Read Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake Online

Authors: Jane Charles

Tags: #romance regency tenacious trents england historical

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BOOK: Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake
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And what the hell did Millicent have to
do with anything? She apparently figured into Miss Montgomery’s
rejection of him but he didn’t have the foggiest idea
how.

He glanced around the room looking at
all the ladies though there was only one Millicent that he knew of
and she was married to Lydell. That chit had been the bane of his
existence last Season. She had been Lady Millicent at the time and
had hounded his steps to the point that Jordan almost gave up going
into public for fear she would somehow compromise him.

Jordan barley knew the chit but she
must be the one Miss Montgomery referred to because the two were
often in each other’s company last spring. Jordan had made the
mistake of dancing with her on a few occasions, but that is only
because he had first asked Miss Montgomery and it seemed rather
rude to ask one lady and not the other but that was as far as his
relationship went with regard to that Millicent and he could think
of no others. Apparently that was all the encouragement the young
woman needed before she showed up wherever he found himself. His
only escapes last spring were his clubs, the Inns of Court,
Gentleman Jackson’s or the privacy of his own home. Jordan hadn’t
been cruel in his rejection. Actually he hadn’t rejected her at
all, simply did not encourage her and never asked her to dance
again.

So, how did she figure into all of
this?

He had been on the verge of courting
Miss Montgomery. He didn’t know her well, if at all, but the few
times he danced with her held promise. He had left but for a few
short weeks with every intention of officially calling on her upon
his return to London only to find her not at home to him. His plan
was to take her driving in the park, ices at Guenters and all the
normal things gentlemen did when courting a lady to see if they
would suit but he never got the chance. After his return he was
only able to secure one other dance and that is because he had
practically stolen it from his brother, Clayton. Yet, even during
that last waltz she refused to speak with him.

If he could get some answers he would
at least be able to offer an explanation, apologize or finally be
able to move on without Miss Montgomery inhabiting his thoughts
every night. Maybe he would be able to forget about her.

His obsession made absolutely no sense
either. What could anyone tell of another person from a few shared
dances? Yet he was obsessed. If it were simply desire he would find
a substitute. He never suffered from a lack of female
companionship, but he didn’t want anyone else. He wanted Miss
Audrey Montgomery despite the fact that she clearly hated
him.

Miss Montgomery laughed at something
Grace said. Meanwhile, Matthew, his brother and former vicar,
smiled at Grace, the warmth of love in his gaze. It made Jordan
nauseous.

Hell, admit it to yourself. He was
jealous of each of his brothers and their wives and the love each
couple shared. Jordan downed the contents in the glass and searched
for a servant. He would need more than one glass of wine to get him
through tonight. Even his younger sister, Madeline was married and
over the moon for her husband, Brachton.

A footman came within sight and Jordan
strode over and placed his empty glass on the tray and picked up
another.

Why was he here? He glanced across the
room. Because she was! He and Miss Montgomery would either come to
an agreement by the end of the Season or he would learn why she
hated him. Then he could put her behind him and find a lady of his
own.

The question was — why did he care?
Why did he even wish to pursue a woman who wanted nothing to do
with him? It was just one of the many questions he had asked
himself over the past year but he couldn’t move on until he had
answers.

Could it be that it was simply because
she was the only lady who had ever rejected him?

No. There was something about Audrey
Montgomery that intrigued him, far more than simply
rejection.

Audrey Montgomery sighed and relaxed
when Mr. Jordan Trent finally left. She wished he wouldn’t watch
her so. His smoldering blue eyes sent shivers down her spine. Why
had she allowed that man to kiss her just now? She knew what he
was! He was a scoundrel who would break her heart in an instant,
yet she had fallen into his arms easy enough. She should have
slapped him for the liberties he had taken but in truth she rather
enjoyed them. This was exactly why she needed to avoid Jordan
Trent!

She had hoped he was the one last year.
Granted, they only shared a few dances, but after the last dance he
had escorted her to the side of the room, looked down at her, his
blue eyes darkened and a hesitant smile came to his lips, just
barely enough for the dimple to show.

“Miss Montgomery, I would like to call
on you when I return.”

Her heart had stopped for a moment
before it began an erratic beat. She had hoped but feared he only
wished to dance with her.

“May I?” His cobalt eyes bore into
hers.

“Yes.” Her answer came out breathy as
if she had been running and her pulse certainly felt as if she had
just completed a race.

His grin grew wide and be bowed. “I
look forward to my return.”

Mr. Trent had returned her to her aunt
and uncle and left the ball not much later. The only person she had
told was Millicent. Her friend hadn’t been as thrilled as Audrey.
“I wouldn’t set my heart on him,” she had said. “I am sure Trent
visits many ladies.” She looked at Audrey with sympathy. “He has
even shown an interest in me.”

Why couldn’t her friend have allowed
her a few moments of happiness? Jealousy had eaten at her,
especially since Millicent and Trent would be attending the same
house party while she continued on in London.

It wasn’t that he had been gone for so
long that upset her; it was what he had done in his absence. Had
she known his true character, or listened to the warnings from
friends, she would not have been so hurt by his actions. Further,
she probably should have expected it of him and she should be
thankful she escaped before he managed to ruin her as well. Yet she
almost fell back into that very trap this evening.

She still bristled at what he had done.
How dare he ruin Millicent?

Audrey glanced up at her dance partner,
Viscount Renway. He was a kind gentleman of about eight and twenty.
He would never dream of seducing an innocent, nor had he even
attempted to make advances on her person. Renway was everything
Trent was not. He was a gentleman and Trent was a rogue. Trent had
stolen a kiss when nobody was looking. Renway barely brushed his
lips across the back of her gloved hand. Her skin burned where
Trent touched, even if there were layers of clothing. Renway didn’t
even warm her that one cool night when he stood close to her on a
balcony. Where Trent was firm, though not forceful, Renway was
delicate in the way he touched her, such as how he held her hand
now. His grip was almost non-existent. Renway did dance divinely.
He was light on his toes and swept her from one end of the room to
the other.

She just wished he were more masculine.
Audrey sighed and looked past Renway’s shoulder. She could do
worse, but the man was almost as feminine as she was. While she
didn’t want someone rough, strength held much appeal. When Trent
partnered her, his hand at the small of her back was firm and
guided her across the floor and he held her in a secure grip which
was far from painful. Audrey‘s glove was getting damp from Renway’s
sweaty palms and it was all she could do not to yank it away. Trent
never perspired.

A smile pulled at her lips. Yes he did.
When he was engaged in manly pursuits such as boxing or riding, and
she only knew of those occasions because she had spied him leaving
Gentleman Jackson’s once and witnessed a horse race between him and
a few friends. Perspiration from such exertions did not bother her,
sweaty palms of suitors however, made her uncomfortable and she was
ready for the dance to end.

At least now Trent was gone from the
ballroom and was, if she were correct, gambling in the card room.
That was more suited to him and much safer for the innocent young
ladies being presented this year, who knew nothing about the
dangers lurking beneath his disguise of a handsome reputable
gentleman. Audrey was certain that once Jordan Trent had his fill
of gambling and drinking he would be on his way to the nearest
brothel, not giving her another thought. Still, it wasn’t Trent she
should be thinking of, but Millicent, whom he seduced last spring
and refused to marry.

Rage boiled within her at the
injustice. Poor Millicent had been forced to marry Lord Lydell.
Thank goodness the child Millicent had conceived from the encounter
was a female so there were no issues of inheritance or succession
of title. And of course, nobody knew of these circumstances except
for Millicent’s immediate family, her husband, and Audrey, who
would never breathe a word of the truth and risk ruining her
friend.

Audrey glanced to the side of the room.
Millicent stood with her husband, a false smile on her lips. It was
a shame Millicent couldn’t find happiness and had to marry a man
who wanted her only for her dowry. And the situation could have
certainly been worse. Millicent might not have married ever and her
daughter would have been forced to live with the stigma for being
born on the wrong side of the blanket. Regardless, her friend was
unhappy and it was all Trent’s fault.

As the dance came to an end, Audrey
curtseyed and Lord Renway bowed.

“Would you care for a cup of
punch?”

Though she was parched, Audrey had no
desire to spend any more time in Renway’s company. “That is very
kind of you, but I need to speak with Lady Lydell.” Audrey nodded
to her friend across the room.

Renway’s smile didn’t quite reach his
eyes, but he nodded and stepped back so that Audrey could go to her
friend.

Millicent brightened as Audrey
approached. It was a shame her friend was so unhappy and Audrey
could only hope that Millicent one day became content with her
life.

After losing more than he cared to
count, Jordan pushed back from the table. He couldn’t concentrate
on his cards, or the conversations occurring around him. Not when
Miss Montgomery was out there, dancing and flirting with each
gentleman who paid her a compliment. Why should he remain away from
her? Why shouldn’t he demand answers? She at least owed him an
explanation.

He lifted a glass of wine from a
footman’s tray and strode further into the ballroom. Miss
Montgomery was in conversation with Lydell’s wife.

He still didn’t know how she and Lydell
had ended up married, but Jordan wasn’t going to question his good
fortune. Or, Lydell’s for that matter since the chit had the one
thing Lydell needed more than anything—plenty of blunt.

Mr. Bilkin approached Miss Montgomery
but she rejected his request. Jordan wondered what was wrong with
the chap since Miss Montgomery had danced almost continually since
she arrived. Or at least she had before he went into the card
room.

Jordan mentally reviewed her dance
partners for the evening. Each was an unattached lord or an
unattached gentleman who would one day inherit a title. Mr. Bilkin
did not have a title and never would. Was that why she dismissed
him last spring? She wanted a title after her name?

BOOK: Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake
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