He had not intended to propose they meet alone that evening, but it was as if something had possessed him to ask.
But Charles be damned, he was going to prove that she was no different to the others he had seduced!
As Vaughn elegantly avoided a passing acquaintance or two, he wondered what it was he would actually say to the governess. He hadn’t really thought past getting her alone again and, well… kissing her senseless.
Vaughn took her hand from her side, raising her fingertips to his lips. The gesture, usually his way of putting a woman at ease, seemed to do the exact opposite to her, as he felt her hand shake slightly.
“My Lord, I… I must talk with you. Is there some place we might speak privately?”
“Of course. Look, there’s a room over there. Let us hope it is unoccupied.”
“Well?” Vaughn beckoned. “Come on. You should be used to marching into other men’s libraries by now.”
Estelle shut the door. “That is not funny.”
“You’ll see the humour some day.”
The governess frowned. “I highly doubt it.”
Vaughn watched her standing in the candlelight as it draped the room in amber monochrome. Suddenly he was overcome with the urge to just… look at her.
She was certainly not the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, but she had the fine, elegant features which many girls envied. Her figure was a little more slender than he usually liked, though he suspected her legs were—
“Why did you tell me to meet you, my Lord?”
“I…I felt we should discuss—”
“I would have thought that you of all people should know that it is hardly proper to have a private rendezvous with a notorious rake, such as myself.”
“Please let me talk and say what I must, and then you can make your silly, unhelpful comments until you’re hoarse for all I care.”
“There’s no need to get snappy, chick.”
Vaughn recalled his plan to coax her into a false engagement. He had not considered any more tactics past getting her into his bed (after which, he was sure, she would not require any more convincing!)
But how in hell he was going to get her there when she was so bloody furious at him?
Perhaps he should try to kiss her again; that usually silenced her for a moment or two….
“Vaughn.” He corrected, absently, still thinking.
“I would rather not refer to you as if we are friends, my Lord.”
“In fact, some people might say we’re more than just friends…”
He sighed. “Estelle, let’s not—”
“For heaven’s sake, have you no shame, Sir?! Do you not recollect that I just said—”
“Oh, will you just stop being such an insufferable ass and let me talk!”
The Viscount grinned at her rather festive cursing. “Well? Go on then.”
“Very well! I shall get to the crux of the matter then. The first time we met, I thought you were an arrogant scoundrel.”
“Always a good start.”
“Unfortunately, I can see that my assertion in that respect was completely right! You are conceited, your behaviour is often inappropriate and crude, your… flattery leaves a lot to be desired, and you… you are entirely untrustworthy, so I ask you—”
“Oh come on—”
“You’ve taken advantage of me every time we’ve met, Sir! And don’t deny—”
“For heaven’s sake—”
“—that you have absolutely no honourable intent—”
Vaughn snapped at last.
“I am not a child you are scolding!”
“I am fully aware that you are a grown man, my Lord.”
Without consciously willing it to do so, his mind conjured images of her from the night they had kissed on the terrace, her cheeks flushed, her lips swollen and damp from the ardent pressure of his.
“When?” He demanded.
Estelle mimicked, outraged.
“You… when you kissed me, that’s when! You kissed me four times and I… I don’t even know you!”
Estelle let out a cry of exasperation.
“Yes, you did! Do not feign such ignorance, Sir!”
“—you can remember p— …what?”
The Viscount smiled slightly. “We only kissed thrice, sweetheart.”
“I think you’ll find that it most certainly—”
The little squeak of shock she made as his lips found hers almost made him smile, and he held firm as she attempted to struggle. He was gentle, of course, but she didn’t seem too keen on letting him ease her tension.
The stubborn chit.
Estelle’s head swam, her senses saturated and lethargic.
Vaughn’s grin was wicked; seduction, temptation and sweet sin.
“Now we’ve kissed four times.”
“Eugh! Will you stop being such an intolerable cad!”
“You were the one who seemed so intent on the mathematics, sweetheart,” he laughed, “I simply balanced the sums.”
The governess looked at him, and Vaughn was rather disheartened to see the unmasked pain in her eyes.
“Is it Marielle? Do you want to make her jealous? Is that it? Do you want something from her? From Lord Harrington?”
“Do you plan to tell everyone about what’s happened between us? To feed the gossipers their daily chunk of meat? Did you want to embarrass me further than you already have?!
Or did you just want a cheap laugh, Vaughn?!”
“What are you talking about? Do not be ridiculous.”
No, Vaughn. It’s not me being ridiculous. It’s you. For thinking you could get away with it!”
“I don’t know who you think you are,” she continued relentlessly, “…or what you may think you are entitled to, but trust me when I say that it does not give you good enough reason to play games with people as if they are brainless toys!
“I… you have used hundreds of women. You charm them, sleep with them, use them and then throw them away because, although they give you some sordid manipulation of fickle comfort, you know they can never give you what you really want!”
“And what is that?”
The one thing you long for yet refuse to accept. You would throw a woman’s heart away, simply because if she truly gave it to you, you could not bare to lose it!”
And nobody would ever know, because you never let your guard down, not for an instant!”
“Your eyes never smile, did you know that? They never show anybody anything other than cool indifference because that is all you allow yourself to feel! Some say you are a rogue, Sir. A womaniser, a villain. But I?
I say you are just a coward.”
She waited for his mockery and laughter, his casual comment that made light of the situation.
Instead she fled the room, horrifed.
Because, along the edges of his authoritative voice, there had been an undeniable hate.
It was too late for that now.
Far too late.
A/N: Seasons is here! Hurray!
So it took me forever to get this chapter done
due to frequent intervals of freezing and crashing. If you pay attention you may notice Estelle and Vaughn dripping because it started raining as soon as I started my game!