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THE Marquis's Mistress: Historical Fiction

Dedicated to
Danaeble
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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Benedict drew away a little from Natasha. He gazed admiringly into her eyes. Natasha smiled shyly and lowered her head.

'So tell me,' Benedict murmured softly, as he placed a finger under chin, forcing her to lift her eyes to his again. 'How did your appointment go with young Tyndall?'

'Very well thank you,' Natasha smiled happy for the possibility of the conversation that was going to cool their raging hormones.

'Very well?' Benedict questioned trying to hide his disappointment.

'Yes my lord, Sir Tyndall, was charming, and he is a true gentleman.'

'Indeed?' Benedict felt a tightening in his chest. He was not enjoying this easy flow of compliments she had for Tyndall Raleigh.

'Yes,' Natasha went on oblivious of the envious monster consuming Benedict. 'He loves poetry, and walking just as I do. He loves riding horses too and has promised to take Benjamin riding ---.'

'No!'

'My lord?' Natasha questioned, alarmed at Benedict's vehement rejection at the thought of Tyndall taking Benjamin riding.

'Raleigh does not need to return. I will give Benjamin lessons.'

'I see,' and finally it did dawn on her. He was going to marry Louisa, but he still assumed he could dictate how she lived her life.

'If you will excuse me my lord, I have some papers that need attending,' Natasha shifted out of his arms and moved behind his table.

'I have more papers in the carriage. I'll just fetch them,' Benedict growled.

Natasha ignored him, and continued writing in the ledger. Benedict stormed out slamming the door behind him. Natasha winced as the piercing sound reverberated in her eardrum. A pecking sound at the window distracted Natasha. She turned around to see Citrus impatiently darting the pane, wanting to be let in.

'Citrus!' Natasha laughed, and ran to the window. 'Good morning little fellow,' Natasha lifted the window to allow him entry. Citrus settled on her shoulder, and screeched noisily into her ear. 'Oh I'm sorry, I did not come and greet you this morning.' The apology seemed to suffice, he quietened down. Natasha cupped him in her hands and held him against her cheek. 'You're not so little anymore,' Natasha chuckled. 'Do you have a girlfriend now?'

The door opened and Natasha guiltily hid her hands behind her back. Benedict looked at Natasha's face aflame. He observed the opened window. She had exactly the same guilty look as when he's seen her in the woodlands the day she'd rescued her Citrus. Benedict folded his arms across his chest. He tried to keep a straight face, but failed miserably and burst out laughing. The guilty expression on Natasha's face was too priceless like a little boy caught stealing from the cookie jar.

'What do you think is so funny?' Natasha looked awkwardly at Benedict.

'You are so adorable,' Benedict leaned against the door, and burst out laughing again.

'I fail to see the humour my lord,' and as Natasha was remonstrating with Benedict, the door opened, knocking Benedict on the head. He cursed softly as he felt pain. Natasha covered her mouth hiding her grin. The humour disappeared when Natasha discovered it was the duke, immaculately dressed in knee breeches, a neck cloth, and a black dress coat with long tails.

The duke studied his son, his eyes then trailed across the library to Natasha. She was at the window with a bird protectively in her hand.

Your grace why are you up? It did not take Natasha long to figure out that the duke was on his way somewhere. When the duke did not respond to Natasha, Benedict demanded, 'father pray tell me where do you think you are going?'

'I have business to attend to in London,' the duke answered evasively.

'What business is this father?' Benedict's tone was quiet, but grave. Natasha felt uncomfortable being present, yet she remained rooted to the spot. 'Inform me of this matter father and I will deal with it.'

'Do not question me lad,' the duke's tone of voice brooked no argument. 'Am I not the head of this household?'

'Yes sir,' Benedict dragged out, reluctantly yielding to the authority of his parent.

'

'Your grace,' Natasha cleared her throat. 'Pardon me for speaking frankly, but I fear your health to undertake such a tedious trip. 'Can Ben---Lord Benedict not attend to this urgent matter? Surely your health is more important, with the wedding so near,' Natasha almost swallowed the last few words of her plea.

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