Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3) - Lisa Kleypas Page 0,1

a man of his considerable power. But no one could look into those remarkable light blue eyes, alive with glints of fire and ice, without recalling that he had once been the most wicked rake in England. He still was—Evie could attest to that.

Time had treated Sebastian lovingly, and always would. He was a beautiful man, lean and elegant, his tawny-golden hair now lightly brushed with silver at the temples. A lion in winter, whom no one would cross except at their peril. Maturity had given him a look of cool, incisive authority, the sense of a man who had seen and experienced enough that he could rarely, if ever, be outmaneuvered. But when something amused or touched him, his smile was both incandescent and irresistible.

“Oh, it’s you,” Sebastian said in a tone of mild surprise, seeming to ponder how he had ended up kneeling on a bathroom rug with his wife in his arms. “I was prepared to debauch a resisting servant girl, but you’re a more difficult case.”

“You can debauch me,” Evie offered cheerfully.

Her husband smiled, his glowing gaze moving gently over her face. He smoothed back a few escaping curls that had lightened from ruby to soft apricot. “My love, I’ve tried for thirty years. But despite my dedicated efforts . . .” A sweetly erotic kiss grazed her lips. “. . . you still have the innocent eyes of that shy wallflower I eloped with. Can’t you try to look at least a little jaded? Disillusioned?” He laughed quietly at her efforts and kissed her again, this time with a teasing, sensuous pressure that caused her pulse to quicken.

“Why did you come to find me?” Evie asked languidly, her head tilting back as his lips slid to her throat.

“I’ve just received news about your son.”

“Which one?”

“Gabriel. There’s been a scandal.”

“Why is he your son when you’re pleased with him, and my son whenever he’s done something wicked?” Evie asked as Sebastian removed her apron and began to unfasten the front of her bodice.

“Since I’m the virtuous parent,” he said, “it only stands to reason that his wickedness must come from you.”

“You h-have that exactly backward,” she informed him.

“Do I?” Sebastian fondled her slowly as he considered her words. “I’m the wicked one? No, my pet, that can’t be right. I’m sure it’s you.”

“You,” she said decisively, and her breath hastened as his caresses became more intimate.

“Hmm. This must be sorted out at once. I’m taking you straight to bed.”

“Wait. Tell me more about Gabriel. Does the scandal have something to do with . . . that woman?” It was more or less public knowledge that Gabriel was having an affair with the American ambassador’s wife. Evie had heartily disapproved of the relationship from the beginning, of course, and had hoped it would end soon. That had been two years ago.

Lifting his head, Sebastian looked down at her with a slight frown. He sighed shortly. “He’s managed to compromise an earl’s daughter. One of the Ravenels.”

Evie frowned, pondering the name, which sounded familiar. “Do we know that family?”

“I was acquainted with the old earl, Lord Trenear. His wife was a flighty, shallow sort—you met her once at a garden show and discussed her orchid collection.”

“Yes, I remember.” Unfortunately, Evie hadn’t liked the woman. “They had a daughter?”

“Twins. Out for their first Season this year. It seems that your idiot son was caught in flagrante delicto with one of them.”

“He takes after his father,” Evie said.

Looking highly insulted, Sebastian rose to his feet in a graceful motion and pulled her up with him. “His father was never caught.”

“Except by me,” Evie said smugly.

Sebastian laughed. “True.”

“What does in flagrante delicto mean, exactly?”

“The literal translation? ‘While the crime is blazing.’” Picking her up easily, he said, “I believe a demonstration is in order.”

“But what about the s-scandal? What about Gabriel, and the Ravenel girl, and—”

“The rest of the world can wait,” Sebastian said firmly. “I’m going to debauch you for the ten thousandth time, Evie—and for once, I want you to pay attention.”

“Yes, sir,” she said demurely, and looped her arms around her husband’s neck as he carried her to their bedroom.

Chapter 1

London, 1876

Two days earlier . . .

Lady Pandora Ravenel was bored.

Bored stiff.

Bored of being bored.

And the London Season was barely underway. She would have to endure four months of balls, soirées, concerts, and dinners before Parliament closed and the families of the peerage could return to their county seats. There would be at least sixty dinners, fifty balls,