Secrets of a Viscount(2)By: Rose Gordon
Pursing her lips and biting her tongue so not to make the retort that was waiting on the tip of her tongue, thus giving away her identity, she politely nodded her head and stepped away from the ladder. The exact thing Rachel would do.
As soon as Isabelle was far enough away from the ladder to give Sebastian ample room to climb down, he swung his leg over and descended the ladder so quickly she’d have missed it had she blinked. “All right, Rachel,” he called. He grabbed onto the sides of the ladder to keep it from moving. “Come on down. Nice and slow.”
Isabelle walked up to the ladder and halted. “Can you turn around, please?”
“Because if you’re standing beneath the ladder you’ll see right up my nightrail,” she stated primly.
He snorted. “In a matter of hours I'll be seeing everything you have under that nightrail anyway. And more.”
Her face grew hot. She’d forgotten that little detail. If they were about to elope, they were also about to have marital relations. Unfortunately, her mother had never actually informed her of all the details, but she’d surmised from whispers she’d overheard between the servants that it involved both parties removing their clothes. She shivered. She was only sixteen and regarded Sebastian as nothing more than a friend, for her father wouldn’t allow it any other way, often reminding her of her place in this world—which was not at the side of a titled gentleman, for he would never return her love and affection. Therefore, there was no love or affection between them, perhaps a measure of adoration that she went to great pains to conceal. Instead they had friendship. And friendship would be a very acceptable foundation for a marriage, in her opinion. But still, the idea of him seeing up her nightrail—both now and then again in a few hours—made her face burn like it had caught fire.
“Are you having second thoughts?” Sebastian asked from the bottom of the ladder.
Did he want her to have second thoughts? Or more specifically, did he want Rachel to be having second thoughts and cry off? Perhaps that’s why he wanted to go down first. It made sense to her. He could have held the ladder still from the top. He'd wanted to go down first in order to find one more way to scare her out of going through with this.
Steeling her spine, she carelessly threw her leg over the edge of the balcony railing (clutching the top of the ladder for dear life at the same time), and in the most disgraceful and unladylike way possible, descended the ladder, stopping only briefly three rungs from the bottom to make sure her hood still covered her face adequately.
Sebastian was shocked. Absolutely shocked. First, he was in shock that he’d allowed Rachel Knight to talk him into stealing her away in the night to avoid marrying her father’s senile second cousin Lord Yourke, a match her father had somehow managed to arrange for her. But then when the shock wore off, he'd come up with a plan: he’d purposely frighten her into crying off. Not that he didn’t like Rachel, he did. But only as a friend, and even that was questionable at times. However, for as temperamental as his feelings were for her as a friend, he liked her far better than her younger sister: Belle.
At sixteen, Belle was three years his junior and had grown up following him like a second shadow when he was a boy. Rachel had too, but her presence didn’t bother him nearly as much. At least Rachel knew her place most of the time and acted like a lady. Belle was stubborn, willful, and so blunt she’d tell Prinny himself he needed to mind what he ate because he was in danger of growing as round as he was tall. Quite frankly, Belle lived up to the nickname he’d given her when she was only eight, and he eleven. She was stubborn, loud, and obnoxious. Decidedly not the kind of young lady a gentleman wanted to make his wife. Not if he didn’t wish to be publicly embarrassed and ridiculed, that is.
When Rachel had so carelessly climbed onto the ladder and made her way down, Sebastian would have sworn it was Belle in all of her defiance on that ladder. If he’d not glimpsed the outline of her bosom while in her dimly lit room earlier, he’d have demanded she remove that cloak as soon as she reached the bottom to confirm he’d retrieved the right sister. But he hadn’t because he knew he had the right sister. See, Rachel had plump, lush breasts, and Belle’s were nearly nonexistent.