Duke of Pleasure(130)

By: Elizabeth Hoyt

“The pleasure is mine, Miss Windham.”

Ah well, then. He was unequivocally Scottish. Hence the plaid waistcoat, the blue eyes. Mama always said the Scots had the loveliest eyes.

Megan’s grandpapa had been a duke, and social niceties flowed through her veins along with Windham aristocratic blood.

“Are you visiting from the north?” she asked.

“Aye. I mean, yes, with my sisters.”

Sir Fletcher watched this exchange as if he were a spectator at a tennis match and had money riding on the outcome.

“Are your sisters out yet?” Megan asked, lest the conversation lapse.

“Until all hours,” Colonel MacHugh said, his brow furrowing. “Balls, routs, musicales. Takes more stamina to endure a London season than to march across Spain.”

Megan had cousins who’d served in Spain and another cousin who’d died in Portugal. Veterans made light of the hardships they’d seen, though she wasn’t sure Colonel MacHugh had spoken in jest.

“MacHugh,” Sir Fletcher broke in, “Miss Windham is the granddaughter and niece of dukes.”

Colonel MacHugh was apparently as bewildered as Megan at this observation. He extracted Megan’s spectacles from her hand, unfolded the ear pieces, and positioned the glasses on her nose.

While she marveled at such familiarity from a stranger, Colonel MacHugh guided the frames around her ears so her glasses were once again perched where they belonged. His touch could not have been more gentle, and he’d ensured Sir Fletcher couldn’t snatch the glasses from Megan’s grasp.

“My thanks,” Megan said.

“Tell her,” MacHugh muttered, tucking his hands behind his back. “I’ll not have it said I dissembled before a lady, Pilkington.”

The bane of Megan’s existence was Sir Fletcher, but this Scot either did not know or did not care to use proper address.

Sir Fletcher wrinkled his nose. “Miss Megan, I misspoke earlier when I introduced this fellow as Colonel Hamish MacHugh, but you’ll forgive my mistake. The gentleman before you, if last week’s gossip is to be believed, is none other than the Duke of Murdoch.”

Colonel MacHugh—His Grace—stood very tall, as if he anticipated the cut direct or perhaps a firing squad. With her glasses on, Megan could see that his blue eyes held a bleakness, and his expression was not merely formidable, but forbidding.

He’d rescued Megan’s spectacles from certain ruin beneath Sir Fletcher’s boot heel, so Megan sank into a respectful curtsy.

Because it mattered to her not at all that polite society had dubbed this dear, serious man the Duke of Murder.