Chapter 2 (cont.)
“I won’t hurt you.” Mr. Parker-Roth actually looked worried. “I thought you knew that.”
He shook his head and winced. “Not any longer--or at least not enough to mask my other aches and pains.” He looked at her intently. “But even drunk I’d never force myself on a woman.”
He wouldn’t have to. Women would force themselves on him.
She dropped the pillow back on the couch, feeling a little ridiculous. “About this sham betrothal?”
He studied her for another minute and then shrugged, running his hand through his hair. “I do think it’s the only way to save your reputation and salvage your sister’s Season.”
She had a very uncomfortable feeling he might be correct. She didn’t care about her reputation--she didn’t have one to salvage--but she’d fight tooth and nail to protect Evie’s chance to enjoy a London Season and perhaps find a suitable husband. “If Lady Dunlee would keep the story to herself, we might be able to get by.”
He rolled his eyes. “Yes, and if I had wings, I might be able to fly across the Thames.”
“But I am sure Lady Dunlee and Melinda Fallwell are setting out this very moment to share the tale--in strictest confidence of course--with ten or twenty of their closest friends. It will be all over London by nightfall.”
“Yes. You don’t have to be familiar with London to know how gossips operate. There are plenty of those in the country.”
“Oh, yes, I know.” Though somehow the story of her downfall had never spread, probably because only she and Brentwood knew about it. She was not about to say anything, and Brentwood likely had forgotten it the moment he’d pulled her dress back down. From what she’d heard later, she was only one of his many conquests.
Damn. They had only arrived in London yesterday. How could she have made micefeet of everything so quickly?
“Hey.” He touched her shoulder. “Don’t look so glum. We’ll muddle through.”
She tried to smile.
He cupped her cheek. “It would be easier to pass the story off if we seem to like each other, you know. Given the rather passionate display Lady Dunlee witnessed, we might even wish to appear somewhat ardent. Restrained, of course, but just barely--giving the impression that the moment society looks the other way, we’ll be in each other’s arms.”
“How are we to do that?”