In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(24) by Lorraine Heath
“Maybe he feels responsible, bringing her into our den of criminals, thinks you’ll corrupt or ruin her. You may no longer live with Feagan, but you’re still recruiting people, enticing them to the dark side of London.”
He grinned around his pipe. “Where’s the harm? We’re all going to hell anyway. Might as well have a bit of fun along the way, and the more the merrier and all that.”
“You’re so like Feagan. You know, I used to pretend he was my father. We both had red hair that was so irritatingly curly.” She shrugged. “It seemed likely he could be.”
She waited, hoping Jack would laugh at her silly confession. He’d been with Feagan the longest, knew everything. But Jack simply tapped his pipe against the landing railing, sending the ash into the darkness below.
“Good night, Frannie. Sleep well.”
He jaunted down the steps. He had rooms next to hers, but she knew it would be dawn before he retired to them. She knew a good deal about Jack Dodger.
But not everything. None of them knew everything. They all had their secrets, but she suspected Jack’s were the worst of the lot.
Luke strode into his library, crossed over to the table, poured a generous amount of whiskey into a glass, and immediately tossed it down, relishing the burning sensation.
Whatever had possessed him to tell Catherine the things he told her?
He began filling the glass again. Tomorrow night he’d shove his neckcloth into his mouth so he’d be unable to blurt all the irritating nonsense—
“I’ll have one of those if you don’t mind.”
Luke swung around, knocking bottles to the floor where they shattered. He was crouched, ready to spring—
“Sorry,” Jim said, holding up his hands. “It’s just me.”
Mortified by his reaction and his thudding heart, Luke straightened. He’d become too complacent. “No one informed me that you were here.”
“I assumed you wouldn’t want them to know. I slipped in on my own.” Jim took a step nearer. “Are you all right? I’ve never been able to sneak up on you. You’ve always been too astute, too aware—”
“I was occupied with my thoughts.” Turning, Luke snatched up a bottle. “We’re in luck.
One didn’t fall.” He began filling two glasses. “I take it you have something to report.”
“Not really. She’s rather boring.”
“Boring? Catherine Mabry? She’s anything but boring. Are you certain you’re following the right woman?”
Jim chuckled. “I can’t believe you asked me that. I’m the very best at what I do, and well you know it.”
Jim wasn’t boasting. He was simply stating fact. Luke handed him a glass and indicated a chair. After they were seated, he said, “What did she do today?”
“Not much. She called on the Countess of Chesney for perhaps ten minutes and then the Duchess of Avendale. She went to the milliner for a new hat, which is being made, and she went to order a new gown. Apparently she plans to attend some ball. I’m working on acquiring the details. She returned home around two and was there until you picked her up this evening.”
Luke pondered the information while Jim sipped his whiskey.
“You do realize her father is infirmed and her brother traveling the world?” Jim inquired.
Luke nodded. “I’d heard something about that.”
“I think there’s something there.”
“What do you mean?”
“Her father is too ill to properly see after his estates, and his son is off seeing to his own pleasures? I think I need to investigate that.”
“I don’t care about her father or her brother. Concentrate on the girl. She’s all I care about.”
He realized what he’d said, considered rewording it, then decided against it. Making an issue of it would only serve to give his words credence they didn’t deserve. He took a long swallow of the whiskey. It was tempting, but he couldn’t afford to overindulge in spirits tonight.
“What if the answer concerns her father or brother?”
Luke sighed. “Do what you think best. Just find out who she wants me to kill and why.”
“What if she’s the only one who knows?”
“She has to have told someone.”
“You didn’t. Not until the deed was done.”
“Not true. I told someone.” Jack. His confessor in all things. And more often than not, his conspirator.
“Jack. You told Jack. You always trusted him more than you trusted the rest of us.”
“He’s the one who found me, shivering, starving, wretchedly afraid. I daresay I’d have died if he’d not taken care of me, taken me to Feagan.”
“You know as well as I that Feagan paid us for recruitments. You were merely
threepence in Jack’s pocket.”
“Are you jealous of my friendship with Jack?”
“Don’t be absurd. But you speak as though his motives in rescuing you were pure.
Nothing about Jack is pure.”
“He saved your arse on more than one occasion.”
“And I like him, but I don’t trust him, not completely.”
“With our upbringing, with what we learned about the world, do you think any of us completely trusts anyone?”
“I trust you. I’d follow you into hell without questioning why we were going.”
“You’ve just made my point, because I’m the least trustworthy of us all. No one can be completely trusted. No one’s motives are pure. Which brings us back to Catherine Mabry. Find out all you can about her.”
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