How to Wed a Baron

How to Wed a Baron by Kasey Michaels

Book: How to Wed a Baron by Kasey Michaels Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kasey Michaels
simply cower here and have a fit of the vapors or something while highwaymen attacked us?”
    â€œHighwaymen,” the major said quietly, sobering. “Yes. It would appear that England is not quite so civilized as the English would like us to believe.”
    â€œClearly not! Do you suppose they have followed us from Portsmouth? That they saw my trunks being unloaded, and my cloak? Oh, I should have been ruthless with anyone who dared to attempt to steal my cloak, let me tell you that!” She accepted another pristine linen square Tatiana had unearthed from the large bag at her feet and promptly ruined it by wiping it over her face and hands. The farther removed from the heat of battle she got, the more she regretted her impulsive action. But someone had shot Luka. And that had made her so angry!
    The facts that, now that they were safe and on the move again, her hands had begun to shake and her stomach felt exceptionally queasy, and she believed she could begin to weep rather copiously if anyone so much as looked at her slightly askance, were all suddenly being brought very much home to her. She’d been reckless, and she could have been dead.
    Why did she not stop to consider the consequences before she acted? Why did the illogicaland impossible always seem rational and infinitely plausible when her wild Romany blood was up, as Tatiana had always told her?
    Alina was proud of her Romany blood, but even as she looked for some excuse to explain away her more rash and ridiculous actions, she did not think it fair to blame that blood. She knew where the blame truly lay, and it was with her.
    Just another failing she would have to apply herself to correcting before she became a bride. And just another reason to resent the absent Justin Wilde. If he had done his duty, he would have been riding in the coach with her—the coach that would be on its way to London—and nowhere near those hideous highwaymen. He would have taken up the brace of pistols and defended her. Why, if she looked at the thing long enough and hard enough, it was all his fault that she was sitting here, her beautiful new outfit ruined, muddy water dripping off the tip of her nose.
    All of which she would tell him when he came to fetch her from this Ashurst Hall they were heading for. If he came to fetch her.
    Beside her, as he attempted to insert a much-folded cloth inside his unbuttoned jacket, Luka groaned, and Alina brought her straying mind back to attention.
    â€œOh, I’m so sorry, Luka, I’m neglecting you. Are you all right?” she asked him. “Tatiana, why didn’tyou help Luka out of his jacket, so that we can see to his wound? Oh, never mind, you were probably too busy watching me make an utter cake of myself. Here, let’s do it now.”
    â€œI was told we were only little more than a mile from Ashurst Hall just before we were attacked, my lady,” he told her. “I can wait until we arrive. You shouldn’t have to see the wound. It isn’t seemly.”
    â€œNeither is bleeding yourself dry,” Alina pointed out, but the coach had now turned, and the wheels were suddenly covering much smoother ground, the ruts and jaw-jarring potholes of the other road no longer in evidence.
    â€œMy lady…your clothing?”
    Tatiana’s warning brought Alina back to her own personal dilemma. That was probably vain of her, but she couldn’t help herself. She was about to meet Justin’s friends—an English duke and duchess, no less—and she was going to see them for the first time while looking as if she’d just finished rolling about in a pigsty. Oh, how Aunt Mimi would have laughed to see her like this, and then pointed out that it was no less than she would have expected from her mongrel niece.
    â€œI’m going to blame him for that, too,” Alina declared as Tatiana, being a down-to-earth sort in times like these—at least once the shooting and the

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