Between the Devil and Desire(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 2)(57) by Lorraine Heath
“It wouldn’t be proper, would it?”
As though what was proper had stopped him before. Hadn’t stopped either of them, truth be told.
“I want you to stay in bed for two more days, regain some strength,” Dr. Graves said.
“What about Henry?”
“He’s fine. You can see him in two days.”
“I’d rather see him now.”
“Two days.” His voice was succinct, allowed no room for argument.
“Are all of you street lads so bossy?”
“Indeed, we are.” He picked up his black bag. “Now, I must go face the great inquisitor.”
Olivia watched him leave the room. Then she looked over to where the nurse was sitting. “Do you suppose I could sit by the window for a while?”
“He said to stay in bed.”
“But surely sitting calmly by the window will accomplish the same thing.”
Colleen set her knitting aside. “I suppose it can’t hurt too much.”
It hurt more than Olivia had anticipated. Her muscles ached, her bones creaked. If she didn’t know better, she’d have thought she had aged a hundred years. Leaning on Colleen, she was out of breath by the time she finally settled into the chair. “Oh, my word. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get back to the bed.”
“If not, we’ll call for Mr. Dodger and have him carry you.”
She felt the heat of embarrassment warm her cheeks, and although she’d complained about his not being there since the first night, she couldn’t overlook the fact that he shouldn’t have been in her room even then. She didn’t need scandalous gossip running rampant. “He shouldn’t have been in here. It was improper.”
“He was every bit the gentleman.”
Olivia thought she heard something in her voice, as though the nurse were offended on Jack’s behalf. “How well do you know him?”
“Hardly at all. I’ve heard of him, of course, but never met him until I came to work for him. I have to admit to being surprised that I rather like him.”
Olivia leaned back and looked out the window. She was too weary to spar, too weary to ask more questions. She wondered if Jack liked Colleen, if perhaps his being in Olivia’s room had more to do with the nurse than with Olivia. Having kissed her, had he now grown tired of her? It was an odd thing to worry about, especially since she really didn’t want Jack’s attention.
She saw Dr. Graves walk to his carriage. It was a rather nice carriage. She hadn’t expected that. She wondered how it had come about that he had such fancy things.
It was easier to eat sitting in a chair, so she had a bowl of stew. Not until she began eating did she realize how famished she was.
She didn’t stay in the chair very long. Perhaps an hour. Then she gingerly made her way back to bed and promptly fell asleep. When next she woke, it was nighttime. The lamp beside her bed was burning low. At Colleen’s urging she ate more stew. Then she collapsed into another deep sleep.
When she awoke again, the lamp was still burning but Colleen was curled on a cot, snoring softly. Olivia glanced over at her clock. It was almost nine. Henry would be asleep by now. She feared he’d had to go to bed without anyone reading to him all these many nights. He still didn’t have a proper nanny.
She furrowed her brow. Had someone told her he did have a nanny? She had a faint recollection…surely not. She could only imagine the sort of woman Jack would approve. Dr. Graves wanted her to stay in bed for one more day, but she’d stayed as long as she could. She was desperate to see Henry. Now was the perfect time because he’d be asleep, and she didn’t have to worry about him taxing her overmuch. Tomorrow she would spend some time with him and read to him. He so enjoyed being read to.
It exhausted her to move aside the covers. She wondered how long it would be before she was fully recovered and had her strength back. Her wrapper was resting at the foot of the bed. She drew it on. In bare feet, she crept toward the door, as though she were a child doing something she shouldn’t. She was fairly certain that if Colleen awoke, she’d chastise Olivia and insist she return to bed. And she would, as soon as she saw that Henry was all right, that someone was watching over him.
Opening the door, she slipped into the hallway. It was as quiet as she expected. The door to the night nursery was open and as she neared, she heard a rumbling voice. She stopped at the doorway and peered inside. Surely she was still fevered and delirious, because sitting in a chair, his elbows on his thighs, a book in his hands, reading to her son was Jack Dodger.
She’d never seen Henry so entranced. He was sitting up in bed, an odd lump at his side beneath the covers. She didn’t want to contemplate that he was sleeping with his dog.
Jack got to a portion in the reading and Henry interrupted him to announce, “Dodger. That’s your name.”
Jack looked up from the book. “So it is.”
Henry studied him for a moment, his small brow deeply pleated. “Are you the Artful Dodger?”
“What a silly assumption. There are lots of dodgers on the street, boy. Do you know what a dodger is?”
Henry shook his head. Olivia had never seen him so animated, so unafraid.
“A dodger is someone who is very skilled at dodging.” Jack moved his body side to side, back, then forward. “When you take something and they reach for you, you dodge away. It’s an honor to be called ‘dodger.’ I suspect Mr. Dickens knew that when he wrote the story.”
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