Devon Cheshire came and took her arm and suggested a stroll. Rorie obliged and saw Colt from where he was playing cards watching her and frowning. Smiling at him, she turned and laughed at something Mr. Cheshire said and enjoyed tweaking Colt while he was tied up at the card table. Mr. Cheshire led her out onto the terrace that opened into the beautiful gardens of Lady Angela's home. Rorie immediately noticed no one else was outside as it was still cold. She inched back toward the door but Devon took her hand and pulled her back toward the garden and into the fading light away from the windows and doors leading back into the ballroom. Rorie took a slightly panicked breath and tried to pull her hand from Mr. Cheshire's grasp. This had backfired on her and she did not know what to do. He was not a large man but seemed quite strong and would not let her go.
"Mr. Cheshire...Devon! I wish to go back inside right now." Rorie said with an angry tone to her voice. Hoping that hearing his Christian name would reach his sensible side, she did not appreciate being handled and pulled around. She was angry and somewhat afraid. Mr. Cheshire smiled a rake's smile showing his white teeth against a tanned face under his powdered hair. Rorie hated when men powdered their hair.
"Come now, my darling, let us go for a stroll, no one will know." He pulled her close until he had drawn her so near that she could feel his breath on her face and she felt revulsion at his closeness. "I know that you want to." He pressed his chest against her bosom and she began to struggle to pull away and she turned her face as he tried to kiss her on the mouth.
"I most certainly do not!" Rorie exclaimed.
Suddenly, he was lifted away from her and she watched as Mr. Devon Cheshire slid backward forcefully and tumbled to the ground on his backside. Rorie had a shawl thrown around her shoulders and found herself in Colt's embrace. Tipping her chin up in his hand, Colt's hard icy gaze searched her face for harm and to assess her state of mind. She could almost see his brain working behind his eyes. "I am alright, Colt, just shaken up."
Colt released her and stepped away to Mr. Cheshire that was picking himself up from off the ground. "I say, Colt, that was uncalled for--ugh!" Devon hit his backside a second time within a minute after Colt's fist connected with his jaw. His lip split on contact and blood ran down his chin and neck from the assault.
Colt's voice was cold and terrifying as Mr. Cheshire struggled to his feet. "I am the Duke of Kingston, not Colt to you. How dare you try to force her away from the house alone with you? How dare you try to touch her, kiss her...are you mad? In my sister's home?!" He took a menacing step toward him and Aurora cried out taking a step toward the Duke, "Colt!" and stretched a hand toward him.
Colt's icy blue eyes glittered in the darkness and Devon felt a spark of fear. The Duke could ruin him. He was of noble blood and a rich family but he was no Lord and doors could be closed to him very quickly if the Duke so chose. Mr. Cheshire stood silently for a moment and observed the Duke, and bloody hell if he did not look like he was not just protective but in a jealous rage. Mr. Cheshire believed in this moment he was very lucky. He fully believed that if he had succeeded in stealing a kiss from Aurora, or worse, been caught alone locked in a kiss that ended up compromising her, the Duke might have actually killed him rather than let him have her. It was a sobering thought, and he knew it to be true in that instant as Colt returned to Aurora's side and put an arm around her shoulders and he saw something new he had not seen before as she curled in toward his chest and laid her head against his arm. That was not fatherly or brotherly...she loved him. Devon was enamoured with her beauty and did want her for his own but he was not in love with her and it was not so important to lose his standing in society over her or make an enemy of the most powerful Duke in England outside of the Duke of Wellington himself. The Duke's icy gaze lifted and met his eyes. Bowing slightly, Devon Cheshire backed away and Colt nodded and turned his attention back to Aurora.
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