Four Nights with the Duke
Desperate Duchesses # 8
March 31st, 2015
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Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia’s audacious proposal, but there’s one thing he won’t give his inconvenient wife: himself.
Instead, he offers Mia a devil’s bargain… he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.
Which Mia will never do.
Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart-and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can’t afford to lose.
Four Nights with the Duke
© 2015 Eloisa James
“Love custard”? Mia hadn’t the faintest idea what that meant, but she knew instinctively that it was something disgusting. Boys were disgusting by nature; she’d temporarily forgotten that while pining for Vander. When she thought he was godlike.
In reality he was a heartless pig.
“You haven’t gotten under her skirts, have you?” Oakenrott sounded gleeful at the prospect. “Her father could take this line about beinglost in your sweetness and pressure you to make an offer.”
“Never!” Vander sounded so appalled that the word slid over Mia’s skin like a snake. “It’s a little odd to think that she’s been lusting after me. What sort of fifteen-year-old girl thinks in these terms?
Though I suppose she is her father’s daughter.”
Mia could hardly breathe because she was trying to sob without noise. He made her sound repulsive, saying that she was lusting after him. It wasn’t like that. She wasn’t like that.
“Have you ever noticed her staring at you from the side of the room?” Thorn asked. “Because here it says, Like the bird that gazes all night at the moon, I gaze at you.”
“Like a bird, or a Bird of Paradise?” Oakenrott put in. “Maybe she can set herself up as a literary light-skirt. One sovereign for a poem and two for a you-know-what.”
“All I can say is she’s a God-awful poet,” Vander said. “Even I know that poems are supposed to rhyme.”
What an idiot. Mia took a shuddering breath. She had to escape. She simply could not stand any more of this.
“I think you should frame it,” Thorn said, “because I can tell you right now that no one else will think you’re pretty enough to rhapsodize about. Especially given the size of your moonbeam.”
That brought on a scuffle and more laughter. At her expense. Mia could feel the air rattling in her throat. Likely it was the death rattle. Maybe she would die, and they’d find her body in this very spot.
“You know, I have to warn the fellows,” Oakenrott said. “Some bloke might be chatting with her right now, having no idea what a jam tart she is.”
“If she’s like that at fifteen, what’ll she be like at twenty?”
“Don’t even jest about it. You’d ruin her,” Thorn said sharply. “You mustn’t say a word.”
“The poetry is evidence for the obvious,” Oakenrott protested. “She’s got a sluttish look about her. It’s all there. Most girls that age have apple dumplings in front, but hers are more like cabbages than cherries!”
Mia stifled another sob. There was silence for a second, just long enough so that Mia could imagine Vander standing up for her, like a knight in shining armor. Growling, Shut your mouth, Oakenrott. She does not look sluttish.
That didn’t happen.
A New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is an honest to goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.