Silence Is Golden
The Westby Sisters, Book Two
Ever since Evelyn Westby was cursed, she hasn't been able to speak to anyone outside her family. That hasn't stopped men from seeking her favor, especially the handsome and eligible Lord Alexander Newgate. But when her sister elopes and her betrothal is then canceled, Evie will do anything to win back her fiancé, even travel to war-torn France to find the gypsy who cursed her.
Alfred Coombes takes his fate into his own hands when he quits his employment to follow the call of adventure. On the road, he meets Lady Evelyn Westby and sees she needs a protector. Sacrificing his own journey, he becomes her guardian. Treacherous weather and a sinister smuggler throw them together, and he must decide whether to continue his journey or take a chance on a new adventure with a captivating beauty.
“You have done no wrong, Evie.” The deep baritone of his voice rumbled over the syllables in her name. “There is no need for you to apologize.”
There was, but she was a coward. How could she tell this beautiful man, a man who kept her safe and sacrificed his own journey to ensure her safety, she had laughed when she heard how Lord Newgate had tormented him?
Her other hand crept up and rested on his upper arm. “I know I don’t need to, but please accept my apology anyway.”
He studied her for several minutes, the swirling blues and grays in his eyes intensifying the longer he assessed her. He leaned in so his mouth brushed the top of her ear.
“If you insist on apologizing, do so for the kiss you stole from me. I never got a chance to steal one back.” His whispered words were a fiery caress on her already sensitive skin, and gooseflesh dotted her arms.
“I-I don’t take your meaning.” Even as she feigned ignorance, she could not ignore the low ache building deep in her abdomen. “But I want to return to my seat.” She unlaced their fingers and scooted back to her own chair, careful to keep a watchful eye on him lest he surprise her and take the kiss he wanted.
“Are we going to avoid talking about it?”
He raised his eyebrows and took a bite. Watching his teeth capture the morsel of meat, she sighed as his mouth wrapped around the tender bite. She licked her lips and caught him staring at her. Her face warmed as much from her wayward fantasies as from his predatory gaze.
She knew, all right. He wanted to talk about their kiss.
“Perhaps the breakfast room is not the most appropriate place to discuss this, Mr. Coombes.” The familiarity of formal names eased some of her discomfort.
“Meet me in the greenhouse later this afternoon, and we shall discuss it in depth.”
“Let’s meet somewhere more public, like the front parlor, or my uncle’s study.”
He laughed, a hollow, humorless sound at some unknown joke. “By all means. Let’s hear what your uncle has to say about it. I’m sure he will find it as enlightening as I did.”
“Mr. Coombes,” she scolded. “I didn’t mean—”
“What do you mean, my lady?”
She ignored him and poured herself another cup of tea.
“Maybe you could show me. Your actions are far more truthful than your words.”
Clear memories of her desire to grab and hold onto him resurfaced. Within the intimate embrace of the carriage, she had acted on instinct, letting her desires overrule her reason. Though she had tried to convince herself no lingering passions remained, the air crackled when they were near each other, and her blood hummed in her body, singing a song of want and longing. It wove a seductive web, fogging her brain and urging her into impulsive actions, urging her to reconsider ignoring her body’s wants.
Another kiss from him will do no harm. One more taste.