Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage

Page 24

"She'd hardly want to meet you. She has no use for men."
Mac leaned closer, warmth filling the space between them. "Maybe she'll make an exception for me. After all, I'm in love with her best and brightest student."
"I was one of her dullest, not brightest."
Mac slid his hand to the back of her neck, under her hair, and a trickle of water found its way inside her collar. His breath touched her lips, and Isabella closed her eyes, waiting for the soft pressure of his mouth.
It never came. He caressed her neck for a moment or two then released her. As chill disappointment wrapped her heart, Mac kissed his fingertip, slightly wrinkled from the water, and pressed it to her lips.
"I've changed my mind about the hotel," he said. "Your house is much more comfortable. See you in the morning, love."
He turned from her, made for the other door, and just as he opened it, dropped the towel.
Isabella sagged against the doorframe as her gaze riveted to his tight and beautiful backside. His skin was bronzed above the waist, paler below where his kilt would cover him from country sunshine.
She remembered how she'd loved to watch his naked body as Mac lounged in bed after lovemaking, kicking back the covers when he grew too warm. They'd laugh and talk, tease each other, and return to loving, so comfortable with each other. Those days seemed so long ago, so far away.
Mac grinned over his shoulder at her, and whistling, walked into his bedroom and closed the door behind him.
It was a long time before Isabella could peel herself from the doorway and return to sit rigidly in her chair before the fire. Going to bed for the remaining few hours of the night was out of the question.
Isabella entered her dining room in the morning to see two newspapers held by two sets of male hands, one set large and muscular, the other narrower and bonier. The occasional crunch of toast sounded behind the sheets of newsprint.
Isabella seated herself in the chair Bellamy held out for her, while her footman set a plate of steaming eggs and sausage before her. She thanked both servants politely and started sorting through the post that lay to the right of her plate. Down the table, pages turned and more toast crunched.
Haughty society ladies might be surprised to see the wild Mackenzies apparently tamed into such domestic order. An illusion, Isabella would have to tell them. Newspapers and breakfasts simply kept them quiet for a time.
And yet, there had been many mornings like this. Breakfasts at Kilmorgan Castle when all four brothers were under one roof were happy occasions, filled with loud laughter and male speech. Breakfasts at Mount Street had been cozy and quiet-sometimes Mac would walk down the length of the table to her on some pretense, sit next to her, lift her onto his lap . They'd cuddle together, feeding each other bits of the cooling breakfast. Isabella eyed the barrier of Mac's newspaper and shivered with memories.
Someone thumped on the front door. Bellamy set down a pot of steaming coffee and departed to answer it.
Why was Bellamy answering doors? Isabella wondered. Where the devil was Morton? Mac had been in the house perhaps five hours, and already he was rearranging the staff's schedule.
"Let me in, Bellamy," came a gravelly, male voice. "I know he's in there."
Daniel's newspaper flew high as he exploded out from under it. He gave Isabella one wild, pleading look then raced through the connecting door to the library.
Mac laid down his paper and took up another piece of toast. Cameron strode into the dining room and scowled at Mac, Isabella, the hastily pushed back chair, and the scattered newspaper. Isabella motioned Bellamy to pour her more coffee, and Mac took a bite of toast as Cameron made for the connecting door, flung it open, and stormed inside.
There was the sound of a scuffle, voices raised in protest, and the bang of another door. Cameron entered the dining room through the hall again, dragging a struggling Daniel with him.
"Ow, Da', let me go."
Cameron shoved Daniel back into his chair. "What the devil do ye think ye're doing here?"
"Aunt Isabella said I could stay."
Isabella continued to sort through her letters as though nothing very remarkable had happened. "I thought it best, Cam. He'd only have run away again if I'd sent him back to your professor."
"Aye, that's likely true." Cameron scraped back a chair and sat heavily on it. The big man wore a black evening suit and kilt, presumably leftover from the night before. His cravat was crumpled and his face dark with whiskers, but otherwise, he looked as wide awake as Mac. Isabella, on the other hand, was groggy from lack of sleep. Mac lying in a bed two rooms away had kept her on the chair, eyes open, for the rest of the night.
"Bring me something to eat, Bellamy," Cameron said. "I'm famished. And coffee, lots of it."
Bellamy was already on his way with the coffeepot. The footman opened the dumbwaiter and extracted another tray of covered dishes to place in front of Cameron.
Daniel rubbed his neck. "You're supposed to be in Scotland with the ponies, Da'. How did you know I was here?"
"Dr. Nichols telegraphed to Kilmorgan that you'd gone missing. Hart telegraphed me."
"Dr. Nichols is a daft old man," Daniel grumbled. "I thought he'd be too scared of you to tell on me."
Cameron dissected his eggs and sausage. "That daft old man is one of the most brilliant physicists in the world, ye little beggar. I wanted him to teach you something."

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Copyright © novelfull All Rights Reserved.