Silver-Tongued Devil (Louisiana Plantation Collection)

Free Silver-Tongued Devil (Louisiana Plantation Collection) by Jennifer Blake

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Authors: Jennifer Blake
Tags: Romance
fresco and expeditions to the lake. Every major European and American opera and theater troupe is booked here from time to time, as well as concert artists such as dancers, violinists, and singers like Adelina Patti. The marvels of the circus and rare animal displays are often available if such things amuse you. You have only to indicate your preference, and I will see to the arrangements. Naturally, I will also serve as your escort.”
    “That’s very kind of you.” There was a wondering undertone to the words.
    “Not at all. I’m only trying to tell you what you can expect as my wife.”
    “As to that, I really don’t think—”
    “You aren’t curious?” he said, smiling as he interrupted what he was unwilling to hear. “You have no interest in hearing how we will spend the days and evenings, winters and summers of our lives?” He paused, then took her silence for permission to continue. “You will inevitably make friends. Estelle and Tit Jean will help you welcome them when they call. If you wish a more formal evening gathering, you have only to tell me, and I will be on hand as host to your hostess.”
    “A life of gay dissipation, I perceive.”
    Her faintly rallying tone was, he thought, a defense against being affected by the program he was outlining. It was, therefore, a positive sign.
    “Winters in New Orleans are pleasant, but the summers can be overwhelming with their heat and damp, the smells that collect in the streets and the pestilence in the air. In years past, it’s been my habit to endure these things, but I would not submit you to them. We can, if you like, travel in Europe during those months. Or we might seek the more healthful air of the country.” He added, as if it were an afterthought, “It could be beneficial to spend time at this plantation you have acquired; absentee ownership is seldom productive without supervision. You have an overseer, I assume?”
    Her gaze was arrested. “I have no idea. I hadn’t thought how it must be going on during this time.”
    “I could look into it for you, if you like.”
    She did not repudiate the suggestion, but then neither did she instantly cast the responsibility for Bonheur into his lap as would most women of his acquaintance. She was, he was beginning to see, a worthy opponent. She might have little to say, but there was a great deal going on in her mind. He would give much to know the tenor of it.
    He went on after a moment. “If you care to occupy yourself with an interest in the property, there can be no objection. I would prefer to ride out with you on your inspections, or I will choose a groom for you. This is not, you understand, to burden you with supervision, but merely to have someone on hand in case your mount acts up or there is an accident. You do ride?”
    She nodded. “That was one of the accomplishments my aunt considered important for a female.”
    “I will see to choosing a saddle horse for you, if you like. There is also the matter of a riding habit. Oh, and I should tell you, while on that subject, that I have arranged a dress allowance for you with my banker. This is not for the household account, but to be spent solely at your discretion, for whatever personal items you may need. Also, the modiste who provided your nightwear has been engaged to work up a few day gowns to your measurements — using the one you were wearing the night of the explosion as a guide. She should be visiting you in a day or two with sample costumes. If you don’t care for what she has done, you have only to say so and choose something else.”
    “I’m overwhelmed,” she said quietly. “You are remarkably generous, not to mention accommodating.”
    “I thought you would be pleased,” he said in grave mockery for the primness of her tone.
    She lifted a hand to the neckline of her dressing sacque, gathering it higher. At the same time, she lowered her gaze, focusing on the courtyard below them. There was a lock of hair trailing over her

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