Between the Devil and Desire(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 2)(82) by Lorraine Heath
“I know what I heard, Livy.”
“You were a child, Jack.” He opened his mouth and she pressed her fingers against his lips. A mistake, because he began kissing them. “Hear me out.”
He nodded, still nibbling on her fingers.
“If you’d sent me away, I’d have said to Henry, ‘Don’t forget I love you.’ Because I would have been sending him my love from wherever you sent me. And I’d expect to see him again. But if I thought I’d never see him again, I might say ‘loved.’ Was it possible your mother was ill? Perhaps even, heaven forbid, dying?”
He stilled, her fingers pressed against his lips. “I remember she had a cough.” Still holding her hand, he dropped his to his lap. “Good God, Livy, all these years I thought she was trying to get rid of me, that I’d disappointed her somehow.”
Releasing her hand, he got up and walked to the desk. “She seemed to know that man—”
“Could it have been a servant in the Lovingdon household?”
“No, he was no servant. And it was a grand house.”
“You may never know, Jack.”
“Swindler likes a good puzzle. I think I’ll take some of these books to him tonight.”
Olivia was helping Henry put together a wooden puzzle while Ida was downstairs having a spot of tea. When the door to the nursery opened, Jack didn’t come into the room. He simply stood in the doorway, leaning nonchalantly against it, with arms folded across a chest that she’d kissed every inch of the night before. She wondered if his heart beat as rapidly as hers.
He’d gone to his club in the early hours of the morning and had not returned in time for breakfast.
“Did you have any luck with the books?”
He shook his head. “Frannie and Swindler are taking a closer look.”
“Do you want me to help you search some more?”
“Then what is your purpose in coming here? Did you come to check on your ward’s progress?” Olivia asked.
“Not exactly,” Jack said lazily.
“Did you wish to see me?”
His smile was a flash of white that promised forbidden things. “Not exactly,” he repeated.
“Am I to guess your reason in being here?”
He unfolded his arms, sauntered into the room, reached down, and moved the last puzzle piece into place. “Now that’s done, how would you like to go on an outing?”
She gave him a look and before she could speak, he’d rasped his finger beneath her chin as though he might tickle her.
“I know you’re in mourning,” he said, “but there is very little chance you’ll be spotted where I intend to take us.”
“And where would that be?”
“On the railway.”
Henry’s eyes widened. “With a locomotive?”
Olivia scowled at Jack. Honestly, how could she convince the man he could not speak in front of Henry until he’d confirmed with her that she agreed to the matter? Now Henry would be disappointed. Or Olivia would be forced once again to don her boy’s clothes.
“Hundreds of people travel on the railway,” she pointed out.
“Ah, yes, but I now have a private car, and the only ones who will be in there are you, Henry, Ida, and me. So you’ll be separated from the masses.”
“You purchased a private railway car?”
“In a manner of speaking.”
She narrowed her eyes at him.
He sighed as though his patience with her was dwindling. “One of my customers owed me a great deal of money. I took the car as payment—which was a very good arrangement for him as the car is worth less than what he owed me.”
“I’d have thought you a better bargainer than that.”
“I thought the enjoyment we might have would make it worth it.”
“But we must get to the railway car,” she pointed out.
“We’ll move quickly. Besides, those who know you seldom take the railway.”
“Where are we going?”
“Brighton. We’ll go there, dip our toes in the sea, and head back.”
“You’re going to leave London?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Can’t imagine I’ll like anything I’ll see, but I’m a bit curious.”
“Please, Mummy,” Henry said. He looked so hopeful.
She’d never traveled on the railway, was almost as excited by the prospect as Henry was, but more, she wanted to be with Jack when he first left London, when he first saw the world beyond this city. She took a deep breath. “Very well.”
Seeing the satisfaction in his eyes, she had a feeling she was agreeing to more than he’d revealed.
He was as good as his word, getting them to the private car quickly. His footman brought in a large basket of food so they could either eat on the journey or picnic at the seaside. Olivia removed her veiled hat and glanced around at what appeared to be finer than some people’s homes.
“Who was the gentleman who originally owned the car?” she asked.
“I don’t remember.”
She gave him a hard look, while he gave her one to remind her that he had secrets to keep. She graciously let the matter rest.
The private car was well appointed with a red couch in the center, but it was unlike any couch Olivia had ever seen. It had a curving back with a seating area on either side of it. She supposed it made sense. It saved turning the couch around if a more pleasant view was visible in another direction.
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