Between the Devil and Desire(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 2)(67) by Lorraine Heath
He looked at the money Jack had shoved into his hand. He lifted his gaze to Jack, then doffed his cap. “See ye, gov’ner.” He turned to the woman and girl. “Let’s go.”
“Back of the line, now, love,” he said, pushing the woman away from the crowd, before showing her what he held.
Her eyes widened before she tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and happily walked away.
“I thought we were going to work not to get noticed,” Olivia said as Jack drew them into the line.
“We lost that opportunity when you tried to draw attention away from yourself.”
“What was I supposed to do?”
“Exactly what you did. I should have done this earlier.”
“We’re almost there,” Henry yelled excitedly, tugging on Jack’s hand and jumping.
Yes, they were, and already Jack was wishing this day would never come to an end.
Olivia had never paid much attention to the masses. They weren’t part of her world. Yet, walking among them, she couldn’t help but notice that they didn’t seem so very different. Jack blended in very well, but she knew it was because he was making a point to do so. She’d considered him as coming from the dregs of society, but that wasn’t where he belonged. She thought he belonged exactly where he was.
It was improper for her to be so very much aware of another man and yet it seemed so natural. She knew when Jack would grin—before he grinned—because a bit of the devil would first appear in his eyes and then it would work its way into a slow smile. He didn’t grin often, but when he did, it had the power to steal her breath. When he wasn’t quite certain of himself or was thinking through a problem, he rubbed the underside of his jaw. His voice always sounded confident, but she was beginning to suspect there were times when he wasn’t, and that small mannerism somehow shored up his self-assurance. She wasn’t quite certain why she detected that vulnerability in him, but she did.
She was positively charmed, watching as he explained things to Henry, lifted him up so he could have a more advantageous view, and sat him on his shoulders when he grew tired of walking. She suspected none of that would have happened if they’d come on any other day. Henry would have been expected to behave in a manner befitting his station, his title. Or perhaps there would have been no difference. Jack might have taught him not to care what people thought.
Yes, that was more likely. If she didn’t marry, if she had no husband to usurp Jack’s role as guardian, she had no doubt Henry would grow up with little fear of expressing his opinion. She wasn’t altogether certain that was a bad thing.
Of all the artwork, inventions, and wonders to explore at the Great Exhibition, Henry was most fascinated with the huge locomotive.
“Have you never traveled on the railway, lad?” Jack asked.
With eyes wide, Henry shook his head.
“Many of these folks—that’s how they got here. Traveling on the railway. Before that, it would have taken them days and days to get into London. Imagine what they would have missed.”
“Have you traveled on the railway?” Olivia asked. She kept meaning to speak in a deeper voice, but she’d get entranced by everything surrounding them and forget. People weren’t paying attention to them anyway. Too many marvels drew their interest, and they paid no heed to the oddly dressed trio.
Jack shook his head. “I’ve never been outside London.”
He rolled his shoulders into a careless shrug. “Why would I?”
“The country’s very different. I daresay you’re in for a treat when we travel to the estates.”
He rubbed his jaw. “When we do, sure.”
“You’re not afraid—”
“’Course not,” he interjected, cutting her off. “London suits me just fine. Never had a need to go elsewhere.”
“How can you know if you’ve never been anywhere else?”
“I simply know.”
“I don’t see how you could.”
“How do you know you wouldn’t enjoy a bit of wickedness?” he demanded hotly. At her silence, he arched a brow and that slow smile that started in his eyes eased down to his mouth.
She knew exactly what he was asking with that look. How could she question his judging what he’d never experienced when she was guilty of the same thing? She’d never sinned, and God help her, she was beginning to realize she’d never truly desired her husband. In the beginning, she’d thought of him before she went to sleep, missed him, felt the loneliness of his leaving her bed. She hadn’t anticipated seeing him at breakfast in the morning. She hadn’t thought the afternoons without him were too long and the evenings in his company too short.
She hadn’t thought of him with yearning. She suspected if she wasn’t very, very careful that, when it came to Jack, she could find herself yearning for more than a kiss—
She grabbed Henry’s hand. “I think we’ve dawdled here long enough.”
Henry glanced back. “Can we g-go on the rail-railway?”
She heard in Jack’s voice the promise.
The sun had disappeared by the time the coach pulled up in front of the residence. Henry—all of them—had eaten at the refreshment area, enjoying a variety of offerings. Olivia didn’t think any of them would be in the mood for dinner, which was a good thing as Henry was already asleep.
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