Seduced by His Touch(8)

By: Tracy Anne Warren

“Poor creature,” Philipa remarked, strolling around to his side of the bed. “But knowing you, she’ll probably fall instantly under your spell and count herself lucky to be your wife, whatever the circumstances. And I am sure, in your way, you’ll be kind, even generous, to her.”

Shifting her hip, she sat down next to him. “As for me, I know how to be patient. After all, I waited ten long, dreadful years for the death of that lecher my father forced me to wed. At least this girl will be getting a virile man in his prime rather than some dried-up goat, old enough to be her grandfather. Knowing what a fine lover you are, she is fortunate indeed. No woman would object to giving up her maidenhead to you. Would that I could have done so myself.”


“Shh,” she murmured, reaching up to feather her fingers through his hair. “Not to worry. When a suitable amount of time has passed, and you find yourself weary of playing husband, come back to me. You will always be welcome in my bed.”

Catching her hand, he brought her palm to his lips for a kiss. “You are too good, do you know that?”

She smiled and shook her head. “Good? There is nothing good about me. Unless you are talking about my abilities in the boudoir. Now, at that, I more than excel.” Divesting herself of her dressing gown again, she moved to sit astride his hips. “What do you say to one last tumble before you go? Something to tide you over in the coming days, since Bath is one of the deadliest dull spots on earth.”

He smiled and slid his arms around her small, willowy body. As he did, a memory of rich, red hair—Grace’s hair—flashed in his mind for reasons he couldn’t even begin to fathom.

Banishing the thought, he arched Philipa closer and took her up on her very generous offer.

Chapter 3

A little over a week later, Grace made her way into a small assembly room not far from Bath’s Sydney Gardens, where an afternoon lecture on perennial floriculture was scheduled to take place.

So as not to let either her height or that of her bonnet brim impede anyone’s view, she took a seat in the last row of chairs set up for the event. Withdrawing a small notebook and pencil from her reticule, she prepared to wait.

She’d arrived in the company of her maid, who was currently taking her ease with a group of other servants in an anteroom beyond. Grace had invited Aunt Jane to join her, but the older woman declined. Her aunt might love the fragrance and beauty of fresh flowers, but she had no patience for learning about their cultivation.

“That’s what I keep Perkins for,” Aunt Jane had told her this morning over tea, toast, and sausages. “I let him grub around in the garden dirt and tend the plants so I don’t have to.”

Given that Grace was no longer in her first flush of youth, her aunt had deemed it acceptable for her to attend the lecture with only a servant accompanying her. Aunt Jane had promised, however, to come by with the carriage at the end of the lecture so they could drive home together.

She checked the delicate gold and pearl watch pinned to her bodice and saw that another ten minutes remained before the talk was scheduled to begin. Glancing around, she studied the small, but growing, crowd, which was made up of mostly older, academically minded men and a trio of middle-aged bluestocking females.

Gazing idly along the length of her own row of chairs, she noticed a man seated at the far end. Dark-haired and attractive, he put her in mind of a panther who’d mistakenly wandered into a room full of ordinary grey cats. A curious little tingle sizzled along her spine as she stared, her pulse giving a rabbity hop.

Surely it can’t be, she thought, but he reminded her of the man she’d met that day at Hatchard’s. The gorgeous, sophisticated, dangerously appealing Lord Jack Byron!

After all, what would a man of Byron’s obviously cosmopolitan tastes be doing in Bath? More particularly, why would he be attending a lecture about flowers?

Aristocrats went to their country estates this time of year to shoot grouse and visit with their lofty friends. They didn’t come to the ancient, barely fashionable environs of Bath—not unless they were ill and in need of taking the waters. And no one looking at this man would ever believe him in anything but robust good health.

But it isn’t him and I’m only misremembering, she told herself as she studied the dynamic angles of his profile, completely unable to look away.

Suddenly she had to know, aching for him to turn his head and let her see his entire face. One fleeting glance—just a glimpse of his eyes—and she would have her answer. After all, how many nights had it been now that she had dreamt of him, conjuring up images of the man and his unforgettable eyes?