Ransome's Honor

Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus

Book: Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kaye Dacus
lovely, my dear.” He escorted her down to the ground floor, where Julia had the pleasure of receiving Creighton’s approving expression as he opened the dining room door for them. Footsteps on the stairs followed by a sharp intake of breath behind them made Julia turn.
    Her aunt’s thin, dark brows pulled together, wrinkling her pale forehead. “I do not believe you should go out in public with your hair unbound like a schoolgirl.”
    “If I cannot wear my hair however I like, I shan’t go.” Julia took her seat, not in the least ashamed of acting like the child her aunt accused her of resembling.
    Lady Pembroke sputtered, color rising in her face.
    Sir Edward squeezed Julia’s shoulder. “My dear Lady Pembroke, is it more important for Julia to attend the concert or that she wear her hair a certain way?”
    “She will be the laughingstock of all Portsmouth society, such as it is. The gossip of how she defies convention and goes her own way will ruin her reputation.”
    Mirth bubbled up in Julia and escaped as a laugh. “I believe, Aunt, my reputation as a ‘right old spinster’ will remain intact whether I wear my hair up or down.”

Chapter Seven
    D rake adjusted his gloves, trying to twist the middle finger of the left hand to hide a small burn hole. The five hundred pounds his mother had lent him “for housekeeping” had not stretched far beyond a cook-housekeeper and a manservant—and the stake for the game in which he planned to participate after this evening’s entertainment.
    The crowd milling in the vestibule outside the concert room of the assembly hall represented the highest echelon of Portsmouth society. Oh, how Lady Everingham would laugh at the pretensions of these people—“rustics,” she would call them. Young dandies migrated about the room like bees, stopping to drink in the beauty of each successive blossoming female race—not nearly as adept at the art of flirting as those who grew up in the ballrooms and card rooms of Almack’s.
    Admiral Sir Edward, Miss Julia Witherington, and Lady Pembroke were announced. Rather than go to them immediately, Drake stood back and observed. He was not overly anxious to see his future wife up close again so soon, and he needed to know his competition and Miss Witherington’s reaction to them. Several older couples—most likely the admiral’s colleagues—approached and spoke to the Witheringtons, blocking his view of Julia.
    When the crowd around them parted, Drake drew in a sharp breath. A gown of pale green that would not be out of place at St. James’s flowed and draped the figure of a Greek goddess. Her long russet hair, unfashionably loose around her shoulders and in a cascade of plump curls to her waist, framed a face tolerable enough to see across the breakfast table each morning. Although small, her mouth was well shaped. But the square set of her jaw and somewhat stubbornly pointed chin kept her from being a true beauty.
    He took several steps forward but then stopped. Why would a woman with wealth and tolerable looks such as hers remain unmarried at her age? He wanted to believe his mother’s explanation that Miss Witherington had lived too sheltered a life in the West Indies and that Lady Witherington had protected her daughter by not allowing Julia to degrade the family by marrying someone in Jamaica.
    He steeled his will. No matter the reason for her marital status, he would and must court her.
    Flicking a piece of lint off the lapel of his black tailcoat, he started across the room, nodding at several women who gave him interestedly curious glances. Whispers followed in his wake.
    “Drake, there you are!” His mother shot him a heated glance and then turned to the two she’d arrived with. “Sir Edward, Julia, you remember my son, Sir Drake Pembroke.”
    Admiral Witherington regarded him with an appraising gaze as he returned Drake’s bow. As Miss Julia rose from her curtsey, Drake had a hard time coaxing his gaze away from the

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