The Notorious Lord

The Notorious Lord by Nicola Cornick

Book: The Notorious Lord by Nicola Cornick Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nicola Cornick
Tags: Fiction, Historical
irritably. ‘There is no need for you to sound so pious, Cory. I recall you telling me that you had spent a goodly portion of your inheritance on drink and gambling and women!’
    ‘That was money well spent,’ Cory said, grinning. ‘The rest of my fortune I wasted.’
    Rachel glared at him. ‘Very witty, Cory. So do you have any other animadversions to cast on your fellow fortune-hunters before I throw myself away on an unworthy man?’
    Cory reached for the flask of water and took a thoughtful swig. ‘Of course.’
    ‘On the principle that it takes a scoundrel to recognise a man cut from the same cloth?’
    Cory winced. He was accustomed to sparring with Rachel but, because he cared for her, her barbs could draw blood. ‘You are harsh, Rae,’ he said. ‘I could give you some advice if you wish.’
    ‘Please do.’
    ‘Then avoid Mr Lang since he is a wastrel. Sir John Norton is a rogue who would invite you out for a sail in his yacht and then seduce you, and all the Kestrel brothers…’Cory shook his head. ‘What can I say? They are excessively dangerous.’
    ‘And Mr James Kestrel, their cousin?’
    ‘Ah.’ Cory laughed. ‘Yes, the white sheep in a family of reprobates. The only danger you would be in from him, Rae, was of being bored to death!’
    Rachel sighed sharply. ‘I am beginning to think that I am unlikely to meet an eligible man in the Midwinter villages this summer. Either they are all gamblers or they are like your friends the Kestrels!’
    Cory felt strangely relieved. ‘Indeed, you are right. Give up the plan! Almost all the gentlemen here are rogues and scoundrels of the most unreliable sort.’
    Rachel’s eyes lit with laughter. ‘Are you including yourself in that description, Cory?’
    ‘If you like. But we have already established that I would not make the ideal husband, have we not, Rae?’
    Rachel looked troubled and Cory felt a rather sweet tenderness for her swell inside him. It was the most damnable thing being Rachel’s friend. It made him dreadfully vulnerable to her—in so many ways.
    ‘I am sure that you would be ideal for someone,’ she said.
    Cory laughed. ‘Now you are just being kind. And you have no need to soothe my ruffled feelings, I assure you.’ He smiled at her. ‘Besides, we were speaking of you, Rae, not of me. I assume from what you say that you do not look to marry for love at all.’
    Rachel’s troubled expression did not lighten. ‘I would hope to have an affection for my husband.’
    Cory’s silver grey eyes sought hers. ‘I am speaking of passion, Rae, of strong feelings. Are you sure that you have no wish to experience that within marriage?’
    Rachel’s eyelashes fluttered and she stole a look at him. ‘No, I do not look for that. I fear I am not moved to strong passions.’
    Cory was shocked at the sudden wave of desire thatslammed through him, echoed by a disturbing compassion. There was a shy, unawakened look in Rachel’s eyes as she spoke of matters of which she had no knowledge. Cory knew it would be the most appalling waste for Rachel to commit herself to a loveless marriage. He knew her to be thoughtful and kind-hearted and loving. And he was willing to bet any money that beneath her composure was a passion strong enough to destroy all a man’s defences and burn him down. But he would not be the man to find out if that was true.
    Rachel was biting her lip now and Cory clamped down on the urge to kiss her. To step outside the role of elder brother would do neither of them any good. Instead he took a careful breath and gave her a gentle smile. ‘I wish you good fortune, Rae. I hope that you find what you are looking for.’
    Rachel gave him a smile of such dazzling brilliance that Cory’s heart missed a beat.
    ‘Thank you, Cory,’ she said. She scrambled to her feet. ‘I must go. There is still some unpacking to be done and dinner to be prepared.’
    Cory put out a hand to her. He wanted to be with her even though it was, in

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