
“She wants Fitzwilliam. If she didn’t, she’d have never agreed to marry him.”
“When she accepted his offer of marriage, she thought you were dead. She invites you to dinners and balls. For what purpose?”
“She invites us. She does it to aid us in our efforts to reclaim what is ours. It is her nature to help where she can. Now leave it be.” Sebastian pressed a hand to his head in a vain attempt to stop the room from spinning. He couldn’t deny that Mary was a beautiful woman or that she stirred him, but she deserved a man who was not as broken as he—a man who could love her, and he no longer had the capability of loving anyone. Marriage to him would be a miserable existence. “I believe we’ve strayed from our purpose here. I suppose we can assume Uncle was at the root of this situation tonight.”
“He’s a fool if he thinks killing all three of us will go unnoticed,” Tristan said.
“Perhaps he believes it enough to kill one and the other two will run—as we did when we were lads,” Rafe offered.
“Then he failed to notice that we are no longer lads. More’s the pity. We know where he is. I say we confront him,” Tristan said.
“Would be better to first discover what resources are at his disposal. His wife might know,” Rafe replied.
“We could ask Mary to speak with her,” Tristan mused.
“We’re not going to involve Mary,” Sebastian told him.
“She’s already involved.”
“Not in this.” He made to get up, to give more power to his words, but the pain rifled through him and he collapsed back down. Breathing heavily, gritting his teeth, he hated opening his eye to discover Tristan leaning over him. He’d suffered worse. He wasn’t going to be unmanned by so trifling a wound.
“You need to rest,” Tristan said. “Rafe and I will ask around. See what we can discover.”
Tristan studied him a moment before finally nodding. “No, we won’t involve Mary.”
Knowing she would be safe from scandal and danger, Sebastian allowed himself to sink into the oblivion of the laudanum.
Bloody, bloody, bloody fool! How could you be so stupid?
Lord David stared at his reflection in the mirror. The gash on his cheek burned where his brother’s signet ring had sliced deeply into his flesh. He pounded the basin with his tightened fist.
It must look like an accident.
“I know that!”
He hadn’t meant to attack his nephew, but when the opportunity had arose—
Why waste it? he’d thought. He hadn’t even known his nephews would be at the Weatherlys’. He’d been sneaking through the gardens to see if he could catch a glimpse of Lucretia at the ball. She so enjoyed dancing. He couldn’t envision that she would not attend. And damned how he missed her.
But then his cursed nephew had distracted him from his purpose.
He couldn’t stay here. Knew they had him followed, knew where he was. Cunning lads, but he was more so.
Where will you go? How will you get there? No vendor or shop owner will extend you credit. They saw to that.
He’d tried to buy a bit of jewelry for Lucretia earlier in the week, only to be denied. He sent the basin hurtling through the room and took satisfaction as it crashed against the wall, breaking into a thousand shards. His landlady had warned him that if he broke another she’d not replace it. Who did she think she was to talk to him like that? To make threats.
He was a lord!
One day he would be duke. Then Lucretia would return to him. He would have everything then, everything he should have always had.
He would show his brother the price to be paid for stealing from him the only woman he’d ever loved. Even Lucretia could not compare to her beauty.
You should have killed him last, made him suffer more.
But then, opportunity that could not be ignored had presented itself. And it would again.
The afternoon following the Weatherly ball, as Mary studied her reflection in the mirror, she could hardly believe that the lovely lady standing in the gown of white satin and Honiton lace was truly her. The workmanship on the dress that so very closely resembled the gown that Queen Victoria had worn on her wedding day was truly exquisite. Imitating the Queen’s attire was all the rage of late, but still Mary had never expected to wear something as incredibly heavenly as the gown that now adorned her.
“It’s so beautiful,” Alicia said. “I can’t wait until I have occasion to wear something similar for a wedding.”
“Next Season, my dear,” Aunt Sophie assured her. “This Season is Mary’s, and I could not be happier that it has turned out so well. You are most fortunate to have caught Lord Fitzwilliam.”
“Yes,” Mary said, and bit her lip to stop it from tingling at the memory of Sebastian’s kiss, a kiss for which he had apologized. She wished he hadn’t done that. She wished he had simply walked away with no words spoken . . . after kissing her one more time.
She wasn’t certain how the first had even happened. One moment she was touching his shoulder, and the next his mouth was devouring hers. Passion had slammed into her, causing her to encourage him further. Her moans and sighs had been wanton. She’d been wanton.
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