Tis the Season to Be Sinful

Free Tis the Season to Be Sinful by Adrienne Basso

Book: Tis the Season to Be Sinful by Adrienne Basso Read Free Book Online
Authors: Adrienne Basso
Tags: Fiction, General
time to do his most important thinking. Without the distractions of others around, the interruptions of normal business hours, his imagination could open and expand. Some of his most inspired ideas, and subsequent success, had come on a night such as this one.
    But tonight he was restless, distracted. By his future wife, of all things. How perfectly extraordinary and completely unexpected.
    Richard shook his head. It must have been the letter he received today. Chatty and warm and full of nonsense, yet it left him feeling like he was an integral part of something far bigger than himself. Like he belonged.
    Ridiculous.
    This marriage was a business merger—nothing more. He needed a country estate, he wanted Highgrove Manor, and the fastest way to obtain it was through marriage. True, a part of him had also wanted to best the arrogant Earl of Hastings. Nothing fired Richard’s blood more than losing something he had decided he wanted. Especially to someone as pompous and egocentric as the earl.
    Of course, marriage to the fair Juliet was not completely a sacrifice. She was a lovely woman—elegant, witty, and passionate. He believed they would do well together in this arrangement, provided they each understood the parameters.
    He was determined that his marriage change very little in his life. He would spend the majority of his time in London, on his own, going out to the country when needing to entertain. Richard had no doubt that Juliet would be an excellent hostess. Her presence at Highgrove Manor would elevate his status among his current and potential business associates. Having such an elegant wife would prove a great advantage, one Richard intended to press at every opportunity.
    Her age and maturity were also great benefits. Though she claimed no great connections, she had been raised a gentlewoman and had married into the nobility. And she was already a mother, so there was no need to explain or defend his insistence on not having any children.
    A familiar stab of pain welled inside at the idea of a baby, stirring memories long buried, but not forgotten. Losing a child was a wound that took years to heal, a wound that left a scar no amount of time could ever fully erase. A wound Richard carried stoically in silence.
    “Lord George has arrived, Mr. Harper,” the butler said as he entered the study.
    Richard glanced at the clock, noting it was already well past 1 a.m. He thought the servants had long gone to bed, but he should have realized his butler, Pearson, would be waiting until the master of the house retired. Richard shook his head, trying to decide who were more stuffy, rigid, and formal in this country—the servants or the individuals they served.
    “Does Lord George require assistance to his room?” Richard asked, feeling magnanimous. The first time his friend had stumbled unexpectedly into his house in the early morning hours, he had made the mistake of asking his butler if George was too piss drunk to stand on his own. Appalled by his language and attitude, Pearson had kept his nose pointed upward in the air for nearly a week.
    “No, sir, Lord George is none the worse for wear. He wishes a word with you, if you can spare the time,” the butler replied.
    “Show him in,” Richard said.
    “No need to announce me, Pearson, because I’m already here.”
    Lord George Moffat, second son of the Duke of Hetheridge, stumbled only slightly as he entered the room. A bachelor in his early forties, with a fit physique, dark coloring, and a prominent nose, which gave him a hawkish appearance, he was nevertheless an attractive man who boasted a good many lady friends.
    His exploits among society were said to be exaggerated by the gossips, but after knowing George these three years, Richard credited most of them as being damn near the full truth. On the outside, George was the epitome of a charming wastrel, an irresponsible spendthrift thinking only of his own pleasure, with no thought to the consequences.
    Yet

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