Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(2) by Lorraine Heath
“Lo—” He stopped. He couldn’t tell anyone that he was Lord Tristan Easton, second in line for the dukedom of Keswick. Until they reclaimed their birthright he was only a commoner. He cleared his throat. “Tristan.”
“Well, Lo Tristan, who you be running from?”
Tristan pressed his lips tightly together. The captain had caught his mistake, was mocking him. He would never be so careless again. If he was to be nothing else, he would become a master keeper of secrets.
“So be it,” the captain said. “I’ll call you Jack.”
Tristan jerked his gaze up to the towering man. “Why?”
“When you’re seeking to hide, lad, you hide everything.”
Tristan looked back toward the looming black void into which his brother had vanished. He could do that. He could deeply bury everything about himself. He could become someone else. He would become someone else.
He only hoped that when the time was right, he could find himself once again.
I had always heard that the eyes were a window into one’s soul. As I stared into his, I could not determine if they were merely shuttered or if the rumors about him were true: that he possessed no soul to speak of because he’d traded it to the devil for immortality. By all accounts, the life he pursued was one that should have led him to an early grave. Yet, there he sat, his ghostly blue gaze unwavering, challenging . . . dangerous. A time would come when I would question the wisdom in not walking away, but I longed for more than I possessed and so I stood my ground, refusing to be put off. I often look back on that stormy night and wonder how different my life might be now had I realized that the journey he would take me on was one that I would soon discover I had little desire to travel.
—The Secret Memoirs of an Adventurous Lady
He didn’t look at all like a hero.
Lady Anne Hayworth had expected him to be . . . well, at least tidy. She’d never seen a man so unkempt, with three buttons on his shirt undone to reveal a narrowing V of chest that to her surprise seemed as bronzed as his hands. He sat alone at a table in the corner of the tavern as though he owned the establishment, although she was well aware that he didn’t. Or at least she didn’t think he did. The particulars about him were as difficult to find as the man himself.
Standing before him she was sorely tempted to take a pair of sharp shears to the ebony hair that hung to his shoulders and a razor to the stubble darkening his jaw.
She was accustomed to gentlemen rising when she approached. Instead, he continued to slouch in his chair, leisurely trailing one long thick finger up and down his mug, his gaze fastened on her as though he were imagining what it might be like to stroke that finger along her throat. It was an absurd thought, and she had no idea from whence it had sprung. She was not used to men openly looking at her as though they were contemplating doing wicked things with her.
No, no, this man wasn’t hero material at all.
Perhaps the gentleman at the door, the one she’d questioned, had directed her to this man as a cruel prank. If so, she would demand he return the sovereign she’d paid him for his assistance. Still, on the off chance . . .
She cleared her throat and said, “I’m searching for Captain Jack Crimson.”
“Crimson Jack. And you found him.”
“I see. Captain Crimson Jack, the adventurer?”
One side of his mouth curled up slowly into a mocking smile. “Depends. What sort of adventure are you looking for, Princess?”
“I’m not a princess. My father is an earl, not a prince or a king. He—” She halted. The particulars of her heritage—of anything at all actually—were none of his concern. “I was told you are a man who could help me.”
As he raked his insolent gaze over her, her stomach quivered, and she balled her white-gloved hands into fists at her side to stop them from trembling.
“Depends on what sort of help you’re needing,” he said. “If it’s an adventure between the sheets—”
“Definitely not!” she snapped at the arrogant cad.
Pity? Obviously the man had no standards. She knew she was not a beauty. She lacked color. Her hair was a ghastly white, her eyes silver. Her nose too small, her lips too plump. She knew she should seek help elsewhere, but he had come so highly recommended. Instead, she heard herself ask, “May I sit?”
The chair in front of her wobbled a bit, and she realized that he’d nudged it with his booted foot. Mannerless jackanapes. Still, she could not discount the fact that she had been assured that he was a man she could trust not only with her life, but with her virtue. He wasn’t in the habit of forcing women, but then based on his handsome features alone—not to mention that wicked smile—she suspected women stumbled over themselves clambering into his bed. She, however, would not be one of them. She pulled out the chair farther and sat. “I am Lady Anne.” She halted there. Her father and brothers would not approve of her plans, which was the very reason that she’d chosen to be secretive. “I wish to hire you to take me to Scutari.”
“Not a very nice place for a holiday. What say I take you to Brighton instead?”
“My fiancé isn’t in Brighton,” she snapped. She squeezed shut her eyes as they began to sting. Her family had told her it was a bad idea to go to the place where so many soldiers had died during the Crimean War, to visit the hospital and grounds where Florence Nightingale had fought to save so many lives. But it wasn’t so much that she wanted to go there. It was quite simply that she had to.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online