More Than a Duke (Heart of a Duke Book 2)

Free More Than a Duke (Heart of a Duke Book 2) by Christi Caldwell

Book: More Than a Duke (Heart of a Duke Book 2) by Christi Caldwell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christi Caldwell
thought you made it a rule to avoid all respectable events.” He chuckled at his own charge.
     
    Annoyance churned inside her. She knew the man was a duke and surely had been reared to believe he could say anything without fear of rebuke, but really, his words were borderline crass.
     
    Harry’s hard muscles went taut, straining the fabric of his expertly tailored black coat. But then his firm lips turned up in a half-grin, an insolent smile for the other man, proof that she’d merely imagined his reaction to the duke’s words. “Some rules are meant to be broken. And,” he looked to Anne. “Some people are worth breaking rules for.”
     
    Her breath caught. And she knew his words, the look in his eye was merely part of his efforts to help her secure the duke’s hand, yet, in that moment everything, everyone melted away so that just they two remained.
     
    “Indeed,” the duke murmured. He shifted his attention to Anne, promptly dismissing the earl. “My lady, may I request the pleasure of calling on you?”
     
    Anne looked around, uncertain why her sister, mother, and Harry were staring at her. Then it occurred to her. “You want to call on me?” Embarrassment twisted in her belly. “I…that is—”
     
    “What my daughter means to say, Your Grace,” Mother interjected with a pointed glance for Anne. “Is that she would very much welcome your visit. Isn’t that right, Anne?”
     
    Anne managed a jerky nod. “Er, yes.” This is exactly what she wanted. “I would welcome a visit, Your Grace,” she finished lamely. Perhaps Harry would need to instruct her on the art of communicating with an eligible lord on the marriage mart, as well.
     
    The duke appeared amused by her confounded response. His lips twitched and he captured her hand. “Until tomorrow then, my lady,” he murmured. He placed a final kiss on the top of her hand.
     
    Couldn’t there be shivers of awareness, like she felt at Harry’s touch?
     
    Couldn’t there be the warm fluttery sensations in her belly she’d read about in her Gothic novels?
     
    Couldn’t there be— something ?
     
    “I look forward to your visit,” she said softly. All the while, Harry’s hard gaze fairly burned a hole into her person.
     
    The Lady Westmorelands returned to the front of the hall, signifying the beginning of the next set of performances was to begin.
     
    The duke released her hand after a longer than appropriate amount of time. “Stanhope,” he said, his tone harder than before. He bowed to the other gentleman and then bid the remainder of her party a good evening.
     
    “Well,” Katherine said, a smile on her lips.
     
    Anne sank back into her seat. “Well, what?”
     
    Her sister sat and whispered, “The heart of a duke. It appears you are on your way to the title of duchess, sister.” She made a face. “Oh, dear. That sounded rather mercurial. I’d not have you wed a duke unless your heart is engaged. Nor any gentleman for that matter or—”
     
    “Hush, Kat. This isn’t the place.” Her sister appeared ready to launch a full-defense of her earlier words. Then something only twins shared, passed between them and Katherine gave a solemn nod.
     
    As she settled into her uncomfortable chair, she thought she should feel a giddy sense of victory, yet all she felt at the duke’s interest was oddly hollow. He did not know her. He’d not even spoken but a murmured greeting at all the functions they’d attended together. Until the ribbon.
     
    Until Harry and his blasted advice.
     
    Advice she’d sought.
     
    And welcomed…
     
    But… She didn’t want the duke to want her for her…her… endowments alone. “Silly,” she mumbled.
     
    “What was that, sweet?”
     
    “Don’t call me sweet, Harry,” she said, not taking her gaze from the front of the hall where Lady Leah Westmoreland reclaimed the pianoforte bench.
     
    “What would you have me call you? Duchess?” Thick sarcasm underscored his

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