The Lord Who Played [Flemington #2]

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XXVI. The Tempest Ball

Shit, I am late. Why do I have to be late at all events that I went to? Mary cursed herself as she was putting on her dress as the maids were helping her. They did her hair and makeup before Mary was running around the chambers to get her shit together.

So much to be a lady at court, she thought before she was staring at herself in the mirror. It was not what she would expect to see. Someone was wearing an emerald evening gown with her hair set in a coronet and her face was shining with makeup.

Mary hated it and she did not know what to do with the fact that her father was determined to find her a husband tonight.

Perhaps I will make myself scarce during the festivity and he will not bother me, she mused before someone knocked on the door. The maid opened the door and her father, Lord Smith was smiling as he was looking at her.

"You look like your mother," he said before he was hugging Mary and she tried to control the tears that might ruin her makeup.

"Shall we?" her father said before Mary nodded at him. Well, perhaps I will sneak away after I danced with one gentleman, to ease my father's worries, she thought before Mary put her hand in the crook of her father's elbow and went out of the chambers.

This is the worst night of my life, she mused before destiny decided to come knocking at her door in the most unexpected way.

*****

James was hearing the water splashed in the bathtub in the next room. He gulped as he could imagine that Darla was washing off the grime and dirt away from her pale skin. I think this is torture, he thought before Darla was humming in the bathing chambers.

"Are you trying to tempt me to get inside with you, Darla darling?" he shouted as James was trying everything to make sure that she will not be an alluring female that he wanted to bed.

Right now in these chambers.

"I don't think you would be tempted, my lord. In fact, I think you might feel disgusted by my humming," Darla replied before James was biting his lower lips. Quite the contrary, my lady, he thought before James was taking a deep breath. Then, an idea came to his mind.

"Well, it seems pretty late now and I don't want to be late to the festivity. Perhaps I will join you, my lady," he said before some splashing was heard in the other room. James smirked.

"Wait! You promised that you will not come in here—"

James opened the door of the bathing chambers as Darla was hugging her chest, trying to conceal the naked breasts that would be on display if she did not turn away when he came in. Disappointment ran inside his bones as James had wished that he would be seeing them.

Wait, what?

He cleared his throat before James saw another copper bathtub and the water was filled inside them. Darla was glaring murderously at him before James undid his cravat.

"What? They obviously thought that we were used to seeing each other naked that they had prepared the bath for me as well," James said as he was ditching the cravat which fell to the floor before he was removing his coat.

"You wouldn't dare," Darla said through gritted teeth. James smirked.

"Make me," he said as he was removing his waistcoat. Darla's amber orbs were following his hands as James was shedding his clothes until he was standing in his white linen shirt and black breeches.

"Are you gawking at me, Darla darling?" he asked before Darla blinked, coming back from the trance that she was when she was staring at his undressing.

"No, why would I be? You're not that...gorgeous to look at after all," she said before Darla turned her back to James. His eyes were trailing the water droplets on her skin as she was washing her body with a rag. James chuckled softly before he was undoing his breeches and pulled the linen shirt over his head. Then, he went to step inside the copper bathtub.

Water splashed everywhere as James was moving to lather the rag with the lemon soap that they provided. Darla stiffed when she heard that James was cleaning his body as the water was splashing on his skin.

"Are you imagining me naked with you, Darla darling?" he asked before Darla snorted.

"As if I would ever imagine my mortal enemy to be naked," she retorted as Darla was washing her shoulders and the back. James smirked before he was rinsing off and got up from the copper bathtub. He was done in a few minutes as Darla would take more time than him.

James never understood the long bath that females liked to take.

"You missed a spot," he said as he was touching her bareback. Darla yelped before she was turning to look at James. He was naked, water droplets were running through his skin and they were at an impasse. Darla's orbs were running over his naked chest, going down and down before she closed her eyes as she was looking at his genitals. James smirked.

"Servants would talk that you are not comfortable with nakedness between us when we're supposed to be betrothed," James leaned in as his hot breaths were against her left ear. The tips of her ears were red before James took a towel and wrapped himself secured.

"You can look now," he said before Darla was shaking her head.

"I would not taint my innocent eyes on your body, Flemington," she replied before James chuckled huskily. His eyes were raking over her nakedness.

"That's a shame since I enjoyed yours," he turned away as a rag was thrown at him before he laughed all the way to the dressing chambers.

*****

Insolent rake! Ugh! Darla cursed in her mind as she was fitted into the gown that she will be wearing to the ball. It was a yellow evening gown with a bertha collar that would accentuate her small waist. Darla was biting her lower lips as the maids were getting her hair done as well as her makeup.

"You look like a princess, my lady," one of the maids said before Darla was smiling at her.

"Thank you," she replied, even though Darla knew that she was not a princess in any way possible. I'm a headmistress at an orphanage in Norkins. I did not fit in the polite society, she mused before she was slipping into her dancing slippers that matched her gown.

"You are done, my lady," the maids curtsied before leaving Darla alone. She was looking at herself in the mirror before she was turning around to see the transformation. From a headmistress from a low town to the lady of the polite society. She shook her head.

"You look like a lady, my darling," Darla startled when her mother, Lady Cascadian, was smiling as she approached Darla.

"Mama!" she lunged forward as she was hugging her mother, breathing in her sweet scent before kissing her cheeks. Lady Lockwood was smiling at her daughter.

"Where's Papa?" Darla asked before Lady Lockwood stated that the baron was in the festivity in the palace courtyard right now, with her betrothed, Lord James Flemington.

"Oh," she replied, disappointed that her father would spend his time with James rather than his own daughter.

"Come now. Don't be mad. I am sure your father would love to see you at this moment. Shall we join the festivity then?" her mother asked before Darla smiled, walking side by side with her mother as she knew that her father would be talking about her engagement to James and perhaps helped to move this motion along.

And Darla was not there to prevent it.

*****

James was sipping on the champagne when his future father-in-law, Baron Cascadian, was greeting him. They exchanged pleasantries before the baron was going for the throat.

"So, have you decided what will you do about this engagement that has been made by your parents for our daughter?" the baron asked while they were scanning the festivity. The courtyard has been transformed into one of the fairylands' myths that made the citizens were awed by it. James did not have the same effect though.

"I have given a thought and I have decided what will I do about it," he said as he was sipping on the champagne. The baron was waiting for him to answer and James took a deep breath.

"I—"

He stopped halfway as his eyes were fixed on the figures that came through the huge oak doors. The females were smiling but James only looked at the lady who was in the yellow evening gown with a small waist. She looked radiant in that color and he just realized that they were moving toward where he and the baron were standing.

"You were saying, son?" Lord Lockwood asked before James drained his champagne and went to greet the lady and it was none other Lady Darla Lockwood and her mother, his betrothed and future mother-in-law.

"Oh! You're here, James," Lady Lockwood said but James was focused on Darla. They were staring at each other before James bowed to her.

"May I have this dance, my lady?" he asked Darla, waiting for her to accept his extended hand. Darla was looking at her mother before she sighed.

"Of course, my lord," she replied as her small hand was sliding against his, sending shivers and warmth into his cold heart as they made their way to the center of the courtyard where the citizens were dancing and mingling.
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