Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(5) by Lorraine Heath
Tristan liked that she didn’t know how he fit into her world—quite uncomfortably if the truth were known. He’d hid it well with quick smiles, laughter, and teasing. But he had little desire to return to the maze of London Society. Rafe had the right of it. Better to stay in the shadows where they were comfortable. They’d been too long without politeness. It was a tight shroud, one he didn’t enjoy wearing.
He had a keen insight when it came to discovering buried treasure. He wanted this Lady Anne who’d dared approach him and offer him money. He could have taken it and then wooed her once she was on his ship, but that would have made it all too easy.
He stroked her discarded glove where it remained on the table. In her haste to leave, she’d forgotten it. He yearned for a challenge.
He was fairly certain that she would provide him with one—one he was likely to never forget.
“Well?” Martha asked as soon as Anne was comfortably settled in the carriage and they were on their way.
“Your brother was unfortunately mistaken,” she said succinctly to her lady’s maid. “He has not the makings of a hero at all, and he is most certainly not an honorable man.”
“Are you certain you spoke with the correct person?”
“I don’t understand. Johnny sailed with him, spoke so highly of him—”
“Yes, well, I assure you that he is a man with whom I have no wish to associate.” She balled her hand into a fist. Blast it! She’d left her glove behind. Her hand was still so warm from the journey his fingers had taken over it that she’d not even thought about the silly glove. She’d never known such a sensuous touch. It was dangerous. So very dangerous. “Please, speak with your brother and ask him for another recommendation.”
“Would it not be better to simply book passage—”
“I will if I must but I’d rather not.” She didn’t want a long sojourn. She simply required a little bit of time with Walter to say good-bye. But when she had mentioned this to her father and brothers, they’d thought it an awful idea to go there. They didn’t understand, but then how could they? She loved Walter, but during their last night together before he left, she’d hurt him with words and deed. Perhaps if she hadn’t, he would have come home. She needed to apologize, to ask for his forgiveness.
He’d sent her his wages every month. It wasn’t a great deal, but she invested the funds for them, for their future. It was those funds that she would now use to visit him. She would leave a note for her father to find after she was gone. She feared that her departure being at the mercy of schedules and other passengers would result in her family being able to find her more easily, prevent her from leaving.
But a ship at her beck and call—they would leave during the dark of night and be well out to sea before her family discovered she was gone.
She gazed out the window and strove not to think about how Crimson Jack quite possibly ruled the night as easily as he did the sea. He no doubt was accustomed to women fawning over him, crawling into his bed with no compunction whatsoever. A naughty part of her that she didn’t wish to acknowledge could hardly blame them.
He was devastatingly handsome and something about him was regal in bearing. He’d ruined the illusion, though, when he’d turned down her offer for passage in exchange for money and asked what else she might barter. His smoldering gaze had revealed exactly what he had in mind.
She’d not given it to Walter. She certainly wasn’t going to give it to a crude sea captain, even if he did cause images of them tumbling between the sheets to invade her thoughts with little more than the tip of a finger caressing her skin. It was only because he was earthy and rough. A heathen. A man for whom lust was common. He was interested in the conquest, but his interest would wane once a lady was conquered.
She had no interest in being conquered.
She would find a more suitable captain. An old one with more experience. A hideous one who did not cause her heart to flutter. A poor one who had need of coins.
Captain Crimson Jack might believe he was tempting—and she had to reluctantly admit that he might be a delicious morsel of manhood—but she was made of sturdier stuff and was not going to be lured by smoky eyes or the promise of passion they held. She had denied Walter, after all, while loving him with all of her young heart. Every day, every night, she lived with regret over their parting. She needed to go to Scutari so she could assuage her guilt, so she could find happiness—if not with him, then with someone else.
“What do you know of the Earl of Blackwood?” Tristan asked, standing in the doorway. The clocks had only just tolled midnight, and he’d known he would find his brother in his office. After all, vice dens were busiest when decent people slept.
Rafe gazed up from his ledgers and glared. “I’ve not seen you in two years and you can’t even bother with a proper greeting?”
“Hello,” Tristan said laconically before wandering into the room and glancing around. His brother had added a new globe to his collection since Tristan had been here. Interesting. He wondered why his brother fancied them.
“How long have you been in London?” Rafe asked.
“A month, give or take a week. Blackwood?” Bless Mouse and his eagerness to prove his worth to Tristan for providing him with a place aboard his ship. He’d not only followed the lady home, but he’d managed to speak with a servant in order to acquire the particulars regarding the household. The earl had four sons and a daughter.
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