Home > A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1)(6)

A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1)(6)
Author: Tessa Dare

“That’ll be enough,” Bram said. Time to put a stop to this nonsense. It was one thing to enjoy a moment’s rest and a woman’s touch, and another to surrender all pride.

He gained his feet without too much struggle and helped her to a standing position, too. He managed a slight bow. “Lieutenant Colonel Victor Bramwell. I assure you, I’m in possession of perfect health, a sound mind, and one good-for-nothing cousin.”

“I don’t understand,” she said. “Those blasts . . .”

“Just powder charges. We embedded them in the road, to scare off the sheep.”

“You laid black powder charges. To move a flock of sheep.” Pulling her hand from his grip, she studied the craters in the road. “Sir, I remain unconvinced of your sanity. But there’s no question you are male.”

He raised a brow. “That much was never in doubt.”

Her only answer was a faint deepening of her blush.

“I assure you, all the lunacy is my cousin’s. Lord Payne was merely teasing, having a bit of sport at my expense.”

“I see. And you were having a bit of sport at my expense, pretending to be injured.”

“Come, now.” He leaned toward her and murmured, “Are you going to pretend you didn’t enjoy it?”

Her eyebrows lifted. And lifted, until they formed perfect twin archer’s bows, ready to dispatch poison-tipped darts. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”

She tugged on her glove, and he swallowed reflexively. A few moments ago, she’d pressed that hand to his bared throat, and he’d kissed her lips. All pretending aside, they’d shared a moment of attraction. Sensual. Powerful. Real. Perhaps she’d prefer to deny it, but she couldn’t erase his memory of her sweet, lush mouth.

And she couldn’t hide that hair. God, that hair. Now that she stood tall, wreathed by midday light, she all but blazed with beauty. Red flames and golden sunlight, each striving to outshine the other.

“You never did tell me your name,” he said. “Miss . . . ?”

Before she could answer, a closed-top coach hurtled over the crest of the hill, headed their way. The driver didn’t bother to slow, just whipped the team faster as the coach and four bore down on them. All present had to scramble to one side, to avoid being crushed beneath its wheels.

In a protective gesture, Bram positioned himself between the lady and the road. As the carriage went by, he glimpsed a crest painted on its side.

“Oh no,” she breathed. “Not the Highwoods.” She called after the coach as it rumbled off into the distance. “Mrs. Highwood, wait! Come back. I can explain everything. Don’t leave!”

“They seem to have already left.”

She turned on Bram, flashing him an angry blue glare. The force of it pushed against his sternum. Not nearly sufficient to move him, but enough to leave an impression.

“I do hope you’re happy, sir. If tormenting innocent sheep and blowing ruts in our road weren’t enough mischief for you today, you’ve ruined a young woman’s future.”

“Ruined?” Bram wasn’t in the habit of ruining young ladies—that was his cousin’s specialty—but if he ever decided to take up the sport, he’d employ a different technique. He edged closer, lowering his voice. “Really, it was just a little kiss. Or is this about your frock?”

His gaze dipped. Her frock had caught the worst of their encounter. Grass and dirt streaked the yards of shell-pink muslin. A torn flounce drooped to the ground, limp as a forgotten handkerchief. Her neckline had likewise strayed. He wondered if she knew her left breast was one exhortation away from popping free of her bodice altogether. He wondered if he should stop staring at it.

No, he decided. He would do her a favor by staring at it, calling her attention to what needed to be repaired. Indeed. Staring at her half-exposed, emotion-flushed breast was his solemn duty, and Bram was never one to shirk responsibility.

“Ahem.” She crossed her arms over her chest, abruptly aborting his mission.

“It’s not about me,” she said, “or my frock. The woman in that carriage was vulnerable and in need of help, and . . .” She blew out a breath, lifting the stray wisps of hair from her brow. “And now she’s gone. They’re all gone.” She looked him up and down. “So what is it you require? A wheelwright? Supplies? Directions to the main thoroughfare? Just tell me what you need to be on your way, and I will happily supply it.”

“We won’t put you to any such trouble. So long as this is the road to Summerfield, we’ll—”

“Summerfield? You didn’t say Summerfield.”

Vaguely, he understood that she was vexed with him, and that he probably deserved it. But damned if he could bring himself to feel sorry. Her fluster was fiercely attractive. The way her freckles bunched as she frowned at him. The elongation of her pale, slender neck as she stood straight in challenge.

She was tall for a woman. He liked his women tall.

“I did say Summerfield,” he replied. “That is the residence of Sir Lewis Finch, is it not?”

Her brow creased. “What business do you have with Sir Lewis Finch?”

“Men’s business, love. The specifics needn’t concern you.”

“Summerfield is my home,” she said. “And Sir Lewis Finch is my father. So yes, Lieutenant Colonel Victor Bramwell”—she fired each word as a separate shot—“you concern me.”

“Victor Bramwell. It is you.”

Sir Lewis Finch rose from his desk and crossed the office in eager strides. When Bram attempted to bow, the older man waved off the gesture. Instead, he took Bram’s right hand in both of his and pumped it warmly.

“By the devil, it’s good to see you. Last we met, you were a green captain, just leaving Cambridge.”

“It has been a long time, hasn’t it?”

“I was sorry to hear of your father’s passing.”

“Thank you.” Bram cleared his throat awkwardly. “So was I.”

He sized up the graying eccentric for any signs of displeasure. Sir Lewis Finch was not only a brilliant inventor, but he’d become a royal advisor. He was said to have the ear of the Prince Regent himself, when he chose to bend it. The right word from this man could have Bram back with his regiment next week.

And idiot that he was, Bram had announced his arrival in the neighborhood by tackling the man’s daughter in the road, rending her frock, and kissing her without leave. As strategic campaigns went, this one would not be medal-worthy. Fortunately, Sir Lewis seemed not to have noticed his daughter’s bedraggled state on their arrival. But Bram had best conclude this interview before Miss Finch returned and had a chance to relate the tale.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology