How to Capture a Duke(9)

By: Bianca Blythe


“Women are perfectly capable of many things.” She moved her hands to her hips, remembering only now that she still clutched the knife. Oh.

“The woman claims there’s a tree knocked over in the road!” the driver continued, still gazing at her, as if his mere stare might prevent her from moving.

“I am not lying!” she said. “And your lives are in peril if you continue any farther. So you should—”

“Disembark and wait on the side of the road?” The driver sneered.

“Why, that might be appropriate.”

“Or perhaps you would suggest that I separate and leave my charge behind with you?” The driver raised his eyebrows.

“I am doing nothing wrong—”

“Naturally not!” The driver scowled. “You’re simply conducting illegal activity.”

“Sir—”

“Put that knife away.” The handsome man frowned, his voice solemn.

“I wouldn’t irritate her,” the driver declared. “Women are emotional creatures, sir. Wouldn’t want to think about what they can get up to under stress. Not like us logical males, sir.”

“That’s enlightening to hear upon returning from a useless war created by men,” the handsome man said dryly.

“Well, well.” A tinge darkened the driver’s cheeks. “We should all be thankful Napoleon wasn’t a woman.”

“Who knows what would have happened then!” The handsome man shook his head, his expression filled with such dismay, that Fiona almost believed he was teasing.

“Dreadful things, sir!” The driver’s voice sobered. “Dreadful things for sure.”

The two men stared at her, and Fiona shivered under their scrutiny. Her heartbeat galloped. They thought she was a highwaywoman. She’d tried to explain, but they hadn’t believed her. And they were pointing a gun at her. One that might go off at any moment.

She needed to seize control.

The driver grinned. “I’m sorry, darling, but you won’t be getting any money from us.”

“Not that we have any,” the handsome man added hastily.

A gun roared.

Fiona didn’t flinch—the peasants were still hunting. But the firm expression of the driver wobbled.

“You’re not alone!” The driver’s voice trembled.

Fiona was most certainly alone, but she could not permit the driver to keep on pointing gun at her. That was how accidents occurred.

This was her chance.

And she seized it.

Fiona forced her voice to remain steady. “Lay your gun down.”

The driver hesitated, and then, another gun shot fired.

Fiona narrowed her eyes. “You are surrounded. This is your final warning.”

The driver’s hands shook, and he set the gun down. Relief flooded through Fiona, and she grabbed the weapon, directing it at the driver.

The driver sank to the earth, holding his hands above him. “What do you want? Please, show us mercy! We’ll give you anything!”

“I—” An insane idea sprang into Fiona’s mind, and she took another glimpse at the passenger.

The fabric of his clothes was impeccable, and his hair color was perfect.

Chestnut colored like spun gold. Nothing like the red hair that crowned her figure like a flame. This man’s skin resembled buttermilk, with no freckle in sight, and his eyes were a deep blue color, as if she were staring into the heavens of an Italian painting.

He was an Adonis suited for the finest debutante, for a woman with a Grecian name and skin as flawless as his. No doubt such a woman would be able to sing like an angel, in between giving birth to tiny cherubic likenesses of himself, and then would paint the offsprings’ likenesses in beautiful, delicate watercolor renderings. Such a woman would never, ever have told her family that she had a fiancé when she had none. Such a woman wouldn’t have needed to do so.

He was just the man she required.

“Who are you?” the driver gasped.

This was the time to explain herself. This was the time to explain who she was and apologize for frightening them, even though the notion that she should scare large men like that was absurd.

But if she could only get the handsome man to introduce himself to Grandmother—she wouldn’t need to take him to the ball—it would be enough for Grandmother to be assured that she need not worry anymore. Perhaps the handsome man and the driver could help her move the tree. Cloudbridge Castle was a quick jaunt away, and they were going in that direction anyway. If they thought her a highwaywoman anyway, they would listen to her demands. Maybe no one would want to play a fiancé for a bluestocking, but they would listen to a highwaywoman.

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