Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(11) by Lorraine Heath
“My schedule is full.”
Tristan turned on his heel and marched from the room. He wouldn’t give up on Rafe, not yet.
Rafe had never expected to be glad of a visit from his brother, but for a few moments he’d been spared thoughts of Evelyn Chambers. She’d been haunting him all day, and he knew that as of twenty-two minutes ago—if Wortham were punctual at all—she had arrived at his residence. Laurence would show her to her bedchamber, introduce her to the maid—Lila—who would see to dressing her, fixing her hair, and whatever else ladies’ maids did. Servants would assist in unpacking her things. They would see that she was settled and comfortable as she waited for his arrival.
Spinning the globe, he suddenly wished he was somewhere else—someone else. If his brothers ever learned the truth about the sort of man he truly was, they would want little to do with him. He shoved back the rancid thoughts.
Mick, his main man, stepped through the doorway. His slender physique hid a well-toned body that often gave Rafe a good going over when they sparred in the boxing room hidden away downstairs.
“I thought you should know that Lord Wortham has settled his accounts.”
Rafe fought not to look surprised. “Where did he get the money I wonder?”
“I can ask around.”
“No need. It’s not important.” The reckless way he played at cards, he’d be back in Rafe’s debt soon enough. “Has Ekroth made an appearance?”
“About an hour ago.”
As a general rule, Rafe didn’t allow cheating in his establishment. Not from his customers and certainly not by those hired to oversee the games. But sometimes exceptions were needed. “See that the games don’t favor him tonight.”
Mick arched a thick dark brow. While he might have been hoping for an explanation, he knew better than to insist upon one. “I’ll arrange it.”
“You may also inform him that he is barred from spending any time with the girls.”
“He’ll take his business to another club if he’s not satisfied here.”
“I’ll ensure no other club will have him.”
After Mick left, Rafe set the globe on the corner of his desk and gave it one final spin. He’d not relegate it to a shelf. He wasn’t quite certain how he felt about it. Grateful, but not quite comfortable with the gratitude.
It was nearly four hours later before he left his office and made his way to the back stairs at the rear entry of the building. He’d never had a guest at his residence, few knew where he lived. He didn’t know why he had given Wortham his address instead of simply sending for the girl. For some reason, the night before, his ability to think coherently had left him completely for a time. Thank goodness it had returned.
He climbed into his carriage. He was not avoiding what awaited him at the residence. He simply had a great many items at the club that required his attention: bills, deliveries, cheaters.
It was dark, a light drizzle falling, by the time his carriage clattered to a stop in front of the monstrosity that he owned. He didn’t know why he’d bothered to take it for payment of a debt owed, except that at the time he’d wanted it and he’d felt that a man of his wealth should own a residence. Even if he seldom spent any time here.
He preferred his apartments at the club. They weren’t as quiet. The walls thrummed with the activity that took place on the floors below. He could be in a room alone, but not feel lonely. Here, the servants were so blasted quiet that they might as well be ghosts.
Like some ominous harbinger of ill winds, lightning flashed as he stepped out of his carriage and strode up the steps. It was chilly tonight, but he would have a woman to warm him. Already he was reconsidering his misgivings about this arrangement. She would come in handy after all.
Before Rafe arrived at the landing, Laurence was opening the door. Sometimes he thought the butler did little else except stand at the ready to open the door for him. He handed over his hat and coat. He began tugging off his gloves. He wanted to go to his room and remove everything but that would have to wait. “Is she here?”
“Yes, sir. Waiting in the parlor, but I’m not sure . . .”
His voice trailed off. Rafe stilled and gave him a hard glare. “But what, man? Spill it.”
“I’m not quite sure she understands her purpose in being here. She seems to believe she is to manage the household.”
Rafe shrugged. “She can do that if she wishes.”
Laurence scowled. “I am given to understand that she believes it is to be her only duty.”
Rafe swore harshly. Wortham, the stupid little sod, wouldn’t explain things, would he? It was his lack of guts that characterized his losing at the tables. What did she think last night was about?
“She brought her things, did she not?” he asked, slapping his gloves into Laurence’s waiting palm.
“No, sir, I fear she brought nothing save herself. Lord Wortham made quite the hasty retreat. It left her a bit flummoxed.”
“No matter. I’m sure she knows why she’s here.” And that he would be providing everything she required. He headed for the parlor.
“What time will you be dining, sir?” Laurence asked.
“Give us half an hour.” That should be all the time he needed to set things right with her, to lay out her duties, his expectations.
Opening the doors to the parlor, he strode in, staggered to a stop. She was in profile, standing by the window, gazing out on the rain, looking as forlorn as the weather. She turned slightly at his entry. She was wearing black, a hideous color. It made her look ill. He wanted to see her in blue, a deep blue that would enrich the shade of her eyes. It appeared she was baring very little skin, that her dress buttoned up to her chin, but it was impossible to be certain because she was wearing a cloak.
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