In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(72) by Lorraine Heath
“If I ask about your childhood will you tell me that it isn’t proper picnic conversation?”
He grinned. She did so love it when he looked as though he hadn’t a care in the world.
She imagined that he had so few moments like that and she relished each one he shared with her. He stretched out on his side, raised up on his elbow, and studied her for a moment, before asking, “What do you want to know?”
She was almost giddy and…Drat it! She couldn’t think of a single question, or at least a single question that she didn’t think would ruin his good humor. But she wanted to know so much.
“You killed Geoffrey Langdon.”
He swirled the wine in the glass, took a sip, nodded.
“I stabbed him.”
“How did they know it was you?”
“There was a witness.”
“Are you going to make me ask all the questions? Why can’t you just tell me the story?”
He finished off his glass of wine and poured himself another one. “It’s not pretty, Catherine.”
Reaching out, she skimmed her finger over his scar. “There is nothing you can tell me that will make me think less of you.”
“But it is not only my tale.”
“Please. I know you killed him for Frannie, so I know something awful happened to her.
I can imagine what it was.”
“But I doubt you can imagine how brutal it was.” He took another sip of the wine as though he needed it to shore up his courage. “Some men prefer virgins. Less chance of catching the pox that way. Young girls are usually virginal. Sometimes a young girl on the streets is taken, against her will, to a brothel, where she is tied to a bed so that it’s easier to take her virginity.”
Catherine was horrified. “And that’s what happened to Frannie?”
He shook his head. “Geoffrey Langdon untied her because he favored girls who fought, and Frannie, bless her, fought. We knew where she was, Jack, Jim, and I, but we got there too late. She was hurt and bleeding. I carried her all the way back to Feagan’s. She never wept. It always seemed to me that she should have wept. But she didn’t.”
She wished she hadn’t asked for the details, and yet knowing them helped her to understand him so much better, and not only him but his relationship with the others.
The strong bond they shared. “How did you learn who the man was?”
“When Frannie was stronger, Jack and I took her back to the brothel. We hid on the street and watched who came and went. Jack knew what I was going to do, but Frannie thought we were just going to beat him up. When she pointed him out, I did what I’d planned to do. Walked across the street and put a knife into him before he could open the door. Unfortunately, he’d knocked on it and the madam opened it. She saw me.
Screamed. And as fate would have it, a damned bobby was right around the corner.
“I didn’t even try to run. Jim found out later that Langdon visited the brothel every Wednesday night for a virgin. But his sins weren’t as grave as mine. He was the heir apparent, so my offense was much worse.”
“He deserved what you did to him.”
He gave her a self-mocking grin. “I always thought so. Now you know my sordid past.
When the old gent came to Scotland Yard to confront the boy who had murdered his son, he decided I was his grandson.”
“My eyes. Silver eyes run in the family.”
“I’ve met Marcus Langdon. His are silver.”
“But surely there was more than that.”
“The old gent asked questions. ‘Do you remember a tall man with dark hair?’ ‘Oh, yes, sir, yes indeed.’ ‘Your father?’ ‘Oh, yes, sir. He held my hand.’” He shook his head. “He made it so easy.”
“You didn’t have any of those memories.”
“Of course not.” He began rubbing his brow.
“Is it your head?”
“Yes, I think it’s the flowers here. Their scent is so strong.”
“Come and put your head on my lap.”
He didn’t hesitate to move closer, to rest his head on her thigh. She began to massage his temples. He moaned low. “Almost makes the head pains worth it to have your tender ministrations.”
“I worry about these headaches you’re getting.”
“I’ve had them for years, Catherine. They come. They go. They’re of no importance. If they were, surely I’d be dead by now.”
She smiled down on his rugged face, took a moment to trail her fingers over his nose.
“What happened to your nose?”
“I got into a fight. In gaol, they don’t segregate children from adults while we’re awaiting trial, so we were at the mercy of big bullies and the worst society has to offer.
Some individuals in gaol deserve to be, but that’s not pleasant picnic conversation. Tell me about your brother.”
“Have you another?”
Bending down, she kissed the tip of his nose, before returning to rubbing his temples. “I told you. He and Father had a row, but I don’t know what it was about.”
“How is your father?”
“Not well. He grows paler and thinner every day. He can’t speak, can’t tell me what he wants. I thought to take him out to the garden for a spell, but his physician doesn’t agree.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online