Only a Duke Will Do
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but you cannot stop Isolde from marrying. She will marry one day. It may not be me, but it will be someone. And if the reports around London are correct, she is looking for a husband.”
“Damn you to hell.” Merrick left Wardoor, grabbed a half-filled bottle of whisky from the pavilion, and started toward the Italian Walk. He found a secluded grassy spot within the trees. The sweet-smelling scent floating on the breeze did little to lesson his ire.
Merrick clung to the tree branch above his head and fought not to snap it off, imagining it as Wardoor’s neck. He flung back a good portion of the whisky and welcomed the burn to his throat. How could his closest friend do this to him?
The thought of Isolde welcoming his attentions was like a physical blow.
Damn them. Damn him.
It had always boded trouble when Isolde called him by his title. He turned, wanting and yet not wanting her here right at this moment. “My lady.”
She came up to him, standing but a few feet from his person, close enough to reach out and touch, to pull close and take what he desperately sought. And wished for.
“What do you think you’re doing, running off Wardoor from courting me?”
“He told you?” Merrick made a note to choke the bastard to death the next time he was in range to do so.
“Yes, he told me. After seeing you two trying to kill each other, in front of everyone, I might add, I asked him what you were about. Demanded to know, in fact.” She placed her hands on her hips, her perfect brow marred with a slight frown. Hell, she was beautiful. More beautiful than when he had met her at Cranleigh. “Now answer the question.”
“He’s my friend.”
She stood staring at him a while, before she slouched, as if gauging his meaning. “Merrick, you keep forgetting you married someone else. You have to let me go, if this is your struggle.”
It was his struggle. A constant gnawing on his soul that would never leave. “What if I do not want to?”