Forbidden to the Duke(84)

By: Liz Tyner

‘This is the artist I cherish,’ Rhys said, putting a hand at Bellona’s back. She looked into his eyes. He often sat near her, reading aloud while she sketched or practised with oils.

She’d never expected to love painting and she didn’t care if she ever became any good at it, but strangely, it made her feel closer to her mother’s memory and her homeland. During her childhood, their house had always smelled of pigments and she’d learned to mix them quite young.

Her sisters did not see painting the same way, but they had all agreed to travel to the museum in France when their children were older. They wanted another look at the statue they’d found—now that the armless woman had a home—and they wanted to show their children the woman from Melos.

Melina turned to Bellona. ‘I will have a picnic prepared and brought to us at the pool. The nursery maid can watch the children, but we will watch the boys.’

Melina and Warrington left the room, followed by Thessa and Ben. But Rhys lingered a bit, looking into Bellona’s eyes.

‘Do you wish to go with the others?’ he asked. ‘I’d prefer to visit the pool in the moonlight with you.’

‘Oh, that would not be a good idea,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘Ben and Thessa are planning a stroll there tonight.’

‘Well, then,’ he said. ‘When we return home, we can visit the small room in the servants’ quarters. I’ve had a good latch put on the door.’

‘You did not,’ she said, slapping at his sleeve. ‘The servants will...’

He laughed. ‘I did. I will take a book with us—to give us something to do, of course. I gave strict instructions to the servants it is not to be disturbed. A good book should not be interrupted—ever.’

She shut her eyes and put her hand to her temple. ‘What must they think of us?’

He reached and snatched a pin from her hair and palmed it as she tried to take it back, then he trapped her close for a soft kiss. ‘I hope they think we are rather fond of each other.’

Her face was not that of a goddess—well, perhaps it was the face of his goddess. But to him, she was his angel. And when he bent to kiss her he did not care if all the doors of the world opened and everyone saw them together. For ever.