The Viscount's Rose(7)

By: Meara Platt


She liked the shape of his mouth, but he would mistake her intentions if she lightly ran her finger across it.

He settled her on the sofa and then took a seat beside her because his clothes were as soot-covered as hers were and he couldn’t sit anywhere else without dirtying the expensive fabrics. “Your shirt and jacket are likely beyond repair. Please allow me to pay for any damage.”

His eyes widened. “No, Miss Farthingale. It isn’t necessary.”

“But—”

“Consider it my punishment for not coming to visit you sooner.”

Her smile faltered. “Punishment? You were avoiding me? And now I’ve bored you to tears. Of course I have. Maybe that’s your punishment.”

Nicola leaped to her defense. “Rolf, you are delightful as always. Pay no attention to my beast of a brother.”

He let out a soft groan that ended in a seductive growl. Despite her embarrassment, a tingle shot through her as her body responded to that very male, very animal sound.

“I didn’t mean…” He ran a hand through his hair again. “I had a perfectly acceptable time with you, Miss Farthingale. The visit is not a punishment at all. Indeed, I plan to call on you tomorrow if you will allow it.”

Nicola’s eyes rounded in surprise and Rose could see that her friend was almost squealing with joy. She would have been excited too, but his meaning was obvious. He took no pleasure in seeing her. He only meant to stop by to ensure that his medical attention had done the trick and perhaps to report that the pouch Lily had just brought down was now safely returned to the regimental headquarters. “Lord Emory, you and your sister are always welcome here. But it isn’t necessary. As I mentioned, my uncle is one of the most capable doctors in London. I’ll receive the best care possible.”

He nodded. “Then that settles it.”

Rose nibbled her lower lip to stem her disappointment. Fool! He offered to visit and you rebuffed him!

What was wrong with her? She’d enjoyed his company and now he would never call on her again. Perhaps it was for the best. She liked him.

Probably more than was wise.

She felt the graze of his fingers against her forehead as he brushed back several locks that had fallen out of place. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Miss Farthingale.”

She glanced up, confused. “You will?”

He nodded. “There’s a saboteur on the loose. I’ll be staying close to you until we find him.”





CHAPTER 2




“THERE HE IS,” Rose whispered excitedly the moment she noticed Lord Emory enter the Farthingale parlor and make his way toward her with a casual ease. She tried not to fuss with the lilac ribbon wound through her hair or her new gown of delicate lilac silk, but it was hard to appear calm when her heart was pounding through her chest.

“Crumpets! Is that Nicola’s brother?” Laurel asked, craning her head to steal a better look at him while he stopped to pay his respects to their parents and the other elegant visitors who’d stopped by today. Although the Farthingale family was new to Mayfair, her father and uncles had extensive connections among London society so there had been a constant flow of friends and family through the townhouse since their arrival a few months ago.

Daisy grinned at her. “The twins weren’t exaggerating. He’s very handsome. Quite the Corinthian.”

Rose shook her head and sighed. “He’s also taken, if Nicola is to be believed. Apparently Lord Emory is often in the company of Countess Valentina Deschanel, and I hear she’s sophisticated and stunningly beautiful. Even her name sounds beautiful. Valentina.” Hers was just plain Rose, or worse, her friends insisted on calling her Rolf, which wasn’t even a proper girl’s name, but one better fitting for a dog.

“Nicola disapproves of her,” Laurel pointed out with a look of determination that caused Rose to chuckle. She loved her sisters and was particularly close to Laurel since they’d shared a bedchamber for all of their lives. For this reason, she understood Laurel well. If Laurel were a knight, she’d already be tossing down her gauntlet and challenging the countess on her behalf.

Still grinning, Rose shook her head again. “It signifies nothing. He won’t listen to his sister and he’ll probably offer for the countess before the season is over.”

“All the more reason to do something about it before it’s too late,” Laurel insisted.

“No. It’s none of our business.” Her grin slipped a little. “I know you mean well, but I can fight my own battles. Lord Emory is exceptionally handsome, I will admit. But he isn’t the only bachelor in town.”

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