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The Governess Game Tessa Dare 2022/8/3 13:55:32

“But since you mention it,” Sir Winston said jovially, “I wouldn’t mind knowing her. When you’re done with her, send her my way.”

The man reached to pick up his hat.

Chase stomped on it. He held the man’s gaze as he slowly and meaningfully lowered his boot, crushing the tower of felted beaver to a fuzzy burnt pancake.

There, you bastard. Try compensating with that.

“Apologize to Miss Mountbatten.” He growled the words through clenched teeth. “Or by the gods of the Egyptians, I will pull your brain out through your nose and stuff you in that sarcophagus for the next three thousand years.”

Sir Winston knew when he was bested. He straightened and bowed. “My apologies, Miss Montbarren.”

Once they’d watched that bit of human refuse depart the gallery, they collected the girls and left the museum. Rosamund and Daisy protested the hasty departure. While they waited on the carriage, Chase bribed them with oranges from a boy selling them on the street.

At home, the girls raced upstairs to mummify Millicent. Chase strode into his study. Alexandra followed him, closing the door after her and turning the key.

“The nerve of that blackguard.” He jerked off his gloves and slapped them against the edge of the desk. “I’m sorry if he upset you.”

“Perhaps Sir Winston Harvey upset me, but what you did was more humiliating by far. You made me a spectacle.”

“Hold a moment. I’m not the villain here. That bastard deserved everything I gave him, and more. My only regret is that he had but one hat to crush.”

“It’s all about your pride, isn’t it? Did you pause to consider my feelings at all?”

“Your feelings were my foremost concern. How dare he speak to you in such a manner. As if you were my—”

“Mistress?” she supplied.

That was the kindest way of putting it, he supposed.

“Naturally he assumed I was your mistress.” She approached the other side of his desk and placed her hands flat on the top. “Do you know why? Because I am your mistress. And now that fact will be all over Mayfair by dinnertime.”

“First, you’re not my mistress,” he said. “Second, don’t worry about gossip. I highly doubt that Sir Winston Harvey will be eager to repeat the tale.”

“No, he won’t dare say a thing about you crushing his hat. He’ll save all his venom for describing me. Lord, you are so na?ve.”

“Me. You’re calling me na?ve?”

“Yes, you. Chase, you are a wealthy, well-placed man. The heir to a duke. Society will forgive you anything. Women in my position are not so fortunate. We work for our living at the pleasure of the upper classes. The tiniest hint of scandal, and we are ruined. Unemployable, forever. That’s the way English society works.”

“Then English society needs to do better.”

“Well, unless you intend to change it by the end of the summer, I’d thank you not to throw me under the wheels of a high-sprung phaeton.” She crossed her arms and paced back and forth. “What if word spreads that your governess is really your mistress—”

“You’re not my mistress.”

“—and then Rosamund and Daisy aren’t accepted to school? I’m counting on that extra two hundred pounds you promised me. I have to make a life for myself beyond this summer.”

As if he would let her wander off penniless to starve. “You needn’t worry about your wages. You know I’ll take care of you.”

“Really? How? You’ll set me up in a little house in the country somewhere, with an income and a companion, perhaps. Like a mistress.”

“For the last time.” He came around the desk and seized her by the arms. “You are not my mistress.”

“Then what am I?” Her voice quavered. “What am I to you?”

A bitter smile curved her lips. “Don’t strain yourself reaching for that answer.”

“Bloody hell, Alex. I don’t know what to call it.” He pulled her close, crushing her body to his. “I just know I’ll be damned if I’ll let you go.”

When Chase’s mouth crushed to hers, Alex crushed right back. Equal and opposite reactions.

The result was glorious.

In their time together, they had shared a great many kisses. Passionate kisses, tender kisses, stolen kisses, secret kisses . . . but if she’d known how thrilling an angry kiss could be, Alex would have started rows with him nightly.

They grappled and clutched, each punishing the other for unspoken sins. She’d missed his heat, his scent, his hunger for her. The way his hardness filled her hand, and the salt of his skin on her tongue.

It had been so long. Too long. His fault.

He gripped her bottom and lifted her, shoving her onto the desk. Papers and quills fell to the floor.

At some point they ceased fighting each other and began fighting the space between them. They became allies in the war on clothing. Buttons were battled; laces, conquered. Petticoats marched north. His shirt was the final white flag of surrender, fluttering to the ground.