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Authors: Suzanne Enoch

Sin and Sensibility

BOOK: Sin and Sensibility
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SUZANNE

ENOCH

SIN

AND

SENSIBILITY

For my sister, Cheryl,

who despite an unbelievably tough year
has still managed to be both

supportive and silly.

I love you, ’lil Bub.

Contents

Chapter 1

Valentine Corbett, the Marquis of Deverill, lifted his glass. “I…

1

Chapter 2

By the time Eleanor arrived downstairs for dinner, Zachary, Shay,…

16

Chapter 3

“My lady, are you certain you wish to wear this…

27

Chapter 4

“I still don’t understand how you managed it,”

Stephen Cobb-Harding…

44

Chapter 5

Valentine arrived at the Hampton Ball at precisely seven thirty-five…

60

Chapter 6

When Eleanor awoke, the aching head she’d pretended the night…

75

Chapter 7

“Why in the world do you want to attend a…

94

Chapter 8

Claiming a nonexistent appointment with his tailor, Valentine returned Eleanor…

118

Chapter 9

With an hour to wait until his waltz with Eleanor,…

140

Chapter 10

For the fifth day in a row, Valentine found himself…

155

Chapter 11

Valentine sent Eleanor home in a hack again.

When she…

174

Chapter 12

“Just how many new gowns do you have?”

Charlemagne asked…

191

Chapter 13

Eleanor slid between the covers of her soft, warm bed…

206

Chapter 14

Eleanor held her breath as cold water rose up to…

219

Chapter 15

Eleanor awoke late and took her time with dressing. Her…

233

Chapter 16

As he entered the ballroom of his second soiree of…

249

Chapter 17

“Will there be anything else tonight, my lord?”

266

Chapter 18

“I’m pleased you’ve returned to London as well, Lord John,”…

283

Chapter 19

“I am not in the mood for this, Eleanor,”

Valentine…

306

Chapter 20

Valentine managed to find John Tracey at the third club…

322

Chapter 21

They stopped at the Greenbriar Inn for breakfast and to…

345

Chapter 22

Damnation, Valentine thought as he fought for control over both…

360

About the Author

Other Books by Suzanne Enoch

Cover

Copyright

About the Publisher

Chapter 1

V
alentine Corbett, the Marquis of Deverill, lifted his glass. “I see trouble,” he murmured, taking a swallow of whiskey.

“Not my husband,” Lydia, Lady Franch said, lifting her head.

“No, he’s still ogling Genevieve DuMer.” Shifting a little, Valentine could make out Lord Franch’s profile near the entrance to the gaming room. The elderly Franch’s attention remained steadily on young Miss DuMer’s ample bosom as they chatted.

“The oaf.” Lydia lowered her head again.

Half closing his eyes, Valentine cupped the back of the viscountess’s neck, encouraging her ministrations. His gaze, though, returned to the more significant little drama unfolding beyond the gauze of curtains.

Lydia paused again. “What trouble do you see, then?”

she asked.

“John Priestley is offering Lady Eleanor Griffin a brace-1

2 / Suzanne Enoch

let of pearls, and she’s allowing him to fasten them around her wrist.”

Lady Franch’s next comment was muffled and tickled a little, but Valentine assumed it to be a request for more information. Setting aside the whiskey, he slid his fingers along the edge of the curtain.

“The two of them are standing in plain view of everyone,” he continued, “including all three of her brothers.”

He sighed, firming his grip on Lydia’s head as her bob-bing became more enthusiastic. “I very much doubt that the Duke of Melbourne, at the least, approves of his sister accepting gifts from a gentleman—especially in public, and especially from an idiot not deemed worthy to be a suitor.”

He tilted his own head back, the antics of his fellows becoming less interesting as the motions of Lydia’s mouth upon his cock began to produce results. Even as he allowed himself to go over the edge, though, Valentine kept his eyes open and his attention on the crowded ballroom beyond their cozy little hideaway. He never closed his eyes; with the games he enjoyed playing, that would be both stupid and suicidal.

As Lydia straightened again, he handed her the glass of whiskey. “I do enjoy waltzing with you, my dear,” he said, standing and helping her off her knees.

“Yes, but you enjoy dancing with everyone, Valentine,”

she returned, finishing off the whiskey as he buttoned his trousers.

“A fact about which I have always been honest.”

“One of your few positive qualities.”

Valentine returned his attention from the room long enough to lift an eyebrow. “I have at least two positive qualities. And the bosom has found a dance partner, Sin and Sensibility / 3

which, I believe, means Franch will be looking for his wife.”

“Yes, with his poor eyesight he likes to have something close by to ogle.” She adjusted the barely covered objects of her husband’s adoration. “I’ll be at the Beckwith soiree on Thursday,” Lydia continued, smoothing the front of her gown. “They do have that lovely tropical garden.”

“And with insufficient illumination, I hear. Perhaps I should try archery.”

“Shall I paint a target on myself?”

“I believe I can hit the mark.” Stepping sideways, Valentine allowed Lady Franch to reenter the ballroom first.

He leaned against the wall for a moment, looking out at the drama that had originally caught his attention. Lady Eleanor Griffin was being a foolish chit. Not only had she permitted Priestley to place the bracelet on her wrist, but now she appeared to be encouraging him to parade her about in a waltz. Emerging into the large, mirrored ballroom, Valentine glanced at Eleanor’s eldest brother.

Sebastian, the Duke of Melbourne, continued his conversation with Lord Tomlin, but Valentine knew him well enough to see that he wasn’t pleased.
Hm
. Perhaps the evening still had a few moments of interest left in it.

“He’s insane.”

Valentine glanced to his left, though he’d already recognized the voice. “I assume you’re referring to Priestley?”

“He’s already been warned.” Standing against the back wall of the ballroom, Lord Charlemagne Griffin followed the meanderings of his younger sister and John Priestley with pale gray eyes.

“Then you have to give him a point or two for bravery.”

Valentine gestured for another glass of whiskey.

4 / Suzanne Enoch

The gray gaze flicked in his direction and back again.

“For abject stupidity.”

“It’s just a bracelet, Shay. At a soiree hardly worth a footnote in the society pages.”

“A bracelet on my sister’s wrist.” Charlemagne straightened. “And I don’t care where in damnation we are. I booted him off the front walk last week, and Melbourne’s already bared his teeth at the fortune-hunting idiot. Eleanor knows all of that, as well.”

Valentine looked at the pair of dancers again. Honeyed brunette hair coiled into an artistic knot at the top of her head and pale green gown swirling about her legs, graceful Lady Eleanor Griffin actually looked more composed than her dance partner. Her brothers weren’t likely to kill
her
, however. Priestley might not be so lucky.

“Perhaps your sister is staging a little rebellion.”

“If she is, it’s going to be a short-lived one.”

Chuckling, Valentine finished off his new glass of whiskey. “Complications. They are one of the reasons I’m happy not to have siblings. I’ll see you tomorrow, yes?”

Charlemagne nodded. “Melbourne said he’d asked you by.”

With a last glance at Eleanor and Priestley, Valentine headed for the door. He might be friends with the male members of the Griffin family, but becoming involved in their domestic troubles not only didn’t interest him, but left him with a keen desire to be elsewhere. Especially when he’d heard rumors of a rich game of loo beginning at the Society Club.

As he left, he glimpsed several young ladies following him with their eyes. It was something he was used to, and

Sin and Sensibility / 5

offering the chits a slight smile, he memorized the faces for future reference. One never knew when one might become bored with cards.

Eleanor Griffin had lately begun to notice a pattern in her life. Whenever she had an evening she would loosely label as “fun” or “amusing,” the next morning would fea-ture a lecture from one, or perhaps two, or occasionally even all three of her brothers on what she’d done incorrectly and how she should endeavor never to do it again.

As if she didn’t already know both the rules and the consequences of breaking them—even if she’d never dare to do more than bend them a little.

“I’m not going to waste my time lecturing if you’re not going to pay attention,” brother number one said, tapping his fingers on the smooth surface of his mahogany desk.

She supposed authority came naturally to Sebastian Griffin; he’d been elevated to the position of the Duke of Melbourne, and the patriarch of their family, at the age of seventeen. If the ensuing fifteen years had done anything at all, they’d made him even more blasted arrogant and sure of himself than when he’d begun.

It seemed her duty to take him down a notch or two, or at least remind him that he was human, whenever possible. Eleanor straightened. “Good. I’ll be in the music room, then.”

“The point being,
pay attention
. If I meant to talk merely for the purpose of hearing my own voice, I’d deliver an address to Parliament.”

“Has anyone told you that you’re insufferable, Sebastian?”

Dark gray eyes gazed at her. “Someone has to demon-6 / Suzanne Enoch

strate a little dignity and restraint in this family. You don’t seem capable of doing it.”

She blew out her breath. “Don’t you ever tire of pro-claiming us the perfect and almighty Griffin clan? Society already looks upon us in awe and despair.”

“You wouldn’t find it so tiresome from the outside looking in.” The Duke of Melbourne resumed drumming his fingers. “Men wouldn’t be trying to give you jewelry if you were a shopkeeper’s sister.”

“The jewelry, Sebastian, is not important. All three of you seem to delight in chasing men away from me before they can even say hello.”

“We only chase the wrong men away.” He leaned forward. “And today, jewelry
is
important.”

“No, it’s—”

“Shall we focus on your behavior, then? Though if you wanted to demonstrate that your actions can cause damage, I’m already aware of that.”

“For heaven’s sake, Sebastian, you have no idea—”

“Perhaps then it was about you intentionally making trouble for me. Whatever the reasons, Eleanor, today we will focus on what you did. You will tell me—promise me—that you will no longer accept sparkling baubles from gentlemen while in public places. Especially not from fortune-hunting gentlemen making poor attempts to look as though they aren’t after your dowry.”

Sometimes Eleanor wanted to scream—even when her brother was correct, which happened surprisingly often considering that he usually didn’t deign to look beyond her actions to try to understand
why
she did things. But right or wrong, he didn’t need to talk to her as if she were a half-wit child. “I agree. I will only accept sparkly things from gentlemen, fortune-hunting or otherwise, in private.”

Sin and Sensibility / 7

The expression on the tanned face beneath his dark, wavy hair didn’t change. Only his eyes grew cooler, but it was enough. Sebastian had a long fuse to his temper, but she was nearing the end of it—again.

BOOK: Sin and Sensibility
4.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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