An Escapade and an Engagement

An Escapade and an Engagement by Annie Burrows Read Free Book Online

Book: An Escapade and an Engagement by Annie Burrows Read Free Book Online
Authors: Annie Burrows
in a perfectly ridiculous fashion. Just because his daughter had fallen
in love with a man of whom he did not approve.
    ‘If two people love each other—really love each other—then
nothing should be allowed to stand in their way,’ she said vehemently.
    His heart sank. For he’d hoped that in the light of day she’d
somehow wake up and see that Harry was not worth the risks she was taking. And
then he could forget about this detour and return his full attention to the
important business of scouring London Society for his bride.
    But the tone of her voice revealed a determination that no
amount of arguing was going to be able to shake. She left him with no
alternative. He was going to have to employ a little subterfuge so that he could
limit her exposure to potential danger, whilst keeping close enough to protect
her should it become necessary.
    ‘Then who am I to stand in the way of true love?’ he said, with
such sarcasm she just knew she wasn’t going to like whatever he was going to say
next. ‘Not that I condone your behaviour, young lady. Nor his. Especially not
his.’
    Ah, that was more like it. She knew how to deal with a man who
spoke to her with just that tone of disapproval in his voice.
    She lifted her chin and looked him straight in the eye.
    ‘You have no right to criticise my behaviour.’
    He quite liked it when she squared up to him, he realized,
leaning back against the squabs to study her mutinous expression. When she
dropped the frigid mask she employed to deceive the rest of Society and revealed
her true self. It made him feel privileged to get a glimpse of a facet of her
nature she permitted nobody else to see.
    He’d felt like this last night, too, when she’d been pleading
with him to spare her maid. She’d completely forgotten all about acting as
though she didn’t care about anything. Her eyes had glowed with a similar
fervour, and those petal-soft lips had trembled with emotion….
    It was only with a great effort that he tore his eyes from
those tantalizingly tempting lips. It made his voice quite gruff when he said,
‘Catching you in the arms of your lover last night gives me every right to speak my mind. I know what you are capable of. I know
what you are really like.’
    He raised one gloved hand to silence her when she drew breath
to object.
    ‘And I cannot, in all conscience, just allow you to carry on as
you have been doing. Dammit, if anyone else had caught the pair of you together
there would have been hell to pay. I have no confidence that if I do not,
personally, put a curb on your behaviour you will not carry on sneaking out to
meet him in secret. And it must stop. Do you hear me?’
    She nodded, her lips pressed hard together on the reflection
that there was nothing so infuriating as being ordered to do something she had
already decided on doing.
    ‘Now, it will not be as bad as all that. If you do me one
favour I am willing to arrange for you to see your young man, in circumstances
which will compromise neither him nor you.’
    ‘You will do what? ’ How could the
man be so exasperating? She had been relying on him insisting she give Harry up
completely.
    ‘I will arrange for you two to meet. But only when I, myself,
will be your chaperon.’ He half turned towards her again. ‘Now, look. Everyone
knows I have only very recently sold out. What could be more natural than for me
to be seen about with other military men? Lieutenant Kendell will be accepted
into certain situations if he is with me. And I seem to be exactly the sort of
man your family would encourage you to mix with. The fact that we are here,
riding out together, with only my own servants to chaperon us, is proof of that.
It will be quite easy for me to ensure that you may see each other whenever his
duties permit. In a properly managed, decorous fashion. Not in this sneaking way
in which you have so far engaged.’
    She felt ready to explode. The last thing she could do was tell
him he had got

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