Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(19) by Lorraine Heath
Wortham looked as though Rafe had punched him. “That was not part of the bargain.”
“You dropped her off at my residence with nothing more than the clothes upon her back.”
“Because she’s yours to see after now. Everything else my father purchased. That makes it mine.”
“Not the jewelry. Hand it over and you’ll continue to breathe.”
“I’m growing quite weary of that threat. I don’t owe you anymore. So I see no need—”
Rafe rounded the desk with remarkable speed, wrapped his hand around Wortham’s throat, and shoved him against the wall. “You see no need for what? To heed my words?”
Anticipating that he might have to resort to a show of force, he’d not worn gloves. He knew precisely where to press his thumb to cut off air, to cause pain. Wortham’s eyes bulged. He gasped. He dug his fingers into Rafe’s wrist. He’d have marks there tomorrow, dammit. If he wasn’t striving to make a point, he’d simply snap the man’s neck. But Wortham didn’t deserve death, and of all Rafe’s sins through the years, killing a man who didn’t deserve it was not one of them.
Wortham gagged. Nodded.
Rafe loosened his hold. “You had some wisdom to impart?”
“Sold it,” Wortham rasped.
So that was how the weasel had paid off his debt earlier that evening. Releasing him, Rafe stepped away to avoid the possibility of encountering a mess, as it appeared Wortham was on the verge of tasting his dinner for a second time. “To whom?”
Wortham rubbed his neck, shook his head. “Don’t know. Some fence.”
“Small, black hair, black teeth. Has a kinship with some rodent I imagine. Met me at a tavern.”
Rafe arched a brow. “The tavern have a name?”
“The Golden Lion.”
“Good.” He considered ending Wortham’s membership at his club, but he’d rather have the man where he could see him. Besides, it made it easier to torment him, and he was a man in need of tormenting. “Should I discover that there is anything else here that your sister longs to have, rest assured that I shall return to claim it.”
“But I’m selling things.”
“Do not sell anything else of hers until you’ve heard from me.”
“That was not part of the arrangement.”
“I’m restructuring the arrangement.”
Wortham’s face turned a mottled red. “You have no right to order me about. I am an earl.”
“Take care with your words, Wortham, or next time, I might not release you until you’re shaking hands with the devil.”
On that note, Rafe spun on his heel and strode from the room. He was quite familiar with the Golden Lion, although in his opinion, it would have been more aptly named the Tarnished Scrawny Cat. Its clientele were not the best that London had to offer. Because of that, Rafe would be quite at home there as he searched for the man who had the jewelry he sought.
Evelyn awoke feeling as though a heavy thunderstorm had taken up residence in her skull. That she had slept at all was a miracle. She tried not to think about the bargain she’d struck. With the pale morning sunlight easing in through the window, she considered dressing, then quietly leaving, seeking sanctuary somewhere else. Surely some shelter existed for women in her circumstance, but even as she had the thought, she knew he wouldn’t let her easily go.
He would find her. He would make her pay for staying in his residence through the night. She had no doubt of that. He was a man of his word. She was beginning to understand why the other lords had avoided him as though he harbored the plague. If he dealt with them as he dealt with her, he would have few friends. No one liked a bully.
Rolling over, she came up short at the sight of a young maid standing there. The girl curtsied.
“Good morning, miss. I’m Lila. I’ve brought your clothes, freshly pressed. The master was hoping you would join him for breakfast.”
As though he’d suddenly walked into the room, all the air left and she could find none to draw into her lungs. “He’s still here?”
Silly thing to be disconcerted over. He lived here. She would see him. She just hadn’t thought she’d see him until tonight. “All right then.”
She would pretend this was what she wanted. She would make the best of it. Someday, she would make two men regret their taking advantage of her circumstance for their own gain.
She was quite surprised by the maid’s expertise at readying her, and she didn’t want to contemplate that she wasn’t the first mistress in this residence. But then what did it matter how many he’d had? She didn’t want to consider it, to know anything about him. She would simply do what she had to do, until she was in a position that she could do what she wanted.
After she was dressed, her hair pinned up, she followed Lila through the hallways, even more impressed with each room they passed. The residence and all it contained had to be worth a massive fortune.
A tall liveried footman stood before a set of closed double doors. As they neared, he opened one.
Lila smiled. “Enjoy your breakfast, miss.”
As the girl hurried away, Evelyn couldn’t help but think that enjoying anything today was not on her schedule. She would endure because she had no choice. But she would certainly not enjoy.
Taking a long deep breath, she straightened her shoulders before striding into the dining room. Rafe Easton was sitting at one end of a long table, reading a newspaper. He set it aside and stood.
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