Lady Wicked (Notorious Ladies of London #4) - Scarlett Scott
Not one day since you left has gone by without me longing for you. I hate how much I want you. I hate how much I love you. Some days, I contemplate boarding the first steamer I can find bound for New York. But I always stop myself. I must. Better to live in despair as I am now than to make myself any more your fool.
Ever yours (curse you),
She had returned to London.
He had celebrated this decidedly unhappy event by drowning himself in Sauternes at the Black Souls club. But the wine had done nothing to quell either the ire or the ardor which had been threatening to consume him since the moment he had discovered they once more shared the same shores.
Shelbourne’s carriage conveyed him over the London streets beneath the cloak of darkness. The jangling of tack, the familiar scent of the well-oiled squabs, the sound of the wheels rumbling on the road, did nothing to distract him. Still, there was no comfort in either the lateness of the hour or the commonplace encroachments upon his senses.
Nothing could keep her from his thoughts. Nothing could abate the knowledge that Lady Julianna Somerset had come back to England.
The vehicle came to a halt at last in the mews behind his townhome. Cagney House was one of the lesser holdings of his father, the Marquess of Northampton. But as Viscount Shelbourne, and the heir to the marquisate, it was Sidney’s London home. A place of respite from his father’s tyrannical insistence Shelbourne marry and secure the line.
Marriage would happen soon enough.
Lady Hermione Carmichael was as inspiring as a piece of unbuttered toast, with hair the color of a murky puddle and the personality of a plate of biscuits. Her face was plain, her voice was quiet, and she would never refuse him when he asked for her hand in marriage.
But he would not think of Lady Julianna now. On a growl, he leapt from his carriage and stalked into a pelting wall of rain, much to the consternation of his groom, who called out some nonsense about an umbrella.
“Fuck the umbrella,” he said over his shoulder with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Mayhap dousing himself in rain would prove the diversion he required.
“But sir,” came the protest, along with scurrying boots.
Shelbourne did not bother to turn. “If you follow me with that contraption, I’ll shove it up your arse and then open it.”
The footsteps stopped.
He was in a grim mood, and he had no wish to be fussed over by well-intentioned servants. He had every expectation of settling in the library, calling for a bottle, and continuing down the path of destruction he had begun earlier this evening. Or had it been afternoon?
Who the devil cared?
What he needed was more wine, and he needed it now. If he spent the next day with his head hung over a chamber pot, at least he would not be thinking of the flame-haired temptress who had given him her innocence and then laughed at his offer of marriage.
Shelbourne made his way into the main hall, dripping water as he went. His butler hastened toward him, looking as if he had just caught a mischief of rats in the larder.
“What can it be, Wentworth?” he demanded, irritated by the thought of any domestic squabble that would dare to stand between him and his mission of getting so soused he would forget her name.
Hell, he may as well get so tap-hackled he forgot his own name as well. Seemed reasonable.
Wentworth bowed. “Lord Shelbourne, there is a visitor who has been awaiting you for the last several hours. I have repeatedly informed her you are not at home, and that the hour is late, but she refuses to leave. She claims to be a lady, or I would have had her removed well before now.”
A visitor? At this time of night? Christ, it was likely half past two in the morning.
It could not be Charlotte. Although she had begged him to visit her this evening, he had known he would only be thinking of Julianna when he was bedding his mistress. After all, it was no mistake he had chosen a stunning redheaded actress as his current paramour. He would sooner eat a pail of nails than allow himself to imagine he was fucking Julianna.
Mayhap he would have to get thoroughly drunk before he visited Charlotte next.
Or find a replacement.
One with hair as black as his heart.
“I do not want to be