The Rakehell of Roth (Everleigh Sisters #2) - Amalie Howard Page 0,1

off the chill of her iceberg of a husband. Perhaps he had other things on his mind, like matters of business?

She drew a bracing breath, determined to make the best of it.

“Are you well, my lord?” she ventured softly.

Slate-gray eyes fell to hers, confused for an instant as if he didn’t know who she was or what she was doing there, as though she were some species of creature he did not recognize. But then they cleared, and recognition filled them. “Yes, of course. And you?”

“I’m well, thank you.”


Awkward silence spooled between them.

So much for brilliant conversation. Ducking her head, Isobel cringed and gulped the rest of her tasteless drink, her eyes darting to the revelry within the balcony doors. Lady Hammerton’s ball was in full swing, and Isobel knew that Astrid would be there. A small comfort, at least.

“I…I suppose we should go in,” she suggested.

The marquess gave her an unreadable look, though his mouth pinched with the barest hint of resignation. “Yes, the show must go on, mustn’t it?”

She blinked in confusion. “The show, my lord?”

He leaned down to graze his lips over her cheek, the soft caress at odds with his mocking tone and taking her by surprise. Inhaling deeply as though scenting her skin, his nose drifted down the curve of her jaw until his mouth hovered over the corner of hers. Isobel’s lips parted of their own trembling accord, in unspoken invitation, which he did not accept.

Kiss me, she wanted to beg.

She didn’t. But shyly, she tilted her chin, trying to show him what she yearned for. With a muttered curse, the marquess reared back and stared at her with a strange blend of irritation and desire in those flinty eyes.

Isobel swallowed her disappointment. “Did I do something wrong, my lord?”

It felt like an eternity before that beautiful gray gaze landed on her, the brief hint of desire from earlier no longer present. Not one ounce of warmth came through his impassive regard. It wasn’t irritation now, she realized, but forced indifference. Why would he need to be indifferent?

“No,” he murmured. “This is simply new to both of us.”


His lip curled. “Until death us do part, love.”

The sentiment and endearment should have eased her, but the cynical way he uttered those words did not sound like the commitment and union they were meant to represent, though rather more of a curse. But then, once more as if in contradiction of himself, he lifted her hand and brought her knuckles to his lips. Ever so slowly, he brushed his mouth over her gloved hand, until she could feel her heartbeat throbbing in each fingertip. The gentleness of the caress undid any worry she had.

If he touched her like this, they were going to be just fine.

Winter sat back against the velvet squabs of his coach and settled in for the ride to his father’s ancestral seat in Chelmsford, his family home and the only place he could take a wife.

Bloody hell. Not a wife. His wife.

God, how his sister would have cackled to see the great Winter Vance leg-shackled.

I shall never marry! His twelve-year-old self had puffed his chest. Girls are annoying, just like bratty little sisters.

Prue had paid his male posturing no mind. Then I shall curse you, my favorite brother, to marry the most beautiful angel in the world!

And here he was.

Married to exactly that.

Winter forced himself to focus on the task at hand. He couldn’t go to his private estate, Rothingham Gable, for obvious reasons. For one, that particular abode was not prepared for a Lady Roth, given the week-long house party that had just been hosted there.

He had not even been in residence. Rutland and Petersham and the rest of their fast set had run the show, desperate for some wild country fun to offset the terminal boredom of the season. While he missed them from time to time, those days of endless dissipation were over. They had been since Prue’s death. Not that anyone actually knew…or had noticed. People believed what they wanted to believe.

Winter slanted his new wife a glance. Her attention was caught outside the small window, her face held in pensive thought. Her profile was exquisite, perfect in its symmetry from the classic line of her forehead to her delicate nose and pink rosebud pout. Isobel was young, fresh out of the schoolroom, but he couldn’t deny her exceptional beauty…or his irritating and inconvenient attraction to her.

Christ, he wanted to debauch that mouth right there on the balcony—take