Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart

Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean

Book: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sarah MacLean
Tags: Fiction, Historical Romance
today’s actions.
    “You are not going to tell Ralston, are you?”
    “Of course I am going to tell Ralston.”
    She took a step toward him, switching to English. She was skilled at pleading in her second language. “But why? It shall only upset him. Needlessly.”
    Disbelief took his breath. “ Needlessly? On the contrary, Miss Fiori. Your brother most definitely needs to know that you require a chaperone who will prevent you from behaving with reckless abandon.”
    She threw up her hands. “I was not behaving recklessly!”
    She was mad. “Oh, no? How would you describe it?”
    Silence fell, and Juliana considered the question. She nibbled the corner of her lower lip as she thought and, against his will, he was drawn to the movement. He watched the way her lips pursed, the crisp white edge of her teeth as she worried the soft pink flesh. Desire slammed through him hard and fast, and he stiffened at the blinding emotion. He did not want her. She was a madwoman.
    A stunning, goddess of a madwoman .
    He cleared his throat.
    Nevertheless.
    “It was entirely reasonable behavior.”
    He blinked. “You climbed out onto a tree trunk,” he paused, irritation flaring again with the words.
    She was unable to keep her gaze from the tree trunk in question. “It seemed perfectly sturdy.”
    “You fell into a lake. ” He heard the fury in his voice.
    “I didn’t expect it to be so deep!”
    “No, I don’t imagine you did.”
    She clung to her defense. “I mean, it did not seem to be like any lake I’ve ever encountered.”
    “That’s because it’s not like any lake you’ve ever encountered.”
    She looked back at him. “It’s not?”
    “No.” He said, barely able to contain his irritation. “It isn’t a real lake. It is man-made.”
    Her eyes widened. “Why?”
    Did it matter?
    “As I was not alive for the event, I could not hazard a guess.”
    “Leave it to the English to fabricate a lake,” she tossed over her shoulder to Carla, who snickered.
    “And leave it to the Italians to fall into it!”
    “I was retrieving my hat!”
    “Ah . . . that makes it all much more logical. Do you even know how to swim?”
    “Do I know how to swim ?” she asked, and he took more than a little pleasure in her offense. “I was raised on the banks of the Adige! Which happens to be a real river.”
    “Impressive,” he said, not at all impressed. “And tell me, did you ever swim in said river?”
    “Of course! But I wasn’t wearing”—she waved a hand to indicate her dress—“sixteen layers of fabric!”
    “Why not?”
    “Because you don’t swim in sixteen layers of fabric!”
    “No?”
    “No!”
    “Why not?” He had her now.
    “Because you will drown!”
    “Ah,” he said, rocking back on his heels. “Well, at least we’ve learned something today.”
    Her eyes narrowed, and he had the distinct impression that she wanted to kick him. Good. Knowing that she was furious made him feel slightly more stable.
    Dear God. She’d nearly drowned.
    He’d never been so terrified in all his life as when he’d come over the ridge—berating himself for allowing this fiery, emotional Italian to direct his afternoon, knowing that he should be at home, living his orderly life—and seen the horrifying tableau below: the maid, shrieking for help; the unmistakable ripples on the surface of the lake; and the billows of sapphire fabric marking the spot where Juliana was sinking.
    He’d been certain that he was too late.
    “I told you.” Her words stopped the direction of his thoughts. “I had every good reason to go out there. If not for the wind and these heavy clothes, I would have been just fine.”
    As if to underscore her point, the wind picked up then, and her teeth began to chatter. She wrapped her arms around herself and suddenly she looked so . . . small. And fragile. The utter opposite of how he thought of her, bright and bold and indestructible. And in that moment, his anger was thoroughly overpowered

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