Not Proper Enough (A Reforming the Scoundrels Romance)

Not Proper Enough (A Reforming the Scoundrels Romance) by Carolyn Jewel Read Free Book Online

Book: Not Proper Enough (A Reforming the Scoundrels Romance) by Carolyn Jewel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn Jewel
the medallion Lily had given her and took comfort from the habit. Lily, she had no doubt, would meet the duke with calm and poise. She hoped to do the same.
    When Fenris released her hand, Eugenia curtseyed to him and Hester did the same. He curled a palm around Eugenia’s elbow and then Hester’s, too, and walked them to the duke.
    “Camber,” Fenris said, “this is Lady Eugenia. Mrs. Bryant.”
    Eugenia curtseyed again, feeling the weight of the duke’s silent gaze on her. “Your grace.”
    Fenris brought Hester forward without letting go of Eugenia’s arm. “Allow me as well to present Miss Hester Rendell of the Exeter Rendells. You’ve met her brother, Captain Rendell of the Second Dragoon Guards. He dined here once when he was on leave.”
    Hester was, of course, admirably serene, but then her family hadn’t a history of ill will with the current Duke ofCamber. Or the future one, for that matter. The present duke examined Hester from head to toe, and Eugenia swore she could feel him totting up all of her flaws. Plainly, the man did not, as Fenris had, see past her modest looks. Eugenia was prepared to do battle with the duke, if need be, and damn the consequences.
    “Captain Rendell is a handsome fellow as I recall.” Camber, like his son, had a gift for putting more than a hint of boredom in his drawl. Such ennui.
    “Oh yes, your grace.” Hester smiled, and the duke narrowed his eyes. “Charles is handsome indeed.”
    The duke looked her up and down and frowned. No doubt he was used to young women quailing before him. Hester never would. “You don’t look like him.”
    “Nor my father much, but for the color of my hair, your grace. It is my great good fortune to look like my mama.” She lifted her chin. “The most excellent woman there ever was.”
    Camber firmed his mouth and stood before her, studying her, hands clasped behind his back. All this time Eugenia had thought Fenris the coldest man she’d ever known. Obviously, he’d learned the trick of his freezing gaze from his father. Camber’s attention moved between her and Hester and settled on Eugenia. “You.” He gazed at Eugenia with the same chill. “Robert Bryant’s widow.”
    “Yes, your grace.” With Camber’s attention on Eugenia, Hester took a few steps away, drawn first to a painting of a soldier that hung just above eye level. Fenris remained at Eugenia’s side.
    “Mountjoy’s your brother.”
    “Your grace.”
    “Told him I’d speak for his membership at White’s. Fool boy joined Brooks’s. Did it to spite me. Opposes me on nearly every issue.”
    “Does he?” Eugenia glanced at Hester. She’d moved closer to the painting and stood with her chin tilted up as she examined it.
    “All that talk of reform.” He pointed at Eugenia. “Markmy word, reform will be the ruin of Britain. I’ll lay the blame at your brother’s feet, and you can tell him that from me.”
    “Mountjoy doesn’t talk about politics much when he’s home.”
    “I suppose he talks about farming.”
    Eugenia kept her smile. “Sometimes we talk about sheep.”
    Fenris cupped his hand around her elbow and gently squeezed. “Camber,” he said. “Perhaps it’s best we avoid talk of clubs and politics when there are ladies present.”
    The duke nodded and even, she thought, looked just the tiniest bit abashed. “Extraordinary man, your late husband.”
    “Yes, your grace.” Her anxiety eased, for this was a subject that was familiar and safe. “He surely was.”
    “No one was more surprised than I when Robert up and married you.” He looked her up and down the way he had Hester. Fenris did strongly resemble his father. Both were handsome men, but Eugenia liked the son’s looks better. There was a hint of gentleness about Fenris that his father lacked. “Shocking thing. Very sudden.”
    “Perhaps it seemed sudden to you.”
    Camber stiffened. “It was so, madam.”
    “I don’t deny that it was. To you.” Fenris’s fingers

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