Authors: Wendy Vella
Lady In Demand
The Willful Miss Langley
Miss Phoebe Langley doesn't fit into society. She's willful and outspoken. Oh, and she once earned her living as a highwayman. Not the type of scandalous behavior appropriate for a debutante. She's also secretly in business with Viscount Finneous Levermarch's younger brother, risking his scorn and disapproval. But the arrogant Viscount's low opinion of her doesn't matter. Phoebe will risk anything, even his wrath, if it means she can maintain her independence.
The Disapproving Viscount Levermarch
Finn has never known anyone like Phoebe Langley. She looks like a Botticelli angel, but with the disposition of a she-devil. Shockingly forward and foolhardy, Phoebe is everything he doesn't want in a wife - despite the scalding heat of their mutual passion, desire and disapproval war within him, so Finn should feel relieved when Phoebe flees after a heated encounter. But too late Finn realizes he's met his perfect match and her forgiveness and love are all that he needs most in the world.
By Wendy Vella
Lady In Demand
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Lady In Demand published by Wendy Vella at Smashwords
Copyright © 2014 Wendy Vella
This one is for the new members of our family.
Our lives are richer for having you in them.
Dion, Paddy, & Tracey.
Love you all
Table of Contents
“Oh, do be careful, Lord Levermarch. Those crab patties are a trifle rich, especially if one tends towards ill-humor.”
Finneous Barrick, Marques of Levermarch paused with the aforementioned crab patty inches from his lips. Lowering it to the table, he took a deep steadying breath and then turned to face the woman who stood at his back.
“Miss Langley,” Finn said, running his eyes over her perfect features but stopping before he reached her equally perfect breasts. “Such concern for my well-being, it warms my heart to know that you care.” He bowed in response to her curtsy.
“I care for the well-being of any person who is advancing in years, my lord.” She looked up at him beneath long lashes. Her expression appeared concerned yet there was a wicked twinkle in the depths of her brown eyes.
He smiled, although Finn wasn’t sure how genuine it appeared. He always felt off balance around this woman, and that was not Finn. He was controlled and in control of every aspect of his life, and had been since becoming guardian to his brothers at a young age.
“My aged heart is quite touched at your show of concern, Miss Langley, and may I add that the sugar-coated almond biscuits would suit your untutored palette. They do not have much substance…” He let that word hang in the air for several seconds before adding, “And are easily digested.”
That should keep her quiet for a few seconds
, Finn thought, as her perfectly straight white teeth snapped together.
He and Phoebe Langley had verbally sparred with each other since the day he had met her and, loathe as he was to admit it, he almost looked forward to their encounters, as not many people talked to him that way. He never quite knew how to take her. She was outspoken, and appeared to flaunt the rules most of society, including him, lived by. She was unlike other debutantes, and he hadn’t decided if he admired her or resented her for her ability to be herself when, around her, so many played a game. She was rarely coy, nor held her tongue if she felt something needed to be said. Often she was snickered or sneered at, but it never appeared to worry her, duly. What was it about Phoebe Langley that unsettled him, he wondered, other than her physical attributes, which, if he was honest, were disturbing enough.
Because she’s like your mother.
Looking down into the beautiful face, he realized the truth in his thoughts. She was like his parent, and Finn had vowed long ago to stay well away from any woman who even remotely resembled his mother.
“Substance is a word that has many meanings, Lord Levermarch. Don’t you think?”
Luscious was the only word he had ever been able to find to describe the woman before him. She was taller than most and her hair was a warm golden brown, thick and full. Usually by the end of the evening at least one lock always came loose to draw his eye. He had imagined it unbound in various forms, curls or straight, coming to rest half-way down her back. He’d imagined it fisted in his hands as he took her mouth beneath his own. Her skin was smooth and creamy and beneath her feathered eyebrows, her eyes were large and the color of cognac. Framed with ridiculously long curling lashes, the woman drew men like bees to a honey pot. Dresses did not sit on Phoebe Langley; they draped and caressed the bountiful curves beneath. For a debutante, she showed far too much of her chest, Finn thought, wanting to loosen his necktie as his eyes passed over the swells of her creamy breasts as she briefly looked away. The woman was a walking temptation; however, he would never be tempted, he continually told himself. She held none of the traits he wanted in his future wife. She would be sweet and mild mannered, everything the woman before him was not.
“It certainly does, Miss Langley. I believe the dictionary states it can also mean the quality of having a solid basis in reality or fact.”
She pursed her lips, which immediately drew Finn’s eye to the pout of her lower lip.
“Something you struggle with, Miss Langley?”
The brown eyes flashed, and then she lowered her lashes. When they rose, the languid look was back in them.
“Not at all, my lord. Like your sturdy soul, mine is solidly grounded in both reality and fact.” Her voice was a breathy purr, which made the hair on the back of his neck stand.
“You do surprise me,” he drawled, enjoying himself now his initial reaction to her had passed. It always took him a few minutes of exposure to settle down. She was beautiful but there was something more to her that he reacted to, a vitality that was lacking in others.
“I see you once again favor the colors of mourning, my lord?”
Finn looked down at his jacket and the front panel of his waistcoat that she could see.
“Appearances are deceptive,” he said, opening one side to show her the thin ice blue thread of silk than ran in a subtle stripe down the side.
She laughed. Not a trill or titter, a genuine laugh that made her eyes light and those bewitching lips tilt at the corners.
“So you are not quite the stiff-necked peer I had always believed you to be, my lord.”
“Not all of us wish to be peacocks, Miss Langley.”
“Nor peahens, my lord.”
“Miss Langley, may I procure you some refreshment?”
Finn had known he wouldn’t be speaking to Phoebe Langley for long, because her beauty dictated that she was sought by every man, be he young or old.
“Thank you, Mr. Phillips, that is very kind of you.” Finn watched the young man’s face turn red as she bestowed a smile on him.
“Phillips,” Finn greeted him with a curt bow.
“Lord Levermarch, pleasure.” The man bowed so deep his nose touched his knees. When he righted himself, his fringe flopped over his eyes.
God, had he ever been that young.
“Shall we, Miss Langley?”
“Lord Levermarch, it has, as always, been a pleasure to converse with you.” Finn watched as she slid into another curtsy which displayed the valley between her breasts. She then flashed her teeth at him, and with a flick of her cream satin skirts was gone.
Sucking in a deep lungful of air, Finn unclenched his fists and tried to ease the tension in his body, yet he was doomed as her scent wrapped around him like an elusive mist.
His first sight of her had been at the Twoaks Derby last year, and Finn had felt as if someone had sucked all the air out of him as he’d watched her smile at her sister. Her beauty was in every line of her body and had her personality matched, he would have offered for her that day. However, on closer acquaintance he realized that she was in fact a woman who spoke her mind and cared little for the opinion of others. These views were not dissimilar to his own; however, he had decided long ago that he wanted a wife who would be happy raising their children and living a quiet life. Phoebe Langley was not that person. Finn knew how perverse his views were, and that admiring the traits she displayed in men but not in her was unreasonable, but it was the way he wanted things to be, and living with volatile parents had only reinforced that belief.
“Just a few more inches and you should be able to take a mouthful.”
“What?” Looking across the refreshment table, Finn saw his friend, Lord William Ryder, had approached without him knowing.
“I’ve been watching you. That drink has been up and down to your mouth at least five times and you have yet to take a mouthful.”
Looking down, Finn noted the glass in his hand and wondered when he had picked it up. It was her fault, bloody woman. She was like an insect bite, continually causing him irritation.
“I’m told the crab patties are superb.”
Snorting, Finn lowered his glass and deliberately reached for one and then, placing the entire thing in his mouth, he chewed and swallowed.
“Your wife’s sister told me they are not good for a man with ill-humors who is advancing in years.”
Finn watched Will throw back his head and laugh. Tall and dark, women had thrown themselves at Will Ryder for as long as he could remember, but Will had caught only one; his wife, Olivia.
“No one has a way with words quite like Phoebe,” Will said, reaching for the last crab patty that Finn had had his eye on.
“She’s outspoken with little regard for the conventions of society, Will.”
Silence followed Finn’s comment, until finally Will said. “My wife and I are very partial to Phoebe, Finn, and while you hold the same place in my life, I would advise you not to speak too badly of her in my presence.”
“Will, I’m sorry—”
“I understand that she may have provoked that uncharacteristic outburst from you,” he added. “But just remember one thing, my friend. Appearances are deceptive, and I will add that Phoebe is one of the kindest people I know. I would also point out that whilst you rarely make a scene you are the most outspoken, opinionated person I know.”
“When was the last time you heard me outspoken in public?” Finn questioned.
“You told Lord Hardy he was a fool for believing the threat of poverty was abating, and that he had better polish his monocle better next time.”
“We were in our club. That’s different.” As soon as the words left his mouth, Finn realized how pompous he sounded.
“So what you’re saying is that a man can speak as he finds in his club or whatever other male bastion he is in, but a woman must hold her tongue until she is where? In her bedroom?”