In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(31) by Lorraine Heath
Swallowing, she nodded.
“If you ever put yourself in harm’s way like that again, I’ll put you over my knee.”
“And do what?” she asked indignantly.
He lifted his gaze to hers, and she saw the worry in his eyes, before he smiled. “Kiss your bare bottom.”
Her face must have shown shock at his words—she could only hope it revealed shock and not desire—because he shook his head. “My apologies. That was entirely
inappropriate. I forget who you are.”
“And who is that?”
“Not one of Jack’s doxies.”
She didn’t want to contemplate him kissing a woman’s bare bottom, kissing anything for that matter.
He held her gaze, held her hand. Looking into his eyes was so much more welcoming than looking at her raggedly torn palm. They drew her in, made her forget that he’d almost been killed. She reached up with her unwounded hand and brushed the hair back from his brow. She should ask him to slice off that glove as well so she could feel his skin against her fingertips. His eyes darkened, his gaze became more intense, grew closer as he leaned in—
The door opened and they both jumped.
“What trouble have you gotten yourself into now, Luke?” the man asked, closing the door behind him. He reminded Catherine of an angel, with a halo of blond curls around his head. His eyes, as blue as the sky, widened. “What have we here?”
“A bit of a mishap,” Claybourne said as he rose from the chair.
The man set his black bag on the table and took the chair Claybourne had vacated.
“Who have we here?”
“You don’t need to know,” Claybourne said.
The man smiled. “I treat far too many to remember all their names. I’m William Graves.”
“You’re a physician?” Catherine asked.
“Quite right.” He placed his hand beneath hers with extreme gentleness, but she didn’t grow warm, her breath didn’t catch, and she didn’t feel in danger of swooning.
“I’m Catherine,” she felt compelled to say.
“Are you one of his rescued lambs?” he asked as he studied her wound.
“No, she is not,” Claybourne snapped. He dragged a chair over and sat beside her.
“You’re not here for gossip. How badly is she hurt?”
“It’s rather nasty, but it could have been worse.” He lifted his gaze to hers. “I want to stitch it up. It won’t be pleasant, but it’ll heal better, more quickly.”
He seemed to be asking for her permission, so she nodded.
“Very good.” He pressed a cloth to her palm. “Hold this in place while I prepare things.
Luke, go fetch some whiskey.”
He took objects out of his bag and laid them out on the table. Then making himself quite at home, he began moving around the kitchen, setting a kettle of water on the stove.
“You shouldn’t bother with tea,” Catherine said. “I really don’t think I could drink it.”
He smiled at her. “You’ll be drinking the whiskey. The water is so I can keep things clean. I’ve noticed that those I treat in squalor tend to die of infection more so than those I treat in tidy houses.”
Claybourne walked back in, holding a bottle and a glass filled to the brim. “Here, drink this.”
Taking a sip of the bitter brew, she grimaced.
“All of it,” he ordered.
“I don’t know if I can.”
“The more you drink, the better it tastes.”
She took another sip. It didn’t taste any better.
“It’s not tea, gulp it,” he ordered impatiently.
“Don’t be tart with me. I saved your life.”
Setting the bottle on the table, he sat again in the chair beside her. “Yes, you did.”
He trailed his fingers tenderly along her cheek. It was all she could do not to turn her lips into his palm. She moved her head beyond his reach and concentrated on taking several gulps of the whiskey. It did seem the more she drank, the better it tasted. She was becoming light-headed, which made her want to curl up in Claybourne’s lap and sleep, safe and secure.
Dr. Graves came to stand in front of her, took her wounded hand, and placed it on the table. “Close your eyes and think about something else.”
She closed her eyes and started to think about—
She took a sharp intake of breath and her eyes flew open as liquid fire poured over her palm. “Oh, dear God, what was that?”
“The whiskey,” Dr. Graves said.
“I think it kills germs. Try to relax. You’re going to feel a stab—”
A warm hand cradled her cheek, turned her head. She gazed into eyes so silver, so filled with concern. “Think about something else,” Claybourne ordered.
She shook her head, trying. To her mortification, she flinched and released a tiny squeak when she felt something sharp being jabbed into her flesh.
Claybourne leaned near and then his mouth was blanketing hers, skillfully plying her lips apart. Oh, the fool, did he not fear that she might bite down—
He tasted of the whiskey that he’d ordered her to drink, and she wondered if he’d needed some to fortify himself for what she was about to endure. She didn’t know if it was his whiskey mingling with hers or his mouth plundering hers that was such a distraction, but she was suddenly only vaguely aware of something happening with her palm and
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