Three Weeks With Lady X (Desperate Duchesses Book 7)
It meant that Mr. Reeve, like her father, generally found himself the most intelligent man in the room. She touched his fingers, thinking to withdraw her hand immediately and drop a curtsy.
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No one ever forgot that. Now he was nodding to her with all the detached civility with which one greets an upper servant. A housekeeper. Or, more to the point, a governess. Her accent usually informed even the most bumptious father that in the current social hierarchy, she belonged at the top. The chairs were Hepplewhite and the rug Aubusson. The wallpaper had been handpainted in Paris in an exquisite lattice pattern of violet and cerulean blue. Moreover, it had a dampening effect on reprobates in pursuit of her person or her fortune.
He straightened and turned, and the pure masculine force of him went through her like a lightning bolt. The appeal of her agency lay in her rank—by right of being born to one nobleman and married to another. Although to be fair, there were a few who considered her to be a disgrace to her name. Still, even those recognized that her father was a marquis and her late husband the son of a viscount.
Eugenia was appalled to find that he was rattling her nerves. This was absurd. He was just another client, to be soothed or squashed as his complaint merited. She would be polite but firm, as was her practice. He dropped into the chair opposite her. I need someone else. Reeve replied, drumming his fingers on his chair.
Or her, for that matter.
Still, her tutors had spoken in polished syllables, whereas Mr. Reeve had a gravelly timbre. Surely you can spare a governess? Inasmuch as you were not happy with Miss Lumley, you are welcome to look for a governess elsewhere. I can direct you to several respectable registry offices. Eugenia spent a second wrestling with the fact that his smile set her heart racing. He seemed to know nothing at all about her or her company. To be frank, I need a cross between a lion tamer and a magician. By way of reply, he gave her another wicked smile.
Could this wallpaper kill you? Victorian Britain's lethal obsession with the perfect shade of green
The sort that made a woman likely to give in to whatever he asked. Eugenia spared an incredulous thought for the woman who had jilted him. She must have been as chaste as an icicle to reach the altar without succumbing to that smile. She drew in a soundless breath. What on earth was getting into her today? She must be having a reaction to being cooped up in the office for the last few weeks. She needed fresh air. Reeve was saying.
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Reeve added, as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. Eugenia was thinking about ghostly rabbits, but her attention snapped back to him. Had they been raised by wolves?
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Otis seems to be quite good at mathematics. A few days ago he opened a betting book in the stables, offering proper odds. A gentleman never mentioned excrement before a lady but, of course, Mr. Reeve added. Has your brother been informed that gentlemen do not take money from stable boys, no matter how interesting the wager?
Reeve agreed. She had known—all polite society knew—that Mr. Reeve was the illegitimate son of an earl. But the information that his mother was an actress had been concealed. Once people learned about his mother, Mr. Reeve would never receive another invitation. Eugenia had a shrewd feeling that he judged himself in relation to other men without exaggeration. She gave him her frostiest look.
Amusement lit his eyes and the air of danger about him evaporated. There is no counterpart to the lovely Dorothea in my household. Snowe was irresistible. And she was widowed, after all. Her scent was sweet and elusive…like dewberries. Tiny berries that smelled sweet but were tart on the tongue. Nor, I might add, do they speak of excrement in the presence of ladies.
He let out a bark of laughter. She was tart, indeed.