Imprudence Page 50

Quesnel turned to Rue. “Like to go somewhere more private and be scandalous some more?”


Without further ado, they made for the door, leaving the twins and Footnote in possession of the field.

Percy rounded on his sister. “You condone Rue’s behaviour?”

“What did I just say, Percy? Certainly not. But when have I ever been able to dissuade Rue from action in any way?”

“Good point.”

Quesnel and Rue made their way up the aft ladder to the captain’s quarters – nowhere else on The Spotted Custard seemed safe from interruption.

Door closed behind them, Rue crowded in close but Quesnel didn’t reach for her.

“You’ve been telling Primrose what we do together?”

“Some. She doesn’t want to hear details. Keeps pretending to faint. I’ve nothing but nice things to say, don’t worry.”

Quesnel winced. “While that’s kind of you, it’s a little odd to know you are reporting on an affair that should be kept private.”

Rue blinked. “Oh dear, have I broken some sacred code? You can’t possibly believe that your previous lady friends keep your exploits to themselves?”

Quesnel was blond, so his humiliation was instantly evident above his cravat. “Chérie, you are a lady, much as you resent it. As such, we should keep up a pretence of discretion.”

“Prim is nothing if not discreet.”

“What have you told her so far?” Quesnel rubbed his face with one hand, as though to wipe away the blush.

Rue grinned. “That I like your posterior. That kissing can be extended to other parts of the body. That you are very well shaped in all places.”

“Including…” Quesnel gestured to his trousers.

“Especially there.” Rue couldn’t help but enjoy his discomfort. All along he held the superior tactical position, being the more experienced partner; this was the first time she’d had the upper hand.


“How else is poor Prim to learn anything about male anatomy?”

Quesnel was staring at Rue with an expression she’d never seen before – half bemusement, half frustrated affection.

Finally he said, “I wouldn’t want to interfere in your intimate friendships, mon petit chou. However, I am – not to be blunt – your lover. Might my wishes be taken into account, just a little?”

Rue considered. “That’s a fair request.”

“Perhaps if you weren’t to detail the specifics of my anatomy and instead focused on generalities of technique? Referencing the book I gave you, for example.”

Rue blinked at him. “Would that make you feel better?”

“Most assuredly.”

“Then consider it done.”

Quesnel puffed out a breath. It fluffed up the lock of hair that always fell over his forehead.

“Although I don’t see why. You have a very nice anatomy.” Rue coupled her comment with an active form of appreciation.

Quesnel jerked against her with the cutest little moan. “Thank you, chérie, but I hope you understand that I only wish to share it with you.”

Rue grinned. She couldn’t exactly argue with that.



Egypt was stunning from the air – different from both England and India. With The Spotted Custard’s propeller running and a stiff southbound breeze, they made good time over the Nile Delta, a vast triangle of lushness. One long curved side nested against the variegated blue of the Mediterranean, with two shorter lengths stretching south, coming to a point where the Nile began her more solitary run. Egypt was greener than Rue expected, although the outside of the Delta was a seemingly endless expanse of inhospitable tan desert.

Lady Maccon stood on the forecastle, looking west at the long spear of Alexandria cutting into the green with white marbled humanity.

“It looks different from above.” She made room for her daughter to stand beside her.

“We didn’t approach by air when we visited last?”

“Sea. There weren’t transcontinental dirigibles when I was your age. At least, not very good ones. You don’t remember?”

“I was very young, Mother.”

“Barely speaking. You had but one word to say to most things.”

“I did? What word was that?”


Rue grinned. She had likely driven her mother to despair. “I was a difficult child?”

“Very. Still are.”

“Thank you, Mother. I can always trust you to be frank with me.”

“Don’t be maudlin, infant. It doesn’t suit.”

“You mean it doesn’t suit you.” Lady Maccon had ever avoided sentimental talk. It made her uncomfortable at the best of times and irritable the rest of the time. “Feelings,” Mother was prone to saying, “are meant to be felt and not discussed.”

Lady Maccon changed the subject. “Should we awaken your father?”

“After we’ve gone to ground, I think.” Rue twirled her parasol. It was burgundy with a thick fringe and a tassel. She thought it rather natty, more because it matched her cutwork leather bicycle boots than anything else. She also enjoyed the way the fringe moved. She’d chosen her dress with its white vest over a puff-sleeved shirtwaist and burgundy striped skirt because it matched the boots and not, as might ordinarily be the case, the other way around.

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