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Мортимер Кэрол

Some Like to Shock

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Chapter Four

‘… and Sheffield had only been gone but a few minutes when Lord Daniel Robson arrived in company with Billy Summersby. They are both of them so very sweet. And the Earl of Suffolk, a gentleman who has never paid me the slightest attention before now, also presented his card and expressed a wish to take me riding with him in the park early tomorrow morning. It is all your doing, of course, Benedict, because none of those gentlemen had given me so much as a second glance before your own noticeable attentions to me yesterday evening.’

Benedict had been listening to Genevieve prattle on like this for almost the past hour: as soon as she had greeted him in her gold salon, for the whole of the carriage ride from her home, and during this boat ride across the Thames to Vauxhall Gardens. All of it nonsense, and not at all what he had come to expect from her. Indeed, it was the fact that Benedict never knew quite what to expect when in Genevieve’s company which had given rise to his feelings of anticipation of their meeting this evening. Only to have those feelings dissipate when she immediately began to rattle on like this the moment they were alone together.

‘Genevieve …’

‘—I really should thank you—’


‘—for my current popularity with so many fashionable gentlemen of the ton—


Her chatter ceased, as she instead looked up at Benedict in the moonlight through the two slits for her eyes in the golden mask she wore over the top half of her face. She wore an evening cloak about her shoulders which prevented him from seeing the gown she wore. ‘I am sure I was only—’

‘I am well aware that you have “only” chattered incessantly this past hour, so much so that I could not get a word in edgewise,’ Benedict drawled his impatience. ‘And I am curious to know the reason for it.’

She blinked. ‘I thought to amuse you with news of my gentlemen callers today …’

‘You thought no such thing.’ Indeed, Benedict had found himself becoming less and less amused the more he heard of the visits of Genevieve’s many admirers. ‘What else has happened today that could have turned you into such an empty-headed ninny?’ he prompted shrewdly.

Genevieve would have taken exception to such a description if she had not known it was perfectly justified; she was prattling on like so many of those empty-headed ninnies in society that she most despised. Her only excuse was that she was not fully recovered from William Forster’s visit to her this afternoon. Or the threats he had made to her.

So much so that she also inwardly trembled at her own daring in keeping to her original arrangement to go to Vauxhall Gardens with Benedict this evening.

Her initial instinct had been to do as William had asked—demanded!—by sending her apologies to Benedict, but she had thought better of it almost immediately and refused to continue to be bullied by such a hateful man as William Forster. Her rebellion had been helped by the fact that she and Benedict would both be wearing masks, so that no one could say for sure whether or not it was the two of them at Vauxhall Gardens!

Truth be told, Genevieve was also loathe to give up the idea of spending time in Benedict’s company, despite the risk of incurring even more of William’s displeasure.

But there was no doubting that her enjoyment of an evening spent in the company of the most eligible and sought-after gentleman in London, at Vauxhall Gardens of all exciting places, had been severely curtailed by William’s issue of more threats to her physical well being if she did not obey him. To the point that she had begun to chatter nonsensically the moment she found herself alone in Benedict’s company.

And he looked so splendidly handsome in the moonlight, too. A black evening cloak thrown elegantly over his usual black attire and snowy white linen, and the unadorned black mask that covered the top half of his face beneath his top hat, only added to his usual air of danger and mystery.

She forced a smile to curve her lips. ‘Why on earth should you imagine that anything might have happened?’

‘Perhaps because I have come to know you a little these past two days?’ His mouth was a firm line beneath that mask. ‘And the Genevieve I have come to know, whilst lively in her conversation, does not prattle.’

‘Whilst I find the first part of your comment flattering—’

‘It was not intended to flatter, Genevieve, it is merely a statement of truth,’ Benedict assured harshly.

She avoided looking into that glittering black gaze. ‘No. Well. You are partial to the truth, I take it?’


Genevieve gave a slight shiver at his uncompromising tone, at how ruthlessly that tone implied Benedict would deal with anyone who did not give him that truth. ‘Could we not just enjoy the boat ride, Benedict? Everything looks so romantic in the moonlight that I am sure—’ The resumption of Genevieve’s nervous chatter came to an abrupt halt as Benedict—Lucifer—placed his mouth firmly against her own.

Silencing her.

Stunning her.

Warming her as those firm and sensual lips moved over and against hers in slow exploration. His arms moved about the slenderness of her waist and Benedict drew her into the heat of his firmly muscled body before deepening the kiss, sipping, tasting, gently biting her lips before soothing with the hot sweep of his tongue.

Genevieve’s initial surprise was not, as she had always feared would happen, followed by revulsion at having a man kiss her. Instead, after that first shock, Genevieve found herself shyly returning those gentle kisses as she clung to the width of Benedict’s shoulders, her own lips parting instinctively to allow the kiss to be deepened.

She was leaning weakly against that hard and muscled chest by the time Benedict raised his head to look down at her with glittering black eyes. ‘What else happened today, Genevieve?’

‘I—’ Genevieve pushed against his chest to distance herself even as she blinked in an effort to clear her head of the effects of that astonishing—and totally unexpected—kiss. ‘It was most unfair of you to attempt to use seduction in order to attempt to force my co-operation, Benedict.’ She looked up at him reproachfully.

His eyes narrowed behind the unadorned black mask. ‘Seduce you into telling me what exactly, Genevieve?’

She gave a pained frown as she realised her mistake. ‘Into telling you nothing,’ she dismissed lightly, ‘for there is nothing to tell.’


‘Will you please desist from constantly repeating my name in that reproving manner?’ She bristled irritably as she straightened her gown unnecessarily, still flustered by that kiss. ‘I am not a naughty child to be spoken to in that tone.’

Benedict bit back his own impatience, totally aware that Genevieve was now using anger so that she did not have to answer his original question, something he was unwilling to allow her to continue to do. ‘If I considered you a child, of any description, then you would not be here with me now. Nor would I have kissed you,’ he added harshly, also aware that having intended to use the kiss only as a means of silencing Genevieve, he was now the one who was left uncomfortably aroused, his shaft a hot and throbbing ache inside his breeches.

A blush warmed her cheeks. ‘No, of course you would not. I—It is only that—’ She drew in a shaky breath. ‘Perhaps we should continue with this conversation once we are safely arrived at the gardens?’ She gave the boatman sitting in front of them a belatedly pointed glance.

Another excuse for delaying their conversation, Benedict guessed easily. And one that succeeding in making him even more curious as to what might have occurred to put Genevieve in this state of nervous tension. A curiosity that would have to wait as he saw they had almost reached their destination. ‘Very well,’ he conceded tersely. ‘But I advise against you using the intervening time in which to make up some excuse,’ he added sternly, standing up as they had now reached the quayside, collecting up the picnic basket and stepping out of the boat before turning to take Genevieve’s gloved hand and aid her own step on to dry land. ‘What have you done to your arm …?’ he prompted shrewdly as he saw her wince as he clasped her hand.

Genevieve continued to look down at where she was stepping rather than at Benedict. ‘I caught the sleeve on my robe on the door handle of my dressing room this morning and wrenched my arm.’

‘Careless of you.’

‘Yes.’ She added nothing more, knowing this man was too astute for her comfort. Because he was Lucifer. A man many of the ton feared. And none dared cross. Because Lucifer was a man who remained emotionally aloof, even from those women lucky enough to become his mistress.

Lucky enough …?

Yes, Genevieve realised she now considered any woman who attracted, and held, Benedict’s attention, to be very lucky indeed. But, painful as her own arm still was—and becoming more so as time passed rather than less—Genevieve also knew that William’s visit to her earlier today had now placed her in even more of a dilemma, and one that had nothing to do with her own physical well being. There was also Charlotte Darby, the Earl of Ramsey’s daughter, to consider.

As far as Genevieve could recall, Charlotte Darby was a young lady of only twenty or so, reasonably pretty, and no doubt starry-eyed in regard to her forthcoming marriage to the present Duke of Woollerton.

Except William Forster, like his father before him, was not a man any young and innocent girl should marry with starry-eyed expectations. How could he be, when Genevieve knew him to be a man vicious by nature?

Genevieve shuddered in revulsion just thinking of another young innocent being exposed to that viciousness. No, Charlotte really should not be allowed to marry William Forster and made to suffer as Genevieve had once suffered.

‘It was not my intention for you never to talk again …’ Benedict drawled drily as, having paid and entered the gardens, and walked some distance down one of the lantern-lit gravel pathways, Genevieve remained lost in thought. Perhaps that same something that had preoccupied her earlier?

She gave a guilty start, before turning to look about them. ‘Oh, how lovely!’ Her blue eyes glowed through her mask as she looked about her at the many arbours and pathways leading from this one, all of them lit by dozens of lanterns placed in the trees, with the sound of music playing and fountains gurgling in the background, amidst the laughter and chatter of all the other people currently enjoying the gardens.

Benedict had deliberately chosen to arrive at the gardens after darkness had fallen, knowing that Genevieve, at least, would appreciate the romance of the glowing lanterns to light their way. After his own response to kissing her earlier, Benedict was no longer sure he appreciated the privacy offered by so many of the tree- and shrub-enshrouded arbours, several of which were already providing that privacy if the soft murmurs and pleasurable groans he could hear were any indication!

Genevieve seemed totally unaware of those less proper activities as she tucked her gloved hand trustingly into the crook of his arm. She looked up and gave him a glowing smile as they continued to walk down the pathway crowded with other revellers. ‘This is all so perfect, Benedict. And just as I imagined it might be! Can we go and listen to the band playing at the colonnade? And see some of the beautiful fountains? And then could we—?’

‘You are rattling on again, Genevieve.’ Benedict gave a weary shake of his head, grateful that his two closest friends could not see him now. Indeed, he thanked heaven Dante and Devil were at present too occupied in the pursuit of their own respective ladies to interest themselves in Benedict’s own activities, otherwise he doubted he would never hear the end of this hellish evening he had brought upon himself!

For hell it now most assuredly was, when Benedict was so physically aware of Genevieve; her cloak had parted, and the lamplight now revealed the full swell of her breasts above the pale gown she wore, her lips a full and tempting pout beneath her golden mask, and his nostrils were being assaulted by the delicate floral perfume she wore.

All of which was succeeding in making him feel more inclined to drag Genevieve into the privacy of one of the shadowed arbours, before kissing her once again—more than kissing her!—rather than continuing to stroll innocently about the gardens with her as had been his original intention.

‘I am only excited to be here, Benedict, with one of the most handsome gentlemen in England.’

Benedict’s eyes narrowed behind his own mask. ‘If you are hoping, by flirting with me, that you will succeed in diverting my attention from your unanswered question of earlier, then I am afraid you are going to be disappointed.’

She shot him an impatient frown. ‘You are unflatteringly single-minded, Benedict!’

He eyed her mockingly. ‘Unfortunately for you, yes, I am.’ He nodded unapologetically. ‘So …?’

Genevieve drew in a deep breath before answering him reluctantly.

‘It really is nothing of importance …’

‘Then be so kind as to share this “nothing of importance” with me.’

She sighed. ‘If you must know, I received a visit from my stepson earlier today.’

Benedict eyes narrowed. ‘William Forster?’



‘And we have never liked each other,’ she dismissed heavily.

‘If that is the case, then why did he bother himself to call upon you?’ His eyes narrowed as he felt Genevieve’s uninjured hand tremble slightly where it rested in the crook of his arm.

‘We are related by marriage, and I am now his father’s widow, thus making me—’

‘I am aware of the relationship, Genevieve,’ Benedict put in evenly. ‘But William Forster has never struck me as a man who bothers himself with any sort of politeness if it is not beneficial to himself.’

She looked up at him sharply in the moonlight. ‘You are personally acquainted with that gentleman?’

‘By reputation only.’ Benedict grimaced. ‘But it is a reputation that does not in the least endear him to me,’ he added grimly as he recalled the tales he had heard whispered at his clubs of the present Duke of Woollerton’s activities; unlike Benedict, William Forster was known to be a frequent visitor to some of the seedier brothels and gambling dens of London, his taste questionable at best and disgusting at worst!

Genevieve appeared to relax slightly. ‘I have never found his … character to be in the least appealing either. But the connection is there, so I fear we must both put a polite face on things. Indeed, William called to inform me that tomorrow the announcement of his engagement will appear in the newspapers, along with his wedding next month, to the Earl of Ramsey’s daughter.’

‘With the intention of inviting you to the wedding?’

‘Lord, I hope not!’ The words left Genevieve’s lips before she had chance to stop them, her cheeks warming as she instantly found herself the focus of Benedict’s narrowed black gaze. ‘That is …’ She took her hand from the crook of his arm as they stepped aside to avoid another group of revellers. ‘I believe William visited me only so that he might inform me that, upon his wedding day next month, I am to officially become the Dowager Duchess.’


‘Why else would he have called to see me?’

‘I was hoping you might tell me that …?’

Genevieve had absolutely no intentions of confiding anything to Benedict with regard to William Forster. Indeed, her memories of the beatings he had enjoyed inflicting upon her at his father’s behest so distressed Genevieve that she could not bear to think of them now. For fear, she knew, that if she did so she might break down completely. Which would never do in the company of such an astute and single-minded gentleman as Benedict Lucas. ‘There is nothing to tell. He called to see me, told me of his marriage and then left.’

‘Nothing else …?’

‘Could we not just enjoy our walk through the gardens now, Benedict?’ she prompted somewhat agitatedly.

‘Rather than continue to talk of William Forster?’

She shot Benedict an irritated glare. ‘And cease talking of anything!’

‘I am willing to forgo further conversation about William Forster for the moment—’

‘That is very generous of you!’

‘—but not so in regard to what answer you gave Suffolk earlier today in regard to his invitation to ride with him in the park tomorrow morning.’

Genevieve’s eyes widened. ‘So you were listening to me earlier?’

‘Every prattling, nonsensical word,’ he confirmed drily.

Genevieve frowned her displeasure. ‘You are being unkind, Benedict.’

‘But I am not a fool,’ he assured firmly. ‘And for me to allow you to go riding alone with Suffolk in the park tomorrow morning, or any other time, without cautioning you that you will more than likely find yourself mounted in another way at the first convenient grove of trees would be very foolish of me indeed!’ His face appeared all dark and satanic angles in the moonlight.

‘Are all eligible gentlemen of the ton of a certain age as … devious and set in their pursuit of pleasure?’

‘I have no idea.’ He shrugged. ‘I can only warn you of what I know of men such as Sandhurst and Suffolk.’


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