In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(48) by Lorraine Heath
“Ah, yes, the one with the unfortunate name. I really formed no impression of him.
Rather he seemed to blend in with the woodwork.”
“He’s good at that.”
“How does he make his living?”
“He’s an inspector with Scotland Yard.”
“So everyone is reputable except for Mr. Dodger.”
“Jack doesn’t force people to sin.”
“But he makes it very easy for them to do so.”
“Save your sermons, Catherine, for someone who cares to listen to them.”
“I wasn’t going to preach about the evils of drinking, gambling, and fornicating—”
“I would hope not. That would make you a bit of a hypocrite after gambling tonight. And you’ve drunk whiskey…which leaves but one sin. Have you indulged in it?”
“That, my lord, is none of your business.”
He smiled, seeming far too pleased with her answer.
“Shouldn’t we be home by now?” she asked.
“I’m having my driver take us on a circuitous route. We’ll take different streets every night. Lessen the chance of being set upon—if the attack before was planned. It could have been random. Some lads looking for a quick bit of coin.”
She hoped that’s all it was and that it would never happen again.
“About dinner tomorrow evening. Will you ask Dr. Graves?”
“If that’s what you want.”
“It is. And Frannie gave you the menu. I can have myself delivered—”
“I’ll send my coach around. What time did you want dinner served?”
“I would like it at eight, but that time of evening it might be more difficult to be unseen.
I truly think it would be better if I arrived on my own.”
“And what about the gent who’s been following you?”
The fury in his voice caught her by surprise. Apparently it did him as well, because he looked toward the window as though he could see through the curtain. She watched as he struggled to regain control of his emotions. He was angry, she realized, not at her, but for her. Wanting to protect her, but that wasn’t part of their bargain.
“I’ll be careful,” she assured him. “I’ve eluded him before. I shall do so again.”
He shifted his gaze to her. “You worry me, Catherine. You seem to think you’re quite invincible.”
“I’m well aware that I’m not. But I’ll not spend my life cowering. That would be no life at all.”
He was studying her again, as though she’d revealed something monumental.
The coach stopped. He blew out the flame in the lantern. The door opened, and they went through their usual ritual. She said good night to him at the gate.
Only this time as she closed the gate behind her, it seemed harder to leave him.
“Whatever happened to your hand?” Winnie asked.
“Whatever happened to your chin?” Catherine responded.
They were in the library at Winnie’s residence where they’d planned to address the invitations to their ball. But Catherine was still having difficultly holding a pen, and she was no longer in the mood to discuss the plans for the ball anyway.
Winnie rubbed her chin. “I ran into a door.”
“Oh, Winnie, how stupid do you think I am? Where else are you hurt?”
Winnie squeezed her eyes shut. “Nowhere else. He slapped me because I didn’t want to perform my wifely duties.”
“Slapped? More likely punched. Is that his idea of the best way to entice you into his bed?”
“Please, don’t say anything more. It should be gone by the ball. And if it’s not, you’re the only one who won’t believe I ran into a door. Everyone else thinks I’m clumsy.”
Because she’d so often blamed any visible bruises on small accidents that hadn’t happened. “I detest Avendale,” Catherine groused.
“So you’ve said on more than one occasion, but he is my husband and I must honor him.
Tell me about your hand.”
“I cut it on a piece of glass. It was an accident.”
“It appears I shall have to address all the invitations.”
“I’m sorry, but yes, I think you will.”
“I don’t mind. It’s a chore I enjoy. I daresay if I were a commoner, I might try to find employment addressing things for people.”
“You’ve always had such lovely handwriting.”
Winnie blushed. “Thank you. I like to think so.”
“I would like to take one unmarked invitation and envelope for my memory book.”
Catherine was bothered by how easily she lied to her trusted friend—about her bandaged hand and about her desire for an invitation. It wouldn’t find its way into her memory book. With any luck, it would find its way into Claybourne’s hand.
It was madness. The amount of time he spent obsessing about Catherine.
Even knowing that Jim was watching her more closely, that he would do what he could to discover who was following her, Luke paced his back garden, awaiting her arrival, his body tense, his nerves taut. Bill was going to fetch Frannie in his carriage. They would travel through some rough parts of London—and yet, Luke was not the least bit worried.
But Catherine, traveling from one exclusive part of London to another, had him on edge.
He told himself it was because Frannie was born to the streets and could take care of herself, while Catherine would hurl herself into harm’s way without thought. He should teach her to defend herself. He should buy her a sword cane. Or perhaps a pistol.
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