Lucy shook her head. Spoiled little chit! Why, the young lady should be thanking her for revealing what a scoundrel her nearly intended turned out to be.
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In truth, it had been a shocking and rather unpleasant surprise to find him waiting for her. Lounging on her bed in his altogether. Not that Miss Gillmore and her parents had believed her. Or even Minerva. All because she was that Lady Standon. He paused and shot a wary glance at the plain door before them.
What with her summons and all this shilly-shallying about.
She is the duchess. For without a home of her own and very little money to speak of, she had no roof over her head other than the ones provided by her unlikely position as Lady Standon. But still, she mused, it was about time one of the footmen arrived to help poor Thomas-William.
Whatever would she do if he had a broken bone? Oh, yes, that would be the last and final straw, she had to imagine. But to her relief, the fellow righted himself quickly, shaking out his coat and drawing his shoulders in a taut, proud line. And while she had half-expected to find the footman standing there, holding her luggage as he ought, instead she came nose to nose with a man who had every aspect of a ghost from her past. Except he was quite alive. Very much so. For it was no footman who had come to their aid. The Earl of Clifton.
Nor could she control the way her heart thudded, or how her insides fluttered, like a row of trumpeters. No, the sight of him made her forget that it was Wednesday, the day she was meeting with the duchess. It prevented her from remembering that she was a lady now, a marchioness even, a dowager to boot, and most important of all, she forgot she was supposed to be on her best behavior. Her, Lucy Ellyson, quaking like a debutante.
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This was a remarkable day, indeed! They just stood there and stared at each other, the years that had separated them naught but a blink of an eye. I promise. How could I not when I love you so? Again they stared at each other, and for her part, she drank in the sight of him, her heart pounding as she gazed at his still handsome face. And that sent a frisson of worry down her spine.
And it was in that disquietude that she realized she needed to say something and stop gaping at him. Stop searching for the man she loved. Especially when he stepped back from her, leaving an aching chasm between them. It was always there, Goosie. And you? An acquaintance! She thought with some pique. Spent an unforgettable night entwined together … so close she would never have believed that anything could have torn them apart. And for a second, a brief, tiny flash, she thought she saw that old light, that bold spark of desire in his gaze. But like so many things about the earl, that too had proved to be wrong.
Then he paused and glanced away, obviously more than uncomfortable at this unlikely meeting. As if he wished it would end. Or worse, had never happened. As hale as ever, I expect.
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Then the older man shot Lucy a glance. The one that usually warned her she was wading into deep waters. It saves me the trouble of trying to find you.
Then the earl spoke quietly, the words for her and her alone, spoken so low that quite honestly she thought she might be imagining them. He came to see your father, Lucy Ellyson Sterling, not you. You are a peagoose to think the Earl of Clifton would come back for an ill-bred, madcap girl like you … especially after all this time. Something inside Lucy sparked, her infamous temper flaring to life. For she no longer counted him in that list. She flicked a glance at him and did her best imitation of Lady Geneva. Begged him to come help her?
Only to renew all the old heartbreaks from before? Which ones? The ones about kissing her? The ones regarding his promise to return? And leave soon.
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Yet there was still one piece of the puzzle that she had to know. Know when to stop asking questions. Instead she shot a panicked glance over at Thomas-William, who was even now scanning the luggage as if deciding which pieces to grab if a hasty departure became necessary. The earl nodded, his blue eyes fixed warily on the door behind her.
But thankfully, the earl missed the point of her distress entirely.
http://police-risk-management.com/order/sms/foxo-come-trovare.php The lady just sent me packing with a flea in my ear. Wonderful man, Thomas-William. He knew how much she loved those hats. Clifton paused and studied her for a moment. Of no matter. Oh, heavens, she hoped Thomas-William could manage the smaller blue trunk.
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Her best gown was in it. How foolish of me. Dear God, she was starting to sound like a parrot. What she needed to do was change the subject and do so quickly. The pain in his voice tangled around her heart, so much so that she nearly reached out for him, like she might have done once before. Instead, she folded her hands together in front of her and uttered polite, simple words. Murder, really. Shot as a smuggler on a beach near Hastings. When Malcolm had been no such thing, had been so much more. Then Clapp, dear old fretful Clapp, came to her unlikely rescue.
You know this wind is likely to have terrible consequences. Clapp, stay where you are. Her Gilby.