Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous(7)

By: Christi Caldwell


A growl escaped Geoffrey. It had been the young lady’s blasted hem he’d stepped upon.

His sister’s eyes went wide in her face. “Did you just growl, Geoffrey? How very,” she wrinkled her nose. “Primitive of you.”

He’d had enough of Sophie’s needling. “Will you or will you not perform the necessary introductions?” Geoffrey bit out.

“Oh, dear,” Sophie muttered to her husband. “I do not like that look.”

“And I don’t care for your public discussion on a matter of delicacy,” Geoffrey bit out on a hushed whisper.

Waxham said something close to Sophie’s ear.

Sophie sighed. “Very well.” She turned her focus to Geoffrey. “I shall help. And I shan’t ask any questions.” She made that final statement with a scowl for her husband.

Perhaps Geoffrey had unfairly judged the other man after all. Any man who could elicit Sophie’s cooperation deserved some modicum of respect.

Sophie folded her arms across her chest. “Introductions, however, will require you to impart the identity of the lady who had caught your attention earlier.”

Geoffrey couldn’t very well admit that the woman who had ensnared his notice was not in fact the woman he’d selected as his future viscountess.

He did a cursory search of the crowd and caught sight of Lady Beatrice Dennington. The only female born to the Duke of Somerset, she stood alongside her brother the Marquess of Westfield, heir to the dukedom, known by Society as something of a rogue. Westfield was not unlike the man Geoffrey once had been…the man he’d resolved to never be again.

Sophie tilted her head. “Geoffrey?”

“Lady Beatrice Dennington,” Geoffrey said quietly.

Sophie blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

“I’d like you to introduce me to Lady Beatrice.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Hmph.”

Pause.

“Aren’t you going to ask why I said, ‘Hmph’?” she said after a moment.

“No.”

Sophie shook her head. “You are utterly exasperating. You weren’t always this stodgy, rude fellow. Mother said at one time you were quite the rogue.” He shot her a black look, quelling the rest of her words. She sighed. “Very well. I shall perform the necessary introductions.”

Whether I approve or not. Geoffrey would have placed a significant wager, if he was still the wagering type of gentleman, that his sister muttered those words under her breath…or some other variant.

“Come along,” Sophie encouraged and set out, forcing Geoffrey to hasten his step like he was one of the Queen’s terriers.

“You do know she is enjoying this immensely,” his brother-in-law said, with far too much humor in his pronouncement.

Geoffrey spoke through clenched teeth. “Yes, yes she is.” His sister Sophie had courted scandal since she’d made her come out. For all his efforts and pleading, she’d not changed at all in her more than two London Seasons. He imagined his relying on her assistance caused her a good deal of amusement.

The trio weaved in between lords and ladies. Sophie, however, moved through the throng with purpose better suited to a woman following the drum. She didn’t bother to occasionally pause for politeness sake, but continued onward until they reached Lady Beatrice Dennington, who stood amidst a cluster of young swains—swains who would only serve to complicate Geoffrey’s intentions.

He favored the group of gentlemen with a black glare that sent them scurrying.

Sophie shot him a sideways glance, and shifted her attention to Lady Beatrice. A wide smile filled his sister’s plump cheeks. “Hello, Lady Beatrice,” Sophie greeted.

Lady Beatrice returned Sophie’s smile and dipped a curtsy. “Hello, my lady.”

Sophie waved her hand. “Please, no need for such formality. Allow me to introduce you to my brother, the Viscount Redbrooke.”

Lady Beatrice looked at Geoffrey, before directing her demure gaze to the floor. “My lord.” He strained to hear her faintly spoken words.

He battled down disappointment at the young lady’s meekness; his response made little sense. Such reserved politeness befitted the young lady who would be his viscountess. Such a woman wouldn’t be capable of deceit and trickery. Nor would such a woman need to trap an unsuspecting, gentleman into marriage.

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