KIND EYES AND A LION’S HEART
“Viola!” Lady Anne shrieked.
“What is the meaning of this?” Lord Percival demanded with righteous rage.
Her aunt and uncle, attired in their bedrobes, stood at the foot of the bed. Behind them and cowering in the doorway was an obviously frightened Emil. He must have summoned them when he finally awoke, exactly as Viola had hoped.
She hurried to pull the coverlet over herself, while Melvin sat up and stared at the irate couple.
“L-Lord Percival, Lady Anne,” he began, “I can explain.”
“I doubt it,” Lord Percival growled, crossing his arms. Even in a bedrobe and night cap, he was a fierce-looking man.
Wrapping a sheet around him, one corner thrown over his broad shoulder like a toga, Melvin got to his feet. Viola, meanwhile, wrapped the coverlet around herself and also got out of bed.
Melvin gave her a swift smile, then faced her upset relatives. “It’s like this, my lord, my lady,” he said, spreading his hands until the sheet started to slip. He hastily grabbed it and held it in place. “We love each other, Viola and me, and we want to be married. I’m sorry if we got ahead of ourselves a bit --”
“You seduced her!” Lord Percival charged. “You seduced my niece, you cad! You lout!”
“No, he didn’t,” Viola said firmly, stepping forward. “I seduced him. Because I want to marry him.” She went to her aunt, who had never been happy in her marriage, and took her aunt’s hands in hers. “He’ll make me happy, Aunt. I’m sure of it.”
“Indeed I will!” Melvin declared. “Your niece’s comfort and happiness will always be my first concern. I know I’m probably not quite what you had in mind for a nephew-in-law. I’m not clever or talented or rich, although I’m well off. I am sincere when I give you my word that as long as I live, I’ll love your niece and be good and faithful to her.”
His last words hit home better than he guessed. However, since at that particular moment his attention was on Lord Percival, he didn’t see the sharp glance Lady Anne cast at her husband. Viola did and from that moment, she knew she had an ally in her aunt.
Nevertheless, she didn’t want to count solely on that, for her uncle was a powerful man used to having his own way in all things.
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Note: This novella is PG13. With the exception of GWYNETH ANDTHE THIEF and THE WASTREL, my books are usually steamier.