Read Lisette Online

Authors: Gayle Eden

Tags: #love, #sex, #historical, #regency, #series romance, #gayle eden, #eve asbury, #the coachmans daughter, #saving juliette, #lisette

Lisette (5 page)

BOOK: Lisette
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“I will be glad to get home.” Lady Ellen
sighed and settled back.

“The roads will be muddy. I hope I can get my
nap without being jostled too much,” the duke announced and got
comfortable in the corner.

Lisette reached in a carpetbag by her feet
and pulled out a novel to read while both her parents were
dozing.

She was caught up in it rather too quickly
since the hero was tall, dark, and brooding.

Of course, the heroine was nothing like her.
She seemed to do a lot of fainting and dramatic gasping, trembling,
and such. When her eyes were pulled from the pages to look out, it
was another dark man Lisette saw in her mind’s eye... A man
standing under a streetlamp in long coat with his black hair wind
tossed and silver eyes shining in his hard visage.

In the back of her mind, as the coach rocked
over the miles, she was asking, what is it? Why do I feel the urge
to touch you? Why do I feel as if behind that aloof mien, you are
begging me to?

* * * *

They made it to Wimberly with only a few
incidents such as having to take a detour due to a bridge collapse,
and some predicament with one of the horses that was taken care of
in one of the townships. They left the mount there and procured
another. The groom would collect it and make the exchange
later.

At the manor, Deme and Haven settled in his
apartments.

When she had unpacked and slept an entire
day, Lisette pulled on trousers and boots, a jumper and coat and
took her horse on a jaunt across the woodlands. She enjoyed the
ride but sensed that she was desperately trying to find a peace
that was not going to come.

The new routine in the house began when her
younger sisters, April and Autumn, arrived. They were obviously
glad to be home. The duchess and duke were beside themselves too,
since it was entirely too calm without the boys.

Lisette kissed and hugged them. They had been
at school since they were five. Not being identical, April had
black hair and Autumn’s was browner, but both wore it long and tied
back in ribbon. They were ten now, and so sharp and witty that she
and Haven were vastly entertained the evening they had dinner with
them in the nursery. April was the more petite, Autumn would be
tall. It was Autumn too, who was more interested in adventure,
exploring and animals. April showed signs of being an intellectual,
although they were both full of spirit and life.

Over the next week, there was a governess and
tutor chosen for them to finish off their training. Much the
duchess could do, and the dancing master. Lisette knew they would
enjoy it as much as she had the siblings had. Her mother never
appointed someone she herself did not like, and she did not believe
in all work and no play.

Haven and Deme were wrapped up in each other
and in their future plans, and with the graces occupied with the
girls, Lisette spent time reading and taking long walks, exploring
all of her favorite childhood places—remembering—how she had to be
dragged inside once she was well enough to be out of doors.

She thought about her debut, and how odd it
seemed that other females simply accepted being treated inferior.
However, she did feel a bit disappointed not to make one friend,
until she had met Juliette when she had been a ward of Monty’s.

Yes. It was an enjoyable feeling to grow into
womanhood, however poignant her memories of childhood. There were
other exciting things womanhood brought, and she had explored those
with as much enthusiasm as she had her other interest as a
girl.

When she was in her chambers alone however
the woman in her thought of only one man though. Lisette lost
moments simply sitting and replaying Marston’s voice inflections,
and his rare expressions in her head. Still not knowing what she
was looking for.

One early evening, she was in the downstairs
parlor when she overheard Deme and Haven in the foyer. She went out
to see what was going on, and noticed they were dressed to go
out.

“Are you going to visit Juliette and Monty?”
Lisette asked them.

Haven nodded, pulling on her gloves, her
short deep red hair down and her cream wool gown made for warmth
rather than fashion. “Monty sent a note, asking us over. Juliette
did invite you, but we were not sure to accept or not?’

Lisette’s brow arched. “Why ever not?”

Haven grimaced. “Monty invited Viscount
Marston down, you see. They apparently found much in common once
they became better acquainted, and his lordship discovered he had a
volume that Marston had been searching for some years, at Wolford.
So he is visiting them at this time.”

“Oh…” Lisette looked away and then back.
“Well, I did tell you how he spoke to mama so agreeably, and that
we’d met and I’d apologized. I see no reason that we’d be
uncomfortable around each other at this point.”

She could tell Haven was eyeing her closely,
but all her friend said was, “Famous. Why don’t you fetch your coat
and we’ll wait for you.”

“I shall.” Lisette left the foyer and hurried
up the stairs. She quickly got dressed; white stockings, a chemise
and warm blue gown. She combed her hair and tied it back, grabbing
a coat from the wardrobe, and then hurried down and out the door,
the butler held.

It was while walking to the coach that she
realized her heart was beating fast. It was all that running about,
she decided. However, when her brother said, “I’m surprised you
decided to come. Your cheeks are charmingly flushed. Are you sure
we are not going to be treated to some dramatic scene between
yourself and Marston? Must say, I didn’t like him much at first,
but I am warming to him.”

“You know why I was resistant to the match.”
She eyed her brother’s grin and that rakish fall of black curls
over his brow. “It was nothing personal to him.”

‘I’m glad it stopped snowing,” Haven smoothly
changed the subject. “I want to ride before I grow too fat to do
so.”

“Fat with our babe.” Her brother murmured,
nuzzling Haven’s neck and slipping a hand under her cloak.

When Haven kissed him, Lisette turned her
eyes out the window, half hearing their teasing and affectionate
fussing while she thought, (what is it about him I can’t let go of
in my mind? Why do I feel as if I must answer that or go mad?)

* * * *

Upon arrival at the Marquis estate, they were
shown into the parlor, where Monty, Juliette and their guest, were
gathered. While Haven and Deme greeted the couple, after Lisette
had hugged Juliette and spoken to Monty, she found herself standing
beside Marston.

She searched for something to say, given the
fresh awareness of him.

“How is your friend, Mr. Smith?” was what
came out.

“Very well. Thank you. He is on holiday at
present.”

“Give him my regards.”

“He would want his extended to you as well.
He talked of you most of the evening when we returned from
Vauxhall.”

“I’m flattered.” She laughed. “He certainly
has something about him that makes one want to get to know him
better.”

“Yes. An exceptional or more interesting man
does not exist. Not in the saint category, you understand.” His
smile was laconic. “Rather in the loyalty one.”

“Then you are fortunate to have him as friend
and member of staff.”

Having been listening, Deme said, “Smith? Met
him briefly but was too foxed to attend much. He certainly has the
cure for too much whiskey—and stupidity.”

That brought up the events that took place
before her ball, and the tale came out. After listening too, Monty
said, “You must introduce him to us, Marston. Bring him with you on
your next trip.”

“I would be pleased to do so. He’s an admirer
of your works my lord.”

The conversation, thankfully, moved from
there.

The women talked while the men had a separate
conversation, and afterwards there was dinner served in the formal
dining rooms.

For the most part they were all a close unit
and everything was informal among them…..Save for Marston, who
though he was included and encouraged in conversation, seemed aloof
from it all.

At some point, Lisette glanced at him across
from her to find he had apparently eaten his fill and was watching
the others. His gaze turned as if sensing her regard.

Feeling her nape prickle as well as that
“other” emotion she had yet to name, she murmured, “When you are
around people who are passionately in love, you often feel the
outsider. For all my parents argue, they are much the same, so we
grew up with that notion they can unknowingly become oblivious to
anyone else.”

He responded, “An outsider…It is a state
familiar to me.” Then before looking away and picking up his wine,
added, “I envy them.”

She finished her meal and they moved back to
the parlor, everyone getting comfortable.

Lisette found herself studying Marston often.
She must have seen him at his leisure whilst at Wimberly but could
not recall doing so. All the men were relaxed in their
shirtsleeves, but Elisha seemed more defined and muscular than she
had previously noticed. He was a tall man, long of limb and lean
hips, with his raven hair layered that way, and without jacket, it
made him appear—more intimate. In an odd way, less aloof.

“I’m sorry,” she heard him say to the group.
“I don’t know how to play cards.”

There was a heartbeat of awkwardness, since
no one knew a soul who could not play, and then Monty smoothly
suggested chess, since they had apparently played that before.

Lisette drew in a breath and attempted to
sound cheerfully casual whilst suggesting, “Nonsense, set up the
table. I will teach Marston to play.” She arose from her chair and
strolled over to grin at the Viscount. “I’ll explain the game and
help you choose cards. We shall best the both of them.”

“Oh, I say.” Deme laughed. “That’s a rather
ambitious boast, my girl.”

There was more teasing whilst the table was
set up in the center of the parlor, across from the fireplace.
Lamps were situated to provide the best light to that area.

While they were moving chairs and fetching
wine all around, she let Marston catch her eye and told him,
“You’ll catch on quickly.”

“I’m sure I shall.”

Seeing something in his gaze that made her
heart flutter, she left him and found herself a straight chair to
position slightly back.

However, when everyone was seated, Juliette
and Haven between their husbands, and he took his seat, Lisette
realized how close she would be to him in order to see his hand,
and be able to whisper or gesture what to play.

The couples were talking, laughing, and just
at his shoulder, she was explaining the gist of the game. As he
picked up his cards, his head was leaned toward her, his cheek in
her vision. Lisette breathed his cologne and scent—something warm
and masculine, too pleasing.

“Don’t let her teach you to cheat,” Haven
drawled.

“I won’t.”

Lisette answered a few of his questions on
strategy and then the game began.

For the most part, it was lively. Certainly,
Juliette and Haven provided entertainment—muttering to and elbowing
their husbands, Juliette often laughingly accusing Monty of sending
Deme signals. At times, Lisette would reach and point to one of the
cards Marston should play, but from time to time she had to lean
and whisper in his ear—which had her noticing the swarthy skin, the
strong bones of his jaw, and the blue black of his hair when the
light caught it.

By the third hand, he was catching on, but
would still ask her recommendations here or there. When not helping
him, she joined the conversations and fun, all of them giving Deme
a hard time because he had spent years in gambling Hells.

“Doesn’t count because I was foxed,” he
drawled, grinning drolly. “Besides, Monty plays like a military
strategist.” He laughed, “And Juliette and Haven reveal everything
with their smug snickers.”

“Well, I’m not at all impressed.” Lisette
snorted at him. “The Viscount has the victory in one of those
games. You were easily out witted.”

“And you are slow—witted.” He glared
playfully at her.

“I take after my eldest brother.”

Everyone chuckled. Because the game was in
play, she went back to attending Marston’s hand. He had strong
masculine hands, his fingers long and naturally dark.

“There. That’s your best bet.” She leaned up
to whisper, her hand on the back of his seat.

He turned his head, leaning it back a bit to
hear and doing it rather too quickly so that her lips accidentally
grazed his skin.

There was a moment, a second, covered by the
chatter of the others, when a current sizzled.

She drew back.

He stilled, and though the play went on, that
tension thickened and the air seemed to warm his scent and her
perfume, so that it mingled with the fine wine.

His back before had left inches meeting the
chair where her hand rested, but was suddenly now against her
fingers. Lisette could feel the heat of his skin through his lawn
shirt.

Elisha looked over his shoulder and asked her
something. She leaned up and explained, extending her arm to pluck
the card. With their faces inches close, Lisette’s gaze moved up,
over his suddenly sensual mouth, his strong nose before meeting his
own. It was there, the tension in his half-shuttered expression.
Those eyes had been traveling up from her own mouth.

Breathing, releasing unsteady breaths between
her lips, Lisette’s skin tightened.

“Are you sure that is the right one?” he
asked roughly.

She could tell he gave no thought to the
question. She swallowed. “Certain of it. It’s the only play you
have.”

That gaze went to her mouth again before the
silver eyes met hers and he offered low, “I’ll trust you on that
score.” Not without some effort, he then pulled his gaze away and
back on the game.

BOOK: Lisette
10.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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