Pierce was sitting in his room drinking scotch. The doctor had come and gone. He had been lucky the guy hadn’t hit him squarely in his cut, but it had been close enough to leave him seeing stars and reopen part of his wound.
There was a soft knock on the door. Probably one of the maids. He told them he would be down for high tea, but there may have been a miscommunication.
“Come in,” Pierce barked.
The door opened and closed softly. There were soft footfalls near him before a sudden gasp.
“Damnit, Evie. Why are you here?” Pierce demanded, he brogue thick.
“I heard you weren’t coming to tea and I wanted to check on you. Richard, Lily and I were lunching together when I heard the news. I wanted to make sure you were fine,” Evelyn told him.
“Tell me ye dina ditch yur men again,” Pierce grumbled, taking another pull of scotch from the bottle.
“I’m sure everyone knows where I am.” Evelyn knelt down beside Pierce and looked at his wound. “Why didn’t the doctor bandage it for you?”
“He probably figured ye would do it fer me,” Pierce complained.
“That’s ridiculous, I…” Evelyn trailed off as she looked at Pierce. Blast it! The man was too good looking for his own good. And that chest! The hard planes of muscle coming together in such masculine perfection should be a sin.
“Evie?” Pierce smiled amusedly at her. He knew she was admiring the view and he was more than happy to oblige in his drunken condition.
“I’ll clean and dress your wound.” Evelyn got up and gathered the supplies.
“Ye don’t need to,” Pierce breathed as he felt her gentle touch across his flesh.
“Yes, I do. I’m the reason you are hurt to begin with.” She was almost done when she noticed something wet land on Pierce’s arm. Was she crying?
“Evelyn, I am not worth yer tears,” Pierce told her as he gently wiped them away.
“I love you, Pierce. You will always be worth my tears,” Evelyn whispered. She stood to leave, but Pierce stopped her.
“Why dina ye tell me he threw ye into a wall?”
Evelyn looked brokenly down at Pierce. “What difference would it make? He threw me into the wall and I can’t change it. You can’t change it. It’s over and I’m safe.”
“No, Evie. No man should ever abuse a woman, especially not one he hopes to marry.”
“That is very true, but that bastard is something special. Besides, what do you care? I’m just a duty to you.” Evelyn answered bitterly.
Evelyn started to walk away. Pierce didn’t know what he was doing, but he couldn’t let her leave. Not like this. He knew she loved him, and deep down a part of him loved her too, but they couldn’t be. However, he still felt drawn to the woman. He still had a primal need to make her feel things, to possess her on some level.
He stood up and gently took her in his arms. “Pierce? What are you doing?”
Evelyn was about to ask another question when he cut her off. His lips were so gentle against hers. He was being so careful so as to not hurt her. It was the sweetest thing he had ever done.
Evelyn carefully wrapped her arms around his neck, which was all the encouragement Pierce needed to deepen the kiss. He plunged his tongue into her mouth again and again. Evelyn moaned in pleasure.
Pierce moved away and began trailing kisses down her neck to the tops of her breasts. Her magnificent breasts. God how he had dreamt about them. Pierce unlaced her dress, and took great satisfaction when it slid down past her breasts.
Pierce hissed, her breasts were bared to him. That could only mean one thing- she wasn’t wearing undergarments. Evelyn moaned again as the cool air touched her heated flesh and writhed against his body. This caused her dress to slide the rest of the way to the floor.
Pierce growled low in his throat. She was naked, well all but. There was a scant piece of fabric doing a poor job of being drawers. Evelyn, the woman he had taken to bed so many times in his dreams was standing before him almost naked. And there was nothing he could do.
Evelyn opened her eyes, confused by his lack of attention. “Pierce?”
“Why are ye naked under yer gown?” He bit out. Pierce turned away from her and grabbed his bottle of scotch. He took a long hard drink.
“I-I-I’m not. I’m wearing a new type of brief underwear,” Evelyn stammered hastily. She reached for her gown.
Behind him, he could hear the rustle of fabric. “Go back to yer room, ready fer tea, and leave me be,” Peirce quietly thundered.
“I-I-I-I’m sorry, Pierce. I just m-m-meant to check on you,” Evelyn stammered.
“Well ye shouldna have. Now get out!” He barked.
Evelyn ran to the secret passage in his room, the one he hadn’t realized he had, and fled his room.
“Well done, Pierce. I don’t think she’ll ever make that mistake again,” Richard stated flatly.
“What the bloody hell do ye want?”
“I came to check on you, but then discovered Evelyn beat me to it. I’ve never heard any man react to a naked woman quite like that before,” Richard mused.
“She is all concerned about Philip and yet she bandies about with no undergarments giving him easy access to the goods!” Pierce exclaimed.
“Evelyn was worried about you.” Richard put up his hand to stop him from interrupting. “No, I’m talking you drunk ass. We were taking a stroll before the fighting began, when we ran into Philip and Thad. He was complaining about how his man had been disqualified and she sat there and defended you to the detriment of herself.
“Thad made some off hand comment about her being in love with you, Philip then mocked her for it. And she said nothing, even after Philip made some comments about love not being in the cards for her,” Richard told him. “He then openly ogled her, before slapping her on the arse, and declaring it good enough to ride. The son of a bitch and her brother took off laughing.”
“Then she worried about you all morning, practically making herself sick, before she made the mistake of checking on you,” Richard concluded.
Pierce started to say something, but Richard cut him off. “I told Reginald what happened and he and Maria had words over the incident. Suffice it to say, Philip and Evelyn won’t be getting married. Now, clean your ass up for tea!”
Richard stormed from the room. Pierce had been slightly drunk before that exchange with Richard, now he was stone cold sober. He had been drinking and feeling sorry for himself while Evelyn had been defending herself from that wolf.
Pierce cursed. This was the second time in as many days he had let her down. He couldn’t do it again.
Pierce had just entered the blue parlor when he heard the grating sound of Philip’s cackle. He looked over and saw the ass was having tea with Evelyn, Richard, Thad, and a woman he didn’t recognize.
Peter and Robert were seated at the next table over, while Ian lurked in the corner. Each of the men was glaring daggers at Philip. Evelyn was sitting ramrod straight and as close to Richard as she could get.
Well, that just wouldn’t do.
Pierce strode over to the table. “May I join you?”
Relief flooded Evelyn’s features for a moment, then her cheeks took on a pink hugh.
“There isn’t any room at our table,” Philip answered smugly.
“Nonsense, there is plenty of room next to me. Richard will just scoot a little closer to Thad, and I’ll move over and Pierce can squeeze in here,” Evelyn explained eagerly.
Philip didn’t like the sound of the new seating arrangements. “Why doesn’t Pierce squeeze in next to Lady Claire? She would be honored by his presence.”
Evelyn ignored Philip and started moving to make room for Pierce. Once everyone was situated around the table, Philip began whining about how there were no more blueberry scones.
“I’m sorry Prince Philip, I didn’t realize we were out of blueberry scones. Let me have a footman fetch more,” Evelyn told him.
Pierce eyed Philip suspiciously. He didn’t know what he was playing at, but he was on his guard. Evelyn ordered the scones for Philip as well as lemon pound cake for Pierce. This caused Philip to sulk even more because lemon pound cake had not been one of the original offerings.
Evelyn and Claire chatted with Richard and Thad about the oprah before the women began chatting about the latest fashions.
“I’m grateful the bustle is no longer en vogue. It was such a trial to sit,” Lady Claire declared.
“I couldn’t agree with you more! Oh! And puff sleeves! I was so happy to see them go by the wayside as well,” Evelyn declared.
“My mother used to threaten me to wear gowns with those enormous things, claiming they were all the rage,” Claire continued. “I didn’t mind the smaller puffed sleeves on occasion, but the large ones were simply impractical.”
Evelyn was about to respond when the footman arrived with the scones and pound cake, he even brought a fresh pot of tea. As the hostess, Evelyn did the honors of getting everyone a fresh cup of tea.
As she was leaning over to pour Pierce’s tea near the edge of the table, Philip ran his shoulder into Pierce. This caused him to hit the edge of the table and knock the cup of hot tea on to Evelyn’s lap.
“AH!” Evelyn screamed as she jumped up from the table. She set the teapot down and moved the fabric of her dress away from her body. “Oh my god, it burns!”
Philip went sheet white. “I’m so sorry, Princess Evelyn. Please let me help you.”
“No! You stay away from me. You have done quite enough with that display. Are you daft? Or are you really that threatened by other men?” Evelyn ranted as her temper got the better of her.
Jessica came running into the room and immediately bolted for Evelyn. “Come now, Your Royal Highness. Let us get you changed and ready for dinner.”
Ian and John followed the women as they left the room. All eyes were on their table. Pierce currently had a death grip on the sides of the table.
“I would leave if I were you,” Pierce growled meaningfully at the man.
“I didn’t do anything, it was an accident. Thad, tell him it was an accident,” Philip begged.
Thad looked back and forth between the two men, and then glanced in the doorway where his father now stood with a thunderous expression on his face.
“I’m sure it was just an accident, Old Chap. Evelyn will be right as rain after Jessica tends to her,” Thad stated blandly. “If you’ll excuse me.”
Thad bolted from the room in the opposite direction of his father. Richard murmured something to Peter and Robert, then both men left the room. Philip was next to make a speedy exit, and Richard started a lively conversation with Lady Claire about the weather.
All the while, Pierce sat where he was, waiting for the murderous rage he felt to subside into something less lethal.
A footman tapped him on the shoulder. “Begging your pardon, Your Highness. King Reginald would like a word with you in his study.”
Pierce nodded. He took a few deep breaths before getting up to talk to the King.
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