The Duchess Diaries: The Bridal Pleasures Series

The Duchess Diaries: The Bridal Pleasures Series by Jillian Hunter

Book: The Duchess Diaries: The Bridal Pleasures Series by Jillian Hunter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jillian Hunter
seeing you once at the emporium. I noticed you, and if I’d had a notion that youhad such a passionate nature, I would have
we dance at the ball.”
    “I poured my foolish heart into that diary.”
    “If it’s any comfort, I found what I read illuminating.”
    She lowered her head. “Humiliating is what you mean. Will you tell anyone?”
    “Why should I?” He took a drink of his brandy. “It’s our affair.”
    “Where did you leave the diary?”
    “In my carriage.”
    “How much did you read?” she asked quietly.
    He put their glasses on the table. “Enough that I was flattered and insulted in turns. Enough that I’m not sure I know myself whether I’m a devil or a saint.”
    “I’m not sure that I want to be in your company when enlightenment dawns.”
    “Why not? It was your observations that drew my attention to this moral dilemma.”
    “But you made an arrangement tonight.”
    “I almost made an arrangement. No papers have been signed. I’m a free man, in any event.”
    She looked up, her blue eyes clouded with rue. “I’m too ashamed to offer any excuses.”
    He reached out and traced his thumb across her cheekbone. “There’s no need to be embarrassed. I can assure you that I never apologize for my imprudences.”
    “Imprudent,” she said, sighing. “That describes my—”
    He cut her off, lifting his hand from her face. “Hush a moment.”
    “What is it?”
    “A carriage stopping outside.”
    She blinked. “It must be Harriet.”
    “How could it be Harriet?”
    She rose, searching for the pins he’d pulled out of her hair. “She brought me here. I told you.”
    “No, you didn’t,” he said, staring at the row of white satin buttons on the back of her gown. “What if she’d seen us?”
    “We wouldn’t have heard the end of it.”
    He turned his head. “Harriet must have brought a few friends along. I hear voices.”
    Charlotte ran to the window and gasped. “Oh, no.”
    And Gideon didn’t even bother to ask her what was wrong. He listened to the thunderous knocking at the front door; he knew that the evening held another surprise in store and it would not be as pleasant as finding Charlotte Boscastle in his bedchamber.

Chapter 10
    G ideon didn’t know at what point in the evening he’d sensed that nothing would ever be the same in his life again. Had it been at the ball? At Mrs. Watson’s? Or in his bedroom with Charlotte? He had woken up alone that morning with the assumption he would end up in bed with Gabrielle.
    Who could have predicted what had happened in the hours between?
    The instant he recognized Lords Devon and Heath Boscastle frozen in the doorway, a small group of friends surging behind them, he realized that his life
about to change, but not in a particularly thrilling way. He
awaken every morning in the years ahead with a mistress—a schoolmistress, that was. The lady who was cowering behind him while trying to pin up her hair and making the whole situation look worse than it really was would likely become his wife. He could see no escape from the situation that had rapidly spun out of control.
    He turned slowly to Charlotte and met her gaze. “Do not say a word. I will deal with this.”
    “We’re doomed,” she whispered.
    His thoughts exactly.
    The door flew open. Gideon looked straight at Devon, the tallest of the bunch, his friendly grin vanishing when he realized Charlotte was in the room. Pushing up behind Devon were his older brothers Heath and Drake, murder in their eyes. And there were two women, only one he knew, and another lady and gentleman close behind them.
    “This is supposed to be a treasure hunt,” Jane said with a strained smile. “How bad of you to start without us, Your Grace. Or have you hunted your quarry for the night?”
    “Madam,” he said, positioning himself between Charlotte and the marchioness, whose green eyes glittered with anger. “This isn’t what it appears to be.”
    She lowered her voice.

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