Scandal

Scandal by Pamela Britton Read Free Book Online

Book: Scandal by Pamela Britton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pamela Britton
a headache, and so he said nothing as the man turned back to their front door, opened it and stepped inside.
    He went right to a draped-off corner of the room, shoved aside the edges of the curtain, turned and jerked it closed.
    “Don’t just stand there, close the door.”
    Anna Brooks stood by the hearth, cooking, the smell of stew filling the air. Rein’s stomach grumbled.
    As if hearing the rumble—and perhaps she did—she narrowed her eyes. “Don’t expect meals to go along with your lodging. I’ve enough to do around here as it is.”
    He would bet she did, he thought, studying her. And yet even with exhaustion pouring from her eyes, she still looked lovely. Her hair hung loose and down her back, the mermaid strands of flaxen hair curling around her head. And those eyes. Would he ever get used to her eyes? Those amber gems sparkled at him, flashing in anger and exasperation.
    “Well, are you coming in?”
    He stepped inside, saying, “Thank you, I believe I shall.”
    “Close the door,” she ordered.
    He stopped. Oh, yes, of course. “I’m—” He caught himself just in time.
Used to others closing doors for me.
“Grateful to you for letting me stay,” he finished, turning back to her.
    “Yes, well, I still might change my mind,” she said, waving that spoon of hers like she was tempted to bash him over the head. He lifted a hand to the spot on his forehead, wincing. Not again.
    She pursed her lips before going back to cooking. Rein looked around. Debris still littered the floor—not as much of it as before, she must have picked up a bit, but enough that it still looked like the aftereffects of a storm.
    “Your grandfather should work for the government. The war department would pay good money to unleash his invention on the French.”
    “You might have a point,” he thought he heard her mutter. When she glanced back at him, she looked rather waiflike all of a sudden. So solemn and despondent. She had the sadness of a thousand lost souls in her eyes and the wisdom of one twice her age if he didn’t miss his guess. “I suppose we ought not to look a gift horse in the mouth.”
    He assumed
he
was said gift horse.
    “But you’ll have to sleep on the floor,” she said after a sudden frown was shaken off her face. Well, it didn’t disappear entirely. Like an ink spot, it clung to her cheeks and the brackets around her mouth.
    And then what she’d said sank in.
    “
Sleep on the floor?
” he repeated, aghast. Why, it looked like the bottom of an ash bin. Come to think of it, the whole place looked like an ash bin.
    “You have a better idea?”
    Well, yes, come to think of it, he did, but he didn’t think she’d appreciate his idea of sleeping with her.
    “Sleep in the chair if you don’t wish to be on the floor.”
    A chair? He likely hadn’t slept in a chair since his wet nurse had held her in his arms. What could she be thinking? He was a duke. He almost opened his mouth to tell her so, but stopped himself just in time. Lord, that deplorable will.
Ballocks, ballocks, ballocks.
    “The chair, if I must.”
    “You must,” she said, turning back to her stew. Rein’s gaze fell to her rear, those sleeping arrangements he’d thought of a moment ago charging back to his mind like a herd of cavalrymen, swords drawn and flags waving, except the sword in this instance was between his legs.
    “Here,” she said, then walked over to a chest snuggled against one of the few walls left uncluttered by shelves and opened it. When she turned, she seemed to give him a wide berth, going around that odd table with the ladder attached to its side before turning toward the uncomfortable armchair he’d been seated in earlier. “Let me show you how it works.”
    It took a few blinks to get his eyes unstuck. “Work the chair?”
    “’Tis tricky.”
    Lord, was she communicating with the spirit of his deceased father? He wasn’t that slow. “I believe even I can operate a chair.”
    With the practiced

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