Brenda Hiatt

Brenda Hiatt by Scandalous Virtue Read Free Book Online

Book: Brenda Hiatt by Scandalous Virtue Read Free Book Online
Authors: Scandalous Virtue
driving”—this with a glance at Prudence—“but would you perhaps allow me to call upon you at your sister’s home tomorrow?”
    Nessa cursed her blacks yet again, for the thought ofa drive sent her spirits soaring. She saw Prudence frown and open her mouth, no doubt to deny him even the visit.
    “That would be quite acceptable, Lord Foxhaven,” Nessa said quickly, refusing to meet her sister’s eye. “I shall look forward to it.”
    He bowed over her hand, also avoiding Prudence’s glance, she noticed. “Until tomorrow, then.” He turned and walked away before Lady Creamcroft could rescind her sister’s invitation.
    Prudence, however, was for the moment too flabbergasted to speak. “Well!” she exclaimed when she finally found her tongue several seconds later. “That is the outside of enough, I must say. Nessa, did I not tell you Lord Foxhaven has a less than savory reputation? What can you be thinking, to invite him under my roof?”
    Nessa rather wondered the same thing, but answered her sister readily enough. “Why, it would have been most impolite, would it not, to have refused him? Besides, what evil can he possibly commit in your drawing room, with people all about? Perhaps he has turned over a new leaf, in which case he should be encouraged, don’t you agree?” This last seemed most unlikely when she recalled his behavior at the masquerade, but it gave Prudence pause.
    “I suppose that is possible,” she conceded, “though Lady Mountheath told me a tale about his exploits since inheriting his title that shocked me exceedingly. Not for the world would I repeat it! Still, if he acts the gentleman, I’ll not turn him out. If we reward proper behavior in him, perhaps he’ll be encouraged to turn away from debauchery.”
    Nessa tried not to smile at the idea of her sister’s acceptance being more rewarding to a dashing young man like Lord Foxhaven than debauchery could be. For a taste of debauchery, she herself might be willing to forego Prudence’s approval! Not that she had the least idea how to go about finding any such taste, of course.
    “That’s right, Prudence, we’ll win him to respectability in spite of himself,” she agreed, her expression solemn. She hoped that might prove impossible, however. A respectable Lord Foxhaven would not be nearly so intriguing as the rake her sister had described.
    “Until tomorrow,” he’d said. She could scarcely wait.

    Harry was well into his second bottle of port when Jack and Lord Peter joined him at their accustomed table at the Guards Club on St. James Street. “How went the first volley?” he inquired almost cheerily, as two more glasses were placed.
    Peter shook his head sorrowfully. “Even worse than you predicted, Harry.”
    “What, Lady M. turned you away from her door? I could have told you she would.”
    The other two stared at him in disbelief. “You do need to cut back on the spirits, old boy!” Peter exclaimed. “But no, you were right the first time—she wasn’t willing to risk a scene by turning Jack away. It was once we were inside the trouble began.”
    “Oh come now, Peter, it wasn’t so bad as all that,” Jack protested, irrationally nettled by his friend’s gloomy prospect. “No one gave me the cut direct, which I more than half expected.”
    “Old Sherbourne came close, and Claridge managed to keep you from getting close enough to LadyConstance for an introduction,” Peter pointed out. “We’ll have to come up with another plan to whitewash your reputation. That’s all there is to it.”
    Harry raised his glass. “I’ll certainly drink to that! Damned idiotic thing to contemplate in the first place, marriage. Don’t know what you were thinking, Jack.”
    Jack regarded his two longtime friends with mingled amusement and irritation. “Ready to turn tail after the first skirmish? I’m disappointed in you both. I’ll not give up so easily, I assure you, especially after the brilliant flanking maneuver I

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