Beyond Scandal and Desire (Sins for All Seasons #1)(6)

By: Lorraine Heath


“Sometimes our endeavors meet with financial success,” he said. “Few men boast about the times when they don’t.”

“Please, let’s not get into business,” Miss Trewlove lamented. “The fireworks will be filling the sky soon. I’ve heard they’re marvelous, and this will be my first time to see them. I don’t want to miss out on a single burst. My lord, you wouldn’t happen to know the best place for viewing them, would you?”

“Indeed, I would.”

With gloved hands clasped before her, Miss Trewlove hopped up to him as though she were a rambunctious puppy who had just divined who held a treat. “Would you be so kind as to show me?”

“I’d be delighted to have that honor. If you’ve never seen them before, you must view them from the best advantage.”

And he would go with them, this man who merely watched, watched her as though striving to uncover every facet of her. She wasn’t quite certain she wanted him near. Something told her that she would be safer if he remained behind. She didn’t fear that he would strike her or harm her in any way. Yet she couldn’t quite shake off the sense that this man was laying claim to her. It was a ridiculous notion. She didn’t know him. He was a commoner. After tonight, they would never again cross paths, and all her curiosity about him would fade away.

“Aslyn?”

Jerking her head to the side, breaking free of whatever spell Mick Trewlove had cast over her, she looked at Kip, surprised to see his hand extended toward her.

“Shall we?” he asked.

“Yes, of course.” She forced herself to move up and place her hand on his arm when she would have preferred to stand there like a silly goose and study Mick Trewlove. She’d never known a man who gave away none of his thoughts or emotions. He didn’t seem bothered by his sister’s forwardness, but then it wasn’t like a paramour dallying with another man. Although most certainly the girl had been flirting, no doubt testing the waters in order to determine if Kip might turn out to be the fancy man her mother wanted for her. But he was spoken for. Not formally announced, yet all of London—­all of Great Britain for that matter—­knew to whom he belonged, whom he would eventually marry, who would become his countess.

She was aware of Miss Trewlove and her brother following behind them. Once again, she had the strange sensation of being watched. She wanted to look back, to see if his eyes were upon her. Instead she marched forward, wondering what she might have done if he had offered her his arm before Kip had. She rather feared she might have taken it. Something about him called to her, drew her in. She didn’t understand this attraction, wasn’t certain she wanted to.





Chapter 2




Mick was torn between being furious with Fancy for taking matters into her own hands and applauding her ingenuity. For gaining him the introduction he’d desired, she’d be insufferable for at least a sennight. But as he followed the couple leading the way toward the fireworks, he couldn’t seem to hold on to his irritation with his sister nor take his gaze away from the woman. She wasn’t exactly what he’d been expecting. Ladies of the nobility tended to be haughty, unapproachable. They looked at him as though he were muck to be scraped off the bottom of their shoe.

But Lady Aslyn didn’t seem to fit so easily into that mold. Her eyes, the blue of a summer sky, had reflected curiosity, perhaps something even more provocative: temptation. He intrigued her. From the moment she’d become aware of his existence, she’d not taken her gaze from him, but had studied him with her fine brow delicately furrowed as though he were a puzzle to be sorted out. He’d wager half his fortune she’d been striving to place him, to wonder from whence she knew him. She was unlikely to make the connection—­not until his plans were completed. Then she would know the truth of him, the truth of those she considered family, those whom she loved. Both truths were likely to bring her to tears, fill her with shame and mortification. And certainly kill any desire for him that might have been sparked within her breast.

If he were any other man, he might experience a measure of remorse, but he’d learned early on there was no capital found in regrets.

“I’ve never spoken to nobility before,” Fancy said quietly. “They seem rather pleasant.”

“Stay away from them after tonight.” He’d been reckless to bring her, to let her get even a glimpse of his quarry.

“Why?”

“Because he has designs on you.” That, too, had been obvious from the start. There had been greed, desire, lust in the earl’s eyes, and it had taken every bit of control he possessed not to introduce his fist to that little dent in his lordship’s chin.