He smiled. You always order me about.
Nonetheless, your reputation could be seriously compromised should people learn of your visit.She let out a long exhale, then lifted her shoulders in a fatalistic gesture. Well, there isn’t much I can do about it now. She motioned to her eye. If I returned, my current appearance would cause more comment than the fact that I left in the first place.
He nodded slowly, signaling his agreement even as his mind flew off in other directions. Was there a reason she was so unconcerned for her reputation? He’d not spent much time in society, but it was his experience that unmarried ladies, regardless of their age, were always concerned for their reputations.Was it possible that Eloise’s reputation had been ruined before she’d arrived on his doorstep?And more to the point, did he care?
He frowned, unable to answer the latter question just yet. He knew what he wanted—no, make that what he needed—in a wife, and it had little to do with purity and chastity and all those other ideals that proper young ladies were meant to embody.He needed someone who could step in and make his life easy and uncomplicated. Someone who would run his house and mother his children. He was quite frankly pleased to have found in Eloise a woman for whom he felt a great deal of desire as well, but even if she’d been ugly as a crone—well, he’d have been happy to marry a crone as long as she was practical, efficient, and good with his children.
But if all that were true, why did he feel rather annoyed by the possibility that Eloise had had a lover?
No, not annoyed, precisely. He couldn’t quite put his finger on the correct word for his feelings. Irritated, he supposed, the way one was irritated by a pebble in one’s shoe or a mild sunburn.They need a mother, he said baldly.
She raised her brows. Surely you can find a more romantic way to convince me to be your wife.Phillip sighed wearily, running a hand through his already ruffled hair. Miss Bridgerton, he said, then corrected himself with, Eloise. I’m going to be honest with you, because, to be frank, I have neither the energy nor the patience for fancy romantic words or cleverly constructed stories. I need a wife. My children need a mother. I invited you here to see if you would be willing to assume such a role, and indeed, if you and I would suit.
Which one? she whispered.He clenched his hands, his knuckles brushing the tablecloth. What was it about women? Did they speak in some sort of code? Which one . . . what? he asked, impatience coloring his voice.