From The New York Times bestselling author- a gloriously romantic favorite, now an eBook.
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January 03, 2005
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Excerpt from Something Wicked by Jo Beverley
London, June 1762
"I'm going to miss you." Lady Elfled Malloren went into her twin brother's arms, determined not to cry.
"Now there's a change," he said gruffly. "It's going to be strange all over again after this year together."
Captain Lord Cynric Malloren was dressed for official travel in full red-coated military glory, including powdered hair tied back neatly with a black bow.
Beneath a frivolous lace cap, Elf's hair glinted its natural sandy gold, and she wore a white gown scattered with embroidered forget-me-nots.
Even so, the resemblance was unmistakable.
"I wish you weren't going so far," she complained. "Nova Scotia. It will be years?"
He put his fingers over her unsteady lips. "Hush. I've been away for years before, and you'll soon be absorbed in your own life again."
She pulled a face and moved out of his arms. "Don't you start preaching of the benefits of the wedded state!"
He glanced smiling at his wife, waiting tactfully by the hall door, chatting to his brother, the Marquess of Rothgar. "Marriage suits me, and you and I are very much alike."
Are we? Elf wanted to ask, but now was hardly the time to raise troubling questions. "Then I'll consider the applicants again," she said lightly, adding with a teasing grimace, "?of course it might help if my devoted brothers didn't chase off all the more interesting ones!"
He winked. "Takes a scoundrel to know one. We'd best be off." But he made no move to leave, even though a coach and six restless horses waited outside.
"Go. I hate long farewells." She kissed him quickly, then dragged him toward his wife and the door to adventure.
She kissed her sister-in-law, Chastity, on the cheek. "Write before you sail." They hugged, clinging for a moment, for they'd become close friends. "Take care of him," Elf whispered, having to fight tears all over again.
"Of course." Chastity pulled free to blow her nose. "If I thought there was any point, I'd ask you to take care of Fort in turn." She referred to her brother, now Earl of Walgrave.
"I can well imagine his reaction to such a suggestion."
They shared a look, for Chastity's brother hated all Mallorens.
Behind them, two footmen swung open the big double doors, letting in summer sun and birdsong. The marquess and Cyn moved onto the steps outside, waiting.
"Keep an eye on him, at least," Chastity said.
"My dear. The places he haunts? I'd lose my reputation in a moment!"
"Not these days." Chastity pulled a face. "I never thought to complain about a brother's reform, but Fort as a careless rake was a great deal more pleasant than Lord Walgrave, the cynical moralist." She pulled on her gloves. "I do worry about leaving him like this. He's not the same since Father's death."
Elf linked arms and led her to the door. "Then I will play guardian angel. If I hear he's in the suds?about to be beheaded for bloody-minded arrogance, for example?I'll charge to his rescue like Joan of Arc!" With a grin, Elf added, "Mainly to annoy him."
Chastity chuckled, but added, "He's not so bad, Elf. It's just?"
"It's just that he thinks all Mallorens lower than worms, and treats me accordingly."
Chastity sighed and abandoned the argument, turning to join her husband and the marquess, who was traveling with them to Portsmouth.
Too soon all was ready. Elf watched from the steps as the three settled into the gilded coach. At a word, the coachman cracked his whip and the six horses took the weight of the splendid vehicle. Soon it turned out of Marlborough Square, both Cyn and Chastity leaning out for a final wave.