tagInterracial LoveDevonny Ch. 11

Devonny Ch. 11

bytheDuskyGirl©

**Thank you to all my readers for your patience! I just finished up finals and have a couple weeks off before summer session for my MA starts. Wedding planning is also progressing though I feel the stress my make my head explode. Here's the next chapter for Devonny.It's a bit shorter than anticipated but it was the best point to split the chapters. I'm already at work on the next! Also sorry, I disabled anonymous email feedback. I had an asshat emailing me telling me that I suck and should stop writing because I don't care about my fans which is totally false. I love to write but unfortunately it has to come after school, work and my fiancé (who is all kinds of encouraging).

LOVE you all!"

XXkisskiss

Dusky**

*

Devonny smiled and nodded courteously in the Madison gardens, accepting congratulations and best wishes on behalf of her brother.

Phillip Madison had announced the betrothal of his daughter Elizabeth Lillian Madison to Prince Michael Adams. It was going to be the wedding of the season most likely and the excitement was near palpable.

The Madison garden was beautiful in high summer and vibrant with blooms and greenery. The air was sweet and fragrant. It was the perfect setting for such an announcement. The Madison's guests milled about dressed in their summer finery; the men discarding their cravats for collars and bows, the women in expensive white linen mull.

Devonny tilted her parasol against the sun's rays. Her own linen mull gown was embellished by white cotton embroidery and handmade linen bobbin laces. A wide buttery yellow sash was the only color of her dress and featured a large bow, the ends trailing down the back of the gown.

"And then there was one." Teddy Edmondson came to stand beside her, his lips quirking into a bemused smile.

Devonny glanced at him, amused but nonplussed. "One what?"

Teddy grinned. "One captivating Adams sibling ripe for the plucking."

Devonny smirked at his observation and Teddy handed her a crystal punch glass.

"So what do you think?" Teddy queried, gazing about.

"Of?" Devonny ventured, brows lifting in question.

"Of all this?" Teddy gestured to the garden around them and all its finely dressed occupants. "Compared to the nunnery, I mean."

Devonny couldn't help the twist of her lips at the mention of "the nunnery."

"It is almost..." she searched for a word. "Surreal." She smiled wanly. "I can hardly believe any of it is truly real. It's like a dream"

Teddy chuckled at that. "Well don't believe all of it," he admonished. "More like a nightmare," he grumbled under his breath.

Devonny gazed at him soberly. "Why always so forlorn, Mister Edmondson?" she asked. "Surely you know you lead a charmed and incredibly privileged life?"

Teddy grimaced. "Yes, surrounded by all the trappings of a gilded cage."

Devonny lifted an ebony brow. "Many would be eternally grateful for such trappings," she said chided.

Grimacing once more, Teddy withdrew a flask from his finely cut jacket and deftly poured the contents into his punch cup. Afterwards, he swished the liquid around the cup and took a tentative. He took a tentative sip and winced at the taste before shrugging and slipping the flask back into his pocket.

"You're beginning to sound like my father, Teddy mused "Speaking of which...." He nodded to an older spectacled gentleman who was eyeing him with a mild frown upon his dignified countenance.

Teddy gave her shoulder a gentle nudge. "Smile, Devonny."

Devonny smiled tightly and inclined her head in distant greeting.

Teddy chuckled, giving her another light nudge. "Now you've done it."

"Done what?"

"Now he'll be badgering me incessantly about you and wanting to know when I might make things more permanent and ask for your hand in marriage." He glanced at her distressed expression in delight. "Not to worry I know how to handle him." He looked thoughtful of a sudden. "You see, I don't speak to many of the women at length. My father most likely sees our regular discourse as a spark of interest."

Devonny's brows lifted. "And is he correct? Why are you speaking to me?"

Teddy smiled a genuine smile at her. "Because you're new. You're interesting. You're not a twit. And it seems as though you could care less whether I wished to marry you or not."

Devonny returned his smile, shaking her head. "Your poor father."

***

Devonny trailed her fingertips over the velvety petals of the flowering rose bush in the gardens behind Kedleston hall. Teddy Edmondson's words the day before were not easy to shake.

"And then there was one," she murmured absently.

For some reason it bothered her now. Truly, she had always been alone—for as long as she could remember. Her entire life had been a state of perpetual lonesomeness that she accepted. It pained her little. But that seemed to have changed since she arrived at the Davenport household. Moira and Miles had taken her under their wings. Prince and Elijah had become immediate friends to her. And Gabriel...Gabriel was likely the reason that the idea of being alone bothered her so.

She heaved a sigh. Time. Time and distance were likely the only remedy.

"Devonny."

Devonny froze at the sound of her name on the object of her musing's lips. She turned to see him standing mere feet from her. She had been so preoccupied by her own thoughts she hadn't noticed his hesitant approach.

She turned to him smiling rigidly "Gabriel," she said his name smoothly. "Was there something I could do for you?"

Gabriel grimaced inwardly. She was ever reminding him of her place and his. He perused her calico clad form beneath the parasol that shielded her face from the sun. He cleared his throat. "I simply wanted to inquire about Prince's engagement to Elizabeth Madison and the celebration at the Madison's. I had thought that we should have a small celebration here as well—not just to celebrate the betrothal but Prince's many accomplishments with his stables and the construction of his home.

Devonny twirled the parasol thoughtfully. "I think that it would be quite nice for Prince to be able to celebrate with all the people that care for him."

"Good," Gabriel nodded. "I shall see to it." He shifted, running his hand over the blooms on one of the rosebushes she had so reverently been perusing. "And I wanted to apologize," he said fixing her with his unwavering emerald gaze. "Again—for the other night in the kitchen." He looked sheepish and shook his head. "I don't know what's wrong with me. It's as though I lose all sense with you."

At those words, she averted her gaze and trained it on the cobblestones beneath her white kid boots.

When she said nothing, he stepped closer. Her soft honey colored eyes lifted to his and she took a deliberate step back from him.

"Gabriel," her voice was low. "We can't keep doing this. It's not good for either of us." She lifted her chin. "And as such, I cannot stay here. Surely, you see that. You must. Surely, you know—as well as I—that things can't continue this way."

Gabriel stiffened, tightness and discomfort spreading through his chest. "And where would you go? Who would watch over you?"

Devonny gave a delicate shrug of her shoulders, feigning nonchalance. "I am not a child, Gabriel, and I shall have to learn to look after myself one day, especially if I do not marry and have a husband to do so."

Gabriel's dark brows knitted together as his gaze searched her face. "And what of Rochard?"

Her lips thinned, her expression growing somber. "I can't let him control my life, Gabriel. If I let him dictate every decision I make, I would be letting him win. I won't let him win."

"When will you go?"

She smiled a faint sad smile. "Not until the end of the season at least. I shall have to see how things progress." She met his intent gaze. "But we know that this," she gestured between the two of them. "Has to stop. I shouldn't be here." She blinked rapidly, clearing her vision of tears. "It hurts too much."

Gabriel stared at her. It was the first inclination she'd ever given him that she felt just as tormented as he did. "Devonny—"

"No." She shook her head vigorously and took another step away from him. "Please," she said so softly, he barely heard her. "Just let it be."

"Devonny?" Prince was there beside them suddenly. His gaze switched anxiously between Devonny and his friend. "Am I interrupting something?"

Gabriel said nothing. A muscle in his finely sculpted jaw ticked tensely.

Devonny smiled brightly. "Of course not. What is it?"

Prince quirked a skeptical brow at the two of them in response but shrugged and directed himself to Devonny. "Teddy Edmondson has come by with me. I thought perhaps you might like to see him."

Surprise flickered over her features. "Of course." She glanced at Gabriel and then back to Prince.

"He's in the stables with Bernardo stabling his mount," Prince supplied

"I'll meet him there then," she said softly, avoiding Gabriel's heated gaze as she dropped a slight curtsey and went in search of Teddy.

She found him with Bernardo, stabling a magnificent caramel colored Polish Bay. He grinned, seeing her and clapped Bernardo on the shoulder as he came toward her.

He was dressed in a rather fine riding jacket and tall black boots displaying a high shine. He swept the top hat from his head and tucked it into his arm while he tugged off his right glove. "Madamoiselle Adams." He swept and elegant bow when she slipped her hand into his.

She returned his greeting with a similarly elaborate curtsey. "Monsieur Edmondson." She gestured to the stable entryway with an exaggerated sweep of her hand. "Shall we?"

"Of course," Teddy tucked her hand into the crook of his arm.

Devonny rolled her eyes dramatically and aimed a backward grin Bernardo who winked back at her in amusement as the pair headed toward the gardens.

***

"What are you doing?" Prince asked as he entered the study. Gabriel stood at the window. It was a loaded question, he knew.

Gabriel watched Devonny stroll around the gardens with the young, handsome, and wealthy Theodore Edmondson. They made quite the striking couple: both young, beautiful, and charming. The Edmondsons were well known, even among his set. They were the wealthiest gen du couleur in all the counties. Devonny would be well taken care of and she would no longer be a servant girl subject to Rochard's whims.

He watched her throw back her head with laughter as Teddy Edmondson leaned close and grinned at her.

His guts twisted. He'd never seen such unbridled laughter from her, never more than a faint wisp of a smile.

"Gabe." Prince's voice shook him from his thoughts and he took a long sip from his glass of bourbon.

Prince sighed and crossed his arms over his chest, settling a somber look upon his friend. "What are you doing with her, Gabe?"

Gabriel frowned, taking another long draught. "With whom?" He coughed as the sharp bitterness of the spirit caught in his throat.

Prince lifted a brow. Gabriel Davenport hid his emotions better than any man he knew but undoubtedly he knew him well enough to know when he was troubled—and Gabriel had been naught but deeply troubled from the moment Devonny Clarke set foot in Davenport House.

"Of whom do you speak?" Gabriel queried dryly.

Prince shook his head and met Gabriel's gaze steadily. "You know exactly what I mean." He jerked his head toward the window. "And you know who I mean."

"I'm not doing anything," Gabriel replied smoothly. He smiled a drawn smile. "And I have no intention of doing anything."

Prince eyed him skeptically. He believed in Gabriel unconditionally. Gabriel was an honest and honorable man like his father. He didn't doubt that. It was the brief flicker of torment he caught in Gabriel's eyes that worried him. He hesitated, mulling over his next words

carefully. "Do you love her?"

Gabriel snorted, ready to deny it but then he shrugged and returned his friend's gaze. "I care for her very much," he said carefully.

Prince nodded, seeming to consider this.

Gabriel frowned, swishing the amber spirits around the glass. "She intends to leave. Did you know that?"

Prince's ebony brows quirked at this but he lifted his shoulders in a shrug. "Surely you did not expect her to remain with us forever?"

Gabriel winced, swearing under his breath. It had not occurred to him until then that his time would be so short.

***

"To Prince!" Gabriel lifted his glass, a wide grin splitting his face. It was a rare smile from him and it made Devonny's heart stutter in her chest at the sight of it.

"And to his lovely betrothed," Elijah put in, raising his glass as well.

"To Prince and Elizabeth!" Moira beamed.

"To Prince and Elizabeth!" They all echoed.

They had gathered in the parlor following an extraordinary evening meal. The Davenports, the Madisons, Moira, Miles, Sadie, Ursula, Bernardo and Devonny had all gathered for an elaborate small intimate meal in celebration.

Now they gathered in the parlor, drinks in hand. The mood was jovial and light-hearted. Truly, it was a evening among friends and family.

"And now, it's my turn." Prince stepped into the center of the room. "To my bride," he looked to Elizabeth, radiant in a pale blue gown who beamed back at him. "You have made me the most happy man in the world." He inhaled deeply, "And to my family..." His gaze traveled over Miles and Moira and he winked at Devonny before his gaze settled upon Gabriel and Elijah. "Your father was the kindest most righteous man I have ever known. And your mother—she was all grace, beauty, and good heartedness. I was sorry to lose them. But were it not you two—their sons who possess the same fine qualities—I would not have found the success I have, and undoubtedly would have never had the opportunity to meet my future bride." He grinned and raised his wine glass. "To the Davenports, those here and those here in spirit."

"To the Davenports," they repeated.

Bernardo opened a leather case at his feet and drew forth a small violin. Moira and Ursula clapped in delight and while Prince, Elijah and Gabriel moved to push aside the furniture, clearing a space in the center of the room.

Bernardo set the violin to his chin and Elijah grabbed Devonny's hand pulling her to the center where Prince and Elizabeth stood. Gabriel paired with Moira, Mr. and Mrs. Madison with one another, while Miles, Ursula while Sadie took a sat to watch.

Laughter filled the room as Bernardo started to play a quadrille. Devonny turned and made a small curtsey to Elijah and then turned once more to curtsey to Prince who was at her right.

She moved gracefully through the steps, a brilliant smile upon her face despite her unease. Gabriel was across from her with Moira and she would undoubtedly find herself in close proximity. She brushed by Elizabeth who giggled, her skirts swishing around her as the dancers made their elaborate turns and circles.

Devonny glided forward, slipping her palm into Gabriel's hand as they slid past each other. Her breast brushed his arm causing her stomach to drop. Her gaze flew to his as they traded respective spots and halted waiting the next turn. His were intent on her, bright and heated. The women moved in a swirl of skirts to form a small inner circle while the men formed a larger outer circle. The circles moved in opposite directions before they halted before their respective partners.

Devonny halted back in front of Elijah who grinned and winked at her. The dancers moved apart and whirled only to switch partners once more and Devonny found herself on Gabriel Davenport's arm. Muscle flexed beneath her fingertip and familiar heat swelled in her belly when his hands closed around her waist as he whirled her around, his emerald gaze trained on her flushed upturned face.

She was then passed off to Prince who looked so incredibly happy that he might burst and had trouble keeping his eyes off his gloriously beaming betrothed.

Bernardo continued to stroke the strings of the violin into beautiful strains as the pairs continued dancing, putting her in regular physical contact with Gabriel. Each touch made her heart ache, discomfiting warmth blooming in her chest and staining her cheeks. His expression was intent when he came to her, unsmiling though his eyes were lit with amusement. It made her lightheaded.

She stumbled in her steps, falling against him. He righted her smoothly, one corner of his mouth lifting. "Are you alright?" he murmured.

She nodded as he delivered her back into Elijah's arms. Elijah lifted his brows at her slightly dazed expression. She smiled faintly at him in return.

Hours later, Miles and Moira had headed to bed while Ursula, Sadie and Bernardo had all retreated to their respective rooms. Devonny stood on the steps outside the main door between Gabriel and Elijah as Prince handed Elizabeth into the Madison's barouche. Waving at Elizabeth in farewell, Devonny turned and lifted her hem to reenter the house.

"Your dancing has much improved," Eli complimented, falling into step beside her.

Devonny smiled. "Why, thank you. I had a wonderful tutor." She inclined her head. "Goodnight, Eli."

Elijah leaned in and pressed a kiss to her temple. "Goodnight, Devonny."

He watched as she headed down the hall and turned the corner out of sight.

"And you dare speak of impropriety to me?" Gabriel growled behind him.

Elijah turned to his brother smoothly, his expression the very picture of inocence. "Pardon?"

Gabriel scowled at him. "You accuse me of plotting to sully her reputation—of plotting to confuse her and bend her to my will--and yet I find you kissing her goodnight when dare you speak to me of impropriety. And don't think I haven't seen the way you look at her."

Elijah glared at him. "You are jealous."

Gabriel let out a bark of laughter. "Jealous?"

"Yes," Elijah hissed, taking a step toward his brother whose hands curled into fists. "She would never allow you so near." Elijah smiled coolly. "She would never allow you to press your lips to her lovely golden flesh in so casual a manner." He watched Gabriel's face suffuse with color and rage but he continued. "And her lips," he sighed, "are like live velvet petals in their wondrous softness—"

Gabriel seized him in a move faster than the eye could follow, grasping the lapels of his jacket and propelled him backward into the wall rattling the heavy gilded frames that hung there. He seethed with fury, his face close to his brother's. "If you have touched her—"

A coy smile curved on Elijah's lips. "She has never once objected to my touch."

Gabriel paled, the blood seeming to drain from his face as he abruptly as he stepped back. "What have I done to hurt you so? Why is it that you torment me, brother?"

Elijah smiled tightly as he straightened his jacket with delicate attention. "I love you, Gabe, more than anything in this world. You think I don't understand how you feel but I do," he said softly. "I know what it's like to love someone who is deemed entirely unsuitable." He lifted his cerulean gaze to clash with Gabriel's. "And I know what it is like to have that person taken from you."

Gabriel stared at his brother in disbelief. He swallowed thickly, guilt swelled in his chest. He pushed the sentiment away. His voice was low and expressionless. "Is that what you intend; to take her away from me? Out of spite? For revenge?"

Elijah gave a light shrug though his eyes remained steady on Gabriel. "That is her choice. Not mine." He clicked his heels together, gave a slight mocking bow and departed, leaving Gabriel alone with his thoughts.

***

Devonny frowned at her bedroom door which had so recently been knocked upon with a bit more force than necessary. She had little doubt who it was. There was but one person who came to her door at inopportune hours of the night. He had already apologized once today. What could he possibly want now?

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