077 - Wallflowers 3 - Devil in Winter
This week we’re talking about an absolute favorite in the genre! Evie Jenner needs to get married - and quickly. After failing to kidnap and marry one of her best friends, Evie knows that Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, is desperate enough to marry her straightaway. Neither planned that after a whirlwind wedding they would find that they just cannot seem to do without the other. While this was a reread, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas just gets better and better. **We’re running away to Gretna Green with the SPOILERS**
Want to listen to a certain segment? Here is our outline this week:
0:00 - 04:56: Intro
04:56 - 09:12: History Facts
09:12 - 39:51: Synopsis
39:51 - 43:44: Parlour
43:44 - 01:09:24: General Discussion
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We are now including our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
Devil in Winter Synopsis:
Our story begins very shortly after the events of the last book in the series, and those events are important to mention here. Sebastian St. Vincent, reprobate, rake, and former best friend of Marcus, Marquess Westcliff, had attempted to kidnap heiress Lillian Bowman who was also affianced to said Marquess. Desperate for funds, Sebastian had simply done the kind of thing that most expected of him, but Lillian proved to be a most unwilling and spiritful victim - and that, combined with Marcus’s love for her - made his plan unsuccessful. So Sebastian found himself back home in London, nursing a black and blue face, wallowing in the aftermath of realizing he’d done something quite stupid and lost his best, and really, only friend.
And although he would never have thought it would happen this way, his fate is about to turn thanks to one Miss Evangeline Jenner, who has turned up at his doorstep in the dead of night requesting an audience. The novelty of a stammering, shy, wallflower who was best friends with Lillian, demanding to see him at such an hour is enough to peak his interest. And from there, it does not diminish.
Evie Jenner has no other options and no where she can hide. Her (deceased) mother’s family had abused her for long enough, and now they were about to marry her off to her nasty cousin Eustice to get at her inheritance. Eustace has made it clear that he holds her in disgust and will not give her any freedoms or happiness once they are wed. In fact, she believes that her family will kill her once they are wed. And once that realization sank in, Evie ran.
She knew she could not run to her father, Ivo Jenner - the proprietor of Jenner’s Gaming Club - because he was ailing and would not be able to protect her from her Uncles. Plus, he always sent her back there in the past insisting that they were better for her. She knew she could not run to her friends because they could not protect her enough either, and she didn’t want to put them in jeopardy. No, she had to run somewhere they would never expect, and she had to protect herself with the one thing that they couldn’t get to her with - marriage.
So she set off to Lord St. Vincent’s home, luckily snagging a passing hack right outside her house. And seated in his parlour, she bravely offered herself and her inheritance in marriage to him. They set the terms - she will sleep with him only once to make the marriage legal and he can continue his rakish ways (quote “Lovely, he murmured, “I rarely like to bed a woman more than once. A crashing bore, after the novelty is gone. Besides, I would never be so bourgeois as to lust after my own wife.”), he doesn’t mind if she gets with child later by someone else later, she gets some of the inheritance set in trust, and they must away to Gretna Green now because her relations are likely already looking for her.
“I’d be a fool to trust you,” he said. “You could back out of our agreement at any moment. And you’d be an even greater one to trust me. Because once we’re married, I could play far greater hell with you than your mother’s family ever dreamed of doing.” “I would r-rather have it be from someone I chose,” she returned grimly. “Better you than Eustace.”
Sebastian grinned at that. “That doesn’t say much for Eustace.”
Sebastian is more than intrigued with Evie. He had met her once or twice but never conversed with her. She was a shy wallflower, one known and ridiculed for stammering, with the fiery hair of her father and a timid countenance. But once he took a look at her he realized that she was quite beautiful, but that beauty was hidden by her reputation.
But they are agreed and he sets about readying to leave for Gretna Green. Quote
“She was amazed that she had managed to communicate so well with St. Vincent, who was more than a little intimidating, with his golden beauty and wintry ice-blue eyes, and a mouth made for kisses and lies.”
It is from the start of their relationship though, that Evie learns what Marcus had known all along - that much of St. Vincent was actually a facade. In truth, he was much softer than he appeared and had an extremely sarcastic countenance to try to cover that up.
Quote “Take my arm,” he repeated in a pleasant voice that was underlaid with iron. “I won’t let you break your neck before we even reach the carriage. Available heiresses are difficult to come by. I’d have a devil of a time replacing you.”
And so a harrowing journey begins and maintains a breakneck pace until Gretna Green, many days later. Sebastian turns out to be an interesting and devoted companion, talking with Evie and helping her stay warm with heated bricks for her feet that he rewarms at every horse change. Her stammer disappears during their journey, and they both quickly realize that they quite like the other.
Quote “My love, have you considered the possibility that you might enjoy our consummation sufficiently to want it more than once?” How easily endearments seem to trip from his tongue. “No,” Evie said firmly. “I won’t.” “Mmm…” A sound almost like a cat’s purr left his throat. “I like a challenge.”
Sebastian oscillates between adoring devotion for Evie to cold standoffishness once he realizes the thrall that she seems to have over him. Once they reach the frigid Gretna Green, they head to the blacksmith who nickels and dimes them into a ceremony and a gold band for Evie with Sebastian finally exclaiming “It’s not a love match. It’s a marriage of convenience, and there’s not enough warmth between us to light a birthday candle. Get on with it, if you please. Neither of us has had a proper sleep in two days.”
But Sebastian warms up sufficiently by the next morning so that they can have encounter #1, which is an explosive realization for Sebastian who is very experienced, but feels like this coupling was unlike any other he had had. And he immediately wants more. Evie also has a fabulous time, but for her, that’s that. She doesn’t want to get attached to Sebastian because she knows he is a rake. She has had a hard life so far and knows she must guard her heart so that she can have her own form of a happily ever after.
Evie wishes to journey back to London at the same pace they left it - but Sebastian heavy handedly insists that they will stop for at least one night. Evie is furious because she wants to return to see her ailing father as quickly as she can. Quote
“Now it began-the exercise of husbandly authority, and the obligation of the wife to obey him. It was clear that Evie longed to argue, but instead she stared at him with a frown notched between her eyes. Softening his voice he murmured, “You’re in for a difficult time of it, Evie. Having me for a husband will be trial enough. But caring for a consumptive during the last stage of his illness...you’ll need all your strength. No use depleting it before you even get there.” Evie stared at him with a renewed intensity that made him uncomfortable. What eyes she had, as if someone had collected layers of blue glass and shone the brightest sunlight through it. “Are you concerned about my welfare?” she asked. He made his voice mocking, his gaze cool. “Of course, pet. It’s in my best interest to keep you alive and healthy until I can collect your dowry.”
On the carriage ride back the two enjoy bantering quite a bit, though Evie is obviously exhausted and worried about her father. She learns that his father was a decent and kind man who had whittled away all the finances of the dukedom through jolly excess which was why Sebastian was in the financial straits that he was. Plus the fellow had the indecency to be extremely healthy so it would be a good long time until he and Evie were the duke and duchess - in fact, they “probably wouldn’t inherit until [they] were both too decrepit to enjoy it.” However, Sebastian was good with numbers and investments and had plans to build his finances on his own, but Evie asked
“Have you ever considered going into a profession?” “He gave her a blank look. “What for?” “To earn money.” “Lord, no, child. Work would be an inconvenient distraction from my personal life. And I’m seldom disposed to rise before noon.” “My father is not going to like you.” “If my ambition in life were to earn other peoples’ liking I would be most distressed to hear that. Fortunately, it’s not.”
However, their travels have given them a crash course in each other, and both are realizing that their interest in their new spouse is peaked. And quote
“As she drowsed in his arms, it occurred to her that he provided the illusion of something she had never had before. Sanctuary. His hand passed repeatedly over her hair in the gentlest of caresses., and she heard him murmur in his dark-angel voice, ‘Rest, my love. I’m watching over you.”
While the journey helps them grow closer, it also helps them see their differences and clashes. Sebastian wants Evie again the night they stop at a coaching inn. She reiterates that she doesn’t want to continue marital relations because quote “I have no objection if you chose to have paramours. It’s just that I don’t want to be one of them. The sexual act means nothing to you, but it does mean something to me. I have no desire to be hurt by you, and I think that would be inevitable if I agreed to keep sleeping with you.”
Their conversation flames into a fabulous sparring match, until they get to the crux quote
“You can’t be faithful to one woman-- you’ve proven that.” “Just because I’ve never tried doesn’t mean that I can’t, you judgemental bitch! It simply means that I haven’t wanted to.” The word ‘bitch’ caused Evie to stiffen. “I wish you wouldn’t use such foul language.” “It seemed appropriate given the proliferation of dog analogies,” Sebastian snapped. “Which, by the way, is an inaccurate characterization in my case, because women beg me for it, not the other way around.” “Then you should go to one of them.” “Oh, I will,” he said savagely. “When we return to London, I’m going to embark on a spree of orgiastic debauchery that won’t end until something is arrested for it. But in the meanwhile...do you truly expect that the two of us are going to share a bed tonight-and tomorrow night- as chastely as a pair of nuns on holiday?”
And so they do not have any other relations on the journey, and their relationship becomes terse and strained. When they arrive at Jenners club Evie is almost turned away by one of the employees, Joss Bullard, who answers the back door, but Sebastian’s aristocratic man-ness helps them enter without issue, only eyebrows raised when he announces Evie as his wife.
Her father is quite far gone. It won’t be more than a few days. But Evie attends to his every need completely forgetting her own until Sebastian comes in heavy handedly again, insisting she rest and eat with him. Then he even insists that she wear a handkerchief around her nose and mouth, as one doctor has been touting the notion that consumption is caused by tiny creatures that are transported through the air. Evie scoffs but Sebastian insists.
However, it’s almost a moot point, as her father passes hours later. Evie, in her grief and exhaustion recuperates for a few days.
When she emerges from her fog, she is surprised to learn that Sebastian has not returned to his home, nor has he been idle. He’s planned her father’s funeral, and he’s followed through on their earlier conversations and made a lot of changes at the club. After taking a look at the books, he realized that some of the employees had been skimming off the top, and quickly dispatched them. Her father had also made some bad investments and gambles and his fortune wasn’t what it once was. Plus, Jenners was in a shabby state and needed a renovation.
So, surprising everyone, Sebastian had taken the reins, shut down Jenners, and began the transformation.
Perhaps, though, Evie shouldn’t have been so surprised, for when they had first arrived to care for her father they had had quite an interesting conversation. Quote
“I’m perfectly safe here,” she countered with annoyance. “I am still acquainted with many of the employees, and I know my way around the club better than you do.” “Not for long,” Sebastian muttered, and his gaze returned almost compulsively to the main floor. “I’m going to go over every inch of this place. I’m going to know all it’s secrets.” Taken aback by this statement, Evie gave him a perplexed glance. She realized that the subtle changes had taken place in him from the moment they had entered the club...she was at a loss to account for his strange reaction. His customary languid manner had been replaced by a new alertness, as if he were absorbing the restless energy of the club’s atmosphere. “You’re staring at the club as if you’d never seen it before,” she murmured. Sebastian ran his hand along the balcony railing experimentally, regarded the smudge of dust on his palm, and brushed it off. His expression was contemplative rather than critical as he replied. “It looks different now that’s mine.”
She had been skeptical of his actual devotion, stating at the onset quote
“There is no one to replace [the manager you fired].” “Yes, there is. Until a suitable manager can be found, I’ll run the club. The quail egg seemed to stick in her throat, and Evie choked a little. Hastily she reached for her wine, washed it down, and regarded him with bulging eyes. How could he say something so preposterous? “You can’t.” “I can hardly do worse than Egan. He hasn’t managed a damn thing in months...before long this place will be falling down around our ears.” “You said you hated work!” “So I did. But I feel that I should try it at least once, just to be certain.”
As work continues on the club and Evie tries to get back on her feet, she and Sebastian have more ups and downs. During an animated conversation he waves his hands for emphasis and Evie cowers, making him realize that she’s been beaten before. Sebastian is wrecked in this moment and vows to keep her safe from her uncles.
But their relationship yo-yos with moments that bring them close and then their sexual tension tearing them apart. They like each other’s company too much to stay completely apart.
During this period, Joss Bullard finds Evie one day to tell her that a Mrs. Hunt is at the backdoor to see her. Evie rushes down there, aghast at the thought of her dear friend waiting out in the dirty alley, but finds that she’s been tricked. Joss has led her into the hands of her Uncles, who throw her in a carriage which contains her cousin Eustace. They rough her around a bit, and let her know they’ve got a priest who will deem her marriage unfit, and she will be married to Eustace this very day.
Luckily, Sebastian returns from the errand he was on just in time and furiously engages with her uncles, ultimately besting them and rescuing a shaken Evie.
After the fight, Sebastian and Evie are both worked up - Evie, jealous thinking that Sebastian had been with another woman at a brothel when her uncles first had arrived, and shaken from the event, and Sebastian riled up with pent up sexual tension and fightin’ energy. One may think that this would lead us into our second encounter - and yet, our hero and heroine manage to keep things only to a kiss for now. Sebastian sensually tries to change Evie’s mind with elicit, passionate talk, but Evie remains steadfast. So we get to the crux finally when Sebastian says quote
“I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anything on this earth.” Sebastian took a shivering breath. “Tell me what I have to do to get you. Tell me what it will take for you to let me into your bed.”
After first insisting that there’s nothing he could do, Sebastian pleads again quote
“Evie...I can’t hold to our agreement. I can’t live with you, see you every day, and not have you. I can’t…. You’ll have to think of a way to solve this Evie, Think of something fast because otherwise…”
Evie wants monogamy from Sebastian, but she doesn’t believe that he’ll be able to hold to that promise based on his past. So while he agrees at first when she admits that is what she wants, she insists that his word isn’t good enough. Quote
“I don’t believe you.” “Good God, Evie! Do you know how many women have tried to obtain such a promise from me? And now, the first time I’m willing to take a stab at fidelity, you throw it back in my face. I admit that I’ve had a prolific history with women-” “That’s not the point.” A frown creased her forehead. “I don’t blame you for your past..or at least...I’m not trying to punish you for it.” Ignoring his skeptical snort, she continued, “But it doesn’t make you an especially good candidate for fidelity, does it?” His tone was surly as he replied. “What do you want of me? An apology for being a man? A vow of celibacy until you’ve decided I’m worthy of your favors?”
Struck by the question, Evie stared at him. Women had always come far too easily to Sebastian. If she made him wait, would he lose interest? Or was it just possible that they might come to know each other, understand each other, in an entirely new way? She longed to find out if he could come to value her in ways beyond the physical. She wanted the chance to be something more than a mere bed partner to him. “Sebastian…” she asked carefully, “have you ever made a sacrifice for a woman?”
And so, with some back and forth, Sebastian vows to be celibate for 3 months. If he can do that successfully, Evie will go willingly to his bed after that for as long as they both shall live.
Sebastian has seen an opening in their agreement though quote “You didn’t say that I couldn’t kiss you,” [he] said, his eyes bright with devil fire. “I’m going to kiss you as long and as often as I like, and you’re not going to utter a word of protest. That’s the concession you’ll give in return for my celibacy. Damn you.”
As renovations continue, Evie’s friend and a trusted Jenner’s employee Cam Rohan spots Joss Bullard and follows him to ask some questions and follow up on Ivo Jenner’s bequest to Joss. Joss has a primal hatred of Evie and seems also to be beset upon by some kind of madness. Cam, usually quite steady, is shaken by Joss’s vitriol, and reports this to both Sebastian and Evie.
Although it may seem like much time has passed, in reality it’s only been a few weeks since the beginning of the book. Evie is still very much grieving her father’s death, so Sebastian allows her to stay at the club for now, though he finds her presence distracting especially as he gets crankier from his celibacy vow. However, they manage to have some lovely moments where they grow closer together in between. Evie feels idle and Sebastian gives her jobs to do for the renovation, including directing the workers occasionally, and she starts to find her voice and inner strength. They have one of the most sensual kissing scenes, where Sebastian lets Evie know that these three months won’t be easy for her either, Quote
“As high as the fire in me burns, Evie, I will stoke it in you.” “Sebastian…” She strained a little and he pinned her more firmly against the table. “It’s my right to kiss you,” he reminded her, “wherever I want for as long as I want. That was our bargain.”
Before things can get steamier though, they are interrupted. But never fear, dear listeners, for encounter two isn’t far behind. After some very flirty billiards and some delightful banter - including quote
“Did you chase after the housemaids when you were a boy?” “Good God, of course not. How could you ask such a thing?” Sebastian looked indignant. Just as she felt a twinge of guilt and began to apologize, he said smugly, “They chased after me.”
And also another tender moment quote
“Ah, well. I suppose there’s some value in that. God help me if I should ever lose my looks.” “I wouldn’t mind.” He gave her a quizzical smile. “What? “If…” Evie paused, suddenly embarrassed. “If anything happened to your looks...if you became...less handsome. Your appearance wouldn’t matter to me. I would still…” she paused and finished hesitantly, “...want you as my husband.” Sebastian’s smile faded slowly. He gave her a long, intent stare, her wrist still clasped in his hand. Something strange crossed his expression...an undefinable emotion wrought of heat and vulnerability. When he answered, his voice was strained from the effort to sound cavalier. “Without a doubt, you’re the first one who’s ever said that to me. I hope you won’t be such a pea goose as to endow me with characteristics I don’t have.” “No, you’re endowed enough as it is,” Evie replied before the double meaning of the statement occurred to her.
After that intimate moment, they finally get intimate, with Sebastian following through on his words from before and kissing her below her skirts. Quote “You said I could kiss you,” came his gentle, wicked whisper near her ear. “But my love...you didn’t specify where.”
Finally, it’s time for Jenners to reopen, and Sebastian is full of nervous energy. His interest in running the club has not waned, and he’s found a new purpose, though he hasn’t quite come to grips with that in his heart yet. However, he had insisted that Evie be at his townhome by now, and she had done everything to remain. Sebastian wanted her somewhere safe so he didn’t need to worry about her. Another wrinkle appears while they are arguing about her leaving - Westcliff has arrived. The last time that he and Sebastian had spoken had been their fight after Sebastian had abducted his fiance - and Evie had yet to speak with Lillian about her marriage to her kidnapper either.
Marcus has visited at Lillian’s behest though - to confirm that Evie is okay and to offer her sanctuary with them if she needs it. He inquires if she were married under duress and she vehemently replies
“No,” Evie said earnestly, inching closer to Sebastian’s side as if she were trying to shield him. “Truly my lord, it was my idea. I went to Lord St. Vincent’s home to ask for his help, and he gave it. I do not regret my decision. I would do it again without hesitation. Lord St. Vincent has been nothing but kind to me.” “She’s lying of course,” Sebastian said with a callous laugh… “I’ve been a bastard to her,” he told Westcliff flatly. “Fortunately for me, Lady St. Vincent was ill-used by her family for so long that she has no conception of what it is to be treated well.” “That’s not true,” Evie said to Westcliff. “This has been a difficult time, as you can imagine. I could not have survived it without my husband’s support. He has looked after my health, and sheltered me as much as possible. He has worked very hard to preserve my father’s business. He defended me when my uncles tried to compel me to leave with them against my will-” “You’ve gone too far, sweet,” Sebastian told her with baleful satisfaction. “Westcliff knows me well enough to be certain that I would never work. Or defend anyone, for that matter. I only bother with my own interests.”
However, Evie and Westcliff seem to be paying no attention to Sebastian or his remarks which riles him up enough for an outburst when Evie mentions that Westcliff loves Lillian quote
“He doesn’t love her!” Sebastian snarled, pushing Evie away from him. Suddenly it felt as if the room was shrinking, the walls drawing closer until they threatened to close him in a fatal vise. “He doesn’t believe in love any more than I do. How many times have you told me that love is a delusion of men who wished to make the necessity of marriage more palatable?” “I was wrong,” Westcliff said. “Why are you so irate?” “I’m not-” Sebastian broke off as he realized that he was unraveling. He glanced at Evie and felt the startling reverse of their positions...she, the stammering wallflower, now serene and steady...and he, always so cool and self-possessed, now reduced to an impassioned idiot. And all in front of Westcliff, who observed the pair with keen scrutiny.”
Flustered and out of place, Sebastian flounders to insult them both. Evie stoically removes herself from the room but Westcliff stays. Quote
“This isn’t what I expected to find,” Westcliff said quietly. “You’re not yourself, Sebastian.” “Go to hell,” Sebastian muttered. “No doubt that was what you came to tell me tonight. If so, you’re about a month too late.” “That was my intention,” Westcliff admitted. “Now, however, I’ve decided to stay and have a snifter of brandy while you tell me what in God’s name you’re doing. To start with, you can explain why you’ve taken it upon yourself to manage a gaming club.”
Westcliff’s apparent forgiveness deflates Sebastian, who relents to join him for a drink but first must see that Evie is not unescorted through the busy club. He spots her moving through the busy floor, and something pings inside him with urgency, and breaks into a run when he notices that Cam has spotted something on the balcony and turns to look himself - only to see Joss Bullard with a gun trained on Evie’s back.
Driven by raw instinct, Sebastian leaped forward with lightning speed, while hideous fear burned through him. Evie’s form became so sharp and detailed in his panicked vision that even the velvet nap of her gown was distinct. Every nerve and muscle strained to reach her, every thundering beat of his heart laboring to feed blood to his fast-moving limbs. Seizing her with frantic hands, Sebastian turned his own body to shield her, and used the momentum of his speed to bring them both to the floor.
The shot brings the club to a halt and then to a frenzy. Westcliff arrives to a shaken Evie and a shot Sebastian, who begs Westcliff to keep her safe.
What follows is a tumultuous recovery and terrible fever and infection. Barely hanging on to life, Sebastian begs Evie not to let the doctor bleed him, and then Evie, Cam, and Westcliff pack his wound with every remedy they’ve heard of to help it heal. Sebastian is a bear while fevered, and a bear again when it finally breaks. He continues to be a bear as he convalesces, hating to require help from anyone. But Evie remains frustratingly calm in all things, refusing to rise to his baiting.
Finally, she says
“Do you want to know what I think, Sebastian?” It took every particle of his will to keep his voice controlled. “Not particularly.” “I think that if I leave this room, you’re going to ring the bell again. But no matter how many times you ring, or how often I come running, you’ll never bring yourself to tell me what you really want.” Sebastian slitted his eyes open...a mistake. Her face was very close, her mouth only inches from his. “At the moment, all I want is some peace,” He grumbled. “So if you don’t mind.”
“I also think,” she said unevenly, “That you’re going to lose our bet.” Recalled to sanity by a flash of indignation, Sebastian scowled. “Do you think I’m in any condition to pursue other women? Unless you intend to bring someone to my bed I’m hardly going to-” “You’re not going to lose the bet by sleeping with another woman,” Evie said. There was a glitter of deviltry in her eyes as she reached up to the neckline of her gown and deliberately began to unfasten the row of buttons. Her hands trembled just a little. “You’re going to lose it with me.”
And they do have encounter number three after Sebastian does his best to protest, but Evie says she didn’t promise not to cheat.
Sebastian’s recovery speeds up soon after their coupling and he finds his way to the club floor. Their relationship is strong but not clear as they haven’t said all the words they need to say yet. But soon they do, one evening, Sebastian comes to their room and tells her he wants to make love to her, quote “as I have never done with anyone before.” He continues with
“Evie...during the past few days I’ve had nothing to do but lie in this bed and think about things that I’ve spent my entire life trying to avoid. I told you once that I wasn’t meant for a wife and family. That I wouldn’t have any interest in a child, if you…” He hesitated for a long moment. “But...the truth is...I want you to have my baby. I didn’t know how much until I thought that I would never have the opportunity. I thought-” he broke off, a self-mocking smile touching his lips. “Damn it, I don’t know how to be a husband or a father. But since your standards in both areas seem to be relatively low, I may have half a chance at pleasing you.”
And while this feels very happily ever after, our villain is still at large! Cam chased his trail for a while and found that he had died of syphilis and was buried in a mass grave. But one evening, as Evie is preparing for bed alone, Joss appears in her room! His skin is sloughing off from syphilis and he is fully controlled by the madness. He admits that he knew a secret passage into the club that no one else knew - and that he hated Evie because he was in truth her half brother, and Jenners should have been his! Luckily, Sebastian comes to the rescue just in time and distracts Bullard so that Cam can take him down. Cam is shaken but knows he did the right thing, and after Sebastian speaks with him, he returns to comfort Evie but bungles it as usual.
Sebastian has decided to send Evie to the country because he wants her safe. Evie is not happy with this plan. Quote
“I’m not going to argue with you,” Sebastian said gruffly. “You’ll go where I want you to go, and that’s that.” The old Evie would have been cowed, and hurt, and would probably have obeyed without further argument. The new Evie, however, was much stronger...not to mention desperately in love. “I don’t think I can stay away from you,” she said in a level tone. “Especially when I don’t understand it.” There was a crack in Sebastian’s composure now, a wash of color that crept up his collar. He raked both hands through his hair, further disheveling the glittering locks. “Lately I’ve become so damned distracted that I can’t make a decision about anything. I can’t think clearly. I’ve got knots in my stomach, and constant pains in my chest, and whenever I see you talking to any man or smiling at anyone, I go insane with jealousy. I can’t live this way. I-” He broke off and stared at her incredulously. “Damn it, Evie, what is there for you to smile about?” “Nothing,” she said, hastily tucking the sudden smile back into the corners of her mouth. “It’s just...it sounds as if you’re trying to say you love me.”
Sebastian, of course, flails wildly trying to explain it differently...until
“Damn you,” he said desperately. “Ive got to send you away.” “You’re not trying to protect me. You’re trying to protect yourself.” She hugged herself to him tightly. “But your can force yourself to take the risk of loving someone, can’t you?” “No,” he whispered. “Yes, you must.” Evie closed her eyes and pressed her face against his. “Because I love you, Sebastian...and I need you to love me back. And not in h-half measures.”
And finally he relents.
“Half measures. My God. I love you so much I’m drowning in it. I can’t defend against it. I don’t know who I am anymore. All I know is that if I give in to it entirely-” He tried to control the anarchy of his breath. “You mean too much to me,” he said raggedly.
And the two of them profess their love more and more for each other, and the future looks bright. They finally run out of words and head off to bed.
Then we have the epilogue! The wallflowers are relaxing together and Annabelle is very pregnant, Lillian is newly pregnant. They now all have turned their attention to the last wallflower to find love - Daisy, and are excited to help her. Evie is blissfully happy and in love with Sebastian. Her rake has reformed quote “just enough” for her.