A PRIVATE GENTLEMAN BY HEIDI CULLINAN PDF

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Wes blinked and glanced surreptitiously to the right. To his surprise, it appeared it was he to whom she spoke. Everyone else was busy removing wraps and handing over canes and hats to footmen, and she was staring directly at him. He scrutinized her face a moment, not recognizing her but thinking perhaps he had only forgotten her, but she seemed too singular to do so. She had a flat American accent, elegant but slightly eclectic dress, and flaming scarlet hair.

She chuckled. My name is Penelope Brannigan. But you may call me Penny. First she spoke to him as if they were longtime friends, then she introduced herself, and to seal the outlandishness told him to call her Penny. Unwilling to cut a woman direct, unable to form complete sentences and not knowing what he would say even if he could, Wes simply stared at her. It had taken the small crowd lingering at the door a few moments to identify him, but they clearly knew him now.

Fans and drinks shielded the gossiping tongues, but the eyes followed him as his identity spread like wildfire. Lord George Albert. The stammerer. Wes left. He told himself he was only moving forward in line, that Mrs. His hands shook slightly, and the panic of so much attention threatened to drag him down. It was all he could do to keep walking as the whispers around him continued. Had to be tutored at home.

No one will commit you to Bedlam tonight, no matter what they think of you. Gordon pasted on her brightest smile as she held out her hand to him. Such a pleasant surprise to see you here today. The Royal Botanical Society received your invitation, but it is with great regret I report that only I was able to attend. But I am delighted to be here with a peer of science.

A lady who, according to my sources, is one of the most learned botanists in all of Britain. Quite honored.

I have heard such wonderful things about it. We finally have the piping sorted, and the tropical house is finding its feet. You should see the bromeliads. Nothing finer. Would you care to stop by sometime and see them yourself? Gordon fixed her smile a little firmer. Wes stood there stupidly. This was his moment, he knew.

This was where he should make some small talk about her notable skill with plants, of how he longed to see her conservatory, which reportedly rivaled any in London. Could you be persuaded to allow me to see it?

But while the drug could carry him here, it seemed it could not grant him charm, could not even loosen his tongue, and in the end Mrs. Gordon simply made him a curtsey and urged him to enjoy himself. Wes moved away from the receiving line and into the room, hugging the wall as much as he could as he looked for a safe place to stand. He ended up near an ornate vase filled with flowers and greenery beside a window, an empty space which, by the time he reached it, was noticeably larger because the guests were giving him a wide berth.

He tried to tell himself it was because he was so far above the social station of everyone here, but he doubted that was the truth. A servant offered a glass of punch to Wes, who accepted it with a nod. They were nearly all watching him back. He could not hear their conversations now, but he could imagine them. What is he, thirty?

Does he have his own money? A girl could be very happy with Lord George. If she could overlook his…problem. One would have to pray, of course, that the damage would not pass on to the children. Wes curled his lip as he raised his punch to his lips and pretended to sip.

Even within the Royal Botanical Society, where he monthly produced papers for others to read in lecture, where no one could claim better knowledge of plants and their care than he—even there he knew they whispered of him.

He was a member of all the right clubs, yes, but he got in not because of his merit but because no one dared upset his father. They all talked of him, he knew. Yes, his papers were brilliant. But why could he not read them aloud himself? Why could he not, most of the time, even be present when they were read, and at best could only stand in the back of the room? Why did he never go out? Why did he always look like a rabbit about to bolt to its den?

Lowering the punch cup, Wes stared down into the fruit-scented depths. And it depressed him beyond measure that even despite this he had broken into a sweat and stammered almost beyond comprehension at the door and had failed so utterly with his hostess. This was why he should have stayed home tonight as well. Good Lord. Her eyes were fixed out at the crush of people.

They seemed to amuse her. Though I think Griselda is trying too hard. That is the way of it here in England, though, as far as I can tell. The middle class crushes itself in its desperate attempts to become part of the upper class.

I need a patron. Someone with money who wants to do good things with it. My uncle was high enough in stature that a connection to him can get me in almost anywhere but the haut ton, but his money dried up long ago. Gordons than the Lady Somesuches. More people hoping their charity will elevate them. May I press my forwardness enough to ask why it is you are? Uncouth as she was, he found himself charmed by Miss Barrington—certainly she must be Miss, not Mrs.

She had heard who he was and had sought him out on purpose. G-G-Gordon h-has one. At last she favored him with a wicked smile. Gordon seems to have no interest in giving you a tour, might I assume you plan to find this rare flower on your own? Miss Barrington smiled at him. If you need a distraction at a doorway, let me know and I will do my best.

He turned to give the crowd a proper study. It truly was a gauche attendance. Merchants and bankers, West Indies plantation owners returned—a few Army and Royal Navy gentlemen, though of course none of any quality. But Mrs. Gordon had scored a coup, for a few men of fashion had deigned to attend.

They were the lower sort, but they were here. Yes, darling, the Gordons. In short, London society as usual. Wes knew none of the attendees personally, though he could guess a few by reputation.

The short man in the striped trousers had to be Benjamin Bennett, of the Devonshire Bennetts. And there was the broad-shouldered gentleman with a bright blue waistcoat and an Osbaldiston knot: that had to be Fredrick Grainville. But his father had left him a fortune from his time in India, and his brother was an admiral in the Royal Navy, fighting away in China. Plus, he was a notorious charmer. Certainly half the women in the room were swooning over him.

Indeed, Wes could scarcely blame them. Wes was scanning faces in a crowd he thought might be her likeliest bet when he saw the man. He might have dismissed him, except the man was very charming and exceptionally pretty. Dressed in a long cream coat with tails, he looked like he belonged at a masquerade ball, or perhaps the court of George III. He drifted through the guests with such ease and grace he was almost dancing.

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A Private Gentleman

Wes blinked and glanced surreptitiously to the right. To his surprise, it appeared it was he to whom she spoke. Everyone else was busy removing wraps and handing over canes and hats to footmen, and she was staring directly at him. He scrutinized her face a moment, not recognizing her but thinking perhaps he had only forgotten her, but she seemed too singular to do so. She had a flat American accent, elegant but slightly eclectic dress, and flaming scarlet hair.

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Books by Heidi Cullinan

Painfully introverted and rendered nearly mute by a heavy stammer, Lord George Albert Westin rarely ventures any farther than the club or his beloved gardens. He finds the orchid, yes…but he finds something else even more rare and exquisite: Michael Vallant. Professional sodomite. He is master of his own world—until Wes.

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