In which Morgan Villenie discusses The Plan with Alec, Earl of Whittlesey.
Villenie frowned. “Even if a man doesn’t need an heir, most men crave the companionship and the, er, warmth… that a wife provides. Might I ask why you don’t?”
“No.” Alec scowled. “It’s none of your damned business.” He stood again, ready to end this outrageous conversation, but Villenie again caught his wrist, holding on with a surprising strength.
“Well, you see, really, it is.” The hint of steel in his tone caught Alec’s full attention. “If I’m to let Penny marry you—”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Oh, yes, well, that’s the plan.” The steel was gone, and his smile had returned. “A marriage of convenience between you and my sister, Penny. Penelope. Of course, I can’t let you marry her if you pose any danger to her, so I feel I must insist upon—”
“I don’t want to marry your damned sister!” Alec pulled his wrist free of Villenie’s grip. “You’re mad! Return to whatever corner of Hell you crawled out of and leave me be!” He started back toward the house, stumbling a bit on the gravel pathway. Ten feet from Villenie, he stopped. “And I don’t want you near my mother again,” he said without turning around. “If I hear that you’re bothering her, I’ll set the constable on you.”
“I’ve committed no crime.”
“You told me yourself that you have.”
“Ah. Well, I meant recently. Or that can be proven.” A crunch of gravel came from behind Alec, and then Villenie peered around his shoulder. Alec’s scowl didn’t seem to deter Villenie in the least. “Look, the plan is simple.” He draped a conspiratorial arm over Alec’s shoulders.