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To Love A Scoundrel (London Season Matchmaker 5) Lucy Adams 2022/7/22 11:45:18

Which meant that, mayhap going to a nunnery would be the best thing for everyone. She would be able to worship, pray, and read as much as she wished. There would be no interruption, no other tangent for her mind to disappear to. Surely that would bring her happiness.

Rising to her feet, Dinah wandered to the window and looked out at the dark street below. It was late enough for her to have retired to bed just as Lady Whitehaven had done, but her mind was now so tumultuous with thoughts and ideas that she did not feel at all tired. For a moment, she had thought that her idea of becoming a nun would bring her the peace that she had been missing for some time, but now it seemed that it was adding to her struggles. Sighing heavily, she ran one hand over her eyes and turned, preparing to retire to bed in the hope that sleep might bring a rest to her mind.

“Ah, Dinah….there you are.”

Dinah blinked rapidly, looking at the ragged figure of Lord Whitehaven as he stumbled into the room. Practically falling into a large chair, he hung onto it with apparently all the strength he had, his legs buckling beneath him and his knuckles white as he held on.

“Lord Whitehaven,” Dinah murmured, aware of how her heart clamored furiously within her chest. “You appear to be in a little…difficulty.” Her eyes drifted to the red, angry marks on his knuckles and the darkness about one of his eyes. His clothes were ripped in places and his cravat was entirely gone. In all, he appeared to be more than a little worse for wear.

He chuckled loudly, his eyes sliding shut. “I am in no difficulty at all,” he slurred, trying to open his eyes but appearing to fail miserably. “I am quite all right.” This was, however, accompanied by one of his hands sliding free of the chair and Lord Whitehaven falling forward, leaving him half kneeling, half standing in a most awkward fashion. Rubbing one of his eyes, he let out a yelp, clearly having forgotten that he had been injured in some way.

“You were not set upon, I hope?”

Again, that harsh, cruel laugh that told her just how much of a fool he thought her. Clearly, he had not been set upon. This was, it seemed, all of his own doing.

“Did I not warn you that I wished to frequent gambling dens?” he slurred, still hanging onto the chair. “This is just the marks of a man who has enjoyed himself immensely.”

“I—I should ring the bell,” Dinah said hurriedly, a spiral of fear settling in her stomach at the dark look in Lord Whitehaven’s eyes. “Someone must help you.”

“They will all be abed,” Lord Whitehaven said, waving his free hand before letting go of the chair entirely and ending up on his hands and knees. “Just come and help me, Miss Shepherd. Dinah. Whatever it is I am to call you, come here at once.”

A little confused as to what she ought to do and certainly not at all eager to go closer to Lord Whitehaven when he was in such a state, Dinah remained exactly where she was, her hands tightening as she pressed them together. Lord Whitehaven was cruel when he was not in his cups, and she could not imagine what he would do in his current state.

“Attend to me, Dinah,” Lord Whitehaven said, sounding quite weary now. “Do stop being ridiculous.”

Dinah bristled, wanting to state that if anyone was appearing ridiculous, it was Lord Whitehaven himself, but instead she chose to remain silent, questioning inwardly what was best for her to do. She did not want to go near Lord Whitehaven, but he was correct to state that everyone else had already retired. It was not as though she could go to Lady Whitehaven and beg for her help, for Lady Whitehaven would be mortified to see her son in such a state and certainly would not thank Dinah for wakening her to see him so drunk.

“Does not your God tell you to care for others when they are in need?” Lord Whitehaven’s voice had become low, his eyes finally fixing fully upon her face. “And am I not now in need?”

Dinah closed her eyes for a moment, her hands balling into fists. This was not at all what was meant, and Lord Whitehaven knew it well, but he was using such a thing against her so that he might try and manipulate her into doing as he wished.

“I just need your arm to help me up to my bedchamber,” he said, turning slowly back towards the chair and attempting to haul himself up. “Is that too much to ask?”

Drawing in a long breath, Dinah moved swiftly towards Lord Whitehaven, telling herself that the sooner she did as he asked, the sooner she could retire to bed. Most likely, Lord Whitehaven would not recall this incident in the morning, and it would probably be best for her to help him up to bed before he passed out completely.

“Very well,” she said heavily, coming to stand by Lord Whitehaven as he clung to the chair. “We should go at once.”

“At once,” he agreed, laughing mockingly as he turned to her, his hands reaching and grasping at her clothing. Dinah stiffened but forced herself to remain standing as quietly as she could, until Lord Whitehaven had regained his balance.

How they made it up the staircase towards Lord Whitehaven’s bedchamber, she did not know. Her legs were heavy, her limbs aching as she held onto Lord Whitehaven as best she could, feeling him lurch from side to side and almost knocking her from her feet as she pushed the bedchamber door open.

“There,” she said, her breathing ragged. “You are in your rooms, Lord Whitehaven. I will…” She tried to let go of his arm, but he would not be removed. Instead, both hands now clung to her arm, whilst he leaned into her heavily, his breath stale as it brushed across her cheek.

“Just take me to my bed,” he murmured, his head lolling towards her shoulder as he leaned on her all the more heavily. “I do not think I can make it alone.”

Dinah’s heart raced furiously as she helped him towards the bed. She had never been so close to a gentleman before, and even though Lord Whitehaven upset her, antagonized her, and frustrated her dreadfully, there was something about his nearness that had her whole body buzzing with a strange

“You might join me, you know.”

The sensation went from her in a moment as she turned her head to glare at him – only for Lord Whitehaven to be directly there, his head lowering and, much to her shock, his mouth seeking hers.

His lips pressed to hers, his weight pressing her back against the bed until she was struggling to remain standing. And yet, there was something about his kiss that had her yearning for more.

Collecting herself and horrified to realize what Lord Whitehaven was doing – and what he might be intending, given that they were in his bedchamber, Dinah pushed him back hard, making him stagger backwards before falling to a heap on the floor. Heat seared her cheeks as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, her eyes burning with hot, angry tears as she walked towards the door.