Bonus Scene: “She is a governess”
This scene from I Married the Duke occurs shortly after Luc, Cam and Tony check into the inn in Saint-Nazaire. I adored writing these three friends together (which is why I couldn’t resist writing Kisses, She Wrote and The Scoundrel and I too!). This scene, though, wasn’t necessary for telling Luc and Arabella’s love story, so I removed it from the book. I’m so happy to share it here.
“Captain Andrew, now are we, Lucien?” Cam said as Luc approached the table in the crowded brasserie. “You are a greater dog than I had imagined even before.”
On the table before Cam and Tony were only a bottle of wine, bread and pickles as yet. But a server was winding his way through the closely packed chamber, carrying a tray of roasted birds stuffed with leeks and garlic.
Luc settled on the bench beside Tony and accepted a glass of wine from his friend while the server laid the covers on the table. The dinner smelled better than anything he had eaten in weeks, even aboard the Victory. But he had no appetite.
Not for food.
She had no money. While she had slept through her brandy intoxication aboard his ship, Miles had searched through her pockets and found few coins, each of little worth.
Luc could not offer her money out right. She would refuse it. She was proud far beyond her station and fiercely defensive of her independence. And she mistrusted men.
All the better, at present.
Cam lifted a golden brow. “Hm, cousin? Playing it a bit close to the vest with the lady, are you?”
Luc’s fist tightened about his tumbler. “That you presume to chastise me concerning my dealings with any woman is a mockery of morality.”
“Not woman, Luc.” Tony thrust a fork into a bird and cut into it. “Lady. A fellow can see that plain as day, no matter that sorry gown she’s got on.” He bit into the fowl. “Stunning girl.”
Luc would not argue with that.
“Why the ruse, coz?” Cam reached for the wine bottle. “Hoping to escape an unwanted leg shackling, are you? What lady—however servile she appears—would willingly ally herself to a scurvy sailor when she anticipates living amongst royalty?”
“She is going to work for Reiner’s sister.” He swallowed wine. “She is a governess.”
Tony choked on the chicken.
“I am in accord, Captain Masinter,” Cam said with a slanted smile. “And you, cousin, believed her when she told you this?”
Luc frowned. “What reason have I not to?”
“What reason has she not to believe you are a merchant ship captain?” Cam countered.
“Point,” Tony rasped, gulped wine, and wiped his moustaches.
Luc pressed his glass into the tabletop. “I am a merchant ship captain.”
His cousin stared at him beneath hooded lids.
“Tonight, at least,” Luc added and stood. “As such I’ve no business dining with the likes of either of you. Good night, gentlemen.”
Cam turned his face away and beckoned to the server.
Luc left them to their wine. As he walked through the narrow streets of the port town, busy now as night fell, he willed his legs to accustom themselves to land again. They would not. He felt thick and heavy and unbalanced. But imagining the feather mattress of his bedchamber at the inn brought him only cold palms and a gut aching with need.
At this moment she rested on her own cot in the inn. Thinking of him? Wanting him?
No. Not this woman of fiery temperament and granite purpose.
To imagine never seeing her again, never hearing her voice … It was impossible. He could not let her go.
The trouble was, he suspected it wouldn’t matter a whit to her what he believed he could or could not do.