tagInterracial LoveDevonny Ch. 07

Devonny Ch. 07

bytheDuskyGirl©

Gabriel was pacing back and forth across the floral carpet in Devonny's room. It was late into the evening and he'd been there for hours. "Why hasn't she woken up yet?" he demanded of no one in particular.

Elijah watched his brother pace from where he lounged on the settee. "Gabriel you're going to wear a hole in the floor."

Their own private physician had come the morning after Gabriel had found Devonny soaked to the bone and wandering the grounds and once more earlier this very day. It had been three days and Devonny had yet to be fully lucid. She was in and out of consciousness and yet she seemed to have no idea where she was in her rare waking moments.

"It's the fever," Elijah told him, his pale blue gaze following Gabriel's movements closely. "Doctor Lenox said she would be in and out of it as the fever rose and fell and that he doubts she will be very coherent until the fever breaks."

"Well, what the devil is wrong with her?" Gabriel demanded.

Elijah shrugged, his face impassive though there was no mistaking the concern in his eyes. "Prince said she had a bit of a sniffle on the ride from London but nothing more. She was probably coming down with something before she got caught in the storm. And Doctor Lenox..." Elijah sighed. "Doctor Lenox said that her being unconscious is her body's way of recuperating.

"Well, damnit," Gabriel growled. "It's been three days. What the devil are we paying the man for?" He glanced at Devonny laying in the large four-poster bed beneath a mountain of blankets. She looked unbelievably pale beneath her golden brown skin and her eyelids

bore a bruised purplish tint. She alternately shivered violently with cold and then would kick at the blankets as she broke out into a sweat.

"Be patient, Gabe," Elijah soothed.

At that moment, Moira entered the room carrying a steaming tray. Gabriel stopped his pacing.

"I figured that we should try to feed her some more broth." She set the tray on the bedside table and Gabriel quickly moved to her side Moira lightly patted Devonny's cheek.

"Devonny, child, please wake up," she said softly. "It's time for some more broth."

Devonny moaned and but made no indication that she had truly heard her.

Moira glanced at him. "Help me sit her up?"

Gabriel nodded and moved to place and arm around Devonny's shoulders and lift her up off the pillow. Moira carefully spooned small spoonfuls of broth into her mouth. Devonny choked at first and then the hot soothing liquid went down more easily.

Moira fed her until Devonny's brow wrinkled and she pulled away from the spoon. "Too hot," she mumbled.

Gabriel's gaze flew to Moira's and Elijah stood. It was the most she'd said in two and a half days.

Moira stood and put aside the bowl. "Gabriel, if you would call Sadie to me with more cloths and water." She began pulling the covers back. She looked at the two young men pointedly. "If you would excuse us, I'm going to wipe her down and see if we can get the fever to come down bit."

Gabriel didn't seem intent on moving.

"Gabriel," Moira said softly. "I will let you know if there is any change."

Gabriel nodded to himself and left the room.

Gabriel paused outside the doorway and Elijah placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'll get Sadie, you need to get some rest."

Gabriel shook him off and started down the hall. "I'm fine."

When Elijah caught his arm in a firm grasp Gabriel tensed, his jaw clenching. Elijah carefully removed his hand but did not back away.

Eli looked at his brother through narrowed eyes. "You look awful. You haven't gotten any sleep. You haven't even shaved." He rubbed a hand over his own tired face. "Look, Moira said that she would let you know if there was any change at all."

Gabriel lowered his head, hands on hips, and drew a deep breath in through his nose. Of course Eli was right.

"Alright," Gabriel sighed patting Eli's shoulder. "You'll get Sadie?"

"Of course."

Eli watched as Gabriel raked a rough hand through his dark hair and moved off down the hall towards his apartments in the eastern wing.

Elijah let out a heavy sigh and momentarily allowed the calm façade he'd been attempting maintain to drop as he glanced at Devonny's door. He sent up a silent prayer. Somehow this girl had woven her way into their lives and their hearts.

He recognized that she had her bouts of sadness of late, though he endeavored to pull her out of it when he could. He hoped her fiery spirit was not failing her now. He could no longer imagine Davenport house or even life in general without her.

***

Gabriel slowly lowered himself into the steaming hot bath that had been drawn for him and dropped his head back. He closed his eyes and focused on breathing deeply but he couldn't shake off the feeling of unease that he'd felt since arriving at Kedleston.

He hadn't thought much of it when they'd arrived and Devonny was not in attendance when the entire household staff had come to greet them. In actuality he'd been relieved. He'd wanted to maintain his distance from her while at Kedleston, and if she were willing to help him in that endeavor the easier it would be for the both of them.

But Moira had come to Elijah hours after their arrival. She'd been wringing her hands, and wearing a worried expression on her face when she told Elijah that Devonny had gone out for a walk about the grounds and had not come back.

Elijah might not have even told him that Devonny had gone missing Gabriel not caught him on his was to the stables. Gabriel gritted his teeth.

He'd fought the initial panic and the wild conclusions his mind had jumped to. He wondered if Rochard had followed them to the country. What if he'd taken her? Perhaps she'd had an accident and was laying hurt somewhere. The estate was huge. It could take hours to find her. His panic had been quickly followed by anger. What the hell was she thinking going off on her own?

He and Eli had strictly forbidden her to leave the house without an escort while in the city. The second she was outside of London she'd wandered off by herself. She was reckless and it infuriated him.

He lifted himself out of his rapidly cooling bath and wrapped towel around himself. He glanced in the mirror. He's have his valet shave him in the morning.

He wearily climbed into bed and after what seemed like hours of tossing and turning he fell into a fitful sleep.

***

Gabriel started awake after sleeping badly. He slowly sat up, the sheets pooling around his waist. It was still dark outside and it was either very early or very late.

Devonny had haunted his dreams and now she even haunted his waking hours. Cursing he threw back the covers wrenched on his clothes.

He knocked softly on Devonny's door and upon hearing no response he quietly pushed the door open. The room smelled of Sadie's herbs. Moira was asleep in the armchair, her usually merry face lined with stress and worry.

Gabriel gently touched her shoulder causing her to start awake. Moira rubbed her eyes. Her voice was thick with sleep. "What's wrong? Is everything alright?"

Gabriel smiled fondly at the older woman. "Everything's fine. Why don't you get some rest?" He jerked his head towards the bed. "I can watch her."

"Gabriel..." Moira's face softened and her voice held a hint of sympathy.

"I can't sleep," Gabriel grumbled. "I'll watch her." His gaze roved affectionately over Moira's countenance. "You need some rest too."

Moira hesitated and glanced from the sleeping Devonny to Gabriel. It wasn't quite seemly that they should be left alone but she could see that Gabriel had no intention of leaving.

She thought very carefully about her next words. "Are you sure you know what you're doing here, Gabriel?"

Gabriel looked at Devonny, his eyes going soft. "I really have no idea."

Moira's bright gaze was searching his inscrutable expression. She lifted a gentle hand to his darkly shadowed cheek. "Be careful Gabriel."

Gabriel ripped his gaze away from Devonny to stare at Moira. He loved the woman who'd raised him from infancy and she was rarely so forward with him.

"Don't hurt her," Moira said softly.

Gabriel felt his heart seize at Moira's earnest tone. His brought his hand up to cover hers upon his cheek. "I don't ever want to hurt her," he said solemnly.

A thin smile cuved upon Moira lips. "I know, darling. That doesn't mean that you won't. That girl loves you. Be careful with her heart."

The door clicked softly behind Moira as she left him alone, her words whispering across his mind in his absence. 'That girl loves you.' Gabriel stared at the carpet for what seemed like an eternity before he resolutely moved the armchair closr to the bedside so that he could look upon Devonny as she slept.

Her face was serene and seraph-like in sleep though a line would periodically appear between her finely arched brows as she moaned and tossed her head.

Gabriel leaned his cheek against his hand and considered her silently from his seat.

He couldn't fathom his attraction and his need to be close to her. She was everything that was unsuitable for him. She was poor, and beyond that she had no family to speak of. She'd been raised in a brothel for god's sake. And even if she'd grown up with a wealthy family there was still the issue of her skin color; her flawless golden brown skin.

If she had simply been poor with no family connections he would have been forgiven. A wealthy man could overlook a woman's poverty, her lack of station. If the lady in question was exceedingly beautiful the match would be understood and grudgingly accepted in society.

But a match with a woman of another race would not garner the same tolerance. A gentleman's social status would be destroyed. His business connections would disappear and he would be cut in every sense of the word. He would cease to be considered a gentleman and his family name would be ruined.

Devonny moaned and shifted as though she sensed the troubled direction of his thoughts. Gabriel continued to watch her speculatively. She whimpered , a distressed sound.

"No," she mumbled, tossing her head on her pillow. "Please don't."

Gabriel stood abruptly and went to her side.

He reached out, unable to keep himself from touching her for a moment longer, and took her hand lightly in his. A line appeared between Devonny's dark brows and she murmured a deep, incoherent sound from the base of her throat.

Keeping her small cool hand in his, he stroked her hand lightly with his thumb, needing her to awaken just for a moment to reassure him though he knew it would be best if he simply allowed her to sleep.

It seemed like an eternity before her thickly lashed lids twitched and she opened her eyes and turned her groggy, sleep-filled gaze in his direction.

It was obvious the moment she recognized him, for she smiled faintly though with real joy. It was like being punched in the gut, causing his breath to hitch.

"Gabriel?" Her voice was hoarse and it rasped in her throat. She seemed confused by the sound and she frowned before swallowing thickly. "Gabriel what are you doing here?" Her voice was clearer but still tired and faint.

Gabriel didn't answer immediately as she perused him with her heavy-lidded amber gaze. He couldn't think of a suitable explanation for him being with her alone in her bedchamber, clasping her hand in his own. "You've been very sick," he said carefully. "Influenza in the summer of all things."

Devonny frowned, concern etching her features. "You shouldn't be here. You could get sick too."

Gabriel grazed her with a gentle smile. "We Davenports have strong constitutions. Eli and I haven't been sick since we were boys. How do you feel?"

She winced. "I hurt. Even my skin hurts."

Devonny glanced around at the room around her. The drapes were drawn closed over the windows. The room was lit by a single oil lamp burning on her bedside table. Her gaze roved over the aromatic tray of liquids and small bottles which held only god knows what remedies.

She looked back to Gabriel who was watching her intently. "You've been taking care of me?"

At the soft look in her eyes, Gabriel wished he could have said that he'd been by her side nursing her back to health but he shook his head. "Moira and Sadie have been looking after you." He shrugged. "I couldn't sleep so I thought I might allow Moira to rest in her own bed tonight."

Devonny smiled faintly, her voice barely above a whisper. "That's so very sweet of you. I knew that you could be sweet."

Gabriel grinned. She was rarely so candid with him. Her exhaustion had left her in a rare state of unguarded sentiments.

He moved to the bedside tray and took up a small mug of one of Sadie's herbal mixtures. "Here," he said gently as he carefully lifted her head with his free hand. "They'll have my head if they find out you've been awake and I haven't given you any of this. It's cold now," he apologized. "But it should still do the trick."

Devonny obediently set her lips to the rim of the mug and drank, her nose wrinkling in distaste.

Gabriel chuckled at her maligned expression before setting the cup aside and gently lowering her back to the pillow.

She blinked slowly and her hand moved across the blanket as though searching for something. Gabriel tentatively touched her hand, feeling a tug in his chest when her delicate fingers curled around his own.

Her voice was small. "You won't leave will you?"

Gabriel shook his head. "No. I will not."

This seemed to mollify her and she nodded to herself. "Good," she sighed deeply.

Gabriel released her hand and carefully tucked the covers around her. He pulled armchair closer to her bedside and sat. She watched him beneath half-closed lids.

"I'll be right here," he assured her.

But she was already asleep. Gabriel leaned back and perused her silently. She looked very small lying there. She was a tiny thing really, dwarfed by the enormity of the bed. Her breathing was deep and rhythmic, and her face was turned slightly towards him. Her full shapely lips were parted slightly. She looked exhausted but she had been well tended. She wore a clean white nightgown buttoned up to her lovely throat. Her dark riotous curls had brushed, and the silken spirals lay spread upon the linens like a dark halo framing her face. She looked achingly beautiful, but at the same time terribly frail and worn. Her color, usually brightly flushed and golden brown, was now alarmingly pale and ashen it seemed. And the delicate bones of her face seemed more pronounced.

He watched her sleep until he too surrendered to sleep's pull, though her image stayed behind his closed lids and wove throughout his dreams.

Not more than an hour later, her soft moans woke him causing him to start forward in his chair.

She was shivering violently beneath the mountain of covers, her entire body shuddering. What was that sound? He leaned forward. Her teeth were actually chattering.

Cursing, Gabriel stood and placed his palm against her brow. She still felt hot.

She seemed to press her brow against his palm and then nuzzled her cheek against the flesh of his hand. "Cold," she mumbled in sleep.

Gabriel stood unsure what to do. He wanted to get Moira but the thought that Devonny might wake and find herself alone unsettled him.

"Blast it," he growled and shrugged out of his dressing gown before kicking off his boots. He pulled back the covers and slid into bed next to her. He scooted up so that he was sitting, his legs stretched out before him as he leaned against the headboard of the bed.

He carefully pulled Devonny against him and she immediately pressed her face against his side.

She almost seemed as though she were attempting to burrow into him as she snuggled against him, throwing her arm over his lap and winding one of her legs over his own.

Christ she was burning up and Gabriel felt as though he were sitting next to a veritable furnace. Sweat beaded along his hairline within minutes. But her shuddering slowly ceased and her teeth stopped clicking. Gabriel held her tightly against his side, bringing the other hand up to gently smooth her dark curls back from her face.

Gazing down at the girl sleeping in his arms, Gabriel was filled with uncertainty. It was an unwelcome emotion that he seemed to be experiencing more frequently since she had come into his life. He had spent the better part of that life molding himself into a man of decisive action. And yet he seemed to always be caught between inaction and the intense desire to act where she was concerned. He was in stasis.

As a child, the deaths of his parents had left him feeling powerless and weak and he had determined early on that those sentiments would not follow him through life. He had mourned the loss of his parents privately, enduring stoically the weight of his grief in order to remain strong for his emotionally flamboyant younger brother. It was a burden he was prepared to shoulder alone. He preferred it that way. In his adult life he had spent little time cultivating his own emotional proclivities. He prided himself on being a private and self-sufficient individual. He kept his own counsel, and rarely was he in question over how to proceed, but he had never encountered a situation such as this one.

He'd spent months pondering what to do with the beautiful mulatto girl living under his roof and serving at his table. For many men in his position the answer would have been simple and would have needed little consideration. They would have taken her to their beds, willing or not, if they so desired. And yes, he did desire her, painfully so. But he did not wish to hurt her. He did not want to use her for his own lusts.

In fact, he respected her. Admired her even. And though he was loath to admit it, he wanted her to feel the same about him. To seduce her would be doing her a disservice. He could not marry her. She could not be his wife, and he would not ruin her future prospects though the thought of another man having her rankled him immensely.

It was a matter that required less decisiveness and more compassion and frankly, more genuine emotion than he had attempted in too long. He quite honestly did not know if he was up to the challenge and he was wary of testing the limits of his control.

Looking at the sleeping girl pressed against he said a silent prayer that he would do nothing to harm her by any means. The corner of his mouth tugged upwards ruefully as he marked the irony of the notion that he was offering up his prayers to the Almighty when in actuality he would have much preferred to control the outcome himself. But he was desperate he acknowledged.

He was lulled by her gentle breathing and slowly her body seemed to cool to an almost comfortable warmth. He sighed deeply and closed his eyes. Surely there was no better sleeping aid in the world than having her pressed against him.

***

Devonny awoke slowly, shifting only to find that moving was not so easy accomplished as she had supposed. Her honey colored eyes drifted open and she found herself looking at the finely sculpted, stubble-covered jaw line of Gabriel Davenport.

Her gaze followed the line of his jaw and over the sensual curve of his lips. He was asleep, his breathing deep and measured. She flushed momentarily at this highly intimate position.

Sometime during the night she had slipped her hand inside his unbuttoned shirt. His flesh was warm and his heart beat strongly beneath her palm. She pulled her head back slightly from its spot against his shoulder to more closely peruse his sleeping face.

She felt a twinge of jealousy at his long thickly lashed lids that fanned against his cheeks and at his perfectly patrician nose. The man was beautiful. His dark usually immaculate hair was mussed and falling over his elegant brow. Her gaze shifted lower once more to his mouth.

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bytheDuskyGirl© 32 comments/ 34638 views/ 25 favorites

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