Home > A Wicked Kind of Husband(7)

A Wicked Kind of Husband(7)
Author: Mia Vincy

She laughed and Joshua muttered “Very funny,” and tried not to notice how warming his wife’s laugh was. Reminiscent of Lord Charles but more…feminine.

“You must need a sense of humor in your position, Mr. Das.”

“I think we have that in common, Mrs. DeWitt.”

“Enough,” Joshua said. “You are not Secretary For Making Stupid Jokes and you are not Secretary For Flirting With My Wife. If you must flirt with her, do it later, on your own time. Now. Get that carriage.”

Das complied, but Mrs. DeWitt would not be hurried. Joshua forced himself to slow down, gritting his teeth and slicing the air with his precious papers, while she looked about in apparent delight, her fingers tucked into the crook of his elbow, her shoulder bumping against his arm, her skirts brushing his legs.

He glanced at her profile: that faint rose coloring her cheeks, that hint of a welcoming smile. To make matters worse, she was deploying that feminine floral fragrance that certain women used to create havoc.

“You’re meant to be in Warwickshire,” he said.

“You’re meant to be in Liverpool.”

“I did not give you permission to come to London.”

“I did not ask your permission.”

He stopped so abruptly that it took her a few steps to stop too, and her hand slipped from his arm. She looked back at him questioningly.

“You should,” he said. In a single stride, he drew level with her again. Once more, she took his elbow and they moved on, although he was no longer sure who was leading whom. “Let me explain, Mrs. DeWitt, how marriage works.”

“Oh, please do, Mr. DeWitt, I’m all agog.”

“I am the husband, so I make the rules to suit me.”

“And I am the wife, so I change the rules to suit me.”

She must not say things like that. Bad enough that she had shown up here at all, as a real person. Even worse that she was attractive. If she proved likable also, that would be disastrous.

No, not disastrous. He was not a man who tolerated disaster. He was a man who punched disaster on the nose, then checked its pockets for coins and bonbons. But disruptive. Yes. Disruptive. A wife did not fit into his life, and the fact that he had a wife was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Never mind: She might be likable, but he was not, and as soon as she discovered that, she would leave of her own accord and everything could go back to normal.

“You seem puzzled,” said his disruptive wife, as they reached the gate. “Have I said something to puzzle you?”

“Most of what you say puzzles me. It’s almost as though you have a mind of your own.”

“Please don’t vex yourself. I’ll try not to use it too often.”

He ignored her look as he searched for Das and the hackney amid the furious tangle of London traffic. In front of them, a pair of enterprising lads inserted a dog into the traffic to worsen the snarl, and then charged a coin or two to relieve it.

“Who is Bram?” she asked.


“You mentioned that Mr. Das knew someone called Bram.”

“One of my brothers. He lives in India.”

“You have brothers,” she said. “And now we are getting to know each other. Isn’t that lovely?”

“No. Here’s Das now.” He pointed with his papers. “Stop dawdling, woman.”



In the carriage, Joshua threw himself into the seat opposite his wife and glared at her. She had to sit forward a bit because of her stupid bonnet, and she used the parasol, closed now in a froth of ruffles, to steady herself as the hackney lurched into motion.

“I had forgotten how exciting London is,” she said.

“Enjoy it while you can. You’re going home tomorrow.” He drummed his fingers on the roll of paper on his lap. “Now what are you smiling at?”

“Mr. Newell warned me that you are not restful.”

“Restful?” He snorted. “I have no need of rest. I never get tired.”

“You are fortunate. Sometimes I get very tired indeed.”

She spoke so quietly he almost didn’t hear the words. A question rose to his lips but he bit it back. Go around asking people why they were sad and the next thing you knew, your life would be all tangled up in theirs, and that never went well for anyone.

“Then go home to your cottage and get some rest, and leave me in peace.”

“Oh, Mr. DeWitt, if only it were that simple.”

She returned her attention to the window.

Joshua stared at her profile, his thoughts leaping and bouncing. That was nothing unusual. He always had thoughts bouncing around in his head, but usually they were like two dozen couples in a country dance, moving together, taking turns to hop or leap or clap or turn. Now they were stumbling, getting out of time, falling over each other. He would not ask what made her sad and weary.

He would not.

He leaned back, closed his eyes, and pulled his wayward thoughts into order. Electrical power—Patents—Investors—Potential—Excitement—Lust—Wife—


Ah but—Lady Yardley had signaled her interest—Lord Yardley had signaled his lack of interest—He could find Lady Yardley and—Wife.

His eyes flew open and he sat upright.

No. Not now. He couldn’t start an affair with another woman when his wife was nearby. And he definitely couldn’t bed his wife. Ah well, never mind. He didn’t have time for an affair anyway. Celibacy had not killed him yet.

“You’re prettier than I remember,” he said.

She turned her bright eyes back to him, looking amused and amiable. In truth, he hardly remembered much about her at all. She’d kept her head bowed throughout their short wedding ceremony, and he’d avoided looking at her anyway. And the other part had taken place in the shadows, both of them with eyes shut and thinking of something else.

“How charming of you to say so,” she said. “I recall you expressed some disappointment on our wedding day, that you had heard the Lightwell sisters were beauties when I am not.”

“I can’t see anyone going to war over you, but you’re not completely embarrassing. How old are you anyway? Nineteen? Twenty?”


“That old.”

He tried to remember twenty-two. It was only six years ago but it felt like a lifetime. Samuel had been two then, and Rachel brought him into the offices, saying it was never too soon for him to learn. That was the year they risked everything by purchasing and outfitting new factories, and ended up tripling their fortune. That was the year they watched Samuel discovering the world, and they vowed never to employ children in a way that might snuff out that spark. And Rachel must have been twenty-two when he first came to work in her father’s office. But she had been the boss’s daughter, and he was only fourteen then and too scared and angry to notice her, let alone imagine that, five years after he arrived, she’d marry him, and another five years after that, she’d be dead.

“Mr. DeWitt?” His wife wore a concerned expression. “Are you all right? I hope I did not upset you.”

“Of course you upset me. You’ve upset everything. Go home.”

“I’m afraid that I can’t do that. You see, I have…”

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