Lord Lightning

Lord Lightning by Jenny Brown Read Free Book Online

Book: Lord Lightning by Jenny Brown Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jenny Brown
dark.
    Her fingers searched through the bag’s contents until she felt the velvety smooth surface of the paper on which she had drawn His Lordship’s natal chart. She drew it out and laid it on the side table, but it was too dark for her to read it there. Since the little light present in the chamber fell almost entirely on the bed, she seated herself gingerly on its edge where it was just possible for her to make out the tiny print of her almanacs.
    Though she knew she did not have enough time to calculate the exact positions of the planets at this hour, there was one technique that might provide some reassurance. Her aunt had learned it from one of her German correspondents. It had the advantage of requiring almost no calculation, so it would take her only a few moments to extract the information she needed. But as she heard the sound of a door opening behind her and swung around to face it, she realized she would not have even those few moments.
    Lord Hartwood strode into the room. A footman followed behind him carrying a tray on which rested a decanter, glasses, and a plate of dainties. Silently the footman set the tray on a side table and then bowed and removed himself from the room.
    She was alone with Lord Lightning.
    He had removed his exquisitely wrapped neck cloth and now was garbed only in a loose silken shirt, its top buttons open, and in pale superfine breeches that fit his long legs like a second skin, displaying his muscular calves to advantage. His shining Hessian boots were gone, replaced by soft kid dress shoes which muffled his steps as he moved soundlessly across the room toward the bed.
    The dim light gilded his pale curls. How could she have not noticed before how very large he was—and how magnetic? She felt herself drawn into his orbit, like a small planet caught in the grip of a fiery sun. She knew she should resist, yet that sun was so magnificent. She should be appalled to find herself here—scandalously alone in the bedroom of a libertine—and a half-clothed libertine at that. Yet she could not help but admire him.
    But there was little time for that. Lord Hartwood was observing her, too. His dark eyes glinted in the candlelight, their expression hard to interpret. As they rested for a moment on the books and papers spread out upon the bed, a half smile flickered across his lips. “So you even take your books to bed with you, do you?”
    At the sound of his deep and resonant voice, Eliza bit her lower lip and reached for the paper that bore his horoscope. But anxiety made her clumsy, and her hand knocked it off the richly embroidered counterpane. It fluttered to the floor, but before Eliza could rescue it, Lord Hartwood reached down to pick it up. He peered atit for a moment in the dim light, then handed it back to her.
    “So what do your stars tell you now, little seer-ess? Will you survive your visit to Bluebeard’s Castle?” His long form lounged against the bedpost. One languid arm snaked around it, making the strong muscles of his broad shoulder stand out as they strained against the thin fabric of his shirt.
    Instinctively, Eliza drew back. Then, with as much sangfroid as she could muster, she replied, “I cannot say. You interrupted me before I had finished with my calculations.”
    “What was there for you to calculate? You’ve already told me my character is an open book to you.”
    Eliza ignored his sarcasm. “Your character is complex, my lord. There are warring strains within your nature. But as I have just such a disposition myself, I feel certain I shall be able to furnish the proper interpretation, if you would be kind enough to grant me a few more minutes.”
    Despite his desire to get things over with quickly, the woman’s refusal to be cowed caught his attention. At her first sight of him, clothed as he was for the evening’s sport, her face had quivered with an emotion he believed was fear, and yet she had responded to him so steadfastly—with something in her

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