Rules for Reforming a Rake(2)

By: Meara Platt



Ian laughed. “Veronique has several charming friends to suit your... er, needs. Come by White’s tonight for a drink. We’ll discuss your return to England and the joys of bachelorhood further.”

“Look forward to it,” Gabriel said with a nod. “Now, what is this nonsense about my making one of the biggest mistakes of my life?”

Ian tried to appear serious, but the corners of his mouth curled upward to form a grin. “The danger is real,” he said, a glint of amusement in his eyes. “You must not take another step toward your grandmother’s house.”

Gabriel humored him by glancing around once more. For the life of him, there was nothing out of place on this street.

Ian took a deep breath. “Right, then. Your grandmother resides at Number 5 Chipping Way, and General Allworthy resides at Number 1 Chipping Way. He’s no problem, of course, being the quiet, retiring sort. So is your grandmother the retiring sort, though I understand she was quite something in her younger day.”

“Get to the point. I’m already late.”

“Yes, well. The problem resides at Number 3 Chipping Way. The Farthingales moved in about three years ago, shortly after you went off to... well, you know. Ever since they took up residence here, this charming street has become a deathtrap for bachelors.”

Gabriel frowned. “Your Grace—”

“Oh, I know it must sound absurd to you, but let me explain. The Farthingales have five beautiful daughters, and I don’t mean just pretty. They’re stunning and of marriageable age, which is a problem for us simple creatures.”

“Simple creatures?”

“We bachelors, haven’t you been listening? What chance do we have against a pair of vivid blue eyes? Soft, smiling lips? None, I tell you. Our brains shut off the moment our—”

“I understand your drift,” Gabriel shot back, rolling his eyes. “But years of battle discipline have trained me well. I have an iron control over my body and therefore am in no danger from the Farthingale girls. They are mere females, after all.”

Ian shook his head sadly and placed a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder. “Julian Emory said similar words to me two years ago while on his way to visit your dear grandmother. He made it as far as the Farthingale gate, heard Rose Farthingale’s kiln explode, and then heard her cries for help. She was trapped inside, along with her shattered pottery.”

“A riveting story,” Gabriel said dryly.

“Julian heroically dug her out of the rubble and lifted her into his arms, but as he carried her from the destruction, disaster struck. She opened her eyes and smiled at him. They were married before he knew what hit him. I doubt the besotted fool will ever recover.”

“I’m not Julian.”

“Curiously, your cousin, Graelem Dayne, said those exact words to me last year. We stood right here as I tried to stop him from visiting your grandmother. I failed, of course. He made it to the Farthingale gate, only to be trampled by Laurel Farthingale’s beast of a horse. The beast broke Graelem’s leg, but did your cousin care? No, because Laurel had jumped down from that four-legged devil, thrown her arms around Graelem, and cradled him in her lap while some medical relative of hers set his busted leg. Laurel and Graelem married a short time after that.”

“Thank you for the warning.” Gabriel started for his grandmother’s house.

“Daisy,” Ian called after him.

“What?”

“Daisy’s next. She’s the next eldest of the Farthingale girls. You know, first Rose, then Laurel, then—”

“Of course, Daisy Farthingale.” Her name sounded as foolish as his friend’s warning.


***

Gabriel strode past General Allworthy’s townhouse at Number 1 Chipping Way, and then paused to look back at his companion because he had heard him mutter something about it being too painful to watch. Ian, along with his emerald green phaeton, was gone.

“Stuff and nonsense,” Gabriel grumbled, dismissing his friend as an alarmist. Julian and Graelem had been ready to marry. It only took the right sort of girl to tame them. He, on the other hand, had every intention of remaining the unrepentant bachelor.

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