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An Accidental Affair
  • Текст добавлен: 9 октября 2016, 02:15

Текст книги "An Accidental Affair"


Автор книги: Heather Boyd






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Текущая страница: 13 (всего у книги 18 страниц)

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

Arabella slipped inside Merrick’s chamber and shut the door firmly behind her. She was confronted by his bare back, and her pulse raced as she discovered he was completely naked already. She licked her lips as her body reacted. “I had hoped to see you again.”

He tossed the shirt he’d been holding across the room and sat on the edge of the bed. “I considered visiting your room.”

She moved closer to see his face. He’d been silent and watchful at dinner and had only picked at his food. She hoped he wasn’t annoyed with her for telling Gray and Rosemary about them. “Then why didn’t you?”

He shook his head. “I wanted to.”

She stopped at his side and lifted her hand to his hair. When she touched his head, he leaned into her palm. “I wanted you to, as well.”

Finally, a smile. He caught her about her hips and drew her body between his knees. “I’m glad.”

Between them, his length thickened and grew while she watched in wonder. Discovering just how easily he became aroused and how comfortable with it he seemed brought a smile to her lips. She’d learned much about pleasure from him and intended to thank him in a very personal way.

Slowly he toppled backward, taking Arabella with him so they lay on the bed. The heat of his body beneath her scorched her through two layers of nightclothes. She wore his banyan again over her nightgown, but the material was not thick enough to prevent awareness of every inch of him. When she was comfortable atop him, his hands danced over her covered bottom. “You’re wearing my banyan again.”

“I like it. It feels lovely against my skin.”

He wriggled his hand between them and untied the belt. “I like you naked against me.”

“I did notice that.” She studied his face. “I wish you didn’t have to go tomorrow.”

He freed one of her arms from the robe and tugged the tie on her nightgown undone. “I wish I didn’t need to go, too.”

“I suppose you must have much to do for the boy?”

“I’m not going for that reason. The boy will live with me for a while before he eventually goes off to school.” He forced her nightgown over her shoulder and kissed her bare skin. His lips, their startling caress, forced a moan from her throat in response. He chuckled softly, then continued, “I don’t want to ruin your reputation. I’m not sure we’ll avoid gossips as it is, but staying here any longer will only make the tongues wag worse.”

Arabella at last understood how difficult it was to be good when you desperately wanted to touch someone. Doing without him today had been difficult. She was amazed at her restraint in not dragging him to a secluded corner every time he smiled her way since his return. “I know there is the risk of that, but I would not regret one moment spent in your arms.”

He kissed her fiercely, tangling his tongue with hers and setting her senses on fire. Before she knew it, she was beneath him on the bed, her nightgown at her waist, his hands everywhere at once.

Remembering what she’d set out to do, Arabella pushed against his chest. “Lie down for me. Please.”

He groaned and flipped to his back. “Woman, you’re not going to make me beg, are you?”

“No.” She rose onto her hands and knees as Rosemary had suggested and hovered at his side. Tonight she wanted to explore Rothwell with her lips and hands as he had done to her last night. Rosemary had explained as best she could, but the challenge she’d set herself was daunting. Merrick had likely had a lot of lovers, and they all might do this one thing better than she ever would. “I’d hate to make you beg for anything, but lie there and don’t move.”

She bent her head and kissed his shoulder, his chest, and then his flat nipple. He grunted as she licked it experimentally. When she attempted to draw the little bud into her mouth, he cursed. “Damn, now I know what Lady Grayling whispered to you.”

She grinned. That wasn’t all Rosemary had mentioned. Just the first in a series of suggestions that had made her eyes pop from her head. “You should thank her. If not for Rose, I’d have been even more clueless than I was.”

He cupped her head and played with her hair. “I’d happily take over your education in passion, but the way you make me feel leads me to think you don’t need the help.”

She kissed the center of his chest and slowly worked her way down to his belly. “Are you sure? I imagine there are many things you like that escape me.”

She kissed his hip, right where the bones protruded beneath his skin and he squirmed. “Believe me, you’re already doing it.”

She glanced up his body, noting he was breathing hard, and smiled. She moved ever so slowly until her face hovered above his cock and then met his gaze. The poor man looked about to throw her over and pounce. Tonight she would resist. Or at least try to. “Are you sure there isn’t one thing you would want me to do?”

He swallowed. “I won’t ask.”

Rosemary’s suggestion was perfect. He looked so astonished and she treasured that. She kissed him right on his shaft, paying attention to the strangeness of what she was doing and the ragged gasps her lover made. He fit in her hand like warm silk and as Rosemary had suggested, she was careful not to be too gentle nor too rough with him. She slid her fingers up and down his length, experimentally at first, and then with growing surety.

So far as she could tell, Rothwell wasn’t unhappy about her attempt to please him. He rose to one elbow and his free hand caught her hair and twined it about his fist. She lifted his length away from his body and lowered her face again, intent on kissing him on the tip.

“Stop.”

Rosemary had mentioned men tended to get bossy in bed, so she felt safe to ignore that particular command. She kissed the head as planned. His seed tasted salty and just the tiniest bit bitter when she licked her lips. There was more to do, she knew, so after a few more kisses she opened her mouth and ran her tongue around the head.

“Please,” Merrick said.

She smiled and repeated the movement, and when he begged her to stop again, she took the tip into her mouth as far as she could manage. It didn’t seem very much at all, but Rothwell moaned as if she were torturing him.

She swallowed quickly before she licked her lips and tried again. She managed a bit more the next time and tightened her grip around him. Rothwell covered her hand and together they stroked his hot flesh.

Arabella did her best to bring him pleasure with her mouth, but Rothwell appeared much harder to please than she’d thought he’d be. Either she was doing wrong or he was resisting her efforts. She released him and sat back on her heels to study him. He’d taken his hand away too, and his breathing was fast and shallow. “You didn’t like it.”

“I loved it,” he countered.

“It did not seem that way.” She put her hands on her hips and glanced about the room. “I wanted to do something good for you before you left.”

“Oh, believe me, you were. Too good.” He scooted closer on the bed and brushed her hair back from her neck. “I’d like to last at least longer than a minute. We have all night.”

Appeased somewhat, she took him in hand again and stroked him. Now that she saw his face, she noticed he was biting down on his lower lip in an effort to be silent. “So you liked what I did for you?”

His eyes darkened when, on the upstroke, she flicked her thumb across the head. “Everything and anything.”

“Good. Because I could get used to seeing you like this.” She quickened the movement of her hand, watching his face intently. It seemed to Arabella that it was taking all his control to resist her. She liked that about him, but she would have her way tonight. He would find pleasure first. As he’d said, they had all night. She knew he could become aroused again and in a remarkably short length of time.

Keeping her eyes on him, she rose to her knees and knelt between his spread legs. She kissed him quickly and then ran her tongue over his flushed lower lip. He groaned and his eyes fluttered shut. He caught her breast in one hand and squeezed feverishly, but Arabella was not about to be distracted by how he made her feel. It did not take long for the combination of daring kisses and touches to have him gasping. Determined to win, she brought her free hand to his chest and touched his nipple.

Merrick jerked and grunted as hot seed flowed from him and landed on his chest. Some of it spread over her knuckles, and when she released him, she raised her hand to stare at it.

Merrick pushed her hand away and kissed her hard. “What will I do without you when I return to London?”

Arabella didn’t know and that bothered her. She liked Merrick touching her and she liked touching him in return. But would memories be enough for him? It might be a long time till she could come up to London again. Even when he tossed her onto her back and slithered down the bed between her parted legs, she decided it might be too long. In a month, Merrick might have moved on to someone else. Within the month, he was supposed to be married.

~ * ~

Dawn was touching the horizon with a gentle hand when Merrick woke from the doze that had finally claimed him. He glanced to his right and found Arabella awake and watching him. He turned to her and drew her against him, intending to make love to her one more time before he left.

She pushed him back, her face serious and unsmiling. “Good morning.”

“Good morning to you, too.”

Arabella jumped from the bed and collected her discarded nightgown and his banyan. Disappointed to be denied one more intimate touch before he left, he shoved the pillows behind him and sat up to watch what she did.

To his delight, she appeared comfortable scooting around the room with her tempting bottom wiggling and her breasts bouncing with each movement. He hardened even more because each one of Arabella’s curves suited him. “Aren’t you going to kiss me today?”

A frown creased her brow. “I know you have to go and like an early start.”

He quickly threw his legs over the side of the bed and stood. “Not this early.”

Arabella paused with her nightgown half on. “I thought Holland said seven.”

“How has Holland come to manage our schedules?” He shook his head. “He might have wished to depart that early, but I never agreed. Come back to me, my dear, so we might say good morning properly.”

Her lips curved into a smile as her nightgown fell from her fingers. She slowly prowled toward him, running her gaze over his skin and making him break out into a sweat. His affair with Arabella had changed her nature. When alone, there was nothing she liked better than to torment him with her beauty. If he couldn’t have her in his arms again, he might just go mad.

When she stopped before him, she set her hands on his arms and ran them up to his shoulders. He shuddered and embraced her. Never had a woman claimed his attention so thoroughly. If not for the need to protect her reputation and settle Danny in his new life, he’d never go.

He nuzzled her neck. “I love the way you touch me.” He cupped her bottom, and brought them hard against each other.

Her lips curved into a wicked smile he’d like to think was for his eyes alone. “Likewise.”

They were eye to eye. Her breasts rested against his. Their hearts beat close together. But not as one. After last night, he didn’t want her to misunderstand his interest in her. If not for her dislike of marriage, he’d already have proposed. Arabella was the one for him and he would protect her. “I will ask my grandfather for assistance should word of our affair have any harmful effect on your reputation.”

“Why would you need to do that?”

Merrick linked his fingers behind her back. “Farnsworth. He claimed he was set upon by thieves and you were abducted or ran off in terror. The story he painted is quite lurid and likely has caused much gossip because you’ve disappeared from London. However, should it become known that you were in fact alone with me, Farnsworth may have something very different to say about that night. I don’t imagine he will be very kind in his accusations.”

Arabella broke away, arms wrapping about her chest. “You saw what he did to me.”

“I did, though only I did.” Merrick followed her and wrapped his arms about her waist. “If he makes trouble for you, my grandfather might be of assistance.”

“How?”

“We need to make sure your story is the one believed.” He brushed his lips cross her shoulder, peeking at her breasts. “No one will question our story if the Duke of Rutherford is on your side. His aid usually comes with a price, though, and I will pay it if your reputation is saved in the process.”

She turned in his arms. “I’m coming with you.”

He let her go, stunned by her suggestion. He was trying to prevent further harm to her reputation, and she wanted to remain at his side, even when facing the duke. “Arabella, you are where you belong. Stay at Winslette until the dust settles.”

Her face fell. “I don’t know where I belong anymore, but I think I should be at your side when you plead for Rutherford’s support. These are my troubles.”

“Mine too, now.” He caressed her cheek with the backs of his fingers. “If not for me the truth about Farnsworth would already be known.”

“And I’d still be a virgin.” She raised one eyebrow, as if daring him to suggest their affair was a mistake.

He bit his lip briefly. Could her insistence in accompanying him mean what he hoped? “Are you sure? It will not be a social call. My grandfather will require every detail of that night spelled out it him in full, and the decisions made in the days after. You may find it an uncomfortable experience, as we all do when called to account for our actions.”

She nodded decisively. “Yes, I’m sure, Merrick. I will come with you and tell my side of the story. If I have lost society’s good opinion and Farnsworth is believed before us, then I’m sure being with you is a much more comforting place to be. You and I know the truth.”

“Have I ever mentioned how much I admire you?”

Her smile was sudden and somewhat smug. “Actually you have. Last night before you made love to me.”

“I’d like to do so again.”

She fluttered her lashes. “Make love to me or whisper sweet nothings in my ear?”

“I would gladly do both at the same time if I could keep my wits about me.”

She laughed then and his excitement grew at the sweet sound. “They say that passion can confuse a body and the mind.”

“Arabella, my dear, you were born for that.”

A blush grew as she stared at him. Such large, trusting eyes. He smoothed a hand down her back, her lush curves beckoning his hands to explore, and put off his plans for yet another day. “The trip to Newberry Park should not be put off too long.”

“A shame, but there is always tonight,” she said firmly, her hands closing over his bottom and squeezing.

He laughed at her bold touch, then kissed the tip of her nose. “I’d better dress then and leave you alone to make whatever preparations you require.”

Arabella giggled and released him. “Where will you be in an hour?”

“I thought I might survey the house to see where a conservatory might be built. The space you have is much too small.”

“I’ve done so already,” she said urgently. “Years ago now.”

“You have? But that’s wonderful.”

“Farnsworth thought the plans excessive, but Mr. Piper can show you where the designs were stored.”

“I’ll go find him now.” He kissed her again then hunted for fresh clothing. She was still watching him when he threaded a pin into his cravat. “I’ll see you later. We could discuss the design as we travel instead of watching Holland smirk at his books.”

She grinned and slipped his banyan around herself. “I’d like that.”

As he headed for the door, hooves sounded on the drive outside. Puzzled, he quickly checked the window to see who had come. Unfortunately, the carriage was already vacated and being turned around. Whoever it might be was already within Winslette House. He hurried for the door and wrenched it open.

Holland stood there, hand raised to knock. Merrick quickly blocked his view into the room where Arabella remained partially clothed. His brother’s face was uncomfortably flushed, his eyes cast downward. “So sorry to disturb, my lord, but you have a visitor waiting in the drawing room.”

“Grayling wasn’t expected, was he?” Must be one of his new neighbors come to call on him. It was rude to send them away, but he wasn’t truly the lord of the manor here. They must wait upon Arabella. He glanced at her. She couldn’t meet anyone dressed like that, wearing only his banyan and nothing beneath. She’d need at least an hour before facing visitors. “Let whoever it is know that Lady Farnsworth is otherwise engaged at this time.”

Holland sighed. “Under normal circumstances I would have already done so, but this visitor is not a lady I have the power to send away. She asked for you specifically.”

A sense of doom crashed over his previous good mood. There was only one lady Holland had ever failed to banish before. If Aunt Penelope was here, then there was no way to prevent scandal from blackening Arabella’s name. He was too late to appeal to Rutherford. He took a deep breath. “My aunt?”

Holland inclined his head to confirm it. “She requested to see you first and then to have Lady Farnsworth join her at her earliest convenience. I’ve arranged a tea tray to be sent into the drawing room while she waited.”

Aunt Penelope would interfere. He could feel his lips peeling back from his teeth at the snarl of anger building in him.

“Oh dear.” Arabella fretted and then hurried around the room, frantically picking up her discarded nightgown. “I am not prepared for her at all.”

Merrick quickly shut the door in Holland’s face and pressed his head to the wood. He couldn’t let Aunt Penelope influence Arabella now. He hadn’t had enough time to convince her that their affair, and his love, was worth the risk of reconsidering her opinion on marriage but now he had no choice but to make his intentions very clear.

He crossed to Arabella’s side and knelt at her feet. He had little time to plead his case before all hope was lost. “Marry me.”


CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

The nightgown tumbled from her fingers in the sudden silence. “I beg your pardon?”

Rothwell caught her hand and pressed it to his lips. “I asked you to marry me.”

Arabella’s mind ran in all directions at once, but none of them led to a suitable reply. She was pleased to know her suspicions were true. He was on the hunt for a bride, but he surely hadn’t been courting her. One brief affair, a few nights in a rogue’s bed, for a widow did not immediately result in an offer of marriage. And with his aunt waiting downstairs, one of the most frightening members of the ton, now was hardly the time to consider such an offer properly.

She tugged her hand free of his grip, but Merrick’s intense expression stirred a long dormant need deep inside. Arabella might have been married before, but this was her first proposal. She wasn’t even dressed for such an important occasion.

She searched Merrick’s face and he met her gaze steadily. He was serious about the proposal, but it was all too sudden for Arabella. Everything about him had taken her by surprise. Despite her conversation yesterday with Grayling, she was no closer to knowing how she felt about Merrick. She liked him. She liked the way he made her feel safe and attractive. But what she wasn’t sure about was what loving him might feel like. “I cannot think now. Your aunt is here and I need time.”

His throat worked as he swallowed. “Very well.”

He stood slowly, straightening his waistcoat and sleeves with a heavy sigh that made her feel terrible for not having an answer ready. She set her hand on his sleeve. “I’m sorry, Merrick.”

An odd smile flittered across his face before disappearing into a calm mask. “I must leave to deal with my aunt.”

“I cannot understand why she has come. She received no invitation from me.”

“My aunt rarely waits on an invitation when it comes to family. This estate is mine now, so she’s simply invited herself. How typical of her.”

“You’re angry with her.”

“I am.” His lips pursed and then he frowned. “She knows full well I’d never invite her. However, I have an idea that may turn this disaster around. We may not need to travel to Newberry Park at all if Aunt Penelope can be convinced to assist you.”

Arabella nodded slowly. “If I had Lady Penelope’s support, the ton would never reproach me should Farnsworth’s stories have twisted and spread too far.” Her stomach fluttered. If all went well and Lady Penelope accepted her story as the truth, Merrick would be free to leave believing no further obligation existed between them. He needn’t have bothered with a rash marriage proposal after all. He could return to London.

“I was more worried what she would say about us, but…” He shrugged and faced the door. “We’ll deal with the Farnsworth problem first and the other can wait until she asks why we are together still.”

He frowned and the look on his face hinted he was trying to hide his feelings. He turned his face away when she smiled at him. They were together because she wanted to be with him. She liked him very much. She covered his hand with hers, but he wouldn’t look at her directly. Had she disappointed him so badly by not jumping on the chance to be his wife?

She’d just gotten used to knowing what was going through his mind. He didn’t like anyone knowing his business, and she could help with that by keeping his secrets gladly. “I will join you soon and happily explain what she needs to know and not a word more.”

He squeezed her fingers. “When she is gone, I’ll be at your disposal should you wish to speak again. I’d like a chance to convince you of my sincerity.”

He kissed each of her palms and the feel of his lips against her skin caused her to smile. If she married him, she’d never feel undesirable. He had a way of turning each and every caress into a moment of worship. That side of a marriage between them would not be a chore. But was she ready to have another’s needs placed before her own?

She swallowed. She honestly didn’t know. She wouldn’t lie to him. She certainly wouldn’t marry just because of lust. “Of course.”

Merrick smiled quickly, kissed her cheek, and then hurried to the door to receive his visitor. He didn’t meet her gaze again as he slipped out, his steps echoing through the house. Arabella folded to the nearest chair and put her head in her hands. “My life is mad.”

How had she gone from hoping for a kind lover to teach her the intimate arts to disappointing a rogue?

The door opened again and when Arabella peeked up, a gray head of hair had poked through the gap. “An intriguing parting,” Lady Penelope Ford mused as she locked the door behind her. “Lady Penelope Ford, at your service. You may call me Pen if you like.”

Arabella gasped as panic gripped her. Lady Penelope Ford was supposed to be in the drawing room, taking tea and waiting to meet Merrick. There was no way to avoid a scandal now. She’d have heard them talking. She would know Merrick had just proposed and received no answer.

Lady Penelope looked around curiously. “So this is the bedchamber all of London will talk of in the coming weeks. Hmm, quite ordinary really for so scandalous a situation.”

Arabella held Merrick’s banyan a little tighter about her chest. “Lady Penelope. What brings you to Winslette?”

“Rothwell disappeared from London without warning. You also were reported missing. Is that not reason enough to become curious?” The lady shrugged. “Rumors have a habit of altering when it comes to my nephew. For instance, it’s been suggested he’d turned over a new leaf this season and become somewhat respectable. I see now the gossips were utterly wrong.”

Some of Arabella’s panic ebbed. She had to keep her wits about her. She was facing one of the most influential women of the ton. “Oh?”

“Hmm, yes. My nephew was known for his, well… there is no delicate way to put it. Merrick has always been considered something of a scoundrel around women, much as his father was in his day. He used them, and then he tossed them aside should they become too demanding of his affections.” Lady Penelope inspected her nephew’s room with a disdainful eye. “So many have thought an affair might lead to an offer of marriage, but he fooled them all. Now, of course, he’s set his cap too high. Many in the family thought he’d simply run out of ways to scandalize the world, but it seems he set himself a challenge in you.”

A tight pain filled Arabella’s chest. Lady Penelope believed Merrick’s past affairs had everything to do with her decision not to marry him. That wasn’t the case. Arabella doubted her own feelings more than his. “He’s nothing like what you suggest.”

Lady Penelope grimaced. “My dear, I do know what I’m talking about. I’m here to keep you safe from scandal that will follow this unwise affair. Why else would I come so far out of my way? We will say you were with me the entire time and no one need know my nephew seduced you.”

Arabella moved slowly toward the door and unlocked it. Lady Penelope’s behavior disappointed her. She’d condemned her nephew without cause and believed him a heartless seducer. Of course he had enjoyed many women before her, but he wasn’t a cruel man. What sort of rogue bedded a widow, found her a virgin, and then proposed marriage? Merrick was the best of men. It was Arabella who had been the disappointment and she couldn’t help it. “I have little desire for your help when you think so meanly of your own family. Why would I want your aid?”

Lady Penelope’s smile grew brittle. “I have always been eager to help you. Merrick is a man and has made it very clear that he can take care of himself. As they all will do. Being an unwilling party to the scandals my family has engaged in makes me aware of the value of a reputation and what it costs to have lost one.”

Arabella folded her arms across her chest. “Forgive me, but we are strangers to one another. I don’t know you.”

Penelope smiled briefly. “We are similar creatures. We accept the restrictions of our society but still suffer from them. I hesitated to offer my support in London when I came to Merrick’s town house, because I was not entirely sure he had you enthralled. I apologize for that. If you would dress in a more appropriate fashion, we can be underway.”

“I am dressed as appropriately as I wish to be in my own bedchamber. You are the uninvited interloper.”

“This is my nephew’s bedchamber, is it not, and you are wearing a man’s banyan, my dear.” Lady Penelope came closer and fingered the material of the sleeve. “I’m in a position to know it’s Merrick’s garment.”

Arabella held her ground. It was time to stop this now. “I think you should leave my home.”

The door flew open. “You meddling old sow,” Merrick growled. “What the hell are you doing here?”

When he faced the door to shut it, a brief smile crossed the older woman’s face. “Not one of your best, boy. Cool your heels a little longer. Lady Farnsworth and I are negotiating.”

Merrick made an angry, inarticulate sound.

“Always so stubborn and hot-tempered,” Lady Penelope chided. “His mother was a much calmer girl.”

Merrick was not hot-tempered at all. The only people Arabella had ever heard him disagree with were other Fords and her brother-in-law. She didn’t know everything about Merrick yet, but he seemed a reasonable man. He just wanted his family to leave him in peace. “There is nothing to negotiate besides the method of your leaving. As far as I can tell, you can leave under your own steam or with his help.”

Merrick snorted. “I see you’re employing your usual charm to win Arabella over.”

Lady Penelope’s eyes narrowed to slits as her gaze flickered between them. “So, you’ve decided to throw over good sense and discard propriety?”

It only took a moment to decide. “Yes, Merrick has shown me nothing but kindness. You are so wrong about him.”

Lady Penelope smirked. “So you will accept his proposal and become his wife?” She shook her head. “That should be a crowded affair, considering Lady Mary and Miss Milne both expect an offer of marriage immediately on his return to London. He’s been very plainly interested in both young ladies. So attentive to them both, but do remember he can choose only one to share his bed legally.”

“Hold your tongue,” Merrick snapped at his aunt, hands curling into fists at his side.

Arabella’s mouth fell open as it became clear Merrick couldn’t refute his aunt’s claim that he’d been courting two specific young ladies in Town. Likely while she’d been under his very roof. He’d gone in and out so frequently, but she’d never suspected anything had progressed to the point where a proposal was expected.

Her stomach turned over. He’d never said a word and then had the bad taste to offer a proposal she should not accept. Arabella was stunned that he hadn’t mentioned any of it. He’d had ample time and opportunity.

Lady Penelope smiled a little sadly. “It is always important to have all the facts. Don’t you agree, Lady Farnsworth? But I am here now, and I will do what I can to stem the damage. London is so rushed at this time of year that hopefully few should connect you both. Merrick has made a mess of this, but with my support any harm to your reputation can be restored.”

Merrick crossed the room and stopped close to her side. “I’d like a chance to explain.”

Arabella turned away, devastated that she’d blundered so badly into Merrick’s life. She couldn’t even blame him for seducing her when she’d all but thrown herself into his bed. “He did nothing. It’s my fault.”

Lady Penelope clucked her tongue. “Now, my dear, I’m sure that is simply not the case. I’m told kindness can often be mistaken for a deeper affection. You’re not the first to be duped.”

Arabella pressed her cold hand to her hot brow. “I was a fool.”

“No, you were not,” Merrick insisted, spinning her around to face him again. “Arabella, I never lied to you.”

When she looked into his eyes, Arabella’s confusion wavered. He seemed sincere, but how could he be? He’d led two young ladies on while dallying with her. He should have remained in London rather than escorting her here. Why hadn’t he? They’d not been intimately involved in London, and now things were even more complicated.


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