Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage

Page 58

Mac brushed her bruised lip with gentle fingers. "That looks better."
"Miss Westlock made me a poultice."
"The excellent Miss Westlock." Mac's touch lingered on her face, but his eyes held anger. "I spent all afternoon and well into the night hunting for the bastard, but he's made himself scarce."
Isabella pulled back in alarm. "You went looking for him? Mac, he's obviously dangerous. Be careful."
"I'm dangerous, love. I plan to kill him for touching you."
"And then I'll watch you hang for murder. Go to the police, and let them hunt him down."
"I did go to the police. Inspector Fellows knows who the man is and where he's been, but unfortunately not where he is now. He told me he has men working on it, but so far, Mr. Payne has eluded them."
"Payne is the doppelganger's name?"
Mac nodded and told her what he'd learned.
"Do you think he'll return to his rooms?" she asked when he finished.
"With a great clunking police sergeant leaning against the wall outside? He will be smarter than that."
"And does Fellows know why Mr. Payne is pretending to be you?"
"The very question I asked." Mac cradled his head in his hands again and thoughtfully studied the canopy above them. "Only a madman would pretend to be me. I've been wishing for three years that I wasn't me."
"That would be a pity."
A pity to have Mac be anything but himself, a large Scottish male stretched out in her bed. He took up most of the room, but on the other hand, she couldn't think of a better bed warmer. Little in her life had been more agreeable than lying against his long body on a winter's night. His voice would soothe her, as would his touch, which could change from gentle to powerfully seductive in an instant.
She expected Mac to make a quip at her statement, but his eyes held wariness. "Do you truly mean that, love?"
"Of course I do."
She'd told Mac once that he never did anything by halves. He tended toward extremes, which made him interesting but highly uncomfortable to live with.
The entire Mackenzie family tended toward extremes. Hart with his focus on politics and his rumored dark appetites; Cameron with his fixation on horses; Ian being able to remember every word of a conversation years after it took place yet unable to understand the subtleties of it, let alone participate in it.
If Mac hadn't been exactly who he was-charming, outrageous, funny, seductive, sensual, and unpredictable-Isabella would never have fallen in love with him. She edged a little closer to him and rested her hand on the warm expanse of his chest.
Mac's eyes darkened. "Isabella, don't play with fire ."
Isabella moved closer, leaned down, and kissed him.
Chapter 16
The Marquis of Dunstan showed several pictures in his drawing room on Thursday last, paintings of Venice so vivid that the viewer was certain to hear the splashing of water and the songs of the gondoliers. These exquisite paintings are the work of Lord Mac Mackenzie, although his lordship has retired to the country in Scotland, and it is assumed that he has finished with painting pictures of Venetian canals.
-September 1878
Mac's heart beat swiftly as he slid his hand behind Isabella's heavy braid and pulled her into the kiss. My dearest darling, don't do this to me.
Her mouth tasted of sweet tea, and her body was wonderfully bare under her prim-looking nightdress. The little ruffle at her throat scratched his chin, and he wormed his fingers in to undo the buttons.
Isabella's kiss was desperate, her lips parting his, her tongue sweeping into his mouth. The idiot Payne had scared her out of her senses, although Isabella would never admit it. She was strong, his beautiful lady, but she felt things deeply. She was kissing him to seek solace.
Mac wasn't too proud to give her that solace. He gathered her to him, chilled to think how close he'd come to losing her today. If he hadn't been following her . . .
But he had, and he'd stopped Payne, and now he had Isabella in his arms. And damned if he would ever let her out of his sight again.
Isabella started to pull away, as though coming to her senses.
"Don't," Mac said. "Stay with me."
Isabella's throat moved behind the buttons he'd parted. "I'm very tired."
"So am I." He broke off, touched the bruise on the side of her mouth again. "I don't want you to be afraid of me, Isabella."
She smiled suddenly, the abrasion pulling her mouth into a crooked line. "Afraid of you? I'll never be afraid of you, Mac Mackenzie."
Mac didn't laugh. "I meant that I don't want you thinking that I'm anything like him."
"Like this Payne fellow?" Isabella shook her head, the end of her braid brushing his chest. "Of course I don't."
"He looks like me, and he's decided to try to steal my life. But I won't let him have it, any part of it." He tightened his arms around her. "Especially not this part."
Isabella's eyes softened, becoming the shade of a misty Scottish meadow. "If I do decide to throw you out of my house, Mac, it will be because I want to, not because Payne has upset me."
"That's my Isabella."
He tugged her to him and swiftly undid the rest of the buttons on her nightdress.

Back to Table of content

Copyright © novelfull All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © novelfull All Rights Reserved.