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eh? He grinned and tipped back the remainder of his glass.
Brandon grimaced, upset to see his brother in such a state, worse than he had been
since University.  No, Hal, Boney is still kicking but Wellington s kicking back harder.
I ve sold out though. I ve done my job. There was an awkward pause.  What s come
over you man? This is more than just another night of revels. You don t drink alone.
 I do now. I do bloody everything alone. I eat alone, I sleep alone, damnation. He
leaned forward and put his head in his hands. Brandon leaned forward, medical
instincts kicking in to see if Harold was about to be ill, but Harold reared up and threw
his head back and laughed hoarsely.
 Did you ever think I would be brought this low by a woman, brother? Much less
by my own wife! Brandon blinked, shocked at this latest outburst.
78
Match Made by Moonlight
 Oh yes, Lady Patricia Kelsey, most perfect, coolest and loveliest lady of the ton,
has captured the heart of her husband, the fool. And she has proceeded to stomp on it
with her lovely petite heel. Harold took his head in his hands again and silence
reigned for a moment while they both studied the vermillion and russet flowers
adorning the rug beneath their feet.
 When? Father sent word that you two were estranged but I thought& 
 Yes, yes, a marriage of convenience, a uniting of great families. I thought it would
make the old man happy for a time and I could go back to my life and not listen to his
lecturing for a time. We attended events together and I did my duty as far as trying for
an heir but she might as well have been as distant as the moon. He paused, his face
lined with pain.
 That changed?
 Yes, it certainly did. We were up at Acton Grange, I for a spot of hunting, Patricia
because she said she wanted a bit of the country. I was surprised but took her
regardless. There was an accident. Father wouldn t have written, it wasn t that serious,
but I was laid up with a bad leg for a good two months.
 She stayed? Brandon queried.
 She more than stayed. She played the nursemaid to the hilt. Seemed her calling,
every bit as much as yours. She read to me, we talked. She has a wicked sense of humor,
I don t think I ve ever laughed so much. Before I knew it I couldn t imagine going
through a day without seeing her for most of it. I didn t recognize it at the time but I
was falling in love. He laughed, a cynical sound.  Most unfashionable you know,
falling in love with your own wife.
 It might not be fashionable, Hal but it would certainly be a wondrous thing.
Brandon whispered.
 It was. She s a very passionate woman, underneath the layers of ice. Once you
break through, she could melt you. His gaze returned to the fire and he swirled the last
dregs of liquor in his glass.
 Something happened.
 Once the leg mended and we came back to town, I& I was lost somehow. Scared, I
suppose. A dawning comprehension seemed to flicker across his face and he sat up
straight.  Silly isn t it, being afraid of a woman. It s fortunate that the brave one of us
went off to the wars, or Napoleon would be knocking on the door and demanding his
cognac back personally! Let us talk about you, dear boy. How goes the good fight?
 Not brave? The man who holds the phaeton speed record from Pall Mall to
Greenwich? Ha! The female of the species can be very intimidating, so there s no shame
in a bit of healthy fear. Why, some insect females eat their mate after the act. Brandon
could not help enjoying seeing his brother squirm a bit.
Harold turned a bit green.  Damned education of yours. How do you stand
knowing such disturbing things!
79
Elaine Lowe
Brandon sank lower into his chair and eyed the cognac decanter.  That is far from
the most disturbing thing I know, or have seen. Harold raised an eyebrow and poured
him a glass.
 Here s to cognac in the morning and a speedy victory. Harold intoned.
 A speedy victory. Brandon echoed and took a sip.
An uncomfortable silence reined again, as both were quiet with their thoughts.
Brandon was the first to speak, more willing to talk about his brother s peccadilloes
than his experiences in Spain.
 What happened, when you returned to London from the Grange?
Harold drew in a sharp breath and closed his eyes.  Nothing. That was the
problem. I went back to my old life, barely seeing her for more than a few minutes a
day. I thought she did the same, thought that it had just been a diversion from boredom
for both of us. She s very good at masking any emotion. Since she never complained,
never tried to stop my excursions, I got quite wild. Bad as a callow youth.
Brandon raised a brow at that.
 Ha, replied Harold,  You know, when you were gone I was not a completely
useless fop. I had taken over the management of several of the estates and was even
researching a bill for the Lords for Father.
 Bravo. Brandon inclined his head.
 Thank you, most kind. Harold rolled his eyes.  To continue& 
 Yes, yes, what was the cost of this descent into infamy? Brandon crossed his legs,
attempting to get comfortable while not succumbing to travel weariness.
Harold squinted at him in vexation.  Well, other than a night of passion with my
wife that I cannot remember, not a great deal other than sorrow.
 Explain! Or do I wish to hear it? [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]