In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(8) by Lorraine Heath
“If you want him dead that badly, kill him yourself.”
“I fear I’ll botch it. I suspect it takes a certain type of individual to complete the act when the reality of it comes rushing home.”
“A man like me perhaps? A coldhearted bastard?”
“Did you—did you kill him? Did you kill your uncle?” She couldn’t believe she’d asked the impudent question. The words had rushed out before she’d had a chance to stop them.
He downed the amber liquid and poured more into his glass. “What answer would satisfy you, Lady Catherine?”
“An honest one.”
Turning slightly, he met her gaze. “No, I did not kill my uncle.”
And in spite of his answer, which his unwavering gaze revealed to be the absolute truth, the fine hairs on the nape of her neck prickled, and she no longer had any wish to linger in his presence. She’d been a fool to come here, but then desperation often created fools.
“I’m sorry to have bothered you, my lord.”
“No bother, Lady Catherine. The kiss was well worth the intrusion on my evening.”
She angled her chin haughtily. “A pity I cannot claim the same.”
His dark laughter followed her out of the library, and she had little doubt that the sound of it would filter into her dreams, along with the memory of his lips pressed against hers.
Visiting the devil had been a mistake, and she could only pray that her actions wouldn’t return to haunt her.
Damn her. Damn her. Damn her.
Lounging in the stuffed, brocade armchair, Luke drained the last of the whiskey from the bottle, before hurling it against the wall. Breathing heavily, he dropped his head back.
The room was swirling around him, the darkness closing in. It was the third bottle he’d finished. One more should do it. One more should numb him to the gruesome images of innocence lost that were bombarding him. One more should shove them back into the darkest corners of his mind. One more should swallow the remorse, the guilt, the regret.
While others had prayed to God, he’d given his soul to the devil to find the strength to do what needed to be done. And now a stupid chit was asking him to do it again.
She’d sent him invitations to her silly balls as though they were important, as though an evening spent in her company was well worth his time. What did she know of torment?
What did she know of hell? Doing her bidding would only serve to drag her down into it, and once there, she’d find no escape. He knew that truth well enough.
Reaching down, he grabbed another bottle from the little army he’d lined up on the floor beside his chair. He’d had too many nights like this one not to know where to turn for comfort when a woman wasn’t near.
Damn, he should have brought one of Jack’s girls home. Not even Frannie would be able to offer him solace. He’d never be able to take her with the desperation that clawed at him now. What he needed was a woman strong enough to meet his powerful thrusts without flinching, a woman who wouldn’t cower, a woman who could call to the beast in him and have no desire to tame it.
An image of Lady Catherine Mabry writhing beneath him filled his mind, and he flung the half-emptied bottle across the room. He cursed her yet again. He fought so hard to remain civilized, not to revert to his roots, and she’d managed to completely undo him.
He should have lifted her into his arms and carried her to his bedchamber; he should have shown her exactly what he was capable of.
Murder? Dear God, as he’d proven, he was capable of far worse than that.
From the Journal of Lucian Langdon
I did not know the name of the man I killed. I did not know that destiny had proclaimed him to be heir to a title.
I knew only that he had harmed Frannie—cruelly and without mercy. So I took it upon myself to be his judge, jury, and executioner.
Unfortunately in my haste to see justice delivered, I did not take proper precautions.
There was a witness, and I was promptly arrested.
In hindsight, I can see that I was arrogant to believe that I alone had the wisdom to determine his fate. But I was intimately familiar with the judicial system, having been arrested at the age of eight. I served three months in prison. I bore the mark of my crime upon my right thumb. A T, for thief, burned into the tender flesh.
A year after my incarceration, it was determined that the practice of marking criminals in that cruel manner should be stopped. And so it was.
I knew prison was not a pleasant place. I knew some criminals were transported on great hulking ships away from England’s shore, but I didn’t know the particulars and so I could not judge the fairness of it.
I’d attended a public hanging or two. It seemed a harsh way to go.
But still I was not willing to risk that the man who’d hurt Frannie would go unpunished or that his punishment would not fit his crime. So I killed him.
The policeman who arrested me assured me that I’d soon find myself dancing upon the wind. I listened to his grave predictions with stoicism for I had no regrets. When someone harms those whom we love, we must do as we must. And I had always loved Frannie.
I was waiting in an interrogation room at Whitehall Place when they brought in an old gent. Vengeance burned in his eyes and I knew, without being told, that it was his son I had killed. By his dress and manner, I recognized that he was a man with the power to see me delivered into hell.
He stared at me for the longest, and I stared back. Since my arrest, I’d spoken not one word, other than my name. I neither denied nor confirmed the charges.
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