In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(49) by Lorraine Heath
He should entice her into telling him what he needed to know. He should ask her why she wanted someone killed, who she wanted killed. This game of cat-and-mouse was putting everyone in danger.
He heard the latch on the gate give way, and he was there pulling it open, grabbing her arm, and drawing her inside.
“Oh,” she gasped. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing. I…Did you have any problems?”
Even in the shadows, with nothing but the glow from his garden lanterns to cast light, he could see her amused smile.
“You were worried.”
“Naturally, I had some concerns. Perhaps if you were more open about your reason for wanting me to kill someone—”
“Are you ready to do the deed?”
Do the deed? And how would she look at him then? Frannie would never know, but Catherine, Catherine would know the worst that he was capable of: taking a life in order to gain a wife.
What had possessed him to agree to this bargain?
The irony was that he’d keep true to his word. But he wanted to hold on to what remained of his soul for a bit longer. “I’m not convinced Frannie has learned anything.”
“Then tonight will be very telling, won’t it?” She began walking toward the house.
“Have your guests arrived yet?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been out here.”
“What sort of host are you?”
“They’re friends. I don’t have to welcome them into my home. They know they’re welcome.”
“Tonight is all about presentation.”
When she walked through the house and removed her pelisse to hand it over to the butler, Luke couldn’t deny that she was presenting herself very nicely. She wore a gown of deep blue that came off her shoulders and revealed a hint of the swells of her breasts.
“Dr. Graves and Miss Darling have only just arrived, my lord. I’ve shown them to the parlor.”
Luke escorted Catherine to the parlor. He’d instructed Fitzsimmons that they were to avoid using the library tonight. Luke would find himself distracted with too many memories of Catherine in that particular room. It just occurred to him that he might experience the same problem when he took Frannie to his bedchamber for the first time.
That he would be thinking of waking to find Catherine in his bed. No, that was not going to happen.
“Ah, there you are,” Bill said.
Luke noticed that Catherine seemed to light up at the sight of him. Just as Bill’s attention toward her had irritated Luke last night, so hers toward the doctor irritated Luke now.
“Don’t you look lovely this evening,” Bill said, taking her hand and pressing a kiss to the back of it.
“Did you tell Frannie she looked lovely?” Luke asked.
Bill seemed startled—no doubt a reaction to Luke’s tart tone—but he recovered quickly enough. “Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Are you bothered by my finding the ladies in your life lovely?”
“No, not at all. I just wanted to make certain that Frannie didn’t feel ignored.” Even as he said it, he realized the only one ignoring her was him. He turned to her. “It’s been a while since you’ve been here.”
“Yes, but it all looks the same.”
She was wearing a dark blue dress, the buttons done up to her throat. It appeared to be something she’d work in, not dine in.
“I fear as hostess that I don’t know what to do,” she said.
“How can you not know what to do? It’s been weeks,” Luke said.
“Hardly,” Frannie replied. “Not more than two.”
Luke spun around to face Catherine, who jerked back as though to avoid a blow. He could only imagine the frustration his face revealed. “What have you been doing every night? You said she was learning.”
“And she has been, but I also said that a gaming hell was not the best environment for learning all that needed to be taught.”
“I have an idea,” Frannie said. “Why don’t we pretend, just for tonight, that Lady Catherine and Luke are married? Bill and I will come to call and then you can showme what to do. I learn much better by example.”
“I want to see what you know,” Luke said.
“I’ve told you. I’ve yet to learn how to properly host dinner.”
“But, Frannie, we discussed—” Catherine began.
“I know, but I can’t remember everything. Please just show me.”
“Please do something to move this along,” Bill said, “because I’m starving.”
“Very well,” Catherine said, raising her hands in surrender. “We won’t pretend that we’re married, but I shall be the hostess. First, we need to check on the dinner preparations.”
“Lovely. Let’s go to the kitchen shall we?”
Frannie took Catherine’s arm. They walked from the room, and Luke strode to the side table, where he poured himself a generous amount of whiskey and downed it in one swallow, before pouring another for himself and one for Bill.
“You seem out of sorts,” Bill said, coming to stand beside him.
“I’m supposed to be acting like a damned earl tonight. Do you not think she’ll be judging my behavior as closely as she will be Frannie’s?”
“What do you care of her opinion?”
Luke took another swallow of whiskey.
“You want to impress her?” Bill asked.
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