“Good heavens. Are you by any chance related to the Duke of Carrick? I knew him in my youth. Did a spot of grouse shooting and salmon fishing with him as a lad and did you know that you’re the spitting image?”
Christian felt his heart crash to the floor along with any hopes that Sir Raymond would grant his request. Elliot shuffled uncomfortably in his seat in a most ungentlemanly way. For a moment Christian wondered if he hadn’t caught something from one of Miriam’s whores. Elliot, to his credit, recovered quickly.
“Why, yes, I’m his son. Lord Elliot Grey at your service, Sir.” Elliot smiled broadly and Sir Raymond was up out of his seat, leaning over offering one slightly gnarled hand. Without a glance or grimace, Elliot took it and shook, clasping it with his other hand. “It is a delight to meet you, Sir. My father has spoken highly of you.”
“Has he indeed?” Sir Raymond looked pleased with the flattery. At first. A slight frown creased his eyebrows as he sat back down. “Well, m’Lord. What can I do for you?”
He looked suspicious and so he should be. To Christian’s knowledge, their father had never mentioned Sir Raymond. Be that as it may, the conversation was settling into something he felt he could manage so he approached the table once more.
“May I introduce my brother, Captain Christian Grey of the Ruby Queen.”
Christian offered his hand, which for an awful moment, he thought Sir Raymond was not about to take. Finally, with pursed lips and a deep look of consternation, Sir Raymond reached to grasp his hand.
“A pleasure to meet you, Sir Raymond.” There was very little confidence left in Christian at this present moment but his voice did not betray him. He ran over several possible approaches to his request in his head and none of them were arriving at the desired result. He had hoped to find a man who was a little desperate to marry off his only daughter, announce that she had been compromised and offer to make her an honest woman. Instead, he had the sinking feeling that that particular offer would be met by pistols at dawn, which although outlawed, Christian was certain that Sir Raymond would have conveniently forgotten that little detail.
“I take it that this is not a courtesy call.” The shrewd older eyes flickered between the brothers, leaving Christian momentarily at a loss.
“Well, yes. I wondered if you would accept my mother’s invitation to the family dinner tonight prior to her masque. You see, my brother here has had the honor of a chance meeting with your daughter at Lady Katherine’s townhouse and has become, I’m afraid, quite unreasonably enamored. He has insisted on having both young ladies in attendance tonight and when I heard that you were in town I thought it would be wonderful for you to renew your acquaintance with my father and have you escort the young ladies.”