Authors: Jane Charles
Tags: #romance regency tenacious trents england historical
Audrey’s breath hitched when she
recognized Jordan Trent. No wonder he hadn’t given Millicent any
attention last night. He had made plans to be with Lady Rothsbury
later, which apparently lasted all through the night.
It wasn’t worth her time to watch
Jordan Trent, or give him any further thought, yet she couldn’t
bring herself to turn away from the window. Once she shared with
Millicent what she witnessed this morning, perhaps her friend would
put the scoundrel from her mind and concentrate on her
Trent crossed the square and paused as
he came close to Audrey’s home. She leaned closer to the window,
angry at herself for not pulling away and dismissing him. But how
could she when he looked so fine in the morning despite the fact
that he was still wearing his evening clothes. But, what would she
expect. It wasn’t as if he would take an extra set of clothing to
Lady Rothsbury’s. Or she assumed gentlemen didn’t think to plan so
The scruff on his unshaved chin added a
wickedness to his appearance and Audrey grew warm.
Trent stopped and looked up. A slow
grin spread across his handsome face.
She should pull away from the window
but his eyes locked with hers. Trent tipped his hat, bowed, then
turned on his heel.
Audrey yanked the curtains
He was a scoundrel and rake and she was
just as silly as Millicent for allowing him to make her heart beat
a little faster than normal. She must put him from her
Audrey turned to her maid once they
entered the grand foyer of the Lydell mansion. “This visit may be
“Yes, mum.” The maid bobbed a
You will have to wait your
turn.” Mrs. Lynch, the housekeeper harrumphed as she stepped in to
the foyer. “The parlor is already overflowing with
Audrey frowned. “Gentlemen?” Her friend
was a married lady. Why would gentlemen feel the need to call on
“It isn’t right,” Mrs. Lynch shook her
“It isn’t for us to judge.” The butler
sniffed in disapproval.
Audrey didn’t say anything further. All
she could hope was that Jordan Trent was not one of Millicent’s
As the butler led Audrey to the parlor,
the voices reached her before she stepped into the room only to
find half a dozen gentlemen seated and standing around Millicent.
Audrey knew them by reputation. They were all in their early
twenties, handsome, and well-known for their rakish lifestyles. Why
were they here?
Millicent sat in the center, giggling,
blushing and touching hands, arms and legs when comments were made.
She was far too free with her affection and it made Audrey quite
uneasy. Millicent seemed to have wrapped a spell around each one of
them and was drawing them into her web. What she would do with the
gentlemen when they were snared, Audrey didn’t know. Perhaps she
didn’t wish to know either. What was her friend thinking and why
were these gentlemen flirting with a married woman when there were
dozens of debutants who would be thrilled with the same
Of course, debutants weren’t free with
their favors and by the way Millicent was clothed in her low-cut
day dress and the freedom her hands expressed, these gentlemen were
not here for a simple visit.
The pain of a headache began at
Audrey’s temples and she dearly hoped Lord Lydell was not at
“Audrey,” Millicent cried when she
finally noticed her friend standing inside the door. “Do come in.”
Millicent swatted Mr. Dalton’s thigh with her fan and winked at
him. “Do move so my dear, dear friend, Miss Audrey Montgomery, may
Dalton grinned, but stood. Another
gent, Mr. Everton, offered his arm and escorted Audrey to the
settee. Millicent leaned forward and poured Audrey a cup of tea.
She had to look away because Millicent’s gown gaped most immodestly
and she was viewing far more of her friend’s bosom than she wished.
She glanced around and noted that each gentleman had taken note and
were staring at the globes about to come free from the confines.
Goodness, someone needed to take Millicent in hand. Her friend
surely couldn’t know how much she was putting on display, could
“I am so glad you have come to call,”
Audrey took a sip of her tea and looked
over the rim of her cup. The gentlemen had watched Millicent like
they wished to make her their next meal and now a few of them were
looking at Audrey in the same manner. Goodness, this was quite
uncomfortable indeed. These were the very gentlemen young ladies
were warned not to be alone with, or even dance with because they
apparently had no moral boundaries. Each smile was more seductive
than the last and their eyes glinted as if they knew secrets and
wished to share them. A proper young lady wouldn’t be caught dead
in the company of one of them and here she and Millicent were
surrounded. How did one make them leave?
The butler stepped into the room and
cleared his throat.
“Yes Jeeves?” Millicent
“Lord Lydell has left Parliament and I
believe he is now on his way home.”
“He ruins all of my fun,” Millicent
whined. “Well, dears,” she said to the gentlemen gathered. “It
appears our time has come to an end.”
There were a few groans but those who
sat came to their feet. Each paused before Millicent, kissed her on
the cheek, though a few brushed her lips, and others gave her hand
or waist a caress or squeeze. Audrey did her best not to look at
the display but could not tear her eyes away, as if watching a
One by one they left until only Audrey
and Millicent remained in the room. A maid rushed in and gathered
up all of the extra cups and carried them out of the room, leaving
just the two being used by the ladies. Another gathered plates and
napkins and in a few short moments the room looked as if nobody had
been present but Audrey and Millicent. This was clearly not the
first time her friend had entertained so many gentlemen because her
staff was far too efficient in getting rid of any evidence of
“What are you thinking?” Audrey
demanded once they were alone.
Millicent grinned unashamedly. “Aren’t
“If one prefers the company of
Millicent laughed and fell back against
her seat. “They are charming. I just wish I could decide who I wish
“Pursue?” Audrey screeched. “You are a
Millicent rolled her eyes and popped a
biscuit in her mouth.
Her friend seemed to take forever to
finish eating. Audrey could only stare at her and drummed her
fingers upon her leg in frustration. What had become of Millicent?
She was not the same person she had been while they were growing
Audrey quickly amended the thought. In
truth, Millicent, the only child of doting parents, had always
craved attention. She hated when someone received more than she and
Millicent always wanted what others had, and especially what she
couldn’t obtain. Audrey had hoped Millicent would have grown out of
the childish behavior and thought her friend had after returning
from the exclusive girls’ school her parents had sent her to, but
Audrey suspected she had not. Is that why she was behaving this way
now? Was the attention of her husband not enough?
“Lydell bores me.”
“He is still your husband and you
should not carry on this way.”
Again, Millicent laughed. “He will
never know.” She dismissed the idea with a wave of her hand and
roll of the eyes. “He doesn’t pay any attention to me.”
Audrey suspected that may be the truth.
Lydell certainly appeared unconcerned when Millicent had
practically thrown herself at Trent last evening. “You can’t keep
an affair secret, if that is your plan.”
A sly smile came to Millicent’s lips.
“Oh, I don’t intend for my relationship to be a secret.”
Was Millicent intentionally trying to
goad her husband? Was Lydell not giving her enough
“How else can I make him jealous if it
is a secret?”
“Yet, you just said he would never
know. If he doesn’t know, how can you make him jealous? You aren’t
making any sense.”
“I just can’t decide who would be
better, Dalton or Everton.”
“Neither,” Audrey practically
Millicent straightened and she blinked.
“Do you think one of the others would be better?” She leaned
forward to pour tea into her cup. Audrey averted her eyes from the
display of the woman’s gaping bodice. “Viscount Acker is rather
charming, and handsome with his blonde hair, and light blue eyes,
but he hardly paid me any mind last night.”
“Nor should he,” Audrey
“Then there is Mr. Victor.” Millicent
sighed. “He was sitting next to you.”
“I know who he is,” Audrey bit
Millicent pursed her lips
and tapped a finger against them, her brow furrowed in thought.
Everton. He would surely take notice then.”
Audrey threw up her hands in
frustration. “Of course he would.”
Her friend grinned.
She leaned forward and grabbed
Millicent’s hands. Audrey had to bring her friend to her senses.
“Why are you doing this to Lydell?”
Millicent straightened. “What does this
have to do with my husband?”
Audrey’s mouth popped open. This is the
most confusing conversation she had ever been involved in. Had her
friend lost her mind? “If you pursue a liaison with Dalton, Everton
or both, your husband will be jealous and probably angry and hurt.
I don’t understand why you want to do such a thing. What is the
purpose of intentionally making Lydell jealous?”
The woman threw her head back and
laughed. “You think I want to make Lydell jealous.”
“Isn’t that what we have been speaking
“Oh, you silly girl. I could care less
Audrey’s stomach churned. Though most
societal marriages were not based on love, she hated to see a nice
gentleman such as Lord Lydell treated in such a way. “Then who do
you wish to make jealous, if not your husband.”
“Jordan Trent, of course.”
“Did you even bother to go home last
evening?” Matthew Trent asked as Jordan entered the parlor of his
“He does look the part of a rogue,”
Grace grinned from her seat.
“Dear wife,” Matthew chastised, “I
prefer that you know nothing about rakes and rogues.”
She pursed her lips in thought for a
moment. “Well, I can hardly pretend I don’t know your brother, now
“Unfortunately,” Matthew ground out
before he winked at his wife. A year ago Jordan would have bet
everything he owned that he would never see his proper brother wink
at any woman. And if he could read Matthew’s expression correctly,
his brother was having a few rakish thoughts about Grace. Though
jealousy gnawed at his belly, Jordan was equally happy for his
younger brother. Not that he had any interest in his sister-in-law,
he simply wouldn’t mind having a wife he could wink at and think
about bedding at the most inopportune times.