Chapter Two ~by Barbara Monajem
Heavens, it was gorgeous Lord Torquil D. Silverthorne—or as Araminta liked to think of him, Lord Tall, Dark, and Sinister. Nobody knew what the D stood for; even in Debrett’s, the initial was all one could find. The disgraced son of a duke, he dwelt in an ivy-enshrouded mansion on a hill between here and Araminta’s home.
“Good day, Lady Ambleforth.” Lord Torquil swept off his hat with a flourish and bowed low over her hand. His lips barely brushed her glove, but nevertheless a quiver ran through her at his touch. (How appropriate if the D stood for Dangerous. Or Delicious.)
“A carriage breakdown?” murmured Lord Torquil. His eyes touched her, too—everywhere, in the most disconcerting way. “How convenient.” He replaced his hat upon his dark locks, which curled disreputably over his collar and brow. (What a pity Disconcerting and Disreputable were not proper names.)
She put up her chin. She refused to let Lord Torquil—or any man—unsettle her. “For me, certainly. I can’t imagine why I didn’t think of it before. A brisk walk is far more to my taste than shopping. Good day, my lord. ” She nodded dismissal, twirled her blue parasol and continued toward home.
Unsurprisingly, he turned to accompany her. “Convenient for me as well. What greater pleasure than to stroll on a glorious June day with a lovely lady on my arm?”
Araminta rolled her eyes. She wasn’t on his arm and didn’t intend to be.
“But that’s not what I meant,” Lord Torquil said. “Wealthy, young, beautiful widows are few and far between, and a solitary walk might well be fraught with peril.”
She huffed. “In the countryside so close to home? If you dare tell me my husband would have disapproved…”
“He would have, but he doesn’t matter anymore, does he? You’re an independent woman now.”
Must he purr like a large, warm tomcat asking to be stroked? Torquil Desirable Silverthorne… His voice sidled into her thoughts, which were rapidly turning disgraceful. “Aren’t you?”
Wasn’t she what? Oh. Independent. “Of course I am.”
“And aren’t there many, many men out there who would like to change that?”
Definitely—even before she was out of mourning, she’d had offers of marriage, which she had refused. “Let them try!”
“I believe one of them already has, and in a most unscrupulous way.” He smiled at her with a flash of white teeth and a glint in his eye. “I suspect it is someone who dwells between here and your home.”
“Whatever can you possibly mean?” She quickened her steps, starting to be annoyed. While she might safely indulge a few improper thoughts about delectable Lord Torquil, he had now begun to truly disturb her.
“Such a lonely stretch of road,” he said. “Such a spirited lady, itching to be free for once in her life. Such a convenient mishap to her wheel—enough to disable the phaeton, but not to cause her any harm.”
Rapidly, Araminta reviewed all the neighbours who might aspire to her hand. None of them would hatch such a devious plan… Oh! “You sabotaged my phaeton?” She whipped her parasol shut and backed away from him, brandishing it. “How dare you!”
He put up his hands, laughing. “My dear Lady Ambleforth! If I had purposely damaged your wheel, do you think I would tell you so?”
Barbara Monajem has a new novella coming out in July. It's called To Rescue or Ravish? A blurb and excerpt can be found at her website. (www.BarbaraMonajem.com).
Come back tomorrow for the next installment of Lady Ambleforth's Afternoon Adventure! And don't forgot to enter the Harlequin Historical Summer Giveaway, which continues till June 28th with daily contests and a grand prize. The calendar is here.