The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal & Scoundrel #1) - Page 117
“This is deeply embarrassing,” Sophie said from her place high atop her husband’s curricle. “Are we able to be seen by a great deal of people?”
“As it is midday on a Tuesday,” he replied, the words deep and dry and lovely, “Yes. We are.”
She blushed. “This is absurd.”
“Shall I tell you some news that I think will take your mind from it?”
She turned to him, loving the way he laughed. She smiled. “Do I look ridiculous?”
“You look perfect.” He took one of her gloved hands and lifted it for a kiss. “I received news from the idyllic Sprotbrough this morning.”
She straightened. Mary, John, and Bess had ultimately chosen to settle in Sprotbrough. “And?”
“Your doctor reports that Mary is the best nurse this side of the channel, and that John has a particular head for anatomy. The doctor has hopes that such a head, combined with nimble fingers, will make him a brilliant surgeon someday. Bess is running her governess ragged.”
Sophie smiled. “And the doctor?”
“I’m sure the madman enjoys every bit of the mayhem.”
She smiled at that. “I think it’s wonderful. Everyone received their happy ever after.” She had high hopes for Mary becoming more than the doctor’s nurse.
The carriage made a left turn, and Sophie lifted her hands to remove her blindfold. “Is the blindfold entirely necessary?”
King caught her hands before she could achieve her goal. “You’re not being a very good Soiled S, you know.”
“Not even my sisters would allow themselves to be blindfolded in full view of all of London.”
“Not even Sesily?”
“Perhaps Sesily,” she allowed.
Once Eversley and the Duke of Lyne had combined forces to restore Jack Talbot to the ranks of the aristocratically worthy, Sophie’s sisters had returned triumphantly to London. While the Earl of Clare and Mark Landry had been received happily by their respective Dangerous Daughters, Derek Hawkins had not been so lucky.
Sesily had fairly pushed the footman out of the way when Derek had arrived at the front door of the Talbot house and, in front of all Mayfair, given him the thorough set-down that the pompous, arrogant man deserved.
Since then, Sesily had become the most talked-about Talbot in London.
Until now. “This will be in the gossip columns tomorrow,” she said. “I can see the headlines now.”
“Sophie Sans Sight?”
She laughed. “That’s not really salacious enough.”
“Blindfolded Beyond Bedroom?”
She blushed again, the image delightfully scandalous. “That’s too salacious.”
He lowered his voice. “I am happy to show you how perfectly salacious it is this evening.”
She turned toward him, and matched his tone. “Now I really do wish that we were not in public.”
He growled, and she was suddenly quite warm beneath the traveling blanket. “You shan’t distract me from my surprise,” he said, bringing the carriage to a stop. “We’re here.”
She reached for the blindfold. “May I—”
“Not yet,” he said, and the curricle moved as he descended.
“King!” she squeaked, “Don’t you dare leave me here in front of the whole world!”
And then the vehicle moved again, and he was leaning over her, whispering low and dark, “Never. I shall never leave you.”
She turned toward the words as he untied the blindfold, and she found him close enough to touch. To kiss. Her gaze fell to his lips and he smiled, then promised, “When we get inside, love.”
She raised her eyes to his. “You are a rogue.”
“And you aren’t?”
Before she could answer, he backed away and helped her down onto the street where a collection of bystanders watched her, no doubt calculating the speed with which they could deliver this tale to the scandal sheets. The Marchioness of Eversley, delivered blindfolded and by curricle to a perfectly ordinary location in St. James by her possibly mad and most definitely madly-in-love husband.
But Sophie didn’t care a bit about them now that she could see the excitement in his gaze. She shook her head. “I don’t understand. Where are we?” She looked away to the storefront. “A bookshop?”
“Not just any bookshop,” he said, and the look he gave her was full of arrogant pride.
She looked up to the shingle, hanging above. “Matthew and Sons Bookshop.” She stilled, then turned to him, surprise and glee overwhelming her. “Matthew?”
He grinned. “The first name we ever shared.”
She raised a brow. “The name we shared with my footman.”
“I think you mean my footman, but yes.”
Matthew was their footman now, happily employed in their Mayfair home.
Sophie laughed. “A bookshop.”
That smile again. The one that made her love him more every day. “Would you like to go inside?”
She was at the door before the question was finished.
He slipped a key from his pocket and put a hand to the door. “You should know it’s empty. I thought you would like to stock it yourself.” He opened the door, letting it swing open into the dark, quiet room that she was already planning to fill with books from all corners of the world.
She didn’t enter, instead stepping into the jamb and turning to face him in full view of all of St. James. “It’s perfect.”
Happy confusion flooded his face. “You haven’t seen it.”
She shook her head. “I don’t have to. It’s perfect.”