In Bed with the DukeBy: Annie Burrows
“Vile seducer of women!”
Of all the accusations Gregory, Duke of Halstead, has ever had leveled at him, this is perhaps the most offensive and the least accurate. But as he has just woken naked in bed with no memory of the night before, next to a beautiful stranger, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate!
Innocent Prudence is just as shocked when she awakens! But as these strangers begin to unravel the plot behind the scandalous circumstances, she discovers the delicious consequences of finding herself in bed with...a duke!
“I am no seducer of innocents.” Indignation had him vaulting out of the bed.
A crowd of interested bystanders were peering into his room with a mixture of shock and disapproval.
With a low snarl, he stalked stark naked across the room and slammed the door shut on the whole crowd of them.
Then shot the bolt home for good measure.
He turned, slowly, wondering just exactly what sort of female he had found in such a ramshackle inn, in such a dreary little town. He took a good look at the girl who was sitting up in the bed, with the covers clutched up to her chin.
Contrary to what he’d half expected, she was a pretty little thing, with a cloud of chestnut curls and a pair of huge brown eyes.
Which was an immense relief. He may have lost his memory, but at least he hadn’t lost his good taste.
‘Vile seducer of women!’
Gregory winced and pulled the quilt up over his ears. What kind of inn was this? Surely even travellers to such a Godforsaken backwater shouldn’t have to put up with deranged females bursting into their rooms and screeching at them before breakfast?
‘Oh! What wickedness!’
Pulling the quilt up round his ears clearly wasn’t a strong enough hint that deranged females weren’t welcome in his room. For the voice was definitely getting louder. Coming closer.
‘What is the world coming to?’
Just what he’d like to know, he thought resentfully, dragging his eyelids open and seeing the owner of the strident voice standing right over him, jabbing a bony finger at his face.
‘How could you?’ the bony-fingered, screeching woman shouted into his face. Right into his face.
Enough was enough. He knew that public inns were of necessity frequented by...well, by the public. But surely even here a man was entitled to some privacy? At least in his own bedchamber?
‘Who,’ he said, in the arctic tone that normally caused minions to shake in their shoes, ‘let you into my room?’
‘Who let me into your room? Why, I let myself in, of course.’ She smote her breast theatrically. ‘Never have I been so shocked!’
‘Well, if you will invade a man’s chamber what can you expect?’
‘Oh!’ the woman cried again, this time laying the back of one hand across her brow. ‘Was ever there such a villain? Truly, your soul must be stained black with depravity if you can treat the seduction of innocence with such levity!’
Seduction of innocence? The woman must be fifty if she was a day. And she’d invaded his room. Nothing innocent about that.
‘And as for you!’ The screeching woman’s finger moved to a point somewhere to his left side. ‘You...you trollop!’
Trollop? There was a trollop in his bed as well as a hysterical woman standing next to it?
A brief foray with his left foot confirmed that, yes, indeed there was another pair of legs in his bed. A slender pair of legs. Belonging, he had to suppose, to the trollop in question.
He frowned. He wasn’t in the habit of taking trollops to his bed. Nor any other kind of woman. He always, but always, visited theirs. So that he could retire once he’d reduced them to a state of boneless satiation and get a peaceful night’s sleep at home. In his own bed. Where he heartily wished he was now. For there wouldn’t be a strange woman in his bed if he’d stayed at home. Nor, which was more to the point, would anybody be daring to stand over him screeching.
‘How could you repay me by behaving like this?’ The hysterical woman was still ranting. ‘After all I have done for you? All the sacrifices I have made?’
Her voice was rising higher and higher. And getting louder and louder. But even so there seemed to be a sort of fog shrouding his brain. He couldn’t for the life of him pierce through that fog to work out why there was a woman in his bed. He couldn’t believe he’d hired her. Because he had never needed to hire a woman. So how did she come to be here?