Notorious Deception

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Book: Notorious Deception Read Online Free PDF
Author: Adrienne Basso
    â€œGood Lord, no,” Derek quickly countered. “It would be a great help if you could keep an eye on her while I have this outlandish story of hers checked out. This could still turn out to be an elaborate hoax, Tris.”
    â€œIt could,” Tristan reluctantly agreed. “But I strongly doubt it, my friend.”
    Diana finally turned her eyes away from the portrait and glanced over at the earl and Tristan where they were quietly speaking together on the far side of the room. She was too emotionally spent to get annoyed at their rude behavior. What could it matter now? The past four years of her life had been a lie. Giles had tricked her father. And used her. And most likely would have continued to do so if he had not died so suddenly. Diana felt sick to her stomach.
    It was true that her marriage had been a far cry from a happy one, but being the Countess of Harrowby was an intricate part of her identity. It was decidedly unsettling to learn she had been living a lie these past years.
    Diana’s mind whirled. Much of Giles’s strange behavior and unusual attitudes toward her finally seemed to have a reasonable explanation. He had been leading a double life. Though Giles had never gone so far as to profess love for Diana, she had believed that he at one time had held her in regard and respect. She realized that belief must have been a lie too. She had merely been a means to an end.
    Diana had always known that Giles had married her for her fortune; he had never hidden that fact from her. But she wondered if she had even been legally married at all.
    She bit her lip tightly, feeling the tears prick her eyes. It would certainly not help matters any if she broke down into sobs. Above all else, she must contain her emotions and keep a clear head. With a deep sense of foreboding, Diana felt the nightmare she found herself embroiled in had merely begun.

Chapter Three
    When Diana saw Tristan and the earl approaching her out of the corner of her eye, she squared her shoulders. It had been difficult enough discovering Giles’s betrayal, but her humiliation was intensified having these two men witness her disgrace. She drew together the last shreds of her pride and faced them.
    â€œWe thought under the circumstances, madam,” the earl began, “you would be more comfortable staying at Tristan’s home, which is only a few blocks from here. Unless you have made other arrangements?”
    â€œI have made no other arrangements,” Diana responded quietly. “But I cannot possibly impose on you, sir. If you would be so kind as to recommend a respectable establishment, I will be on my way.” The last thing Diana wanted at this point was charity, although she was not certain she had enough coin in her purse to pay for decent lodgings.
    â€œNonsense,” Tristan insisted. “I wouldn’t hear of it. My wife, Caroline, will be delighted to have company.”
    â€œIt would be best,” the earl quickly agreed. “I shall tell Dobbs to have your carriage brought around.”
    The eager note in the earl’s voice piqued Diana. He was very anxious to be rid of her. She thrust her chin up and stared hard into his blue eyes. “I do not have a carriage, my lord.”
    â€œDon’t have a carriage?” Derek repeated. “How the devil did you get here?”
    â€œIn a hired vehicle,” Diana said, bristling. “I set out in my own coach from Cornwall, but I am afraid the vehicle was not up to the long, arduous ride. We broke an axle on the fourth day out and my coachman, Richards, was injured. I left him, along with my traveling trunk and my maid, Amy, who is his wife, at a posting inn in Salisbury, and I continued the journey on my own. Upon my arrival in town I was left at the yard of the Bull and Mouth in Piccadilly, where I engaged the services of a cab.”
    â€œYou traveled from Salisbury to London on a mail coach, without the
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