Wedded to the Wicked Lord – Ella Edon

Louisa wished she could dump the entire kettle of water onto the gentleman before her. A smile was frozen on her face as she sipped the lukewarm tea that she had long ago lost her taste for. A cool wind wafted in from the open windows of the drawing room, making bumps rise on her skin. Before her, the white marble fireplace shone under the glow of the sunlight, the pianoforte that stood next to it begging to be played. Louisa lifted her gaze from the table laden with cakes and tea to look at the gentleman who had not stopped talking since he’d arrived. He is quite handsome, she thought, widening her smile just a tad. He caught the movement and seemed to take it as encouragement. Though, it would be nice if I could at least remember his name. His dark brown hair fell around his head in the Brutus style, accentuating his strong jaw. He had a very wide smile, one that filled his entire face with happiness. He was certainly the type to have ladies yearning for his attention, but that seemed to be his downfall. It was very clear that he was used to being handed the world because of his good looks, but Louisa was not in the mood to entertain this nonsense any longer. “Forgive me,” she said, refraining from using any titles. She couldn’t remember if he was a duke, or an earl, or even a baron. She’d only met him two days ago at a ball and his name was quite gone from her memory.

“I am afraid I will have to ask you to leave.” His smile fell. His eyes, a glorious shade of brown, were filled with bemusement. “Pardon me?” Louisa waved her hand carelessly toward the doors of the drawing room. “Would you like for me to accompany you to the door? I do not mind doing so.” His bemusement deepened. Louisa resisted the urge to sigh. It seems he was not very smart either. “But, my Lady…why? I had believed that you were enjoying yourself with me.” “No,” she said with a shake of her head, looking him directly in his eyes.

“You were enjoying yourself. I was merely sitting here while you talked on and on. I am in no mood for it any longer.” “Would you like for us to go for a walk along the river tomorrow instead?” he asked, leaning a bit closer. “So that you may only talk even more?” Louisa shook her head. “I would rather not.” And because she could already hear her mother’s voice in her head, she plastered another smile onto her face, trying to sweeten her voice. “I am only feeling a bit unwell. I wish to retire to my room, as I’m afraid I will not be good company.” He sat back in his chair, blinking.

Louisa wondered if he was trying to ascertain the truth in her words, but his easy smile came back with full force. “Is that so? For a moment there, I was afraid I might have offended you in some manner.” “You? Oh, heavens no.” Her idle, uninterested tone did not seem to raise his suspicions in the slightest. “Very well, my Lady,” he continued, still wearing that broad smile. “I will bid you goodbye. I do not want to be the reason for your malady.” “How very kind of you.” Louisa rose, and her lady’s maid, Valerie, who had been sitting nearby, rose as well. The gentleman also came to his feet, taking a step closer to her.

Louisa thought he might have intended to walk alongside her, but she turned and stalked away before he could. To her slight annoyance, he hurried to catch up. “I would love to write to you, my Lady,” the gentleman said as they left the drawing room. Emerging from the shadows, Louisa saw the butler, Henry, trailing shortly behind. He was a silent man in both words and actions—and she supposed that was why she was so fond of him. “I suppose you would,” she responded noncommittally. “I would also love to go riding with you,” he went on. “I have quite the habit of riding at dawn. I do hope that is not an issue for you.” “I do not enjoy riding,” she lied.

She did enjoy it from time to time, reveling in the escape she found within the act—but he didn’t need to know that. To her disappointment, he was unhindered. “Ah, is that so? Well, I suppose we all prefer different hobbies. That is what makes us all different as humans, after all. It is like what I said to a dear friend of mind, the Duke of Forester, while we were fencing together—” “I bid you goodbye,” Louisa cut in. They’d barely made it through the foyer, the grand front doors directly in sight. Her annoyance was growing by the minute, but she kept that small smile on her face even as she curtsied. Anyone with a lick of common sense would be able to tell that her smile was fake. But this gentleman only looked slightly confused. Throwing him out in the middle of his story might have befuddled him a bit, she supposed.

“A-ah, yes.” He bowed jerkily. “It was truly a pleasure, Lady Louisa. Though I would have greatly liked to have more time with you.” Because the words that had come to her head were things she should never say to a gentleman, she only widened her smile a little further. He didn’t seem to know what to do with that, and so he bowed again. It seems I have baffled him again. He is not quite smart, is he? A twinge of humor pricked her as Henry took the lead from her and proceeded to escort the gentleman out of the manor. Louisa watched him go, tilting her head to the side when he glanced over his shoulder at her. There was a hint of longing in his eyes, a yearning to stay.

It gave her that much more pleasure to see him leave. Perhaps I should have been a little more impolite. He will not wish to court me if I have hurt his feelings. Louisa sighed once he was gone. She flashed a genuine smile at Henry, who bowed silently and went off for his own duties. The smile fell as she stared at the nowclosed doors. Now that he was gone, she had a bad feeling that he would return. It was very likely that he had not realized the extent of her disinterest in him. If he did call upon her again, Louisa would have no choice but to be a little more discourteous, her mother’s opinion be damned. Turning, intending to return to the gardens where she had been before the gentleman’s arrival, she came face to face with her parents.

Lord Anders King, the Earl of Warwick wore a tired expression. His brown hair stuck up around his head in an unruly fashion, though bits of it seemed to have been desperately smoothed down. He shook his head disappointedly at Louisa, his green eyes shifting over to his wife. Lady Liliana King, the Countess of Warwick was a fearsome sight, even though she was shortest lady in the manor. She stood with her arms crossed, a fierce scowl on her face. Her golden blond hair had been set loose around her shoulders, simply because she tended to get migraines when it was done up. A few times, Louisa had contemplated using that same excuse, but she knew her mother would see right through her. “What do you think you are doing?” asked the countess in a low, eerily calm voice. Louisa pulled her shoulders back. She’d always had the power to handle her mother whenever she angered her, but right now, she was unsure of whether she had the energy.

“I was bidding a young gentleman goodbye,” Louisa responded. “That is not what you were doing,” her mother pressed. Liliana always lost her composure when handling her eldest daughter. “You were trying to chase him away. Just like how you chase away all your other suitors.” “Potential suitors,” Louisa corrected. “They have never gotten that far.” “Louisa,” her father warned. He always stood as peacemaker between them. Just as how no one else could anger Liliana like Louisa could, no one else could calm her like her husband.

Louisa was happy he was here. “None will ever truly make it that far if you continue to act in such an abhorrent manner,” Liliana hissed. Then, she took a deep breath, visibly reining herself back in. “What was wrong with this one?” “He talks too much about himself,” Louisa asked. This was not a conversation that she would like the servants overhearing, so she turned in the direction of the drawing room. Her parents fell into step behind her. “Don’t they all?” Anders mused aloud. “I am yet to meet a gentleman who does not go on and on about himself. They only wish to impress you.” Louisa hid her smile.

“I am happy you noticed it, Father. Surely, you cannot expect me to court someone like that.” “Oh, heavens, Louisa, we all know that is not the reason for your actions,” Liliana cut in. When they arrived at the drawing room, her mother stayed at the door while Louisa reclaimed her seat by the window. “And I am certain you understand that you do not have the luxury to act in such a manner any longer.” “Truly, Mother, you need not worry,” Louisa said calmly. “Why should I not worry?” Liliana demanded. Anders sank into a plush, violet sofa with a sigh. “You have not given any indication that you wish to be married.” “Because I do not,” Louisa stated.

How could she when the very thought of a man touching her made her tremble? A marriage could never thrive with such a fear. “And I should not worry?” her mother nearly screeched. Louisa looked at her. She understood why her mother was so upset. It was necessary for her to marry, a fact of her birth. She was the eldest daughter of an earl and she was fast approaching spinster age. In order to secure her future, Louisa knew she needed to find a decent husband. Liliana had every reason in the world to be concerned that her daughter showed such little regard for her own future. But Louisa had already come to terms with it. She did not expect her mother to.

So, she said, “I am a strong lady. You raised me to be that way. I will be just fine on my own, I assure you.” This time, it was Liliana’s turn to sink into the sofa next to her husband. As if by instinct, Anders reached out and took her hand. “Oh, heavens, she will be the death of me,” Liliana murmured. Louisa nearly laughed. “Oh, Mother, do not be so dramatic. Charlotte is already married, and Selina is out—in her second Season now, in fact. Within a couple of years, Tereza will be as well.

Even if I do not marry, you have three other daughters to make up for my shortcomings.” “You must think that will make me feel better,” her mother mumbled. “But it does not.” “You must understand our concern, Louisa,” her father spoke up. “You will become a spinster in a matter of years. You must marry before then. It is not as if you are short of any potential suitors. You may very well marry any gentleman in London.” Louisa said nothing to that. It was true that she was quite a beauty, that she did not have to worry about attracting a suitor—because they basically lined themselves up for her, wanting her hand in marriage.

But because of that, Louisa felt a heavy burden. She did not like that she was beautiful. Had she been plain, her life would have been much easier. “You are talking to a wall, my dear,” her mother spoke up with a sigh. “It will take a miracle to move her mind.” Louisa smiled warmly at her mother. “Does this mean you will no longer pressure me to accept the gentlemen who come my way?” “It means quite the opposite,” Liliana maintained. “I will not allow such a fate to befall you. Perhaps we will find someone suitable at Charlotte’s ball tomorrow.” Louisa nearly sighed.

She turned her attention to the window as her parents rose to make their way to the door. But just before they left, her father asked, “Louisa, I wonder. Do you happen to know the name of the gentleman who left just now?” Louisa felt a little pleasure in sending an innocent smile over her shoulder. “Why, Father, it is funny that you should ask, because I hadn’t a single clue.” Liliana groaned.

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