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.Now, she should leave now.She walked quickly to a thick overhanging bush and stepped beneath it.And she continued to look.She watched the duke, Edmund still shrieking with laughter.Edmund said something, pointing toward a gull, and he laughed.She saw that both of them were shivering.Imagine even ten minutes in that water.She shivered just thinking about it.She watched the muscles tighten and expand with his laughter, with his striding in the water, with his holding Edmund on his shoulders.She should leave.She still had time.She had no shame.Chapter 16“Papa,” Edmund shouted.“Look, there’s Eve.” He was waving his arms wildly toward her.“She’s here to watch us swim.I’m glad she came.I didn’t think she believed that I was a good swimmer.” The die was cast.She was trapped.She knew he was looking at her, but he didn’t pause, didn’t hesitate, just kept walking toward shore through the waves, some of them nearly knocking him down.There was no hope for it.She ran past the cave to the south, only to draw up short.She’d forgotten that the land lunged out into the water, cutting any escape off in that direction.Slowly she walked back.She heard the duke shout, “I see her, Edmund.Yes, there she is, not more than twenty yards away from us.And just look, I believe she’s now walking this way since she realizes she can’t decamp the other way.Let’s wait for her, Edmund.I’m sure she’s going to tell us how much she’s enjoyed our swimming exhibition.Yes, we’ve provided her quite a show, albeit a short one, since the water was so bloody cold.”Evangeline stopped in her tracks.How long had he known she was there, watching him, slavering as she watched him? He now stood ankle-deep in the water, the waves gently lapping around him, and he was changing.He hadn’t looked at all frightening or alien before, but now he was changing, rapidly.He wasn’t moving, just standing there looking at her, and changing and growing and sticking out more and more.If she had been the duke and she was changing like that, surely she would have done something, like run or turn around, but he didn’t.He just stood there, Edmund still on his shoulders, smiling at her, and still changing before her eyes.Oh, goodness.He laughed.He plucked Edmund off his shoulders and set his feet on the sand.“Fetch us towels, Edmund, and cover yourself well.I don’t want you to catch a chill.Perhaps your cousin Eve would care to join us.”She didn’t move an inch until he finally took a large towel his son brought to him and began to dry himself.“Eve,” Edmund called, running to her even as he wiped himself down.“Did you see us? Papa threw me in the water, and I swam like a sea bass.Papa said I’d have to be careful because a fisherman might try to catch me because I swam so well.Then he’d fry me in a pan and eat me.Come and say hello to Papa.”What was a stunned and fascinated woman to do? She walked beside Edmund to where the duke was standing.Finally, he’d knotted the towel around his waist, and draped another over his shoulder.She studied that knot at great length.It looked well tied, but she knew she could have it unknotted in a second, two at the most.“Papa said that ladies can’t swim,” Edmund said.He dropped to his knees and began scooping up sand, piling it up, patting it down, shaping it into conelike shapes.Castle towers? Then he began digging a trench.“Your papa is quite wrong.Here, Edmund, put on your clothes, then I’ll know you’re warm enough.What are you building?”“Papa’s never wrong, cousin Eve.I’m going to build Chesleigh Castle.”“Perhaps,” the duke said, “I can teach you how to swim even better.”“I don’t need lessons.I’m a fish, just like Edmund.I’m more a lizard fish than a sea bass.”“Get dressed, Edmund,” the duke called over his shoulder.“Tell me why you’re here, Evangeline.”“It’s February and it’s very warm.I was out walking.Nothing more than walking until I happened to come down here and there you were and you didn’t have any clothes on.At least now you have on a towel, and there’s one about your shoulders as well, but that really isn’t the same thing at all as breeches and a shirt and other things that men wear.” “I see.You enjoy seeing the scenery, then?” “Certainly.I was raised in the country.There is always beautiful scenery in the country, particularly down on the beach, coming out of the water.”He knew he was very well made indeed, like his father before him.He also boxed at Gentleman Jackson’s, as his father had before him.He was fit and lean and hard, as his father had been before him.He grinned at her like a thief with an eye on the silver.“I would certainly have enjoyed the scenery if I’d been the one out walking and come across you coming out of the sea.”Her tongue stuck in her mouth.Never would she have imagined such a thing, never.She, a young lady, raised properly, she was certain of that, and yet all she could think of since she’d met him was that she wanted to leap on him and kiss him until she expired.She thought he’d continue to tease her, because he was so good at it, baiting her and reeling her in more times than not, but oddly, after a moment his dark eyes searched her face, his expression thoughtful.“You must go back to the castle, Evangeline,” he said very gently.“I’ll try to see that Edmund doesn’t shout to the world that his cousin Eve watched both him and his father swimming.”She looked out over the water, then back at him.“I can’t believe that I’m doing this.” “Doing what?”“You know very well what.I was standing here just staring at you.You know that.And what I did last night.I’m not like that.I don’t know what’s wrong with me.I am sorry.I’m just not myself.I guess, truth be told, I don’t know who I am.And then there is what I must be, and that is very bad indeed.It’s all very difficult.” She turned on her heel and began her walk back up the cliff path without a backward glance.Evangeline overheard Mrs.Raleigh say to Bassick as she came around the corner at the top of the grand staircase on her way to luncheon, “I’ll miss him, Mr.Bassick.He wasn’t here long enough this time.I wonder why he must return to London? And on Friday? Why, that’s only three days from now [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]