In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(64) by Lorraine Heath
“Catherine, you get the lad,” Claybourne said. “Remember, we want it to look as though we’re all going to the country.”
Catherine nodded, her mind racing.
“Good girl,” he said, just before he quickly disappeared into Winnie’s bedchamber with the doctor.
“I’ll help you get the lad,” Frannie said. “We want to talk loudly as we move through the house about our going to Heatherwood.”
Catherine grabbed her arm. “Claybourne is going to face Avendale alone.”
“It would seem so, yes.”
“I can’t let him go alone, Frannie. I brought him into this mess.”
“He’s not going to put others at risk. It’s not his way. He won’t let you go with him if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“I’ll not give him a choice. Will you look after Winnie for me?”
“I’ve come to care for him, Frannie. I’m no threat to you. I know you hold his heart, but I can’t bear the thought of him facing Avendale alone. I know there will be little I can do except to stand by him, but stand by him I must. Can you understand?”
“Have you considered your reputation if you go through with this madness? If you travel with him alone?”
“Who will know that I have gone if we simply say that I am with you and Winnie? His servants shan’t know who I am. They’ll think I’m some trollop. My name need never be associated with him.” Reaching out, she squeezed Frannie’s hand. “Do you really want him to face this alone?”
Frannie shook her head. “No, I’d planned to go with him, actually. But you’re right.
You’re the better choice. I’ll take care of Winnie and you take care of Luke.” She squeezed Catherine’s hand so hard that Catherine nearly cried out. “Don’t leave him alone, especially at night. For some reason, he doesn’t do well at Heatherwood.
Avendale won’t be the only demon he’ll face.”
Catherine detected an urging in Frannie’s voice, saw an understanding in her eyes, that was giving Catherine permission for something beyond what they were discussing, but before she could ask for confirmation, she heard the door to the bedchamber opening.
“You get Whit,” Frannie said. “I’m going to travel with Bill to his residence so all is ready when Luke feels it’s safe.”
Catherine nodded and headed down the hallway to the nursery. There was so much to get done, and for this plan to work, they needed to get everything in place before Avendale returned home.
Things moved at a rapid pace. Catherine found Winnie’s lady’s maid and instructed her to pack a small bag of clothing for the duchess, that she was going to Claybourne’s country estate to recover. Then Catherine packed a smaller bag for Whit. While servants put the bags into Claybourne’s waiting coach, she woke Whit and carried the small boy outside. Claybourne joined her there, carrying Winnie bundled in blankets.
Now he held Winnie on his lap, trying to provide an extra buffer between her and the rattling coach. Periodically, Winnie groaned and Whit sniffled.
They’d stopped at Catherine’s residence, and she’d stuffed a simple dress, nightclothes, and undergarments into a satchel for herself. Then she’d gone to see her father. He’d been awake, or at least his eyes had been open.
“Winnie’s been hurt. She’s going to the country to recuperate, and I’m going with her.
Please don’t worry. I’ll be fine. And I’ll be back in a few days.” She’d kissed him on the forehead. “Don’t go while I’m gone.”
She’d left instructions for his care with her servants—not that they truly needed any.
They’d been taking care of him for longer than a year now.
Now Catherine slipped her finger beneath the coach curtain and peered out. She could see tenement houses. “How certain are you of your plan?”
“As certain as I can be,” Claybourne said.
The coach came to an abrupt halt. The door opened. Dr. Graves was standing there. After Claybourne shifted Winnie into his arms, Graves turned away. Then Frannie was in the doorway, holding her hand out to Whit.
Claybourne turned to the boy. “Don’t be afraid. They’re going to take care of you and you’re going to take care of your mother. Do you understand?”
The boy nodded.
“Good lad.” Claybourne ushered him to the doorway where Frannie took him in her arms. She looked at Catherine, gave a barely discernible nod, and moved away.
And then the footman was there, holding out his hand to Catherine. She took a deep breath, released it. “I’m going with you.”
“Don’t be daft,” Claybourne said.
She reached out, grabbed the door handle, and slammed the door closed—almost
nipping the footman in the process. She settled back, hands folded primly. “I’m not going to allow you to face him alone.”
“Dear God, Catherine, he’s not going to be in a pleasant mood.”
“I don’t care.”
“I’m likely to do things to him of which you will not approve.”
“Do you honestly think, after seeing what he did to my friend, that there is anything you could do to him of which I wouldn’t approve?”
“The servants here all believe that Winnie is traveling with us. As for the servants at your estate, I assume they’ll be discreet. As far as I can determine, Avendale is the only one who might cause us any problem, and I assume you’ll deal with him.”
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