Authors: Kya Lind
The Dusty Duke
The Gypsy Pirate Princess
The Dusty Duke and The Gypsy Pirate Princess
Copyright 2014 Kya Lind
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real people, living or dead, are purely coincidental. All characters and events in this work are figments of the author’s imagination
My little sister and all of her pirates
The Dusty Duke
The Gypsy Pirate Princess
Other Books by Kya Lind
The duke held the mask up in front of his face and gazed at his image in the looking glass. He lowered it and peered again. The man that stared back at him was both too familiar, and at the same time, oddly a stranger. He pushed away such thoughts and returned the mask to its place. The dark shape covered most of his facial features leaving only his mouth and chin exposed. It was a simple costume, not elaborate in any way. It went well with his black vest and trousers, both the same color as his coal black hair.
At thirty-five, he was well known for his lack of style, in that he never wore anything besides black and white with only an occasional accent. He had never cared for the fads of the ton, and resisted his sisters’ attempts to reform him with the tenacity of a bulldog.
As his valet opened the door to admit his grandmother, Greyson William Buckingham, the fourth Duke of Devonshire, dropped the mask and moved to greet her.
“Dear, we do need to be going soon.” She paused to place a customary peck on his cheek, “You are ready. I am so glad, I was afraid that you might have decided to not go.”
“Would I do something like that, Grandmother?”
She looked at him with a knowing glance. They both knew that he hated these types of functions, and had been known to disappear without a trace when forced to attend them in the past. She slid her arm through his, not giving him a chance to make excuses as she escorted him from his chambers.
“Your sisters and aunts will be present tonight. This masque will be the rave of the season. I am so glad you were in town to accompany me, dear.”
As Grey handed his grandmother into the carriage, he marveled again at the woman’s ability to get him to agree to things he was dead set against.
“And all the eligible, young ladies of the season will be present tonight.”
“Precisely the reason I am less than enthusiastic to attend, Grandmother.” His tone held boredom and contempt.
“You must start thinking of your position, dear.”
Greyson rolled his eyes in the darkness of the carriage. “I can find a bride without being thrown into the hen house to be plucked apart by those grasping mothers and their silly daughters, or worse still the married, bored ones.”
“But you haven’t shown an interest in anyone in years. One despairs of you ever taking a wife.” He heard his grandmother flip her fan open; a sure sign that she meant to go to war over this subject again. “And tonight is an ideal event. With everyone masked, you will have a perfect chance to meet someone appropriate without them knowing who you are.”
“We will see,” Grey conceded to appease her a bit. He knew that despite his grandmother’s reassurance to the contrary, the mothers always knew who he was. They had a sixth sense when it came to available men with titles. They always seemed to know the second he stepped into a function of the ton. He had often felt like a hunted animal at such events. He didn’t see why this masque would be any different.
The carriage rolled to a stop before his great aunt’s house. The Duchan mansion rose up from the fashionable street to stand tall and majestic. Its white stone walls were shadowed in different hues of blue tonight. An effect of colored lanterns hung from strategically placed advantage points along its walls and arches.
Greyson adjusted his mask and stepped from the carriage to offer his grandmother a hand. A long suffering sigh escaped his lips as his eyes roved over the throng awaiting entrance into the great hall. He observed that several older women had noted their arrival and did not doubt that news of his arrival would be spread far and wide in a matter of minutes. He frowned. It wasn’t as though he could hide his six and a half foot frame among the other guests. He saw a matron, dragging a young girl in a dress that was too low cut to be practical, head in his direction. He looped his arm through his grandmother’s and guided her up the steps, through the crowd, and into the great hall. After greeting his aunt and her husband, he left them the care of his grandmother and escaped into the dining room.
Several hours later, his sister, Teresa found him leaning against a pillar in the back of the ballroom. His presence was obscured by a large tropical fern of some sort. She had laughed at his preference for hiding, and had persuaded him onto the dance floor for a waltz.
As they twirled around, Greyson was reminded of how much he loved to dance, especially the waltz. He remembered their lessons with Senior Garcia, in this very room when he had been a teenager. He had learned to waltz with his sisters and cousins. A rare smile lifted his lips as they turned to the music. Back then life had been fun, and dancing. . . . Dancing had been pleasurable. Not like today, when if he asked a girl to dance it meant he was practically proposing.
“What are you smiling about, dear brother?” Teresa smiled back.
“Thank you; I had forgotten how much I love dancing.”
Her eyes sparkled through her mask. “You should do it more often.”
The smile left his lips, as they both saw mothers dragging daughters to the sidelines. Teresa chuckled. “You know. . . If you would just pick one to marry than they would leave you alone. Then you would have someone to waltz with anytime you wanted.”
“Agg, sister, not you too? How can you turn against me when you yourself waited for the right one to come along?”
“Because you, dear brother, are not even trying. You haven’t been to an event during the season for two years . . . You dismiss the eligibles out of hand without even meeting them. You seem to think that the woman of your dreams will just stroll up to you someday and announce that she is the one and that you must dance with her.”
“Precisely.” Grayson cut in.
“And you expect this to happen while you are secreted away to your estate in the country?”
Greyson lowered his eyes from the sidelines to his sister’ face again. “Sounds like an excellent idea to me.” His tone, the dry bored voice that he was known for.
Greyson swung them near the balcony doors as the waltz ended and the mothers moved in his direction. He bowed to his sister and stepped out through the French doors into the shadowed veranda.
He skirted the wide covered balcony and ducked into a space shadowed by the bay windows of the ballroom. He smiled as the advancing mother and daughter walked passed without seeing him.
He would have stepped out of his hiding spot, but paused when two young ladies moved toward him.
“Did you see, Lord Byron asked me to dance?” the first girl twittered. Greyson grimaced. He didn’t understand why girls did that nervous, little laughy thing.
“How do you now it was Lord Byron?” the second voice asked. Her voice was soft and sure. Greyson’s ears perked up. He liked the way it sounded, very feminine, very honeyed.
“Honest, It’s hard to cover up all that red hair even at a masque,” explained the first, twittering again.
“So did you enjoy the dance?” asked the second with a smile in her voice.
“Oh, I didn’t accept,” squeaked the first.
“What?” demanded the second.
“Well, what if I tripped, or stepped on his foot, or . . .”
“Oh, Pretty, I cannot believe you are so impossible . . . . .” Greyson lost the rest of what they were saying as the second grabbed the first and marched her away down the balcony and back into the ballroom.
Greyson was intrigued in spite of his misgiving and after a minute decided to follow the pair back into the ballroom. He admitted he wanted to match a face with that delightful voice. Once in the great crowded room, he quickly realized that finding a young lady that he had no idea what looked like was an impossible task. The dancers whirled past as the masked faced guests wove around the back and sides of the dance floor. Hundreds of people moving, and then he saw the mothers pushing toward him again.
Greyson ducked to the back and wove his way toward the doors that opened into the large room. Just as he reached the door something caught his attention. A young man with bright red hair stood against the back wall.
Greyson swerved and joined the young man. Greyson leaned back and watched the several men leaning against this particular wall. He smiled to himself, at one time a long time ago; he had been one of these poor saps. Back before his father and then his grandfather had dropped dead, and left him a duke at the tender age of twenty. The red-haired boy was wearing a bright, green mask that clashed terribly with his hair color. Greyson wondered briefly why he himself was here with the buckflowers against this wall. He didn’t even know if this particular young man was the Lord Byron in question. And if he were, then what? . . . Did he really expect those two ladies to come and find the red-head again?
Grey shifted uneasily on his feet and had just decided to sneak out of the ballroom again, when the crowd parted and a shapely young girl in blue dragging another young woman in pink appeared in the crush. The first girl stopped in front of the young red-headed gentleman. The other young lady pulled against the first’s hands and made sounds of embarrassment. Greyson could see that the second’s face was several shades deeper than the pink of her mask and gown. The first girl refused to release the squirming girl, and proceeded to explain herself to the redheaded boy.
“Begging your pardon, my lord, but I believe you are under the illusion that Prudence does not wish to dance with you. Please be assured that this belief is utter nonsense, and that Prudence would indeed enjoy the opportunity of a waltz with you.” With that pronouncement, she basically shoved the young girl she was towing into the redhead’s arms. Both of them blinked at her in stunned silence. The music started up for the next waltz. The first girl peeked at them through her mask and made a motion that they should proceed with all due haste to the dance floor. Her stance showed that she would broach no arguments.
The red-head seeing a way to appear the gallant hero, rescued the fair maiden from the wrath of her friend and the embarrassment of the situation. He swept the twittering girl into his arms and onto the floor.
Grey couldn’t help it. Another smile lifted the corners of his mouth reaching all the way to his eyes. She was intriguing and delightful. She stood before him and watched the two dance away. She dusted her hands on her dark blue of her skirt and then adjusted her mask. He noted that the mask was one of the smaller types and did little to conceal her face. Satisfied that her mission was complete, she turned from the dance floor and noticed him. Grey stood stock still as she eyed him up and down. He saw the flicker of recognition light her eyes. He searched his mind for something impressive to say, but he found himself tongue-tied. He swallowed awkwardly.
She smiled up at him in delight. “Kind sir, could I impose upon you to dance with me?”
Grey tried to hide his surprise at her request as he bowed formally and took her hand.
As he pulled this delightful vision in blue into his arms, he felt his heart bump against chest. She was tall. Her head came up to his chin. Greyson grinned; she was the perfect height. His hand settled on her trim back as her hand rested on his shoulder. He pulled her into the dance. She immediately followed his lead. They spun around the room. He found himself relaxing as her laughter rolled around them. They waltzed. Greyson was working hard to get a handle on his confused and shattered emotions. He felt his life had just turned upside down. This was what he had been waiting for; this moment all his life, and nothing in his life had actually prepared him for this truth. He held her and they danced. It was magical, beautiful. The lights twinkled off her laughing eyes, the satin of her gown swished against his legs. He smiled again for the third time in the last hour, more than he had in the last month.
The world was finally right . . .
. . and then the dance ended.
She smiled her thanks, and curtsied to him, and then had turned and walked away. Greyson’s brain scrambled from confused euphoria into instant panic. Where was she going? How could she just walk away from what had just happened?
Greyson, after a moment of frozen, stunned bewilderment, stumbled after her through the new set of dancers that from converged on the floor.
He caught up with her just as she reached the door to the balcony. He followed her onto into the shadowed terrace. “Please,” Greyson implored laying a hand on her bare arm.
Startled, she turned and looked at him through the slits in her mask, her eyes questioning.
“You didn’t tell me your name.”
Greyson watched the expressions cross her face.
“My name is Grey” he offered.
“Well, at least grey is something easily defined,” her eyes sparkled at an inside joke.
Greyson moved closer, “Would you agree to walk in the garden with me?”
She leaned over the railing and considered the well-lit paths through the garden below. She shot him a look from the corner of her eye. “Well, if you agree to keep your hands . . . . and everything else to yourself.” She nodded.
Greyson smiled again and looped her hand through his arm as he guided her down the broad back steps to the garden path.
“You never told me your name.”
“And I don’t intend to.”
He looked at her in surprise. “Then what shall I call you?”
She shrugged and chuckled. Greyson loved the way she laughed. It warmed his soul. “I guess you will have to pick a name. . . but do try to make it something interesting. . . Jane is just so . . . unimaginative.”