NEW!!! RED WINE FOR MISS PARKER - The next installment in the "Delicious Regency" series!!
Red Wine For Miss Parker
Exclusively for Amazon Kindle: An Apple Pie for a Duke
Bloody hell, bloody, bloody, bloody hell! Why me, why this, why me, why me? Why ME?
“Would you be so genial as to explain your behaviour?” Darlington asked as they rushed down Bond Street. “That was unheard of!”
Dominic said nothing.
Bloody hell! Why me? How did I deserve this?
“Surrey? Are you quite alright, man?”
“I beg you pardon?” Darlington grabbed Dominic by the arm, forcing him to stop. “Have you gone insane? We're walking into the wrong direction! My men are waiting for us with the carriage by the park. Where are you heading?”
“I love her,” Dominic whispered
“What did you just say?”
Dominic wailed. “I love her, gods be damned!”
“Whom? What? And keep your voice down,” Darlington hissed. “What is the matter with you? What was the business with ‘yerrrs… I’m ‘narr’gnt prick’ all about?”
“I love her,” Dominic repeated and wondered how Darlington could not have seen it.
Actually, just as he had entered the bookshop, he had been gripped by a sudden fear: Darlington would fall in love with Gigi too, and she with him, and they would be married and have children and live happily ever after while Dominic would drink and whore himself into an early grave.
“Yes, you said so. It seems to be the only thing you'll say for the rest of the day. Thank Goodness.”
Darlington dragged Dominic along, but very carefully. The Duke of Surrey was not the kind of man one would drag along bodily.
“Why don't we turn around and head back to the carriage. It'll take us to court, where, in case you forget, we do have an appointment with the King. Remember him? Formerly the Prince Regent? Charming fellow. Ruler of this great nation, by the way.”
“No! We can't go back!” Dominic was terrified. “We can't go back!”
“We can't go back where?”
“We can't go back THERE!” He pointed towards the distant bookshop.
“Why ever not?”
“Because, I love her.”
“Yes, but whom?”
“Countess Rivendon? I grant you, she's a beautiful woman but I believe she must be nearing fifty. We did have our share of belles d'automne, but you shouldn't go that far, now should you? I didn't even know you'd met her before, much less that you had a secret liaison with her. Isn't her husband rather the military type? I heard Lackerby mention General Cartwright from time to time and I remember there was always a certain amount of fear in his voice whenever he---”
“Oh shut up!” Dominic took off his hat and wiped his forehead with his handkerchief. “Not her!”
“Lady Tarly then! Are you a pervert?”
Dominic glared at his friend. “Do you wish to die, Darlington? Because I'm about to strangle you.”
“No,” Darlington granted, “but you can't be serious, if what I think is true.”
“And what do you think?”
“I think you shouldn't be hankering after debutantes.” Darlington gave his friend a pitying smile.
“I'm not hankering, I love her!” Dominic felt an urge to punch his old friend in the stomach.
“Yes, yes. One minute in a bookshop and you love her.” Darlington kept holding on to Dominic. “You must be getting really old if a pretty face and some golden curls can heat your blood as much as that. She's pretty, yes, if you like the type, which you do, but she's also a shy, boring little deb. She didn't say a word. But, well, considering the impression you made---”
“Yes she did!” Dominic shouted fiercely. “She said “delighted”! Didn't you hear? And she's not boring. Not boring at all! You're completely ignorant. You don't know her one bit!”
“Oh, but you do, of course, you saw her entire being in the blink of an eye and now you're deeply committed. Her parents will be, let's say, d’lighted, at the prospect of their daughter becoming a ‘ditchiss’ to apply your new manner of speech. --- I think you ought to have a glass of Madeira. Or something stronger.”
“I met her before!”
Now Darlington stopped. “Don't tell me you're having an affaire with her!”
“No, no, no, of course not,” Dominic moaned. “She doesn't even know I saw her. Ever! I was.... well, in hiding.”
“Could you be bothered to explain, my dear Surrey?”
The duke put on a stern face. “No, I can't. And now, stop pestering me, please. --- I'll wait right here and you'll get the carriage. Pick me up at the tailor's across the street.”
Darlington shook his head but walked back on his own.
Dominic crossed Bond Street and was almost run over by a curricle.
Darlington and Surrey had only come to Bond Street to pick up an elegant neck cloth – a gift for his majesty.
On their way back to Darlington's carriage something had caught Dominic's eye in the window of a bookshop. There she stood, like an epiphany, the beautiful pirate girl, gazing up at something hidden from his view. Without further ado he had marched into the shop to rid himself of his idiotic infatuation.
But as soon as he had looked at her he had been on fire.
All he had been able to think of had been her words... devour me, punish me, oh yes, oh Dominic.
He wanted to take her right there, against the bookshelf.
But realisation hit hard. She was, indeed, a young debutante. Beautiful, sparkling, vibrant but innocent.
In a bookshop with her mother and her aunt, for heaven's sake, and I might've deflowered her on top of Robinson Crusoe! --- Why, wouldn't he have enjoyed that? Poor man, all alone on that desolated island and such a beautiful creature as my Gigi naked on the beach, pleading, her breasts lightly covered with sand, and her... Oh, shut up, Dominic! You're such a decrepit man!
He, Dominic St. Yves, was simply not in the habit of conversing with innocent girls and their silly withering relatives. The women he usually frequented were of a different kind. Experienced. Educated. Entertaining. Not accepted in polite society, but what did he care?
He was Surrey. He did what he wanted.
But I want HER!
After all, he could simply show up at her house and propose marriage.
Who would turn him down?
He was Surrey!
He was the dream of mothers all over the land!
He was the dream of their daughters, too!
And he was hers, as well, wasn't he?
She had sworn on the life of Mr. Wimple to marry him if he proposed, so what did he fear?
Who was this Mr. Wimple anyway? Her lover. He must be her lover! But this Mr. Wimple has nothing on me! I'm the greatest catch in the land!
Or wasn't he?
Too sinister. Too old. --- I'm only thirty-one, that's not old! She's young, yes, but my sister married a man who's even twenty years her senior and she's in love with that Barnham person! Young girls marry older men all the time, most of them are certainly not content with it, but then again, that irritatingly handsome and clever husband of Betty's looks as fresh as a boy just out of Eton and he's a miracle of virility, that marvellous earl. Whereas I'm haughty, bored, arrogant and unfriendly. My virility is fine, though. Or is it? They call me a rake, don't they? Well, I guess I AM a rake. I bloody well may be, I am Surrey!
Dominic shook himself to clear his mind.
The tailor gave him a reproachful look but as soon as he had identified his unruly customer, the reproach instantly changed into a benevolent smile.
“Your Grace.” The tailor bowed. “What an honour. I shall immediately call for all my assistants and close the shop for Your Grace's exclusive disposal.”
Outside, Darlington's carriage drew up. Dominic walked out on the tailor without a word.
“Have you calmed down?” Darlington asked as the duke climbed in.
“What? Yes. No. I don't know.”
Darlington pulled out a drawer from underneath the seats. He brought out a bottle of wine and two glasses. “You scared the little bird to death, that's all I can say.”
“I did, didn't I?” Dominic gazed out of the window.
“What am I to do?”
“Forget her. You shouldn't be in dabbling with innocent girls.” Darlington handed him a glass.
“Because you are haughty, arrogant, impulsive, reckless, and moody. To be frank, you're quite abominable.”
“Why on earth are you my friend?” Dominic asked waspishly.
“Because you're rich.”
“You know the most beautiful women.”
“And... You’re rich.”
“Amen.” They cheered.
But as they drove towards the palace, Dominic made a resolution.
The next time he, Dominic St. Yves, the Duke of Surrey, Marquis of Thorne, Earl of Surrington et cetera et cetera, met Miss Eugenia Cartwright, he would know how to behave himself.
He would be ducal. He would be regal. He would be perfect!