In Bed with the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 1)(82) by Lorraine Heath
“I remember so little about him.”
“I think he would have been proud of his son as a man.”
Luke chuckled low. “Where do you find your faith in me, Catherine?”
“From coming to know you.”
She stayed with him, just as she’d promised. In his bed. Doing nothing more than holding him, allowing him to hold her. Something more than friendship, something less than lovers. But it was comforting. And while Luke didn’t sleep, neither did he drift into the realm of memories. Rather he concentrated on how it felt to have her in his bed: the feel of her, the fragrance of her, the sound of her breathing.
Before dawn, he escorted her home with the promise of seeing to her problem posthaste.
He returned to his residence for breakfast and to read the Times. He was grateful to discover that the front page did not announce that Lady Catherine Mabry had been spied at a gaming hell, even more grateful to discover no tidbit of news whatsoever about all that had transpired last night. It would come, though. Surely it would come.
It was late morning by the time Luke arrived at Marcus Langdon’s residence. Luke was dressed in his finest, and he knew, with no doubts, that he appeared every bit the lord that he was.
The butler told him that the master and his mother were in the drawing room. Luke found them there. Marcus was reading a book. His mother was concentrating on her embroidery. What a harsh life they led.
Mrs. Langdon put down her needlework, obviously disgusted that Luke had made an appearance in her sanctuary. Marcus closed his book.
Luke cleared his throat. This was harder than he’d thought it would be. “I wanted you to know that my memories have returned to me. If you continue your efforts through the courts, you will be wasting your money, for I am the Earl of Claybourne.”
“Quite convenient that they would return now, when your position is threatened,” Mrs.
Langdon said. “But that will not stop us. My son is the rightful heir.”
“No, madam, he is not. My parents were murdered by your husband.”
She gasped, paled. “That’s a lie!”
“I wish it were. I have a witness.” Jack. He’d drag Jack into court if need be in order to testify about what he’d done. “But I have no desire to bring more shame to this family than it has already experienced these many years. One murderer in the family is enough, and as I’ve never denied my deed, I see no reason to cause you further embarrassment by revealing what your husband—my uncle, my father’s brother—set into motion.”
“You were raised to lie, cheat, murder, and steal, to take that which does not belong to you—”
“You lost a silver necklace that had three red stones in it.”
She stiffened. “What do you know of my precious jewelry? It was a gift from Geoffrey, on the day we wed.”
Luke looked at Marcus, with his gaping mouth and the stunned look in his eyes that signaled he remembered the jewelry. He knew what was coming next. They were the only two who did.
“You’d read Ivanhoe to us, Auntie Clara,” Luke said quietly, rushing on before she could object to the intimate name he’d used. “Marcus and I took the necklace—”
“That’s not true,” Marcus said, coming to his feet. “I alone took it. You were only six, I was eight.” He looked at his mother. “We embedded the stones in our wooden swords, but after Father got so furious and was questioning the servants about the missing piece, we threw away the evidence of what we’d done. He took the cane to me more than once.
I wanted to avoid another blistering.”
“What does all this prove?” his mother asked.
Marcus looked at Luke. “It proves he’s my cousin. I never told anyone what we did.”
“Neither did I,” Luke said. In truth, before yesterday, he’d not remembered. He turned his attention back to Mrs. Langdon. She seemed to be in shock. He could hardly blame her. “I have no intention of revealing the true nature of your husband, but if you persist in trying to take from me what is rightfully mine, it will all come out. I will not give up easily what my father fought to hold, what my grandfather entrusted to my care.”
Marcus cleared his throat. “I shall talk with my solicitor this afternoon and see that our claim is removed from the courts.”
Luke nodded. “Very good.” He turned to go—
He looked back at Marcus.
“May I have a word in private?”
“You can’t possibly believe him,” Mrs. Langdon said.
“We’ll talk when I get back, Mother.” He followed Luke into the hallway and studied him as though only just then really looking at him. “It truly is you. I think I knew, I think I always knew.”
“I didn’t,” Luke admitted.
“I’ll speak with Mother. She’ll come around.”
“I appreciate it. It’s been a difficult few years. I’d like to put all the difficulties behind us.”
Marcus licked his lips, darted his gaze around the hallway as though he expected danger to be lurking about. “That’s what I wanted to talk with you about. You said you were attacked one night.”
“It was Avendale’s doing.”
Luke knew that, but how had Marcus known? Luke stared at him, suspicion creeping in.
“Avendale? What would make you think that?”
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