Page 32

The Governess Game Tessa Dare 2022/8/3 13:55:21

“I could have told you this outing wouldn’t work the way you hoped.”

“Since I hired you, Miss Mountbatten, nothing has gone the way I hoped.”

“Try to see the positives. Rosamund and Daisy are bold, clever, resourceful girls. Even if the mischief could be beaten out of them—and I suspect there’s a solid chance the rod would splinter first—their spirits would be broken, too. What a tragedy that would be.”

“Oh, yes. A tragedy indeed.”

His ironic tone didn’t fool her. Alex was coming to see the fondness he harbored for his wards. If he didn’t care about them, he wouldn’t bother to try.

“They’re children. They have a natural curiosity about the world, and a desire to learn. They merely need the encouragement and opportunity. The freedom to pursue their own interests. Aren’t you concerned with the improvement of their minds?”

“I’m chiefly concerned with the improvement of their behavior. They must learn to move in society. My duty as guardian is to provide Rosamund and Daisy with a secure, comfortable future. A young woman’s best hope at such is to marry, and marry well.”

She lifted an eyebrow. “The same way your parents married well?”

“Oh, I’ll make certain they do better than my father. They could scarcely do worse. But in general, yes. That is how the English aristocracy works.”

“Perhaps the English aristocracy needs to do better.”

He made a derisive sound. “I’m flattered you think I’ve the power to change the world.”

“I don’t think you have the power to change the world,” she replied. “I think Rosamund and Daisy do. If given the chance.”

“Is that so.” He drew closer. “And how are you planning to change the world, Miss Mountbatten?”

“I couldn’t tell you, Mr. Reynaud. At the moment, I’m too busy changing the sky.”

After staring into her eyes for an eon or two, he sighed dramatically. “You are the worst example of false advertising. I was led to believe I was hiring a prim scold. Then I learn you’re remarkable and bold and interesting.”

Well, Alex thought, that stupid song in her brain had four words now.

She stammered, “I wish you wouldn’t say things like that.”

“I wish you didn’t make me think things like that. So we’re square.”

“We should go after the girls.”

Neither of them moved.

Alex bit her lip. “We’re going to kiss instead, aren’t we.”

He caught her in his arms. “You’re goddamned right, we are.”

Chase kissed her with the desperate fervor of a man going to the gallows. Grappling and moaning, pressing her into the wall at her back.

He palmed her breast—the warm, gentle swell he’d felt melting against him last night. She’d made him so damned hard then, and his cock seemed determined to outdo itself today. Her leg wrapped over his. He kissed his way down her neck—her impossibly delicate, lovely neck—until the collar of her jacket halted his progress.

He felt a twinge of conscience. Most people would think he didn’t have a conscience, but he did. It surfaced about as often as the lost island of Atlantis, but he did possess one, down deep.

And it was bellowing at him now.

Then she arched her back, pressing her breast into his hand, and made a soft, pleading moan.

Conscience? What conscience? Lock the prison bars and throw away the key.

God, this place did something to him.

The infamy of centuries swirled in the air. Imprisoned ghosts rattled their chains. He felt the echoes of suffering ages past. The weight of guilt. Crushing regret. Hunger, and yearning, and loneliness. All the same miserable emotions that held him captive, late at night.

Chase had spent years locked away inside himself. And all too often, holding a woman in his arms felt like his only escape.

But this . . . this was different. Alexandra was different. This wasn’t a moment he’d be wishing to erase from his memory later. On the contrary. He yearned to etch the shape of their entwined bodies into the stone, amid all the names and dates and Bible verses, and leave a mark that time couldn’t erase.

What was it she’d said? We all want to be remembered? Well, Chase wouldn’t be inventing a steam-powered phaeton. No monument would be raised to his heroics, and he’d vowed not to father any children of his own. But even if all that survived of him was this embrace, that would be a legacy he could reflect on with pride.

On this site in 1817, Mr. Chase Reynaud gave Miss Alexandra Mountbatten the most passionate, erotic, bone-melting kiss in recorded history.

As he kissed her deeply, he lifted her, parting her slippers from the floor and pinning her hips to the wall with his own. She stared at him, her lungs working for breath, eyes glassy. He reached between their bodies, finding the buttons of her jacket.

He began to undo them, slipping them free one by one. The task was easily done, and he knew the reason why. She had only the one jacket, and she’d worn it so many times that the buttonholes had gone slack. This tangible evidence of her poverty was convenient, he supposed. Many men of his station would view it as permission to make free with her favors. However, it didn’t strike Chase that way. As he slipped the final button loose, he felt resentful and protective.