How to Entice an Enchantress Online - Karen Hawkins
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From the Diary of the Duchess of Roxburghe
Ah, the burdens of fame! I am now known throughout the breadth of Scotland (and indeed, most reaches of the kingdom) as the most talented of matchmakers, a veritable Queen of Hearts. It is a burden that goes against every principle of my character, for intruding upon the private lives of others is anathema to me. Yet because of my vastly successful entertainments and my uncanny ability to spot potential matches between the most unlikely people, I’m credited with assisting a number of unmarried men and women to make brilliant matches.
And so now, whenever I so much as mention having a house party or a dance, I am positively inundated with hints, suggestions, and—yes, pleas for invitations.
Those who know me realize the truth, of course, which is that I never get involved in the affairs of others. Still, once in a great, great while, I am moved to reach past my natural reserve and, with the most delicate of touches, assist nature. But only with very, very few, and very, very special cases. In fact, one such case—the most challenging I’ve ever faced—is even now awaiting me in the Blue Salon . . .
* * *
The Duchess of Roxburghe sailed down the stairs, her red wig firmly pinned upon her head. Her morning gown of pale blue silk swished as her pugs bounded after her, two of them trying to catch the fluttering ribbons of the tie at her waist.
There were six pugs in all—Feenie, Meenie, Teenie, Weenie, Beenie, and Randolph. Randolph was the oldest by several years. Graying and usually dignified, of late he’d refused to scramble down the steps after the younger dogs, but stood at the top step, looking so forlorn that her grace had assigned a footman to carry the pudgy pug.
Her butler, MacDougal, thought the measure extreme. Seeing the relative ease with which Randolph could bound up and down stairs when tempted with a tidbit, MacDougal thought her grace was being played a fool. Not that he dared suggest such a thing aloud. He’d been with the duchess far too long not to know that, while it was perfectly fine to allude to her grace’s pugs as stubborn, unmannerly, and unruly, they were never to be accused of trickery or sloth.
Her grace reached the bottom step and the footman, Angus, stooped to place Randolph with the other pugs panting at her feet. “That’s a good boy,” cooed her grace.
A proud expression bloomed on Angus’s freckled face. “Thank ye.”
MacDougal locked a stern gaze on the young footman. “Her grace was talkin’ to the dog, ye blatherin’ fool.”
Angus flushed. “Och, I’m sorry, yer grace.”
“I was getting to you next,” she said graciously. “You did a fine job carrying Randolph.”
Angus couldn’t have looked more pleased. “Thank ye, yer grace!” He hazarded a superior look at the butler.
MacDougal scowled back so fiercely that the footman’s smug expression instantly disappeared. Satisfied he had quelled the upstart, MacDougal turned to the duchess and offered a pleasant smile. “Yer grace, yer guest is in the Blue Salon, as ye requested, but we dinna ken where Lady Charlotte might be.”
“Perhaps she fell asleep in a corner somewhere. She’s gotten very bad about that since she’s taken to reading novels at all hours of the night.”
MacDougal nodded thoughtfully. “Verrah good, yer grace. I’ll send someone to look upon every settee in the castle.” He cast his eye toward the hapless Angus. “Off wit’ ye, and dinna miss a single settee until ye find Lady Charlotte.”
“Aye, sir!” Angus hurried off.
Her grace glanced at the doors leading to the Blue Salon. “I hope you made our guest comfortable.”
“Aye, yer grace, we did wha’ we could, but—” The butler sighed. “ ’Tis no’ me place to say aught aboot yer visitors, but this one is a bit—” He scrunched his nose, obviously searching for a word. Finally, his brow cleared. “—abrupt.”
“You mean rude,” she said in a dry tone.
“I would ne’er say such a thing aboot one o’ yer guests, yer grace.”
“I would. ’Tis well known that Lord Alasdair Kirk growls at everyone in sight. The man has beastly manners.”
“Tha’ might be understandable, considerin’—” The butler glanced about the empty hallway before he tapped his cheek.
“Because of his