In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(36) by Lorraine Heath
“You say that as though you’ve encountered this before.”
She took a step nearer. It didn’t smell like a sickroom, didn’t smell like her father’s room. It carried the strong, tart fragrance of male. For some strange reason, the scent appealed to her, more than the fragrance of flowers in a garden.
“You weren’t wounded last night?” she asked again.
“No.” He was breathing heavily, laboriously.
She placed the lamp on the bedside table, removed her cloak, and draped it over a nearby chair. She sat on the edge of the bed.
“This isn’t prop—” he began.
“Shh! Since when do you care about what’s proper? Just lie still.”
Leaning forward, she placed her hands on either side of his head and, with her fingers, began to gently massage his temples. His brow was deeply furrowed, his jaw clenched.
She could see the pain etched in the silver of his eyes as he held her gaze.
“You’re playing a dangerous game, Catherine.”
“No one knows I’m here. I took precautions and was very careful. Even the man who’s been following me wasn’t about.”
“What?” He shot up in bed, groaned, grabbed his head, and fell back down.
“Damn, damn, damn,” he muttered, breathing with short, quick gasps.
“Is swearing thrice more effective than swearing once?” she asked.
He chuckled low in his throat. “Hardly. But it brings me some satisfaction. Now, tell me…about this man who’s following you.”
“Only if you’ll close your eyes and allow me to do what I can to ease your pain. My father suffered horrendous headaches. Applying pressure at his temples helped.”
She was near enough to see that Claybourne was no stranger to hurt—his body bore the evidence with small scars here and there on what was otherwise an immensely attractive chest. She hated the thought of him enduring any sort of discomfort. What had he ever done to deserve such a harsh life? That even now, when he had almost everything, he still suffered.
“Close your eyes,” she ordered.
To her immense surprise, he complied without arguing.
“Shh,” she interrupted. “Just relax. Shh. I’m going to turn down the lamp just a bit.”
She moved away to turn down the flame in the lamp on the table beside his bed. He groaned as though the pain had spiked. Returning her hands to his face, she began circling her fingers over his temples.
“It’s not bothering me,” she lied, not certain why she felt this great need to ease his suffering even at the expense of her own comfort. Perhaps the scuffle last night had formed a bond between them. They’d fought the same battle and survived. “Did you send a missive to Frannie?”
He moved his head slightly from side to side. “They’ll know.”
Then this was something he’d suffered before, no doubt suffered alone. Why wasn’t Frannie here to ease his hurt?
“What did Dr. Graves recommend?”
“He gave me a powder. Didn’t help.”
His breathing became less labored. “Now, tell me about this man.”
Even now when he was in pain, he was concerned about her. And even though she was alone in his bedchamber—in his bed for that matter—he was being a perfect gentleman.
She’d always thought of Lucian Langdon as a rogue, a scamp, and far more unflattering terms, but she was discovering the legend of Lucian Langdon was far removed from the reality. The legend was a man to be despised; the reality was one that she thought she could very easily come to care for a great deal. She wanted to end his discomfort and bring him what comfort she could.
“I don’t know. I’m probably being silly, but I keep seeing a gentleman. I think it’s the same gentleman. It’s difficult to tell, because I’ve only been able to catch glimpses of his face. He always turns away, and it would be entirely improper for me to approach him.”
“Then perhaps it’s nothing.”
“That’s what I tried to tell myself, but it’s his not trying to garner attention that captures my attention. Yesterday I went into various shops, made unnecessary purchases, and he always seemed to be waiting when I came out. When I looked away to see if anyone else was about, and then looked back to where he’d been, he’d disappeared.”
“Perhaps he’s one of your many admirers.”
She scoffed. “I have no admirers.”
“I find that difficult to believe.”
He sounded as though he was on the verge of drifting into sleep, and she couldn’t help but believe her ministrations were causing his pain to recede. She tried to squelch the spark of envy that flared with the thought of Frannie being here and ministering to his needs. She liked Frannie. She truly did. She was sweet, and kind, and so unpretentious.
Catherine understood why the young woman feared moving about in aristocratic circles, where ladies were so much more confident.
“This fellow…is there a reason for him to follow you,” Claybourne asked.
“None that I can think of. You don’t suppose he’s responsible for last night’s attack, do you?”
His eyes flew open, concern furrowed his brow. “Why would you think that?”
“It just seems too coincidental. I can’t think of a reason for anyone to follow me.”
“I’m certain the attack last night had more to do with me than you. A description of the fellow would be helpful.”
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