A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior

Free A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch

Book: A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior by Suzanne Enoch Read Free Book Online
Authors: Suzanne Enoch
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
was traveling with my unit. He was killed.” He watched, seeing the looks of mingled sympathy and supposed understanding on their faces. “It was some time before I could reach Arnold. He did what he could. I have nothing to complain about.”
    “The bone just below your knee was broken in what looks like two places,” Prentiss said. “I took the liberty of examining it while you were unconscious. It was never set properly. Every time you walk on it, it shifts. Luckily, your activity has kept the upper break from healing entirely. Unluckily, it keeps tearing the wound open and causing infection.”
    “And?” Tolly prompted after a moment.
    “The pain must be excruciating.”
    “And?” he demanded again.
    The doctor folded his arms across his barrel-shaped chest. “And so I can either cut it off, or break it again and set it properly, in which case I might, if you’re lucky, be able to avoid cutting it off.”
    For a long moment Tolly regarded him. “So the one is supposed to frighten me into doing the other? Arnold offered to hack the thing off for me in India. I declined. I decline again.”
    “And the other? You’ll probably lose it regardless, but if I don’t reset it soon you’ll be permanently subjected to that pain, and you’ll never gain more use of it than you’ve got at this moment.”
    Tolly looked down at his bare leg. They’d not only cut off his trousers, but they’d removed his damnedboot and the tight leather brace he’d fashioned to hold together his knee while he rode, plus the bandage underneath all of the other clutter. “If I say I’ll consider one offer or the other, will you leave and let me put some blasted clothes back on?”
    “I’ll even dress that mess in a fresh poultice and re-bandage it.”
    “In a moment, Dr. Prentiss.” Sommerset angled his head at Gibbs, and almost immediately the two servants and the physician were gone from the room.
    “You don’t frighten me, either, Sommerset.”
    “I know that. Misguided of you, but I haven’t the time at the moment to change your mind.”
    “What do you want, then?”
    The duke narrowed his steel gray eyes. “Outside of this club, I expect you to address me properly.”
    Half hoping this would end in a brawl no matter how poor his odds of winning were at the moment, Tolly nodded. “Outside the club.”
    “Secondly, this is a club. Not an infirmary. I don’t mind Gibbs having to pick someone off the floor from time to time, but this place is attached to my house. If Dr. Prentiss keeps calling here, the wags will begin speculating over whether I’m on my deathbed or not. With my stocks and myriad public investments, I can’t have that.”
    The breath Tolly took shook a little. Sommerset was booting him out. Panic touched him with cold, familiar fingers. He could rent a small house or an apartment in Town, but that would mean hiring servants. Hiring a keeper. Because however damned little he wanted to admit it, with his leg like this there were things he simply couldn’t do for himself.
    “Is that understood?” the duke pressed. “You’re welcome here at any time, but not while you require medical assistance.”
    Tolly leaned over to grab his cane and swing his legs off the side of the bed. Without the bandage on, that motion alone nearly brought him down again. “You might have waited to tell me until I had my damned trousers on,” he growled.
    “I’m not your wet nurse.” Sommerset walked to the door. “And whatever you think you deserve, Colonel, killing yourself by inches is a bit time-consuming. If you mean to commit suicide, use a pistol.”
    “You may have traveled the world, Sommerset, but you’ve never walked in my boots.”
    “True enough.”
    “Then cease advising me. And someone else decided what I deserve. I’m only living with it.”
    “You’re dying with it, but I suppose that’s semantics.” The duke pulled open the door. “I’ll send in Prentiss.”
    As the doctor put fresh

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