Kate Moore

Kate Moore by An Improper Widow Read Free Book Online

Book: Kate Moore by An Improper Widow Read Free Book Online
Authors: An Improper Widow
corner of his mouth.
    Looking down at her, Kirby could see the tops of her breasts, white against the green silk, like foam against the sea, and he had the oddest feeling that she wanted him to pull the dangling ribbon that held her wrapper in place, to spill the soft white flesh into his hands.
    His pulse pounded and his male flesh rose. She had withdrawn her hands from his, and his were lying in her lap. He stood abruptly and realized that even in the dim light she could not mistake the state he was in. He had meant to offer comfort and was about to offer insult.
    Her head was bowed again as if to spare him any embarrassment.
    “I beg your pardon,” he whispered, and turned and fled.
    As soon as the door closed behind her guest, Molly Hayter rose and took a candle into the little vestibule and knelt beside the valise her maids had moved to one side. With swift, silent efficiency she explored its contents. There was nothing there to surprise her except a bit of brown paper wrapped around some cards. She opened the little package and removed one of the cards.
    “What a very poor liar you are, my friend Kirby,” she said. “I knew you for his son the minute I saw you.” She restored the remaining cards to their package and the contents of the valise to good order and strolled back to her sitting room.
    She stopped before the large gilt mirror that dominated the wall above the mantel and gave a little tug on the ribbon that secured her wrapper. The silk slipped away, revealing full white breasts with rosy peaks. Molly studied them dispassionately. She turned the small white card over and looked at it again.
    “So you mean to pay your father back, young Arden. Well, I can help you, truly, I can.”

6
    Evelina insisted on a full round of social engagements for their first day in town, including an appearance in the park at the fashionable hour. Talk had filled the day, idle malice masquerading as solicitude, and Susannah welcomed the clop of hooves and the rumble of carriage wheels that accompanied their progress through the park.
    Somewhere between Lady Banks’s and Miss Elphinestone’s she had developed the tiniest bit of sympathy for Uncle John. Whatever Evelina heard in one drawing room she was sure to repeat in the next. Susannah only hoped her aunt had not made any indiscreet revelations about Juliet’s encounter with the young highwayman. Any coupling of Juliet’s name with Lord Warne’s in an
on dit
was sure to reach the ears of the Iron Lord. And all the gossips agreed he was a dangerous man to offend.
    Still Susannah thought they had done well for their first day. If Juliet seemed incapable of forgetting the stranger, she would soon meet eligible gentlemen whose air and manner were certain to impress a girl making her come-out. This happy thought lasted until the driver brought the landau to a stop abreast of another carriage so that Evelina could speak with her particular friend, Mrs. Trentfield.
    Susannah recognized her at once. Widowed now, Ann Trentfield had made her come-out with Susannah, and the sharp glance Susannah received from her seemed to say that she remembered something of that other season. Susannah lowered her gaze. She had thought her ruin so old and so insignificant a scandal that no one would recall it. Now she realized she would have to practice all the lessons in humility that she had learned in Uncle John’s house. She kept her hands folded in her lap and smiled with polite interest as Evelina repeated an anecdote about Byron she had told a score of times already.
    But Susannah’s rebellious spirit soon stirred, and she turned away from the talk. The rain of the day before had passed, and the sky was blue with light clouds in high thin lines like the furrows of a new-planted field. The paths invited walking, and she vowed to escape to the park for an early morning ramble. For the moment, however, she must be content to sit quietly and let the wind blow her aunt’s voice away. The

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