The Duchess (Montgomery/Taggert 16) - Page 99

“You may leave my room now. And you needn’t bother to return.”

He kissed her neck and her unresponsive lips. “It couldn’t possibly matter to you what I did—or do—with Nyssa. You’re in love with Harry, remember?”

“You’re laughing at me again!” she spat at him. “At least Harry treats me as an adult. You laugh at me as though I were a child.”

“You are a child,” he said softly. “You are the most beautiful grown-up child in the world.”

She wasn’t sure whether to be pleased by his description or not. “I’m not as pretty as your moon pearl or as pretty as my little sister.”

He kissed the corner of her lip. “You don’t even know what I mean by beauty.” He leaned back and smiled at her. “Have you ever done a truly selfish act in your life?”

She didn’t know why this question should bother her so but it did. He made her sound like a do-gooder who was always suffering for a cause. “I’ve done many selfish things. At home in America I was quite indulgent with myself.”

“You receive an allowance from your grandfather’s trust. Tell me, have you ever lent your parents money?”

“Only a few times,” she snapped, and when he smiled in a know-it-all way, she started to get out of bed. “I didn’t like you when I first met you and I still don’t like you.”

He pulled her back to the bed then moved so that he was half on top of her. “What don’t you like? That I see you as you are? That I don’t just see you as a beautiful little American heiress whose money is the most important thing in the world? Or does it bother you that I see your parents as they are? Or maybe it’s that I’m a realist and you’re a romantic? Maybe you think you like Harry because he’s as romantic as you are. Harry sees only what he wants to see. He thinks his mother is good because he wants to think the woman is good. He thinks he’s in love with you because he wants to be.”

“Leave Harry out of this! Harry is a good, kind person.”

“Yes, he is. Harry hasn’t a bad-tempered bone in his body. He’s incapable of hurting anyone.”

“Unlike you! You hurt everyone. You hurt everyone who tries to get close to you.”

At that Trevelyan’s eyes changed and he rolled off of her. “Yes,” he said. “That’s true.”

She lay beside him, not touching him, angry at what he’d said about her, angry at herself for what they had said to each other and for what they had done together. She should not have allowed him into her bed. She should have told him to leave when he walked into her room and stood over her, but instead she’d welcomed him.

She felt him move as though to get out of the bed and immediately she turned and threw her arms around him. “Don’t leave, Vellie,” she said. “I am so very tired of being alone.”

He held her to him very tightly, and in ways his holding of her was more intimate than their lovemaking. “You feel it too, don’t you?”

“Feel what?” She pressed her cheek against his chest.

“The isolation. The loneliness.”

She started to say that someone as famous as Captain Baker could never be lonely, that he had friends all over the world, but right now the man in her arms didn’t feel like Captain Baker. This man felt like Trevelyan, the man who had fainted when she’d first met him, the man who had introduced her to whisky and had given her books to read.

Claire put her face up to his to be kissed, and after that they didn’t say any more as he began to make love to her again.

When Claire awoke her little sister was sitting on a chair beside the bed. “You sleep like you were dead,” Brat said.

Claire turned to look at the other side of the bed but it was empty.

“He’s gone.”

Claire sat up in bed, keeping the sheet about her nude body. “I know. Harry left yesterday. He went to Edinburgh on…on business.”

Brat gave a little laugh. “Rogers broke her leg.”

Claire gasped. “She what?” Trevelyan had said that he’d take care of Miss Rogers. He couldn’t have broken her leg, could he?

“Last night she went to sleep in her own bed in her little room and this morning she woke up in a bed in the butler’s room and she had a plaster cast on her leg. The cast reaches all the way from her hip to her toes. She also had a terrible headache and she remembers nothing whatever of what happened during the night. The butler told her that she was sleepwalking and fell down the stairs and broke her leg. The doctor came and set it for her while she was still asleep. The butler said that the doctor gave Rogers some awful medicine that made her forget everything that had happened to her.”

Claire grimaced. “And where did the doctor get such a medicine?”

Brat smiled. “I think it came from Pesha.”

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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