Would it really be so terrible if she and her friends learned about bedsport from a novel? Would he prefer they attempt to accrue firsthand experience?
There’s a thought…
A frisson of heat settled between her thighs, a place she’d occasionally explored, though apprehension kept Clara from spending too much time there.
No doubt Lord Covington is well-versed in that arena.
An image of dark eyes and hair formed in her mind, and an intimate assurance cascaded through her. Though nearly twice her age, he stood frozen in time—his mahogany hair barely showing a hint of silvering at the temples while his broad body looked as sturdy as an oak.
An attractive man, it was obvious why women flocked to him. Tales of his escapades rumored about thetondespite his efforts to remain discreet. Lord Covingtonknewhow to handle a woman, perhaps even performed the acts within the pages ofHer Dark Earl.
And now that she’d made the connection, Clara couldn’t help placing him in the lead role of the male hero, fanning herself briefly after another wave of warmth swept through her veins.
Good lord, was she becoming feverish?
Surely, I can’t be reacting to my friends’ father!
If an older man was what Clara wanted, she would’ve succumbed to marrying Lord Evanston already.
Don’t pretend Lord Covington is anything like Lord Evanston.
Sighing, she leaned against the carriage window to watch the London streets pass by and admitted to herself that no, they were as different as a stallion and the old nag currently leading the way home.
Stop thinking about the earl and figure out what you’re going to tell Evie.
Mrs. Evangeline Castle, Clara’s friend and owner of the purloined novel, would probably scold her for being caught before laughing at the unfortunate situation. Somehow she needed to get the book back… Perhaps by enlisting Sarah and Mary’s help?
Especially since Lord Covington had banned Clara from Covington Hall.
The reminder chafed, and she wished she’d thought of a retort to his brash decision. However, she could think of one now, even if no one heard it but her. Clara spent plenty of time envisioning scenarios and how she’d like them to play out every day while tending to her parents.
They rarely spoke with her as she puttered around tidying a room or completing a task on her long chores list. It allowed her mind to wander for hours at a time, and now she had another scene to rewrite in her head, along with coming up with a plan on how to retrieveHer Dark Earl.
I’ll prove to Lord Covington just howbadof an influence I can be.
ONE WEEK LATER
“32 Finsbury Place South, Jefferson.” The driver nodded and waited for Hugh to settle into the carriage before guiding the horses onto the street. With his solicitor’s meeting ended and time to spare, he decided a quick visit to the Temple of Muses was in order.
The enormous shop boasted the title of “Cheapest Bookstore in the World'' though frugality mattered little to Hugh. What he sought were novels to distract his daughters from badgering him about that damned book of Miss Netherfield’s.
Twice this week he’d caught the girls snooping about his study and bedchambers searching forHer Dark Earl.
Perhaps if I present them with a stack of appropriate reading material, they’ll leave me be.
His lips pressed together in a firm line to avoid releasing a chuckle of amused doubt. Sarah and Mary wouldn’t give up so easily, but it couldn’t hurt to try a new tactic of diversion.
The carriage jostled to a halt outside the bookstore a quarter of an hour later after weaving through London’s busy roads. Hopping down to the pavement, Hugh glimpsed the distinct Roman cupola topping the building before joining its milling crowd of patrons.
James Lackington had come a long way since apprenticing to make shoes. The former cobbler owned one of the largest bookshops in London, and Hugh admired the man’s tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit to rise above his humble beginnings.
While the earldom possessed wealth and land, Hugh’s father had ensured he understood the importance of hard work—taught him to appreciate the toil of their tenants so as to better serve them. Lackington’s grit and determination reminded him of those days spent with local farmers, his father, and a plow. Working the fields, sweating beneath the hot sun together, it all helped him realize what privilege he’d been born into. How it was his duty to protect the people under his care.
I pray Staunton is up to the task.