Will's True Wish (True Gentlemen #3)

By: Grace Burrowes

To those who have been bullied





One


“We were having a perfectly well-behaved outing,” Cam said, though Cam Dorning and perfect behavior enjoyed only a distant acquaintance. “Just another pleasant stroll in the pleasant park on a pleasant spring morning, until George pissed on her ladyship’s parasol.”

The culprit sat in the middle of the room, silent and stoic as mastiffs tended to be, tail thumping gently against the carpet.

“Georgette did not insult Lady Susannah’s parasol all on her own initiative,” Will Dorning retorted. “Somebody let her off the leash.” Somebody whom Will had warned repeatedly against allowing the dog to be loose in public unless Will was also present.

“Lady Susannah wasn’t on a leash,” Cam shot back. “She was taking the air with her sister and Viscount Effington, and his lordship was carrying the lady’s parasol—being gallant, or eccentric. I swear Georgette was sniffing the bushes one moment and aiming for Effington’s knee the next. Nearly got him too, which is probably what the man deserves for carrying a parasol in public.”

Across the Earl of Casriel’s private study, Ash dissolved into whoops that became pantomimes of a dog raising her leg on various articles of furniture. Cam had to retaliate by shoving at his older brother, which of course necessitated reciprocal shoving from Ash, which caused the dog to whine fretfully.

“I should let Georgette use the pair of you as a canine convenience,” Will muttered, stroking her silky, brindle head. She was big, even for a mastiff, and prone to lifting her leg in the fashion of a male dog when annoyed or worried.

“I thought I’d let her gambol about a bit,” Cam said. “There I was, a devoted brother trying to be considerate of your dog, when the smallest mishap occurs, and you scowl at me as if I farted during grace.”

“You do fart during grace,” Ash observed. “During breakfast too. You’re a farting prodigy, Sycamore Dorning. Wellington could have used you at Waterloo, His Majesty’s one-man foul miasma, and the French would still be—”

“Enough,” Will muttered. Georgette’s tail went still, for the quieter Will became, the harder he was struggling not to kill his younger brothers, and Georgette was a perceptive creature. “Where is the parasol?”

“Left it in the mews,” Cam said. “A trifle damp and odiferous, if you know what I mean.”

“Stinking, like you,” Ash said, sashaying around the study with one hand on his hip and the other pinching his nose. “Perhaps we ought to get you a pretty parasol to distract from your many unfortunate shortcomings.”

Casriel would be back from his meeting with the solicitors by supper, and the last thing the earl needed was aggravation from the lower primates masquerading as his younger siblings.

More aggravation, for they’d been blighting the family escutcheon and the family exchequer since birth, the lot of them.

“Sycamore, you have two hours to draft a note of apology to the lady,” Will said. “I will review your epistle before you seal it. No blotting, no crossing out, no misspellings.”

“An apology!” Cam sputtered, seating himself on the earl’s desk. “I’m to apologize on behalf of your dog?! I didn’t piss on anybody.”

At seventeen years of age, Cam was still growing into his height, still a collection of long limbs and restless movement that hadn’t resolved into manly grace. He had the Dorning dark hair and the famous Dorning gentian eyes, though.

Also the Dorning penchant for mischief. Will snatched the leash from Cam’s hand and smacked Cam once, gently, for violence upset Georgette and was repellent to Will’s instincts as a trainer of dumb beasts.