To Pleasure a Prince

By: Sabrina Jeffries

For a moment they stood frozen, with only his broad arm beneath her back preventing her from falling down the stairs.




A heady scent of bay rum and soap wafted through her senses, making her wonder if he were not quite the oaf he seemed. Then his eyes dropped to where her pelisse had fallen open to reveal her low-cut bodice, and his gaze lodged there as if stuck. As her breasts pinkened beneath his gaze, she opened her mouth to rebuke him, then noticed the edge of the scar that crawled above his beard and onto his cheek.

He lifted his eyes to her face. Catching where her gaze was fixed, he scowled. “Watch your step, madam. You wouldn’t want to go tumbling.”

His thinly veiled threat sent a shiver along her spine. And what had he done to gain such an awful scar anyway? She shuddered to think.

Shifting her in his arms, he lifted her as if she weighed less than nothing and set her firmly on the floor. “Now, Lady Regina, you’re going to explain exactly what you mean by my sister and your brother having secret meetings. Because you’re not going anywhere until you do.”

His low rumble of a voice sparked a peculiar quivering in her belly. Apparently, she’d awakened the sleeping dragon.

Now she must figure out what to do with him.





To my curmudgeonly husband of twenty years,

this one’s for you. I love you exactly as you are.

And to Deb Dixon—

thanks for all the advice on this book!





Prologue


London, April 1814

A young lady’s sponsor at court must be above reproach. If her family is not, they should have the good sense to absent themselves from the proceedings.

—Miss Cicely Tremaine, The Ideal Chaperone, a Guide for Governesses, Companions, and Tutors of Young Ladies



He couldn’t see a damned thing from here.

Marcus North, the sixth Viscount Draker, rose from the marble bench and crossed the terrace to survey the ballroom through the glass doors. Much better. Too bad he couldn’t stand here. But someone might see him. It wouldn’t do for him to be caught skulking about like a French spy.

“What in God’s name are you doing?” asked a voice behind him.

Marcus turned to find his half brother scowling at him as he came up the steps from the garden of his new town house. So much for not being caught.

Alexander Black, the Earl of Iversley, strode onto the terrace. “I thought you went home to Castlemaine hours ago.”

“I did.” Strolling back to the marble bench, Marcus picked up the glass of Madeira he’d left there. “But halfway to Hertfordshire, I decided to come back.”

“Why?”

He sipped the wine. “To watch and make sure everything goes all right.”

“And if it doesn’t? What will you do, leap inside and take care of it?”

“Very amusing.” Marcus stared through the glass doors into Iversley’s ballroom. The guests were entering, and at their center was Marcus’s half sister.

He caught his breath. All he could see of his precious Louisa was her head, but with her hair up in a fashionable coiffure adorned by a large ostrich feather, she looked beautiful. And too damned grown-up. Sloe-eyed and black-haired, she was the very picture of their late mother, and that could not be good.

Marcus drank deeply. What did Iversley and his wife Katherine really know about presenting a young woman to society? Especially one whose pariah of a brother was only mentioned in vicious whispers.

He tore his gaze from the doors. “How was Louisa’s presentation at court?”

“It went very well. She didn’t trip over that ridiculously long train they make the girls wear, and according to Katherine that’s every girl’s greatest fear.”

When the crowds parted enough to reveal Louisa’s low-cut bodice, Marcus cursed the day he’d agreed to let her come to town. Confound it all, she looked more like a married woman of twenty-five than a maid of nineteen. “I hate that gown. It shows too much.”

“Ah, but they like the girls to wear gowns cut down to their navels,” said a familiar voice from behind Iversley. “Louisa’s is actually modest by comparison.”

“Why the hell are you here?” Marcus asked as his other half brother, Gavin Byrne, walked up holding a glass of champagne. “She’s my sister, not yours.”

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