That Perfect Someone Page 36

He didn"t stay at Boyd"s house any longer than to drop his bag in the room he was shown to, which he would share with Ohr for the night. He needed to find a solicitor who would see him today. If anything should happen to him, or to Julia before she got her divorce, he wanted to make damn sure his father couldn"t step in and try to lay claim to any part of the Miller fortune. He wanted a will drawn up that would expressly exclude Milton Allen from anything of his—or his wife"s.

His wife. Good God, that sounded so nice. But Julia didn"t think so, and she was probably right. What did he have to offer her, after all? He wasn"t broke. There was nothing really to spend money on in the Caribbean, so he had a few thousand pounds stashed away, but that was like pocket change compared to what Julia was worth. He owned no property, not even a house of his own. And he was a second son, so no title other than lord came with his name, which he didn"t even use in the islands. Take Julia away from the world of high society she was so accustomed to? From the business empire she"d been running by herself for the last five years?

In good conscience, how could he do that?

He had to let her go, and that meant not fighting her decision. He could see no way around it. But he couldn"t bear to do it yet. It had been pure impulse, insisting she come with him, but he was glad now that he"d done it. At least, it would give him a few more weeks with her before they parted for good.

But she might not come.

After he returned to Boyd"s house late that afternoon, it felt as if he were holding his breath until her message was delivered, informing him that she"d meet him at the docks in the morning.

Ohr appeared in the open doorway. Richard hadn"t closed the door after Julia"s message was brought up to him. He was so deep in thought, he only barely realized Ohr was saying something to him.

“What?”

“I said, what happened at Willow Woods?” Ohr repeated.

“Our bluff got called. We"re married.”

Ohr chuckled. “Wasn"t expecting to hear that. Then why are you mooning again?”

“I wasn"t.”

“You were. After recent events, I was sure you"d be done with that.” Richard didn"t want to discuss Julia yet, so he simply said, “It"s a complex situation.”

“Seems simple to me. Or did it never occur to you that you were enamored of the danger of loving her, simply because of who her husband is?”

Richard choked back a laugh over Ohr"s mistake, tried to interrupt him, but Ohr held up his hand, determined to have his say. “Malory threatened us the very day you met his wife when we dropped Gabby off at their house. He was extremely intimidating, as he tends to be, and that could have influenced you right then. He presented you with a unique challenge. But you"ve finally had a taste of his jealousy, so I have to ask, do you really think you still love her?”

Richard chuckled as he shook his head. He didn"t have to explain the mistake. Ohr wouldn"t pry. So he just said, “No, whatever that was, it"s gone.”

“So you"re mooning over your own wife?” Ohr pried anyway. “How—odd.” Richard"s mouth tightened. Nothing about that was amusing. “I"ll work it out.”

“Well, if you"d rather talk it out, we have time before the party.”

“What party?”

“Gabby and Drew"s farewell party this evening. We"ve been invited.”

“Invited when we"re already here? Was there any doubt that we would be welcome?”

“Oh, the party isn"t here,” Ohr said with a grin. “It"s at James Malory"s house.” Richard never imagined he"d actually be invited to James"s house. Malory must not know, he figured. Yet when he and Ohr were shown into the parlor where Andersons and Malorys were gathered, James noticed him and didn"t even raise a brow over his presence.

Gabrielle pounced on him though, the moment he walked in. Ohr had warned Richard that he"d mentioned his marriage to Drew, and Drew had joined his wife earlier at the Malory house.

“I"m so delighted!” Gabrielle told Richard.

“Don"t be. My father won, Gabby.”

“Well, there is that, but you did, too, didn"t you? I saw the way you were looking at Julia on The Maiden George. You could barely take your eyes off of her. And you married her!” She was too happy for him. Richard didn"t have the heart to tell her about the upcoming divorce, at least not at this party in her honor.

He said simply, “She"s sailing with us.”

“Well, of course she is, why wouldn"t she? Oh, wait, she must have so much to pack, to move to another country. Does she need help? Do we need to delay our departure a day or two?”

“No delays, Gabby, please. I was prepared to find another ship if The Triton couldn"t sail in the morning. I can"t bear to spend another day on the same continent with my father.” She peered at him closely. “What else happened?”

“Let"s not discuss it tonight. And Julia will manage just fine, she"s probably got more servants to help her than we can count. Go enjoy your party.” He pushed her toward her husband while he quickly headed across the room to escape any more questions. James"s son, Jeremy, caught his eye and Richard went over to him.

He"d never seen Jeremy"s wife before. She"d probably been at Georgina"s ball, but he wouldn"t have noticed as besotted as he"d been with Georgina. He couldn"t help noticing her now as she turned to face him. He even caught his breath. Danny Malory had an ethereal sort of beauty that was mesmerizing and made even more angelic by her pure white hair, which was so unusual on a young woman. Though cut extremely short, a highly unfashionable style for a lady, on her it was stunning.

Jeremy poked him in the ribs to get Richard"s eyes off his wife. Richard chuckled as he realized he had indeed been staring.

“Sorry,” he told the couple with an abashed grin. “I suppose it happens a lot?” Jeremy nodded. “She"s lucky I"m not the jealous type.”

“No, I"m just lucky,” Danny said, and gave her husband a loving smile.

Richard was envious—of their happiness. Actually, all of the couples in the room seemed to be blessed with happy marriages.

Jeremy, noticing Richard"s glance about the room, said, “You don"t know everyone here, do you?”

“"Fraid not. Your father would never let me in the house before.”

“Really? That"s interesting. Before he knew you were a lord?”

“No, I just got on his bad side,” Richard said evasively.

“Ah. Well, all must be forgiven if you"re here now,” Jeremy assumed. “So let me introduce you to my side of the family. They aren"t all here, of course, just those who were in town and could come to the party on such short notice. And I"m sure you probably know Drew"s side of the family already.”

Richard had never actually met Drew"s older brother Warren, but since he"d married a Malory, too, Jeremy introduced Warren"s wife, Amy. “A gamine imp” was how Jeremy described this cousin of his, and he warned Richard never to bet with her. She never lost, apparently.

Another of Jeremy"s cousins was present, Regina Eden, who had hosted Georgina"s ball, and her husband, Nicolas. “If you hear my father disparaging Nick, think nothing of it,” Jeremy said with a chuckle. “My father and his brothers all had a hand in raising Reggie after her parents died, so they"re a little overprotective of her and make sure Nick knows it, least my father and Uncle Tony do.”

Also present was Jeremy"s uncle Tony, an exceptionally handsome man whom Jeremy resembled more than his own father! Jeremy laughed when Richard mentioned that.

“Drives m"father batty, so don"t remark on it where he can hear. It"s this black hair, really.

Only a few of us Malorys have it. Everyone else in the family leans toward blond.” One of Jeremy"s older uncles was there, too, Edward Malory, and his wife, Charlotte, who lived over in Grosvenor Square. Another of Drew"s older brothers, Thomas, was in attendance, too. The eldest Anderson had been in town, but had already sailed.

Of Edward, Jeremy said, “A shame Uncle Eddie won"t have a chance to meet your wife before you hie off with her. He"s the financial genius of the family. Julia doesn"t appear to do too bad in finance herself, so they would have had so much in common to discuss.” At the mention of Julia, Richard"s mood took a downward swing. But he remembered the lockpicking tools in his pocket and handed them to Jeremy now. “Thank you for lending me these.”

Jeremy handed the tools to his wife, who grinned and said, “You"re welcome. I don"t have any use for them these days. I just keep them as a memento of the friends I made in my youth.”

“They worked like a charm,” Richard assured her.

“Glad to hear it.”

“You"ve monopolized him enough, puppy,” James told his son as he approached them, then said to Richard, “Come along, I"ve a bone to pick with you.” Richard groaned, but followed James to the unlit fireplace, which was a good distance away from the other guests.

Resting one arm on the mantel, James didn"t actually look at Richard. His eyes were on his wife as he said, “What"s this I hear that you actually came to your senses and did good? Trying to bowl me over before you leave town?”

“Very funny,” Richard replied, unamused.

“Just don"t even think of moving in down the block from me, old boy. Ever.”

“You"ve my word on it, that will never happen.”

James finally glanced at Richard, one golden brow raised. “Not even to visit? I suppose I can make exceptions for visits.”

Richard couldn"t help laughing now. “You"re all heart, Malory.”

“It"s a gift,” James said without expression.

Since James seemed to be in a good mood, probably because Richard was leaving the country again, Richard asked carefully, “Would you mind if I apologize to Georgina while I"m here, for any distress I might have caused her with my infatuation?”

“Yes, I mind.”

“It will only take a moment.”

James"s tone turned abruptly ominous. “I said I mind.”

Richard sighed. “Then would you convey my apologies to her? Tell her she"s one of the loveliest women I"ve ever known—”

“You"re pressing your luck.”

“—but I"m fully aware of the difference now between a minor infatuation and love,” Richard finished quickly.

James gave him a steady look before he said, “If you think I"m going to tell my wife she came in second place, you"re out of your gourd. I"ll convey the apology and not another bloody word.”

“Fair enough.” Richard grinned.

“But I"m reminded that George will likely miss Julia. Living so close, they were quite chummy.”

“Julia will be back,” Richard said simply.

“She? Not you?” At Richard"s hesitant nod, James added, “Splendid. Couldn"t have asked for a better arrangement. Wouldn"t let George out of my sight that long, but as long as Julia travels on Skylark ships, you can at least be assured of her safety.” Richard should have let it go at that. He didn"t owe Malory any explanations. But he ended up saying, “You misunderstand. She"s only going to the Caribbean to get a divorce.” James stared at him for a moment, a brief moment, before his stonelike fist landed in Richard"s gut. “Wrong answer. Try again.”

All Richard tried to do was get some air back in his lungs and keep the wince off his face.

When he was finally able to straighten up and breathe at the same time, his eyes narrowed on James. “It"s not my idea. I love her. But she won"t be happy where I"m going, away from everything she knows and loves. I can"t do that to her.”

“Then you move back here. Or you figure out another way. But you don"t let true happiness slip out of your grasp without one helluva fight.”

“That"s what he did,” Anthony Malory said as he joined them and caught the last of James"s advice. “James had to get around the fact that his wife"s brothers wanted to kill him and take her back home with them. Deuced hard to maintain a marriage from different sides of the ocean. But he forced them to see reason. He"s good at that.”

“Put a lid on it, Tony,” James said.

Anthony grinned. “I was being helpful.”

“You were being obnoxious,” James disagreed.

Richard slipped away as the two Malory brothers began to bicker in what might have been a friendly way, though it was hard to tell. With his thoughts so far removed from the revelry all around him, Richard left the party early. But before he summoned the carriage to take him back to Boyd"s house, he stared down the street toward Julia"s home and slowly began to walk in that direction. He didn"t hesitate to knock on her door. But when the butler answered, it wasn"t Julia he asked to speak to. It was Gerald Miller he wanted to talk to before he sailed in the morning.

Chapter Forty-eight

OH, GOOD LORD, IT"S raining,” Raymond said as he stepped down from the coach and reached for Julia"s hand to help her down. “You"re going to be soaked before you get on board.”

“Nonsense,” she replied, glancing curiously around the docks. “This is barely a drizzle.” Even at such an early hour, the area was bustling with activity. The Triton wasn"t the only ship sailing with the tide. Fresh supplies were still being carried aboard Drew"s ship, with several more wagons waiting to unload even more. A line of sailors soon showed up to take her trunks aboard.

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