In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(20) by Lorraine Heath
“She’s a beauty.”
Luke slumped down into a chair. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“She’d make a dead man sit up in his coffin. Damn, I might even be willing to kill a bloke myself to earn her favor.”
“I’m not doing it to earn her favor.”
“I know. You’re doing it to earn Frannie’s.”
They fell into contemplative silence until Jack asked, “Do you think unmarried women fantasize?”
Luke looked up. “About what?”
“No. They wouldn’t know where to begin.”
“Why wouldn’t they know where to begin?”
“Because they don’t know the first thing about what goes on between a man and a woman.”
“Once they’ve learned they could fantasize.”
“So Lady Catherine isn’t a virgin.”
Luke had a strange reaction. His entire body tightened and he felt a need to…what?
Defend the lady’s honor? Strike out at whoever had taken her innocence? Had someone forced his attentions on her? Was that the reason she wanted him killed?
“Why do you say that?” he asked.
“She indicated that she fantasized about men. Now I’m left to wonder if women would pay to have their fantasies realized. Perhaps we should expand our business to include offerings for ladies.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Men have a need that women don’t.”
“I spend a good deal of my day contemplating various tantalizing aspects of women, not to mention all the various exciting things I could do with them. You don’t believe they think about men?”
“No, they ponder gowns and tea and needlework.”
“I’m not so certain. Maybe I’ll ask Catherine—”
“She’s Lady Catherine to you—and stay away from her, Jack.”
“A bit difficult to manage when you bring her into my establishment.”
“I have no choice. Frannie lives here and works here, and she seldom leaves. As you well know, night works best for clandestine encounters.”
“You ordered me to stay away from Frannie, and I have done so. I flirt with her not at all. You can have only one woman, Luke, and you have claimed Frannie. I will do with Catherine as I please.”
Luke came to his feet with such force that his whiskey sloshed over the sides of his glass as he towered over Jack. “You will leave her be.”
He didn’t like the way Jack was studying him, with a speculative gleam in his eye. Nor did he particularly like the fury emanating from him at the thought of Jack giving Catherine any attention at all. What was the matter with him? What did he care who gave her attention? But just the thought of her with someone else set his blood to boiling.
“As you wish,” Jack said. “For now. Because you are my friend. But never make the mistake of thinking that you are my master.”
Luke eased back and set the glass on the desk. “I’m off to play cards.”
He needed something to distract himself from his unsettling thoughts. He’d almost smashed his fist into Jack’s face, almost ground out that Catherine was his. He’d never had such a visceral reaction where Frannie was concerned, so why did he feel so possessive of Catherine?
She was nothing, simply a means to an end. While Frannie was everything.
“You need to be wary of Jack Dodger.”
It was nearly three in the morning, and Catherine was completely drained of all energy.
They were traveling in the coach without benefit of light so they had little risk of being seen and recognized, not that she thought there was any chance of anyone she knew being about this time of night. He’d also drawn curtains over the windows. She thought the precautions extreme, but then she suspected he was accustomed to lurking about and knew best how to achieve anonymity.
“Why is that, my lord?”
“You intrigue him, and like me, he would ruin you without remorse.”
“And you think I’d fall under his charms?”
“If he sets his mind to it, yes. Many a woman has.”
She laughed lightly. “I assure you he doesn’t interest me in the least.”
“He’s a handsome devil.”
“Again, my lord, I’m amazed you’d think me so shallow. My opinion of a man is not influenced by something over which he has no control—such as comely features. I base my opinion solely on his character.” Which was the reason that she had such a low opinion of Claybourne. His character was questionable—in the extreme. But in spite of that, he still fascinated her—Drat him! “How is it that you know Mr. Dodger?”
“How much do you know of my past?”
“I know you were orphaned. I know you spent a part of your youth living in the streets.
Other than that, and what you’ve so kindly revealed, very little.” Still, a shiver went up her back. Here she was in a coach, in the dark, with a man who’d admitted to murder and deception, a man who’d taken her to a gaming hell as though it was the proper place for a woman.
“He was one of Feagan’s lads,” Claybourne said. “As was I.”
“And who was Feagan?”
“The kidsman who managed our little band of child thieves, taught us our craft.”
“How many of you were there?”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online