Lord Langley Is Back in Town

Lord Langley Is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle

Book: Lord Langley Is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Boyle
Tags: Fiction, Historical Romance
    “Enlighten me.”
    “Gladly,” he agreed. “It is well known that your aunt would like to see you married and settled and is not opposed to using whatever means possible to corner you into some sort of union, whether you like it or not.”
    Minerva flinched. She could well imagine how he’d discovered that much—for while a single meeting with Aunt Bedelia was more than enough to discover this, she suspected Tia’s hand in this as well.
    The little minx loved to gossip, and Minerva could also imagine what little—and large— on dits the girl had shared while playing cards with Lord Langley.
    “If you were engaged to me, she would hardly continue to truss you up like Maid Marion and send you off to masquerades only to fill your dance card with aging roués and widowers with seven children.” His smile as he finished was like a well-executed touché.
    Oh, yes, Tia had done her worst.
    “And,” he continued, turning his attention back to his breakfast as he spoke. “If you could assume a more loving demeanor, you might even convince your houseguests to give up their stakes and leave. If they have no reason to remain in London, they will be out with the morning tide.”
    “Oh, no,” she said, shaking her head. “They will be out this afternoon.”
    He didn’t so much as laugh, but smiled indulgently at her, as if he found her naiveté quite endearing.
    “They will be,” she insisted. “I have ordered the carriages, and if it comes to it, I will use Thomas-William’s pistol and evict them by force.”
    “You are going to run a Cossack footman out of your house with only a pistol?” He shook his head. “I hope you are prepared to shoot it, for that is the only way he will leave without his mistress’s approval.”
    Minerva pursed her lips together, but then suddenly brightened. “If I shot you, then there would be no reason for any of them to stay and I would be rid of the lot of you.”
    “Have no fears, given my reputation and the life I’ve lived, you may get your wish sooner than necessary,” he said in his usual light manner. But Minerva wasn’t fooled, for there was something else to his words that filled in around the merry edges.
    A sober note of concession.
    She eyed him suspiciously, but Langley wasn’t a renowned diplomat for nothing. He smiled blandly at her and continued eating his breakfast.
    “Whyever would you want such an arrangement?” Deliberately she hadn’t said, “engagement.”
    “Again, isn’t it obvious?” He took a swift sip of tea. “I have no desire to marry, but I fear I’ve had a difficult—if not impossible—time convincing anyone else of that fact. If I were engaged to you, then effectively I would be out of the market and free to live my life without the fear of an unwanted entanglement.” He paused for a moment. “That, and an engagement to you, my lovely and staid Lady Standon, would do much toward rehabilitating my standing in Society. I can hardly be as bad as all that if I was able to convince you to enter into marriage again.”
    There was more to this than just that, she wagered. For if it was only a matter of avoiding marriage, hadn’t he proven he was quite adept at it? But there was something so enticing about what he offered . . .
    Aunt Bedelia off her back. Her houseguests gone. The freedom to live her life as she saw fit—much as he desired.
    Oh, it was tempting to accept what he was offering, but then the chains of matrimony rattled her back to the present. And there was one other factor—Aunt Bedelia. The old girl would only be put off so long before she’d have Lord Langley hauled down to the Archbishop’s office and a Special License procured.
    The man before her might be the most elusive spy England had ever claimed, but Minerva held a greater fear of Aunt Bedelia’s prowess at getting a man married. Lord Langley might have trumped Napoleon, but he’d never outwit the infamous Lady Chudley.
    “No,” she said,

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