SHK by t

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Authors: t
on her scone. “André proved to be a very good guide. I was impressed with the beauty of the country.” God, she could hardly believe her own ears that she could lie so easily.

    Uncle Thomas literally preened under the compliment about the countryside. “Well, I knew André would show you a good time.”

    Her heart squeezed. She felt like a regular Jezebel and would have liked nothing better than to be able to get up and leave the table. Under the pretense of eating her breakfast, she kept her gaze on her plate, hoping she didn’t look as guilty as she felt. She didn’t breathe easy again until Uncle Thomas scraped back his chair and announced he and Emmaline had business in town.

    Stormy waited only long enough for him to walk out, before she jumped up and ran out the back door.

    By the time André marched into the foyer of Emerald Hills, everyone had already left the morning room to attend to their chores for the day. After the forced walk and the self recrimination he had put himself through, he was in none too good a mood.

    He handed his cape and gloves to the butler, who asked politely if he would care for something to eat. “The family has already finished, but it wouldn’t be any trouble to have cook prepare something for you, my lord.”

    André thanked him politely and told him he had no appetite. How could he eat when he would be facing Stormy’s parents? Trevor and Annemarie would give him the third degree about their daughter, and as things stood he would have no valid defense. He would have to marry the chit, but damn, he wouldn’t have to put up with her.

    Giving himself a mental shake, he straightened his shoulder and entered the room, only to find it empty. He exhaled surreptitiously, appreciating the reprieve. With a shrug he turned to the butler and snorted in self-contempt.

    “I guess I needed to see for myself. Do you have any idea where everyone has gone?”

    “The master and mistress had some business in town, my lord. The young gentlemen intended to hunt some grouse for supper and Lady Annabelle was sent to her rooms to catch up on her ciphering.”

    The butler inclined his head and made to leave, when André stopped him. “What about the guests? Have they gone on errands, too?” It was an innocuous question, but he needed to find out and he didn’t want to sound too interested.

    “Ah, last I saw Lady Michaella she was headed out back toward the gardens. The lady’s parents have not returned from yesterday’s jaunt.”

    André pursed his lips and nodded his thanks. Well, apparently, fate had dealt him a second reprieve on the same day. He would first speak to Stormy and gauge her mood. Bloody hell, he didn’t need any additional problems. His gaze fell on the silver tea service and he touched a questing hand to the outside. Satisfied that the urn was still hot, he poured a cup of strong tea and snatched a couple of leftover scones that had not been cleared from the sideboard yet.

    Leaning a hip against the sideboard, he drank slowly and chewed even slower. Anything to protract the inevitable. Merde, what would he say to her? He really felt like taking her over his knee and giving her a good spanking for leaving as she did.

    Why did he continue to torture himself with images of her delicious little rear? It brought him nothing but more misery when he imagined how she would squirm on his lap. He felt himself harden. Annoyed with his reaction, he quickly swallowed the last bite of scone, took a deep breath, and headed for the gardens.

    André had been about to give up finding her, when he spotted a bit of pale green cloth moving next to a large oak. When he came closer, he found her sitting with her face buried in her hands, though she didn’t seem to be crying. For some reason her apparent misery dissolved some of the anger he felt toward her for leaving him in a lurch this morning. Merde, what was he to think when he found her gone? And to leave

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