Secrets of a Viscount(3)

By: Rose Gordon



They were there of course, but not nearly as prominent as Rachel’s. It hadn't been until a year or so ago that he’d even been aware Belle had breasts. And the only reason he found out then was because he’d accompanied them to go see a traveling circus and some stumbling drunk knocked into her and Sebastian had reached out to right her and accidentally brushed her soft breast with his forearm. If not for that, he’d still think she was as flat as a chessboard due to the way her gowns hung off her in the front.

Shaking his head to dispel all thoughts of Belle and her blasted breasts, he helped Rachel into the carriage and plopped down on the seat across from her.

He hadn’t planned to marry so young. But for some reason he still couldn’t place, he’d softened to Rachel’s chronic pleas and agreed to haul her off, and like any gentleman, he intended to keep his word—even if he didn’t want to and had to drink half a barrel of whisky to force himself to go through with it. He closed his eyes for a moment to let his mind clear. He hadn’t really consumed so much whisky before coming to collect her, but he’d consumed some. He had to. Any gentleman of only nineteen would have to be at least partially foxed in order to willingly hand over his freedom.

He took a deep breath, opened his eyes and gave the roof of the carriage a sharp tap. “Why don’t you take your cloak off now?”

Rachel shook her head.

“Suit yourself,” he said with a shrug. Leaning his head back, he closed his eyes again to take a little nap, not sure if he wanted it to sober him up a little more or just pass the time. He’d never cared one way or the other about living so far north. Sure the winters were bitter, but other than that, he saw no difference between living in the northern or southern part of the country. However, just now, he was rather glad he lived so far north because they were only an hour or two from Gretna Green.

Sebastian jolted awake what felt like only minutes later. He blinked his eyes and waited as Abrams, the coachman, came around to open the door for him.

He descended then reached up to help Rachel and nearly rolled his eyes. She still wore her blasted cloak wrapped around herself as if exposing one inch of her would bring her harm.

“Here we are,” he said easily, leading Rachel up to the door of the smithy’s shop. Frowning, he took out his pocket watch. It was five. The smithy should be out here waiting for him. As a precaution in the event that Rachel became as stubborn as Belle—and why wouldn’t she be when faced with marriage to a man who had more wrinkles than a prune and breath more foul than the slums of London—he’d sent Fowler, his valet, to make arrangements with the smithy so he and Rachel wouldn’t have to track one down at such an absurd hour.

“Milord,” a stout man a few shops down the street called out.

“Yes?”

“I’s to do ye’s wed’in, milord,” the man said with a large, nearly toothless grin.

Sebastian gave him a curt nod and nudged Rachel to walk in the man’s direction, simultaneously suppressing a shudder at the man’s scraggly appearance. He’d sent Fowler here with three pounds; surely he could have paid a nicer-looking man to officiate.

“Aye, the bride,” the toothless man said, ushering Rachel inside his shop.

Walking behind Rachel as she crossed the threshold, Sebastian saw her tense. After a quick glance around the shop, he knew why. Dirt and filth was everywhere. The dirt floor had turned to mud from the water dripping from who knows what above the ceiling. Rusted anvils and hammers littered the makeshift unsteady worktables, as did an assortment of other broken and poorly cared for tools. The back window was covered in some sort of greasy sludge so thick that even if the sun had been up, there wouldn’t have been a single ray coming through from back there.

Trying not to cringe himself, Sebastian fisted his hands and shoved them into his pockets, silently vowing not to remove them until they were safely out of this shop. Then he took his spot next to Rachel who still wore that blasted cloak, now drawn so tightly around her face he couldn’t see a single facial feature. Not that he blamed her. He wanted as much of his skin covered as was possible, too. Had this been a serious wedding and a love match, he’d have marched her out of the room immediately. Instead, he nodded to her.

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