In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(62) by Lorraine Heath
Evans swallowed, nodded. He was a bully, and bullies were easy to put in their place.
“Why did you follow her?” Luke asked.
“I was paid to.”
“Don’t know his name. He hired a bunch of us.”
“Hired a bunch of you to do what?”
He lifted his shoulders in the way a man would to avoid a blow. “Follow people around.”
“Come on, mate,” Jim said, his voice riffed with authority. “Tell his lordship everything without him having to ask all the questions.”
“What people exactly were you following?” Luke asked.
“The Lady Catherine, loike ’e said,”—he pointed to Jim—“a duchess, and you.”
“Which duchess were you following?”
“Dunno. I didn’t follow ’er. Me mate followed ’er. I know she was the gent’s wife; he thought she was up to no good.”
“Why did he have you follow Lady Catherine?”
“Dunno. Just wanted to know where she went, who she met, wot she did. So I told ’im.
Mostly borin’ stuff, shoppin’ and the loike.”
“There, you see?” Jim asked. “I’m not the only one who thought she was boring.”
Luke jerked his head around and glared at Jim.
Jim held up his hands in surrender. “Sorry. But I felt a need to point it out.”
Luke turned his attention back to Evans. “Are you one of the gents who attacked me one night?”
The man’s cap almost disappeared in his large hands he was wringing it so hard. It was answer enough for Luke.
“Were you supposed to kill me?”
Evans gave a brusque nod.
“And Lady Catherine?”
Evans’s head came up, his eyes round. “No, I swear. Didn’t know she was even there ’til she popped outta the coach. I didn’t follow ’er at noight, ’er being a lady and all. I figured she was already abed.”
“Did you tell your employer?”
Evans shook his head quickly. “’E was mad enuf that we didn’t get the job done proper.
Didn’t want to borrow no more trouble.”
“Where did you meet him?”
“Nowhere in particular. ’E always found us.”
“And you don’t know who he is?”
“Yes, I’ll just bet you are.” Luke considered what he knew. Nothing made sense.
Something was missing. Why would he follow a duchess? And which duchess? “The duchess you were following—did you ever see her with Lady Catherine?”
“Almost every day. They were tighter than two peas in a pod.”
“You didn’t think that was worth mentioning?”
The man shrugged.
“If they were together, only one of you needed to follow them, but two of you were still getting paid, right?” Jim asked.
Evans sighed and nodded as if he were a child caught pilfering a cookie. But Luke had greater concerns on his mind. He eased off the desk, walked to Jim, and said in a low voice, “Catherine spends a good deal of time with the Duchess of Avendale. Have you seen her in the company of any other duchess?”
Jim shook his head. “If I had, I would have told you before now.”
“Makes no sense. Why would Avendale—”
The door opened and Jack strode in, extending a piece of paper. “This just came for you.”
Luke took it. The seal was broken. “You looked at it.”
“I needed to know if it was as urgent as the man who delivered it claimed.”
Luke scowled at him, then unfolded the note. His stomach dropped to the floor.
I need you at Avendale’s.
Bring Dr. Graves.
Luke had left Jim to see to Evans and headed to Avendale’s, with a quick stop by Bill’s residence to alert him that his services were needed. Bill had come in his own conveyance so he wouldn’t be dependent upon Luke for transportation. Frannie had come along as well. Luke hadn’t known what to expect, but had feared the worst. He’d almost fallen to his knees with relief when he’d realized it was the duchess and not Catherine who needed Bill’s services.
Now Luke sat on a bench beside Catherine outside the Duchess of Avendale’s
bedchamber. He’d caught only a glimpse of her before Bill had ushered everyone except Frannie out of the room. If Luke hadn’t known who she was because of Catherine’s concern for her, he’d have never recognized her as the duchess.
“The name you’d have eventually given to me, if you’d not changed your mind this evening—would it have belonged to Avendale?” he asked quietly.
With tears welling in her eyes, Catherine nodded.
“I assume this isn’t the first time he’s taken his fists to his wife.”
Taken his fists to her, then fled. No doubt to Dodger’s.
Catherine shook her head. “But it’s the worst. And it’s my fault. He was unhappy that you were in his residence. I should have known better. He’s such a controlling beast.
Winnie has to account for every minute of every day. And your name wasn’t on the guest list, but I wanted to dance with you on a ballroom floor. How stupidand selfish. I should have lied and told you he’d taken my virtue and then this matter would be done.”
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