Authors: Eva Devon
Tags: #Historical romance, #Regency, #ebook, #Duke, #Victorian
A Must Love Rogues Novel
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are either the work of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
The Rogue and I
Copyright © 2015 by Maire Creegan
This uncorrected Advance Reader Copy is the property of the author. All rights reserved. No redistribution is authorized.
All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any electronic or mechanical means—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without written permission.
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This book is for two women. | Lindsey, you gave me the courage to publish this story | Mom, I miss you but will always be so grateful for the love of Shakespeare and plays that you gave me. | “A star danced and under that was I born.” | Much Ado About Nothing
The Trent Estate
Miss Harriet Manning was not pleased at all. Which was quite odd because, in general, Harriet, or Harry to her friends, was the most amused and happy of people. But when one was faced with seeing the man, not gentleman mind you, that one had lost her virginity and stupid, stupid heart to five years ago, displeasure really did seem to be the only appropriate emotion.
At this very moment, bad sport that it made her, she hated her dearest cousin. The blasted girl
to go and marry her virginity stealer’s brother. In no time, the whole confounded wedding party was going to arrive to romp in so called bliss at the coming nuptials.
Oh, and she positively loathed her usually marvelous uncle. How could she not? The cantankerous man had arranged for a week of fete to celebrate the advantageous marriage! A week. Seven days. One hundred and sixty-eight agonizing hours in
presence, or fairly near to it anyway. The daytime interactions would be impossible to avoid, but she had no intention of being within a mile’s distance of his person when they all headed off for bed.
In fact, she very well might lock herself in and convince her cousin to rope her to her massive and immovable mahogany bed. It wasn’t as if Emmaline didn’t already think she was terribly odd.
Yes. Tying her to the bed might be quite necessary, because she didn’t really trust herself not to march down the hall and sever that man’s favorite appendage.
Or even more dangerous, make use of it. She couldn’t quite forget how skilled he’d been, especially considering he’d been in the first flush of manhood. Oh, but the way he had stroked her—
“My, your skin is quite flushed.”
Harriet whipped around, her skirts whisking the perfect white and blue woven rug. Embarrassment burned her already horribly hot cheeks. Her past sins emphatically at the forefront of her thoughts, looking her cousin in the eye was out of the question. Quickly, she cleared her throat, looking about the newly furnished French-style salon, trying to focus on anything other than
. “Yes. Perhaps I should move away from the fire.”
Emmaline bobbed her blonde-curled head towards the ornately carved Carrera marble fireplace and narrowed her perfect, pretty, blue eyes. She tapped the bouquet of gardenias in her hand against her full, pink, India muslin skirts. “Dearest there isn’t any fire.”
A strained laugh rippled from Harry’s throat. “Of course. Of course there isn’t.”
Emmaline set her flowers down on the embroidered chair and eyed Harry dubiously. “Are you certain you’re quite all right? You look. . .” Her sand colored brows scrunched together in contemplation. “Well, I don’t know exactly, but you look like you’ve been caught doing something quite naughty.”
Harry pursed her lips. “When have I ever done anything naughty?”
Emmaline’s eyes widened and she glanced up towards the ceiling, clearly beginning to recall a very long list. “Well, there was the time—”
Harry held up her hand, already knowing that, in truth, Harriet and naughty were synonymous. “Please, if you begin, we shall be here all day and into the night.”
Harriet was not exactly reputed for her pristine behavior. She knew this. If everyone were being truthful, she was more likely to be in trouble than out of it. Emmaline adored this particular fact about her cousin, for she had never once put even the tiniest of her toes into the waters of mischief.
Emmaline giggled. “True, but at least that would pass the time.”
A look of pure delight lit Emmaline’s face. “Can you believe that Edward will actually arrive today?”
Harry threw herself into one of the striped, ivory silk chairs. It was remarkable the thing didn’t collapse on the spot since it looked so like a spun sugar confection. “No. Truly.” She let out a sigh. “It seems just yesterday that they all went off to war.”
“I know. I know.” Emmaline lowered herself daintily in the opposite chair. “I never thought he’d ask for my hand.” She glanced at the massive emerald weighing down her delicate fingers. “Not after such a long separation.”
Harry grumbled inside, really quite irritated that her own Hart brother had not come looking for her. She never expected he would. It had been her heart not her brain that had let her hope she might see his face at her doorstep after his return from war. Her brain had been vindicated in its cynicism and her poor heart had finally been put to rest.
Then again, why should she wish to resume the company of such a disagreeable boob she didn’t know? Shaking her head, Harry tsked. “How could Edward not? You know how he loved you before.”
“He liked me,” Emmaline said firmly, smoothing her already perfectly smooth skirts. “He didn’t love me.”
“Yes, well, liking is something.” Her Hart brother, he who she couldn’t quite yet bring herself to name, had dropped the ball at liking and certainly had never progressed to loving. Even if he had proclaimed the emotion zealously. One who loved could not do what he had done. Or what she had done for that matter. Neither of them had played the field of love with particular grace.
Now, loathing was the only sentiment that seemed to exist between them in the few short encounters they’d had during Emmaline and Edward’s recent and brief London courtship.
Emmaline chewed at her lower lip for a moment then said rapidly, “Promise me you shall be nice to Lord Garret.”
Harry narrowed her eyes. “That was certainly out of the blue.”
Emmaline threw up her hands, the folds of nearly transparent ruffles at her elbows fluttering. “I know how you two behave.”
Blinking innocently, Harry inquired sweetly, “Whatever are you talking about?”
Emmaline rolled her eyes. “The two of you are like two caged beasts snarling at each other. And while it can be very amusing watching you two, blood is not something I ever imagined at my wedding.”
With as much indignation as she could muster, Harry blustered, “I would never—”
Emmaline arched a brow, as if to say
now don’t you dare lie to me even if you are my elder.
“Well, perhaps just a trickle.” Harry jumped to her feet and crossed to her cousin. She pouted, a hugely exaggerated version of Emmaline’s own winning ability to bring men to their knees. The truth was she wanted to rip a hunk of flesh from the man’s nefarious hide. Still, she doubted that would quite do. At least not at Emmaline’s wedding. “You wouldn’t deny me that, now would you?”
As she always did when weighing out possibilities, Emmaline nibbled on her lower lip which gave a good display of seriously thinking the matter over. “A trickle couldn’t hurt. And he is such an ass.”
A shocked laugh rippled from Harry’s throat. “Why Emmaline Trent! If only Uncle heard you and he thinks you such an angel.”
A blush stole up Emmaline’s cheeks. “Even angels have their moments do they not?”
Harry nodded. “Of course, or how else could we poor mortals bear to be about them?”
Emmaline lifted her eyes to the ceiling in an overly tortured glance.
The sound of clattering gravel and carriage wheels cut through the air. Emmaline beamed as she vaulted to her feet so fast she nearly knocked Harriet onto her bum. “They’re here! At last!”
“Emmaline!” the voice of their cousin Meredith boomed down the hall and the girl who was all bosom and big, blonde curls bounded into the room. “Haste! Haste! The
Harry pulled herself to her feet, a terrible sinking feeling flowing through her. This was it then. The beginning of a week of pure hell.
Meredith fluffed her already quite fluffed, blonde curls and immediately turned to the nearest mirror. Quickly, she reached her hands into her gown and adjusted her bosoms till they were two large swells hovering at the precipice of blue ribbons lining her bodice.
“They’ll fall out,” Harry teased, wondering where, exactly, Meredith had found such a lust for living, parson’s daughter that she was.
“And what a show that would be,” Meredith laughed. She glanced down and eyed her plumped up bosoms. “They shall not though. I am laced particularly tight.”
Harry didn’t doubt that, the girl’s waist was as tiny as the knot in a bow. No wonder men could never quite tear their eyes away from her figure.
“Stop primping,” Emmaline said brightly to Meredith, the two so similar looking what with their blonde hair and blue eyes, they might have been twins. Really all of them could have been sisters. Even Harriet had been painted with the honey blonde brush, though not with quite as much beauty. “I cannot wait to see my Edward.”
With that, the two other girls ran out into the hall, their feet pattering away.
Harry stood for a moment, completely alone in the salon, and wondered exactly how one girded her loins. For hers certainly needed girding.
Really her loins needed a full regiment to support them given what she was about to face.
Harry glanced to the large, gold gilded mirror. Her blonde hair was in a bit of a mess what with all the goings-on. It curled wildly about her face. And her cheeks were definitely still pink, thoughts of horrid, horrid lust cursing her complexion.
She hesitated for a very brief moment, then threw all second thought to the wind. She bent and pulled her bosoms up to their fullest which was nowhere near as full as Meredith’s voluptuous fullness. Flipping back up, she glanced at her suddenly much bigger breasts.
They would do.
Everyone had their weapons, and she’d take a page from Meredith’s book. In this battle, she needed every weapon in her rather minute arsenal. The one thing she would not allow Lord Garret Hart to believe was she had withered away, pining for him.
Head high, and bosoms now perfectly in place, Harry charged down the hall, ready for war. When she was finished with him, Garret Hart was going to be nothing but a mess beneath her very pretty, pink shoes.
* * *
end me anywhere, James,” Garret groaned. “Anywhere but here.” He turned towards his younger brother, Edward, as they strode towards the steps of the massive, new, Palladian mansion commissioned by the recently successful industrial revolutionary, George Trent, father of the bride.
“Edward,” he grabbed his brother’s shoulder, twisting the beautiful, fawn coat, and halted him on their path to their mutual doom, “you don’t need me here. You don’t.” He jerked his head in his older brother’s direction, his eyes wide with what he was sure appeared to be unmanly desperation. “You’ve got James here. And John is about somewhere.”
James, the eldest and now the Duke of Huntsdown, let out a beleaguered sigh and he stopped his confident, long stride. He glanced about the immense gravel drive. “Where the hell is John?”
“Rogering the nearest dairy maid no doubt,” Garret quipped, knowing it would only irritate the excessively proper and etiquette driven James. Although it was also probably true.
“A man after father’s heart,” Edward said, smiling like the marriage minded idiot he was.