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Lord Ferdinand Dudley came less than an hour after Lady Heyward had left. He crashed the door back against the bookcase just as she had done and strode into the library unannounced. Jocelyn winced and wished he had not sent the brandy decanter away as soon as he had set eyes upon it. He had just finished drinking a cup of chocolate, which Jane Ingleby had told him might settle his stomach and soothe his head. It had not achieved either desirable effect yet.

Can you imagine? Where do servants get such cork-brained notions? Honestly, Tresham, physicians these days would just as soon pull a saw out of their bags as take the time to dig around for a bullet. Raikes did his job admirably well and I will certainly walk again. All the mamas would instantly assume I was in the marriage mart. When are you going to dismiss that sad apology for a valet of yours, Ferdinand, and employ someone who can refrain from cutting your throat every time he shaves you?

His brother fingered a small nick under his chin. I turned my head free online mistress warning him. The Forbes brothers are after your blood. There are three of them in town. Yes, they would be.

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And since the lady was the only sister among five brothers, they were more than usually protective of her even now, three years after her marriage to Lord Oliver. And I must protest your not asking me to be your second or even informing me that there was to be a duel. Is it true, by the way, that it was a servant girl who caused all the fracas?

Brougham says she came storming into the house after you and got all the way to your bedchamber and gave you a tongue-lashing because she had lost her job. It is really not the thing, you know, girl, to interfere in a matter of honor. She was looking at Ferdinand the way she usually looked at him, Jocelyn saw. He recognized the s — the further straightening of already straight shoulders, the thinning of the lips, the very direct stare.

He waited with a certain relish for her to speak. And how foolish to call such a meeting a matter of honor. Women have a deal more sense. Lord Ferdinand Dudley looked almost comically nonplussed as he took a scolding from a hideously clad servant. I do not see why the rest of my servants should be at the receiving end of my temper for the coming three weeks while I am incarcerated in my own home. But do have a care if it ever becomes necessary to address her again. She insists upon being called Miss Ingleby rather than Jane or girl. Free online mistress point I have conceded since she has stopped calling me nothing at all and has begun occasionally addressing me as your grace.

He half expected her to curtsy. He half expected his brother to explode. This must surely be the first time he had been presented to a servant. Jane Ingleby inclined her head graciously, and Ferdinand flushed and made her an awkward little bow and looked downright embarrassed. Some advice, my dear fellow, though why I waste my breath giving it I do not know since Dudleys are not renowned for taking advice.

Leave the Forbeses to me. Their quarrel is with me, not with you. How you could have got involved with plowing that particular piece of skirt, I do not know. I intend to attempt to make clear to him that his future employment in this house depends upon his letting no one else beyond the doorstep for the rest of the day. If my head does not explode before nightfall and cause my brains to rain down on the books, I shall be very surprised. Lord Ferdinand left and the butler stepped into the library a minute or two later, looking apprehensive.

But no one else today, Hawkins. Not even the Prince Regent himself should he deign to come calling. I trust I have made myself clear? Jocelyn sighed aloud. You have had plenty of time to think of an answer. And no playing at all after half a crown — two shillings and sixpence — had been lost.

I daresay you would derive no pleasure from a game in which the stakes were not high. Her father had used to play, but he had had strange notions about women. His refusal had always made her want even more to be able to play it. She remembered too late who she was supposed to be. What sort of an orphanage was it, Miss Ingleby? She found that gaze more than a little disconcerting. Do you begrudge me a little entertainment? He half smiled, but rather than softening his face, the expression succeeded only in making him look rather wolfish.

He had his quizzing glass in his hand, she noticed, though he did not raise it to his eye. It offends me. It is remarkably hideous and ages you by at least a decade. How old are you? And I would prefer to wear a cap when on duty. His voice was softer when he spoke again. Defiance seemed futile. After all, she had never worn a cap before yesterday. It had just seemed like a good sort of disguise, like something beneath which she could at least half hide. She was not unaware of the fact that her hair was her most distinctive feature.

She reluctantly untied the bow beneath her chin and pulled off the cap. She held it with both hands in her lap while his eyes were directed at her hair. Especially, I daresay, when it is not so ruthlessly braided and twisted. Which poses the question of why you were so determined to hide it. Are you afraid of me and my reputation? Though it would not tax the imagination overmuch to guess. It was not the first duel I have engaged in. I am known as an unprincipled, dangerous man. Or assaulted any woman beneath my own roof. Or bedded any who were unwilling.

Does that reassure you? The Lilliputians were swarming all over the Man Mountain, securing him with the greatest ingenuity — even his long hair — to the ground. She had wandered about the library shelves for a half hour, looking and fingering and occasionally drawing out a book and opening it. She handled books with reverence, as if she loved them.

She had turned to him finally and held up the volume from which she was now reading. It is one of those books I have always promised myself I free online mistress read. He was perfectly capable of reading silently to himself, but he did not want to be alone.

He had never particularly enjoyed his own company for any length of time — no, that was not free online mistress. But for the past ten years or so it had been. He had been feeling considerable irritation as the true nature of his plight had become clearer to him during the course of the day. Making love was a favorite activity too, of course, and that could be the most energetic exercise of all. Now for three weeks, if he could bear the torture that long, he was to be inactive, with only visiting friends and relatives for company.

And the prim, shrewish Jane Ingleby, of course. And pain. He had free online mistress himself by dismissing his nurse and spending the afternoon with Michael Quincy. The monthly reports from Acton Park, his country estate, had arrived that morning. He had always been conscientious about them, but he had never before pored over them with quite such determined attention to detail. But the evening threatened to be endless. The nights were the time when he did most of his living and socializing, first at the theater or opera or whatever fashionable ball or soiree was likely to draw the greatest crowd, and then at one of his clubs or in bed if the sport offered there seemed worth the sacrifice of a night with his male friends.

Her spine, he noticed, did not touch the back of her chair. And yet she looked both comfortable and graceful. She read well, neither too fast not too slowly, neither in a monotone nor with theatrically exaggerated expression.

She had a lovely soft, cultured speaking voice. Her long lashes fanned her cheeks as she looked down at the book she held with both hands free online mistress to her lap. Her neck was long and swanlike in its elegance. Her hair was pure spun gold. She had done an admirable job of making it look severe and inificant, but the only way she could hope for success in that endeavor was to shave her head. He had noticed the beauty of her face and the loveliness of her eyes during the morning.

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It was only when she had removed her cap that he had discovered how far reality surpassed his growing suspicion that she was an extraordinarily handsome woman. He watched her read as he rubbed the heel of his right hand hard over his thigh as if to ease the pain in his calf.

She was a servant, a dependent beneath his roof, and without any doubt a virtuous woman. As she had observed in her usual pert manner during the morning, she was thrice protected from him. But he would dearly like to see that hair with all the pins and coils and braids removed.

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He would not be totally averse, either, to seeing her person without the dreary, cheap, ill-fitting dress and anything else she might be wearing beneath it. She could always be relied upon to return her own particular brand of sanity to a situation, he thought. Her expression was without the slightest hint of suggestiveness despite her choice of free online mistress. He glanced at the clock on the mantel. The evening had scarcely begun. I wonder if you appreciate how low I have been brought. You have had some experience in tending the ailing, have you? I have a hole in my leg.

I believe exercise would do it more good than coddling. I intend to exercise it. Dr Raikes looked horrified. There are damaged muscles and tendons to heal before they are put to even the gentlest use. There was no call for such rudeness. Both men looked at her in sheer astonishment as she folded her hands at her waist. And then she jumped in alarm as his grace threw his head back on the pillow and roared with laughter. Can you believe that I have suffered this for a whole day without putting an end to it?

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Dr Raikes clearly did not. One understands that his injury has severely frustrated him. She could not for the life of her leave it alone.

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