Almost a Gentleman

Almost a Gentleman by Pam Rosenthal Page B

Book: Almost a Gentleman by Pam Rosenthal Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pam Rosenthal
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
thank you very much for asking. And we were able to get a bit of a lower rate at the inn, since we shared our catch with the kitchen."
    "Excellent, Simms. And the carriage was satisfactory?"
    "Very generous of you, sir, to allow us the use of it while you were… elsewhere. We did have a bit of an unexpected encounter…"
    "Really, Simms, tell me more."
    "… with a large, ruffianly fellow in a big slouch hat. He seemed to expect to see someone else."
    "Indeed. How foolish of him. And was he unaccompanied?"
    "Oh yes, sir. Quite alone."
    "Ah. And you didn't see him… or anyone else… after that one meeting?"
    "No, sir. Though we kept a careful eye out during the rest of our excursion."
    "Thank you, Simms. And sorry for the unpleasantness."
    "Happy to oblige, sir."
    She remembered the fellow in the slouch hat. He'd waved to her and Kate from up the hill. She also remembered his companion: he'd had a bit of Lord Linseley in his build and posture, and for a moment she'd let herself imagine…
    Stop it
, she told herself. What was important was that once again she'd successfully thrown her pursuers off the trail. Her secret was safe and her masquerade undisturbed.
    And it was high time she opened the mail that had piled up in her absence.
    She'd received David politely enough, he thought, sitting across from her in her drawing room that afternoon. She seemed nervous, though he wasn't exactly sure why he thought so; if she was surprised to see him, she didn't show it. The meeting must be brief, she regretted to inform him, for she would be receiving her solicitor in an hour.
    She'd ordered champagne for herself, and a pot of tea, at his request. Certainly, he thought, he didn't need any intoxicant besides the sight of her graceful, black-clad figure seated on the edge of a sky blue velvet chaise in front of a bank of flame-colored chrysanthemums.
    She crossed her legs widely, as though to maximize the amount of space her body occupied and to mitigate the disparity between his muscular bulk and her own slender angularity.
    She has something of a fighter in her
, he thought.
Not a boxer, of course

she hasn't the weight for it. A fencer, perhaps. Yes. Feint and parry is her style
    She'd proffered snuff from a fine enameled box and, when he'd refused, she'd taken a small pinch herself before listening carefully to the speech he prepared.
    "And so, my lord, you
this Stokes? And therefore followed me as well?"
    It did sound a bit shabby and stupid.
    Cherishing the image of the lady in pink as he had these two weeks, he hadn't thought he'd find her awfully convincing in her masculine disguise. On the contrary: upon confronting her today he'd seen that he'd underestimated the coherence of the image she'd created, the aggressive tilt of her chin, the hundred mannish gestures she employed so subtly.
    Now that he knew her secret, he'd thought he'd easily penetrate her defenses, like the prince scaling the walls of Rapunzel's tower. He'd expected that it would be enough simply to gaze at her as a man gazes at a woman he desires. Surely she'd return his gaze, grant him a hint of welcome.
    Not a bit of it
. Her body occupied the room as though she had a gentleman's legal right to it. She straightened her back, squared her shoulders, and stared at him from alert, slightly narrowed eyes, her bearing armored with careful, outraged dignity.
As though
, David thought with some annoyance,
I were among those legions of pathetic old nances all lusting for Marston
    "I apologize, Mr. Marston," he said quietly. "It wasn't my intent to infringe upon your privacy. Only to ensure your safety."
    He's looking at me
, Phoebe thought,
as I've always dreamed of being looked at
    But was he looking at
? Or at Phizz Marston?
    What had he seen when he'd gazed down the hill that morning at the two ladies strolling toward the carriage? For it
been him; she'd been right about
at any rate. It was disturbing, she thought, that she'd

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