Between the Devil and Desire(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 2)(83) by Lorraine Heath
Two plush chairs were set on either side of the window, on both sides of the car. While they waited at the station, the curtains were drawn. Olivia took one chair, while Jack—wearing a red waistcoat that matched the décor of the car—sat in the other with Henry in his lap. Ida sat at the other window.
Jack looked so handsome, but then he always did. She was struck by how natural it seemed for Henry to be in his lap. Her son had no reservations whatsoever concerning his guardian. Jack had effectively earned his trust—but then he’d also earned hers. With him, at that moment, she felt more like a family than she’d ever felt with Lovingdon.
Jack lifted the edge of the curtain and peered out. “Pockets ripe for pilfering. People are in a hurry, not paying attention, more interested in the railway and securing a seat. Ah, the pockets I could have picked if the railway expansion had taken place when I was a lad.”
“Of course you no longer pick pockets because you realized it was the wrong thing to do,” Olivia pointed out.
“No, I don’t—”
She cleared her throat. His brows drawn together, he looked at her, then down at Henry, who was watching him with rapt attention. Jack cleared his throat. “You’re quite right. I realized it was wrong.”
“Will you teach me?” Henry asked.
Olivia was amazed by how greatly reduced Henry’s stammering problem was of late. She didn’t know whether to attribute it to the dog or Jack. Maybe a little of both.
“No, lad. As your mum said, it’s wrong. However, I can teach you to have nimble fingers. Never know when they might come in handy.”
Before Olivia could respond, the train whistle blew and the car was being pulled over the tracks. Jack returned his attention to the world beyond the window. It wasn’t long before he pulled the curtain back, and Olivia could see that the platform was no longer in sight. The train was chugging along.
Henry scrambled up, sitting on his knees on Jack’s thighs, his nose pressed to the window. He’d made several journeys in the coach to the family estate. He hadn’t taken much interest in the scenery then. Something about the train fascinated him.
“It’s a different view of London,” Jack said.
“I can’t believe you’ve never left the city,” Olivia told him.
“I know London. I’m comfortable there. Never saw any reason to leave.”
“Thought Henry might like to drive a train.”
Henry gasped and shifted around to face Jack. “I can drive it?”
“During one of the stops I’ll take you down to the locomotive. The engineer, I think he’s called, is expecting you.”
“Isn’t he a bit young for this?” Olivia asked.
“He’ll be fine. Ida will be with him, and the engineer will keep his hands steady.”
“I can’t believe he’d allow a child—”
He winked at her. “Livy, there’s nothing a few well placed coins can’t buy.”
“And where will you be?”
“I’m going to come back and watch the scenery with you.”
Jack couldn’t help but think it was strange to look out the window and see nothing except green countryside. No houses, no buildings, no black, no grime. He hadn’t expected to find it pleasing. A part of him had even been anxious about leaving behind what he knew. Not that he was willing to admit that to anyone except himself. He’d not known what awaited them on this journey. He’d only known he wanted to take it.
The whistle blew and the train began to slow.
“I can see the next platform coming up,” Livy said.
“All right, then,” Jack said. He stood up with Henry holding on like some sort of clinging ivy. “I’ll be back. Come on, Ida.”
“Are you sure this is safe?” Livy asked.
Rising, she pressed a kiss to Henry’s cheek, bringing her sweet scent closer to Jack. “Be a good boy, Henry.”
Jack stepped onto the platform, holding the door for Ida. They walked past the open car where the poorest traveled for a penny a mile, exposed to the elements. Farther up, servants were scurrying out of the second-class cars to see to the needs of those they served, who were sitting in the first-class cars.
“It’s generous of you to allow me to travel in your car, sir,” Ida said.
“Nonsense, I don’t believe in treating those who work for me as less than me.”
“I have to say, sir, the servants are often saying they’ve never worked for anyone finer.”
“Well, we’ll see what you have to say after you’ve ridden in the locomotive.”
“I’m actually lookin’ forward to it, sir. Can’t wait to tell me brothers.”
Jack spotted the engineer waiting for them beside the locomotive. The man skimmed his fingers over his dark mustache as though to make certain he was tidy.
“Mr. Gurney, this is the Duke of Lovingdon.”
The man bowed slightly. “Your Grace, are you ready to drive my train?”
“His nanny, Ida, will be staying with him.”
He tipped his hat. “Miss.”
Jack didn’t think he’d ever seen Ida blush. “I’ll come back for the lad at the next station.”
“Very good, sir,” Mr. Gurney said.
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