Because You're Mine

Because You're Mine by Lisa Kleypas

Book: Because You're Mine by Lisa Kleypas Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lisa Kleypas
    Mr. Scott's face was smooth and implacable. “My private life isn't open for discussion.”
    “She was wearing a wedding ring.”
    For some reason her disapproving expression seemed to amuse him. “It means nothing,” he informed her dryly. “She and her husband have a well-known understanding.”
    Madeline puzzled briefly over his meaning. “You're saying that he wouldn't mind if his wife…and you…he wouldn't object?”
    “Not as long as she's discreet.”
    “How very odd.”
    “Hardly. Many wives of the upper classes are allowed to have ‘friendships’ outside their marriages. It keeps them from complaining about their husbands' infidelities.”
    “And it doesn't bother you, the idea of making love to another man's wife?” Madeline dared to ask.
    “I prefer married women,” he replied evenly. “They're rarely demanding or possessive.”
    “If that woman weren't married, would you still want to have an affair with her?”
    “That's not your concern, Miss Ridley.”
    Faced with his abrupt, dismissive manner, Madeline left the dressing room. “Oh, yes, it is my concern,” she said too softly for him to hear. Her determination to have him was stronger than ever. If it was humanly possible to divert his interest from the blond married woman and turn it toward herself, she would do it.
    In the next few days, an illness struck four employees of the Capital, two of them actors and two from the carpenter's shop. The symptoms were high fever, coughing, and congestion, and in the case of one patient, a delirium that had lasted for two days. The duchess sent servants to inquire about the well-being of her employees.
    “Illness tends to travel through the entire company before it's finished,” Julia commented to Madeline with a frown. “It's too much to hope that no one else becomes ill.”
    “Your Grace,” Madeline said, her gaze falling to the duchess's obvious pregnancy, “in your condition, you must be careful—”
    “Yes, of course.” Julia sighed impatiently. “But I can't stay home when there is so much to be done here.”
    “Your health is more important than any play, Your Grace.”
    The duchess snorted. “Don't say that in Mr. Scott's hearing. He doesn't believe in illness. For as long as I've known him, he's thought that nothing, not even scarlet fever, should interfere with the theater schedule.”
    “But people can't help getting sick,” Madeline protested, wondering if Mr. Scott were really so unreasonable.
    Julia rolled her eyes. “Logan has little tolerance for human frailty. How can he understand weakness when he doesn't have any himself?” Bracing her hands on the edge of her desk, she stood up and quirked her mouth. “I'll have to tell him about the situation. I expect he'll start roaring like a bear.”
    Contrary to the duchess's statement, there was no audible roaring from Mr. Scott's office…but there did seem to be a simmering current of annoyance in the air for the rest of the day, and the members of the company were unusually subdued. Madeline asked the duchess for permission to leave early, and it was given without hesitation.
    Clutching the slip of paper in her hand, Madeline walked along Regent Street. She tried to appear confident among the milling crowds of people, carriages, and animals that congested the grand thoroughfare. There were rows of shops containing furniture, china, foodstuffs, milliners' wares, and fabrics. Just as Madeline despaired of ever finding Mrs. Bernard's establishment, she came upon a shop-front identified by a small green sign and a display of fabrics in the window.
    Tentatively she entered the shop, causing a brass bell to jangle on a string. A neatly dressed girl not much older than herself approached at once. “May I help you, miss?”
    “I'm here to see Mrs. Bernard…my name is Madeline Ridley.”
    Hearing the exchange from the corner of the shop, a tall woman stood up from a table burdened with sketches and fabric

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