The Most Dangerous Duke in London | Chapter 16 of 36 - Part: 1 of 5

Author: Madeline Hunter | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2415 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Nine

Clara went to bed on Saturday with a little prayer that it would rain in the morning. When she woke to a gloriously beautiful day, however, she greeted the weather with more enthusiasm than she expected. She blamed that on how long it had been since she had enjoyed a good ride. Any equestrienne would want to be in a saddle on such a day.

Jocelyn helped her dress and only raised one eyebrow when Clara called for the blue riding habit. Clara decided one eyebrow was allowed when the woman had been her maid for close to ten years and now performed multiple duties with only a few complaints about ladies’ maids not doing that kind of thing.

Jocelyn helped her dress, then fixed her hair and set a small hat on her crown. She anchored it with two hatpins, then prepared her reticule.

By ten o’clock she was ready, standing by the library window to see if Stratton would show. She had not actually accepted his invitation. He might have concluded coming here with an extra horse in tow would be pointless.

Promptly at ten o’clock she spied him turning his white horse into the square. A beautiful chestnut horse paced behind him.

Jocelyn even did door duty when the knock sounded. She brought Stratton into the library, where Clara still feasted her eyes on that magnificent chestnut. It was a gelding, and his lean lines suggested Arabian blood.

“I was not sure you would come. I never responded to your invitation.”

“I assumed that while you could resist my company, you would not forgo that of a good horse.”

“You were correct.” She gathered up the train of her habit. “On such a fair day, to deny myself would be a sin.”

“We can’t have that. Sins of omission are the worst kind. All of the guilt and none of the fun.”

“No sins at all are the best kind.” She trusted he heard what she was saying. There will be no sinning of any kind today.

It wasn’t that she did not trust him. She simply did not want to spend the day explaining how those kisses had been an error and that she only agreed to this ride because he had lured her with a fine horse and a finer day.

She noticed when she passed Jocelyn that both of her eyebrows were up now.

Stratton helped her into the saddle. “His name is Galahad. He is not accustomed to a sidesaddle, but I am sure you can handle him. He may require a firm hand, however.” He patted the chestnut’s neck, then mounted himself.

She and Galahad became acquainted while they made their way south to the river. The horse resisted restraint and did need a firm hand. It pleased her that Stratton had brought Galahad and not some boring, safe horse with little spirit left.

Very few people were on the streets at this hour on a Sunday. The pealing church bells sounded loud in the quiet town, as did their horses’ hooves. They moved through a London rarely seen.

Once they crossed the Vauxhall Bridge, the countryside beckoned. The road alongside the river stretched open and free. No clutter of carts and wagons jammed it on Sunday morning. She gave Galahad permission to canter, then pushed him to a gallop.

They charged down the road with Stratton close behind. She raised her face to the wind and sun and enjoyed how the horse beneath her stretched to go faster. It had been weeks since she had a good, fast ride.

Some wagons meandered near a crossroad up ahead, and she pulled her reins to bring Galahad back to a walk. Stratton’s horse fell in next to hers.

“That was glorious,” she said. “I must try and bring my own horse Thunder up to town and stable him near Bedford Square. Then I can ride out every Sunday morning.”

“What would interfere? It seems a simple plan to me.”

“Theo may claim Thunder is not mine but his. Which, legally speaking, is true.”

“Surely he would not be so churlish as to refuse you the horse you have ridden for years.”

“Oh, I can handle Theo. If my grandmother tells him to refuse me, however, he will probably obey her.”

“She is nothing if not a redoubtable woman.”


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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