Authors: Raven McAllan
Tags: #Miss Simpkins' School for Seduction
Miss Simpkins’ School: Lydia
Miss Simpkins’ School for Seduction, Book 2
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Miss Simpkins’ School: Lydia
Copyright © 2013 Raven McAllan
Cover Artist: Victoria Miller
Editor: Deadra Krieger
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in reviews.
To Justyn for taking that leap of faith and saying yes to this series.
To Deadra for her superb editing and encouragement, and to Victoria for her amazing cover.
And, as ever, to Paul, and his acceptance of dust bunnies and a wife muttering about Regency slang and politics!
The approach from the Earl and Countess of Addersley had come out of the blue. Adriana had commented how many ladies of the ton complained about their husbands, and she was among the few who had all they wanted in their marriage. So many debutants were now hesitating to marry because they didn’t think their intended would buck the trend of leaving the marital bed once they had the required heir and spare.
“You see, Molly, there are so many ladies who need to know more than they do, both unmarried and wed. It seems my exploits are well documented in the ton.” Adriana hadn’t seemed unduly worried. “Several young, and not so young ladies asked either directly or in a roundabout way, what I did and how. So many females are sadly lacking in womanly wiles. You, and I, and some of my close friends are going to rectify that. I have a list of interested ladies, and others who will be happy to come and talk to your, shall we call them scholars,” Adriana had said. “So are you willing to do this?”
Molly didn’t feel she could say no. To be honest, she admitted she didn’t want to. Her life, safe as it was, had become mundane and boring. This would enliven it.
“Yes, and I hope I can earn your faith in me. But Ad...Adriana,” she said, stumbling over calling her ex-client from when she was a seamstress by her Christian name. “Where will I find the ladies who need help?”
“You won’t. I and my friends will,” Adriana told her.
Miss Lydia Frampton did her best to ignore the muttered epithet her dance partner failed to hold back, and tried to stem the blush she knew covered her face. When would any partner realize she could concentrate on her steps or her conversation, but never both at the same time?
Or perceive that my lack of concentration is due to a lack of interest?
For that matter, when would her mama give in and let her miss these excruciating evenings? So often Lydia spent the evening as a wallflower trying to look as if she didn’t care that the gentlemen only danced with her if pressed to do so by their hostess. Like her partner of that moment. It was obvious he’d had no intention of requesting the pleasure—or she decided as she looked the anguish on his face, the non-pleasure—of her as his partner. The problem was, if she was honest, she only cared about being a wallflower because it drew the wrath of her ambitious parent. Tonight, however, she was partnered. If the Countess of Helford decided you would dance with a wallflower, dance you did.
To give him credit, Ferdy Littlethorpe schooled his expression and fixed a vacuous smile on his face. He bowed as the music ended, but couldn’t hide his relief. No doubt he hoped his poor feet would never be maligned thus again.
“That’s it, my lord. You’re now off the hook with regards to me this evening. I hope your feet recover, but as I say every time, I dance or I converse. I don’t do both.” Lydia smiled at his embarrassment, curtsied, and hurried back to where her mama sat chatting to her cronies.
As far as she was concerned she was off the hook as well. Laeticia Helford had done her duty, and would hopefully go and bother two other people and leave Lydia, and any eligible gentlemen’s feet, in peace. Lydia’s mother broke off her conversation with her bosom bow, and frowned as Lydia made a hurried curtsey to encompass both ladies.
“Good evening, Lady Sumpter. May I say how fetching your cap is?” Lydia, who was very fond of the lady, had a fine line in compliments, deserved or not. They got her out of many a tight corner.
Lady Sumpter touched the said cap, which Lydia actually thought was horrendous and smiled. “Dear child, you lie in such an engaging and wholly wide-eyed innocent manner. It is an abomination, but sadly at my age it’s needed. So I thank you for, shall we say, bending the truth somewhat.” She patted Lydia’s cheek in the manner of one who had known Lydia from when she was a squalling baby in a bassinet.
Lydia smiled; there was no answer to that. She turned to her parent. “Mama, Tilly is waving. May I go to the withdrawing room, and then get some lemonade with her?” She had no idea if Tilly had waved, but was pretty sure she’d be willing to run interference for her. That was what friends did.
Lady Frampton frowned until she saw Lady Sumpter’s gaze on her, and changed it to a cough and a wave of her hand. “Of course dearest, but do tidy your hair whilst you’re there. It’s escaping its pins once more.” She sighed and Lydia echoed it. Her straight as a die honey-blonde hair was the bane of her life. No number of curling papers ever did more than put the slightest wave in it. Her mother took her acquiescence as given and continued with her directions. “Run along then. I’m sure you want to tell her all about Lord Stokoe and his mama’s gracious invitation. Don’t forget you’re promised to his lordship for supper.”
As if she could. Her mama had crowed about it ever since the request had been proffered, by note no less, along with a wrist corsage. Lydia had conveniently left the flowers in the coach. Why did it feel as if he was mocking her?
“Christmas you know,” Lydia heard Cordelia Frampton tell a somewhat unimpressed Honoria Sumpter, who knew of Lady Frampton’s machinations. “Jane Stokoe simply wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
More likely worn down by Mama’s unsubtle hints. How do I cope for three weeks near to him, and not be shown up by my alleged lack of dancing skills?
Lydia walked briskly around the edge of the ballroom—no simpering sway for her—and by dint of ignoring as many people as possible, edged her way toward Lady Tilly Hammond. To her annoyance, Tilly was talking to the one person Lydia wished to avoid.
George Stokoe. It had to be didn’t it? Now what?
She curtsied. “My lord.”
He half smiled, with his eyelids lowered. No one ever knew what he was thinking. Lydia had long decided he cultivated his devilish, dark demeanor to avoid speculation from devoted—and eligible bachelor-hunting mamas. Each was scared he’d favor someone else’s daughter over their own. If no one could see his expression it made everything that little bit harder. His nickname of Darkness was well thought out. As a childhood friend—if one could call having your pigtails dipped in the ink well and your favorite doll’s head cut off friendly—Lydia knew him better than most. Which is why she had long decided her love for him was one-sided and would remain unrequited. Oh, he was always kind, and on occasion she surmised the way he looked at her when he assumed she was unaware held more heat than that needed for a simple friendship. But never had he shown any partiality toward her.
As for the idiotic plan thought up between their respective mamas that they would be ideally suited; Lydia had no doubt that was all it would ever be. A plan, never to come to fruition. George, Lord Stokoe, would never see her as anything other than a pleasant, but clumsy friend. He would want an elegant, graceful wife who would shine in every circumstance. Lydia knew she could hold her own in conversation. In fact she often had to bite her tongue to stop herself showing her intelligence when in male company, but in the ballroom she was graceless and a liability. Not for the first time, she wondered why men expected their ladies to be uninterested in anything other than parties and clothes? Lydia wore what was dictated and suffered parties. She much preferred listening to music, walking across the fields of her father’s estate, or curling up in the library with a good book. She’d learned more than any well brought up young lady ever should from books and engravings. The question was, would she ever be able to put any of her learning into practical use? Reading and looking was one thing, doing was something else again. As for the affairs of the bedroom? She had no intention of suffering the mundane when she knew a mistress enjoyed the exotic.
“Lydia, my dear.” George bowed over her hand as she straightened and glimpsed a flash of something she didn’t understand in his eyes before he masked it. “I believe you are to join Mama and me for the festivities. How, er charming.” The words were smooth, the tone held a hint of his nickname.
“I’m so glad you think so, my lord.” Lydia spoke before she thought and Tilly smothered a cough. “I am conscious of what an honor it is of course.”
His eyelids lifted and he stared at her for long seconds until she began to curl her toes up inside her dancing slippers, and then nodded. “Good. Ah.” The musicians had indicated the next dance. “Our waltz I believe.” He raised one dark eyebrow and gave her a look that dared her to disagree.
Damn the man, he believes no such thing
. No one ever booked a waltz with Lydia, not if they valued their toes. “I came to talk to Tilly, my lord. You need not bother.”
He chuckled. “Oh it’s no bother, Lydia, it will be my...” He paused. “My pleasure.”
He laughed out loud. “I think to call a peer of the realm a liar is nigh on treason, my dear. Now Tilly will chat to Mercy Benning and the Session twins, and we will dance and appease our mothers. Let them think their plan is working.” He led her onto the dance floor. As it was either let herself be led or fall flat on her face and cause a scene, Lydia gave in and resigned herself to another five minutes of hell on Earth.
“You know about that?” Lydia was sure her face matched the color of the ruby pin in his cravat. “Their silly idea?”
“Of course, I know everything. And who is to say it’s silly? Perhaps you would make an ideal lady? Compliant, considerate, and...
She trod on his toes.
In your dreams
. Her dreams demanded more.
“Don’t think, just let me lead you.” He bent his head so his breath swept over her ear. “I will be honored to lead you anywhere you want, and even places you don’t think you want.”
That made her stumble, and his grip on her waist tightened. For one second his body pressed up against her. It was so unexpected and so arousing as the bulge in his evening breeches brushed the thin material over her quim. She gasped. It was lucky, he mistook her gasp for one of innocence not one of
“Oh my goodness, I want to feel more.”
George looked down and grimaced. “My normal condition when I’m near you, my dear. You make me hard to the point of discomfort, and you don’t even realize it. One day, I’ll show you how to remedy that state of affairs. Now stop thinking or I’ll make you. And that would shock the tabbies.”
As Lydia had no idea what he meant, but decided it might not be a good idea to find out, she did her best to do as he requested. It was oh so hard when his masculine scent filled her nostrils and his hand rested warm on her back. Now she wanted to press against him and see if it had the same affect on him as before.
For the first time ever she floated in tune with the music and her partner. They reached the end of the ballroom and George executed a perfect turn. To her surprise instead of dancing back toward Tilly, he whisked her to one side. Before she realized what he was doing, he took her through the double doors that were open to the patio, and into the shadows.
“So why don’t you want to come and visit me?”
Molly Simpkins checked her figures one more time, and closed the ledger in satisfaction. Who would have thought a school with such unusual subjects and so well connected tutors would be so popular? When it had been first broached, she had no idea just how many young ladies—and to her amazement—gentlemen had so many needs. Her own needs she tamped down. Once her sojourn as Ashley Addersley’s mistress ceased on his marriage, Molly had resigned herself to a life of celibacy, and achieved her satiation via her own hand. After checking her preference with her, Ashley had warned any prospective protectors she was not available. Molly wanted more or nothing. She was no longer available for that sort of dalliance.