Kiss of a Duke by Erica Ridley

Kiss of a Duke by Erica Ridley

Author:Erica Ridley [Ridley, Erica]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-1-943794-18-8
Publisher: Erica Ridley

Chapter 9

“Thank you for meeting me,” Nicholas said as he strode into the castle library.

“The wind does not meet the river, but flow together until they part,” Miss Virginia Underwood replied thoughtfully.

Nicholas blinked. “Am I the wind or the river?”

“Dasher is no longer in my possession,” she announced. “He is being cared for in the aviary, along with Dancer.”

He tried to follow along. “Who is Dancer?”

“The partridge.” She clasped her hands in joy. “The aviary population has doubled in size.”

“The aviary’s inventory has soared all the way up to two birds?” he asked. “That’s… Congratulations.”

She gave him a beatific smile. “How can I help you?”

Nicholas was beyond help, really. He could not stop thinking about the kiss he’d shared with Penelope. It was only a kiss. How did he end up like this?

All of his previous liaisons had been with women with whom the scheduled activities were a foregone conclusion. There wasn’t much else. Certainly no romantic kissing. And definitely no long conversations, or baking teams, or funny moments only the two of them understood.

He had no idea what to think about Penelope. Or what to think to do about any of it. So he had resolved to take his mind off her the only way he knew how. Return to his workshop.

What he needed was a new obsession. He’d rented the smithy for the rest of the week, and intended to lose himself in crafting a new mold. The more complicated, the better.

Although he doubted anything could be more complicated than the strange new emotions warring in his chest.

“They tell me you are an animal expert,” he said.

Miss Underwood pursed her lips. “We all have passions.”

“Do you know about turtles?” he asked quickly.

He didn’t want to think about his passions. Turtles were a far safer topic. Their lives were simple, their shells complex. It would take intense concentration to design a mold with full accuracy. It was exactly the project he needed.

Miss Underwood’s eyes grew wary. “Can anyone know turtles?”

“I don’t mean their personalities.” He pulled a small sketchbook from his pocket and opened to the most recent drawings. “I tried to capture as much detail as I could, but I’m relying mostly on memory. Is this turtle similar to the specimens local to Christmas?”

“Nothing is similar to that drawing.” Miss Underwood wrinkled her nose. “It’s an abomination.”

“It is not an abomination.” Nicholas straightened the sketchbook. “It’s a turtle.”

“Not any turtle known to man,” she countered. “You’ve combined the retractable head of the Cryptodira with the larger carapace of the Pleurodira. And you’ve drawn the shell with fourteen scutes, which is either one or two scutes too many, depending on—”

His heart sang in relief as she listed her complaints. Turtles were complicated. He would have no time at all to think about Penelope. Researching the different shell contours and toe webbings would keep his mind more than occupied.

“What you meant to draw,” Miss Underwood informed him, “are turtledoves.”

“I absolutely meant to draw a turtle,” he assured her.

“Because they come out of their shells?” she asked.


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