Some Like to Shock - Кэрол Мортимер - Chapter Three Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - Some Like to Shock - Кэрол Мортимер бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

Some Like to Shock - Кэрол Мортимер - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
Some Like to Shock - Кэрол Мортимер - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Мортимер Кэрол

Some Like to Shock

Читать онлайн
Предыдущая страница Следующая страница

Chapter Three

Genevieve was a little surprised at having her evening brought to such an abrupt and unsatisfactory end. Although, after her error in judgement earlier, perhaps it was for the best if she left now in order to retire and regroup so that she might ‘fight another day’.

Besides which, if she did have to leave the ball earlier than anticipated, was it not better that she do so in the company of one of the most sought-after gentlemen of the ton?

‘You did not say where we are going, Benedict?’ Genevieve was careful to use his given name this time, having had no idea, until he’d corrected her, that it was simply not done to refer to him as Lucifer to his face. ‘Benedict?’ she prompted again as he made no effort to answer her as the two of them stepped from Lady Hammond’s town house into the dark of the early-summer evening.

‘Perhaps because I have not decided as yet.’ He looked down at her, his face appearing all sharp and dangerous angles in the moonlight. ‘Your reckless behaviour this evening would seem to imply you are seriously in need of a man constantly at your side to keep you from becoming embroiled in scandal.’

She gave a soft gasp. ‘That is unfair.’

‘In what way is it unfair?’ Lucifer arched his dark and arrogant brows. ‘If not for my intervention earlier, I have no doubts you would even now be in a position where you were completely at the mercy of Sandhurst’s plans for you.’

Much as Genevieve hated to admit it, she now believed that to have been the case too. ‘Is it really so wrong of me to want—to yearn—for fun and excitement?’

Benedict frowned as he saw the tears glistening in her beautiful blue eyes. His frown deepened as he recalled Eric Cargill’s comment of earlier, in regard to Josiah Forster having kept his ‘child-bride … shut away in the country from the moment he had married and bedded her’. ‘Was your marriage so very unhappy?’

‘Tortuous,’ she confirmed flatly.

A ‘tortuous’ marriage which had lasted for six years, followed by another year of mourning the husband she had not loved. That meant that this was perhaps the first opportunity Genevieve had had for a very long time in which to enjoy all that a London Season had to offer. ‘Did Forster treat you unkindly?’

Her shudder of revulsion was answer enough. ‘I will not talk of it, Benedict. It is just—It is so long since I was able to attend and enjoy parties and balls such as this one,’ she confirmed his earlier summation.

‘Some would say that you were fortunate in having done so,’ Benedict drawled, affected, in spite of himself, by the deep yearning he could see in those expressive blue eyes.

‘The “some” who have always been free to enjoy such things, perhaps,’ Genevieve conceded wistfully.

‘Unlike you?’

She sighed. ‘I have said I will not talk about any of that.’

His eyes narrowed. ‘What on earth did you find to do in the country for all of those years of exile?’

‘You are very determined!’ Her little chin rose as she looked up at him. ‘Truth be told, I mainly plotted and planned ways in which I might dispose of my husband!’

Benedict found himself stunned into silence for several minutes, before he then gave in to the urge he had to laugh at the bluntness of Genevieve’s statement. And neither was it the first time that this red-haired minx of a woman had reduced him to laughter with her outrageous candidness.

She arched a red-gold brow. ‘I hope you do not suppose for one moment that I am jesting?’

No, Benedict could see by the earnestness of Genevieve’s expression that she was completely serious. His own humour lessened to an ironic tilting of his lips. ‘What did Woollerton do to earn such a fierceness of emotion?’

Her shadowed gaze dropped from meeting his dark and probing one. ‘I cannot, will not, talk of his cruelties to me.’

Benedict’s humour faded completely in the face of Genevieve’s obvious distress. He had not known Josiah Forster personally—that gentleman had been a contemporary of Benedict’s father rather than himself—but he had never heard any gossip in regard to cruelty by the other gentleman. Which was not to say it had not existed; the ton had a way of keeping the worst of its excesses behind closed doors. Certainly, keeping Genevieve’s beauty and vivacity of nature incarcerated in the country for so many years could be called a sin in itself.

Benedict frowned down at her bent head, the hood of her cloak throwing her face into shadow. ‘Name one thing which for you represents this “adventure and fun” you speak of.’

She raised long lashes, her eyes now twin pools of hurt. ‘So that you might laugh or ridicule me?’

‘I had it more in mind to gauge whether or not I might see fit into escorting you in the endeavour of your choice,’ Benedict conceded drily.

Her eyes widened. ‘Really?’

‘Really.’ Benedict sighed, sure that he was making a mistake by indulging Genevieve in this way, but finding himself totally unable to refuse the appeal of the unhappiness he had brought to those deep-blue eyes by speaking of her dead husband.

Genevieve looked up searchingly into those dark satanic features, but could find no amusement or mockery in his eyes. Indeed, Benedict Lucas wore an expression of resignation rather than amusement. ‘I have always longed to visit Vauxhall Gardens in the evening in the company of a gentleman,’ she answered huskily.

His dark brows rose. ‘You are assuming, if I were to agree to take you there, that I will behave as that gentleman?’

She looked up at him uncertainly. ‘Are you saying you would not?’

He breathed deeply. ‘No.

Although I do wonder how it is you have survived these past six weeks of the Season without falling into some sort of scandal or another!’

‘Possibly because, until these past few days or so, I have had Sophia and Pandora to advise me when someone or something is not quite … suitable,’ she allowed ruefully.

And, as Benedict was only too aware, this past week had seen both her close friends becoming entangled in relationships with his own friends Dante and Devil.

Genevieve looked up at him almost shyly. ‘Perhaps I am now to have a fallen angel to watch over me?’

‘It will be for one evening only,’ Benedict warned firmly, not sure he particularly cared for being referred to as a ‘fallen angel’. ‘I do not have the time, nor the inclination, to be continually available to rescue you from your own lack of insight into a gentleman’s true nature.’

‘But you will spare me this one evening?’

Benedict found himself unable to resist the excitement he could see glowing in those deep-blue eyes. At her thoughts of being allowed to visit Vauxhall Gardens, not at spending the evening with him specifically, he reminded himself firmly. ‘If that is what you wish, yes.’

‘Oh, it is!’ She smiled up at him. ‘Oh, thank you, Benedict. What shall I wear, do you think? Perhaps—’

‘Did you listen to anything I just said, Genevieve?’ Benedict made no effort to descend the steps to where their carriages now waited, the one to return Genevieve to the safety of her home, and the other to take Benedict to his club where he could overindulge in the strong liquor he currently felt so desperately in need of. ‘I will agree to escort you to Vauxhall Gardens, but only on the understanding that in future you will think more before embarking on this quest for “fun and adventure”.’

‘Could we both wear masks, do you think, so that we are not recognised? It would be so much more fun!’

‘Genevieve!’ he thundered impatiently.

‘Yes, Benedict?’ She looked up at him with guileless blue eyes.

He gave a pained frown. This woman was a troublesome minx and he rued the day that he had made the effort and stirred himself to speak with her.

Benedict also had reason to question how it was that he had so completely lost sight of his original plans to use this woman’s company as his foil in society. He now appeared to be going where Genevieve led rather than the other way about! His mouth thinned. ‘We will visit Vauxhall Gardens tomorrow evening, if you are available?’

‘I will ensure that I am.’ She nodded.

‘We will stroll about the grounds and arbours for an hour or so, before returning.’

‘What of the masks, Benedict?’

He breathed his impatience with her single-mindedness. ‘We will wear masks if that is what you wish.’

‘Oh, it is!’ She glowed up at him.

He looked down at her reprovingly. ‘I should warn you, there is no guarantee that the masks will conceal our true identity.’

She arched her brows. ‘And is there someone in your life at present who might find reason to … object to your being recognised out and about with me?’

Benedict raised his brows. ‘Would it matter to you if there were?’

Would it matter to her? Yes, Genevieve believed that it would. She had absolutely no doubts that Benedict had saved her from Sandhurst’s clutches this evening, and that, despite what he had said to the contrary, he would, if necessary, rescue her again if the need should ever arise. Obviously, in view of this kindness, Genevieve did not wish to be the cause of any discomfort in Benedict’s own personal life.

She looked up at Benedict through thick lashes. ‘Is there someone who might object?’

He glowered down at her. ‘As it happens, no, there is not. Which is not to say,’ he continued firmly as she would have spoken, ‘that I intend to babysit you for more than a single evening.’

Genevieve nodded. ‘Tomorrow evening.’

‘Tomorrow evening,’ he echoed wearily. ‘Now allow me to see you safely delivered to your carriage so that I might be on my way in mine.’

‘Are you going anywhere fun?’

She seemed to be obsessed with that word, Benedict acknowledged frowningly. Possibly because fun was something which had been sadly missing from her own life to date? Indeed, Genevieve behaved more like a newly come-out débutante than a widowed duchess of five and twenty. Because of Josiah Forster’s cruel treatment of her? Benedict feared so.

But despite her husband’s cruelties, Genevieve still possessed a naïveté in regard to men that was wholly appealing. His expression softened as they reached Genevieve’s carriage and he turned to tap her playfully on the end of her enchanting, slightly uptilted nose. ‘Nowhere that you might follow, little one.’

Her eyes widened. ‘Are you going to a house of the demi-monde? Or perhaps a brothel? I have long—’

‘Please do not say you have “always longed to visit” one of those two establishments, too!’ Benedict groaned in protest.

‘No, of course I have not.’ She looked up at him reprovingly. ‘That would be most improper.

I have merely wondered …’

‘I am not on my way to either a brothel or a house of the demi-monde, Genevieve.’ Benedict scowled down at her. ‘Neither would I discuss it with you if I were.’ He gave a disgusted shake of his head at the impropriety of this conversation. ‘Indeed, most ladies of my acquaintance would scream in shock at the mere mention of either establishment in their presence, let alone choose to discuss such things themselves.’

‘Are you implying that I am not a lady?’

No, Benedict was not saying that at all. How could he, when it was perfectly obvious that Genevieve was very much a lady, from the top of her pearl-adorned red curls to the dainty satin slippers upon her feet. It was only that she was a type of lady, forthright and yet endearingly vulnerable at the same time, whom Benedict had never encountered before today. Indeed, he currently found himself in a position of having no idea what Genevieve would do or say next to surprise him.

‘Your enthusiasm for life is … refreshingly different, to say the least,’ he conceded gruffly.

‘And at worst …?’ Genevieve looked up at him suspiciously, sure that Benedict was mocking her in some way, but as yet unsure how. But no doubt she would have plenty of time to give thought to that before he accompanied her to Vauxhall Gardens tomorrow evening!

He gave a derisive smile. ‘At worst your behaviour is such that you are likely to get your pretty fingers, and other parts of your anatomy, well and truly burned!’

Her cheeks warmed. ‘By you?’

He drew in a sharp breath. ‘I am too old, in experience if not in years, and far too jaded in spirit, for one such as you to flex your delicate little claws on, pet.’

Her gaze became searching on Benedict’s harshly hewn features and she knew that she liked and trusted Benedict, despite how experienced or jaded he might claim to be. He was perhaps both those things, but he had also shown a kindness and concern for her this evening which said he was, despite everything, a man of honour.

She smiled up at him warmly. ‘I shall very much look forward to seeing you again tomorrow evening, Benedict.’ She moved up on tiptoe to kiss him lightly upon one rigidly tensed cheek before turning to step into her carriage and instructing her driver to move on, a smile curving her lips as her last view of Benedict showed him scowling darkly in his displeasure.

Her smile widened as she thought of their visit to Vauxhall Gardens.

‘I believe I told my butler to inform you that I am not at home?’ Genevieve stood up to glare coldly at the gentleman who presented himself uninvited in the gold salon of her London home the following afternoon, her hands clutched tightly together so that he should not have the satisfaction of seeing how they trembled at his unexpected appearance here.

This morning had, predictably, been a busy one for her, with visits from both admiring gentlemen bearing more flowers and chocolates and many of the ladies who had been present at Lady Hammond’s ball yesterday evening. Most of them were calling out of curiosity in regard to the time Genevieve had spent in the company of the elusive Lord Benedict Lucas, to the degree that he had danced with her when he had not taken to the dance floor these past ten years—a fact which secretly thrilled Genevieve.

None of those ladies who had called knew Genevieve intimately enough to ask her the question direct, of course, but their curiosity was none the less tangible and highly entertaining to Genevieve.

The gentlemen who had presented flowers and bonbons had been even more pleasant, even if Genevieve was aware that those calls were being made because Lucifer’s interest had somehow succeeded in making her the latest fashion.

But her visitor of this afternoon was most unwelcome.

‘Obviously your butler was mistaken, because here you most certainly are,’ William Forster, the tenth Duke of Woollerton, mocked drily as he glanced in the direction of the obviously uncomfortable and apologetic butler standing in the doorway behind him.

‘You may go, Jenkins.’ Genevieve gave the elderly man a reassuring smile before returning the coldness of her gaze back to her unwanted visitor.

The same man had been Genevieve’s stepson for the duration of her marriage to his father, and at nine and twenty and in possession of fleshy good looks, William bore a startling resemblance to his sire. Nor had William ever made any secret of his disapproval of his father’s choice of Genevieve as his second wife. It was perhaps the only thing upon which the two of them had ever agreed; Genevieve had not been happy in his father choosing to marry her, either.

William now looked down the length of his supercilious nose at her. ‘It has been brought to my attention, by several of my acquaintances, that you have been cutting a swathe in society this past six weeks or more.’

‘Have you dared to spy on me?’ Genevieve’s eyes flashed angrily, her cheeks flushing with temper; she had spent enough years being bullied by this man and his father to know she did not intend to suffer those same bullying tactics as Josiah’s widow.

‘It cannot be called spying, when the whole of the ton has been witness to your outings with those other two silly ladies these past weeks!’

‘I believe you are referring to the Duchesses of Clayborne and Wyndwood.’ Genevieve frowned, still uncertain as to the reason for William’s visit today, because there must assuredly be a reason for him to have bothered himself in coming here. ‘Neither of whom can be considered in the least silly.’

‘That is surely a matter of opinion?’ he drawled disdainfully. ‘Nor is it of importance.’ He gave a dismissive wave of his hand. ‘How can it be, when it is your own … behaviour with Lord Benedict Lucas, which is now in question.’

Genevieve’s chin rose defiantly. ‘By whom, might one ask?’

‘By me, madam.’ He looked at her coldly. ‘And by the Earl of Ramsey. You are acquainted with that gentleman?’

Genevieve blinked, having no idea what the earl had to do with her, or where this conversation was going. ‘I believe we have been introduced, and have met by chance a time or two in recent weeks, yes.’

William nodded. ‘He was also present at Lady Hammond’s ball yesterday evening. A fact which you were no doubt unaware of, when all of your own attention was so firmly fixed first upon Sandhurst and then Lucas.’

In truth, she did not remember seeing the Earl of Ramsey at the ball yesterday evening, occupied as she had been. Nor did she understand why she should have done so. ‘I am sure this is all very interesting, William, but—’

‘Tell me, has Lucifer been more successful than my father in parting your silky thighs without benefit of a wedding ring?’

Genevieve paled at his crudeness. ‘Why do you insist on reducing everything to the level of the gutter?’

‘Perhaps because that is where I have always considered you belong?’ William gave a scathing and humourless smile. ‘I do not believe I ever made a secret of my lack of understanding as to why my father ever bothered himself to marry a young woman without fortune or position.’

‘As I never made any secret of the fact that it was always my dearest wish he had not! That I wished to be free of the both of you!’ Genevieve’s hands were now clenched so tightly at her sides she could feel her nails digging into her palms through the lace of her gloves.

He eyed her pityingly. ‘You may thank your worthless brother for that particular predicament.’

Genevieve stood as tall in her satin slippers as her five feet and two inches would allow. ‘My brother has been dead these past six years, sir.’

‘By his own hand,’ William Forster dismissed in a bored voice. ‘A coward’s way out, I have always thought.’

‘Neither you, or your thoughts, hold the slightest interest for me, sir.’ Genevieve looked at him coldly. ‘And if Colin chose to take his own life, then it was your father’s lies and deceit that made him do so.’

Having only met Josiah Forster on two occasions before her brother, Colin, also her guardian, informed her of his offer for her, Genevieve had at first refused to even consider it. But she had been aged only eighteen and her brother had been deeply in debt because of his addiction to gambling. It was a debt the duke had promised to pay once Genevieve became his wife. Even knowing that, Genevieve had found the whole idea of being married to a man as old as Josiah Forster repugnant. But Colin’s entreaties had eventually prevailed and Genevieve had duly married her duke and returned with him to Woollerton Hall for their honeymoon period.

She gave a shudder as she once again recalled her wedding night. A night of fear, and humiliation, which had only grown in intensity as the days, weeks, and months had passed and Josiah’s cruelties towards her had intensified.

Nor had he ever made good on his promise as a gentleman to pay Colin’s gambling debts once Genevieve had become his wife, and so had left her brother at the mercy of the men to whom he was so deeply in debt.

Was it any wonder that, feeling responsible as he did for both Genevieve’s obvious unhappiness in her marriage, and his own unbearable circumstances, Colin had visited the duke one last time to ask for his help and had again been refused, before then choosing to hang himself from one of the trees in the woods at the back of Woollerton Hall?

William Forster now looked at her as mercilessly as his father had always done. ‘Your brother was weak, as well as a fool, in not demanding my father’s promise to him in writing before your wedding.’

‘And your father was not a gentleman, or a man of honour.’

‘Honour?’ William laughed derisively. ‘Why should my father stir himself to honour anything he might have said to your worthless brother, when he had already sampled your charms and found them wanting?’

Genevieve welcomed the pain as her nails now pierced the palms of her hand through the lace of her gloves, ‘I wish for you to leave my home.’

‘Not until I have said what I came here to say.’

‘You will leave my home now!’ Genevieve shook with the anger that now consumed every part of her.

‘And who is going to make me? Your elderly butler?’ William challenged confidently. ‘Or perhaps your new lover?’ His cold grey gaze roamed over her with a familiarity that made Genevieve cringe. ‘From all that I know of Lucifer, he is not a man to trouble himself in regard to any woman he takes as mistress.’

‘I am not his mistress!’ Genevieve’s eyes glowed a fiery blue in warning.

‘Yet,’ William bit out harshly. ‘And it is my intention that he never will be.’

‘And what business is it of yours, sir?’

‘For better or worse, you are my father’s widow.’ Those pale grey eyes raked over her with dislike. ‘And tomorrow morning will see the announcement of my betrothal to the Earl of Ramsey’s only daughter, the wedding to take place next month. A marriage which will be beneficial to both our families.’

‘Perhaps it behoves someone to warn that poor girl of exactly what sort of family she is marrying into—Take your hands off me!’ Genevieve gave a pained gasp as William moved to take a tight grip of one of her wrists before twisting her arm painfully behind her back, causing her to arch her back in an effort not to allow their bodies to come into any sort of contact.

‘I have no intention of releasing you until I consider this conversation to have been settled to my satisfaction.’ William thrust his face very close to her own, the warmth of his breath brushing against Genevieve’s throat, and causing her to quiver with revulsion.

‘What do you want from me?’ she gasped softly.

‘Ramsey is … something of a prude, and as such I do not believe he would appreciate it if my father’s widow, the woman who was my stepmother, and is now the Dowager Duchess of Woollerton, were to become involved in a sordid affair with the man the ton calls Lucifer. Therefore, I advise that you cease your relationship with him before such a possibility occurs.’

‘It is not for you to dictate to me whom I should or should not take as my friends,’ Genevieve refused determinedly.

‘I thought you might say that.’ William sneered at her bravery. ‘But you may rest assured, Genevieve, that if in the next month you should do or behave in such a way which might interfere with my own marriage plans, then I will personally make sure that you regret that behaviour. Am I making myself clear?’ His voice was as hard with cruelty as his father’s had always been.

‘God, how I hate you!’ Genevieve choked, wishing this conversation over, most of all wishing this man’s presence gone from her home, and the memories he had brought with him. Memories of her wedding night, followed by Josiah’s numerous cruelties to her. Of the times she had tried to escape him by running away, only to be brought back and beaten by the very same man who now twisted her arm so painfully.

‘The feeling is mutual, I assure you,’ William sneered. ‘Nevertheless, you will do as I say and immediately break off this scandalous friendship with Lucifer.’ He gave her arm another vicious twist before pushing her roughly away from him, studiously straightening the leather riding gloves he wore as Genevieve stumbled to regain her balance at the same time as she clutched her bruised arm.

How Genevieve hated this man and his father for what they had both done to her. For what William was still trying to do to her.

And she hated him even more for his confidence that she would again do as he had instructed.

‘Leave,’ she managed to choke out.

‘I will go when I am good and ready.’

‘You will get out of my house now!’ She refused to so much as sway on her feet until after William, with one last mocking smile in her direction, strode confidently from her salon and her home.

At which time Genevieve’s legs would no longer support her and she fell down on to the carpet, her wrist and arm hurting so badly that she sobbed tears of pain and humiliation, knowing that the peace she had acquired this past year, her belief that she was finally rid of Josiah, and his equally as cruel and unpleasant son, was completely shattered.


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Предыдущая страница Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману Some Like to Shock - Кэрол Мортимер

Комментарии к роману "Some Like to Shock - Кэрол Мортимер" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки