Buried Secrets

Buried Secrets by Anne Barbour

Book: Buried Secrets by Anne Barbour Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Barbour
Tags: Regency Romance
opinion, that if I were to introduce myself to Mr. Neville and express my recently developed interest in the writings of Mr. Pepys, he would not be averse to letting me borrow them—on a temporary basis, of course.”
    “Mm. I’ve met the master on occasion, but I do not know him well. However, I daresay you’re right. The wishes of a titled gentleman with such deep and open pockets would certainly work strongly on his sensibilities.”
    If there was a hint of irony in Gillian’s tone. Cord ignored it.
    “Splendid. I shall visit the gentleman on the morrow, and when I return home victorious, with one or more volumes of the diary in my possession, I shall drop them into your uncle’s greedy hands—with the firm proviso, of course, that they be returned to my hands in a few days. Do you think this arrangement will suit him?”
    “Not nearly so well as keeping them permanently, but I think he can be talked around. But . . .” Gillian hesitated. “You are willing to do this? I feel we should not ask you to become a part of Uncle Henry’s . . . obsession. We have no right— That is, it is very kind of you to make such an effort on our behalf, but—”
    “Nonsense.” The word was spoken sharply, acting as a dash of cold water on Gillian’s heated incoherences. “It will be my pleasure. I must do something to avoid the boredom of my forced rustication. And, I must say, I have become somewhat interested in this mysterious diary myself. I should not at all mind having a look at it—perhaps I shall be the one to crack the code, thereby covering myself with glory.”
    “Then, I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart, my lord—that is, Cord.” She rose. “And now, if we have reached a solution to our situation, it is very late, and I must be getting home.”
    Cord stood as well and followed her as she hurried back to the horses. As he bent to lift her into the saddle, however, he paused and gripped her shoulders lightly.
    “You know,” he said huskily, “I would do a great deal more for you, Gillian.” He bent and brushed her lips lightly with his. A tingle jolted through her, but so angered was she at this practiced attempt at seduction that she swung way from him to grasp her saddle horn. She lifted her foot and waited, allowing nothing to show on her face but mild distaste.
    Cord stepped back abruptly. In the darkness, she could not read his expression, but after a moment, he cupped her boot in his hand and tossed her into the saddle.
    They rode in silence for several moments before Cord said flatly, “I’m sorry, Gillian, that was ill-done of me. Although,” he added in a more natural tone of voice with just a hint of self-deprecating humor, “I can’t say I’m. sorry for the kiss—such as it was.”
    “Then for what are you apologizing?” Gillian strove to keep her tone cool, albeit friendly.
    Now he did laugh. “You wretch! For the smarmy little speech that accompanied it. I don’t know what made me speak so.”
    It was Gillian’s turn to chuckle. Her anger had dissolved at his words, and she felt oddly pleased. “Perhaps you can blame the situation. An enterprising gentleman, finding himself secluded with a lady in the dead of night in such a romantically sylvan setting might be considered backward indeed if he failed to pursue the advantage.”
    “I think,” said Cord meditatively, “that anything I might say in response to that statement would get me into even more trouble, so I shall pass, groping all the while for a suitably innocuous topic with which to turn the conversation.”
    “How about this one? I’m not sure it’s innocuous, and may get me into trouble, but what was that you said about ‘forced rustication?’ I thought your descent into the countryside was due to a sudden desire for a breath of fresh air and a dollop or two of sunshine.”
    Cord was silent for so long that Gillian feared he had taken grave offense. At last, however, he sighed. “No, of course, it

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