Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(60) by Lorraine Heath
She fought not to feel saddened, disappointed, abandoned. From the beginning, he had warned her that there would be rules, that things had to be done to suit him. She’d known he wasn’t the warmest of creatures. But for a short time she’d actually considered that something special existed between them. Rolling to her side, she stared at the window. An entirely different life waited for her beyond it.
The problem was that she suddenly very much wanted this one—or at least a good many parts of it. And she couldn’t help but believe with time, she might want all of it.
Rafe pressed his ear to the door. He couldn’t hear her weeping. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or alarmed. But then other than the night Wortham had turned her out, she’d not shed a tear. She was made of stern stuff, his Evie.
He’d wanted to give her so much more, had nearly begged her to touch him. A hand on his shoulder, her fingers through his hair. But he couldn’t risk it. In the throes of passion she might forget his aversion to holding, she might wrap her arms, her legs, her entire body around him—
Turning, he flattened his back to the wall and slid down to the floor. A gaslight burned, it always burned, relegating the demons to lurking in the shadows, waiting, waiting to spring forth. Tonight they would be there if he slept. He felt it in the very fabric of his being. He needed to go to the club, to hear the constant noise of life, the activity, the spin of the roulette wheel, the clack of the dice, the whisper of cards being dealt. He couldn’t stay here.
As badly as he’d wanted to lie beside her, to watch her drift off to sleep, he’d been unable to risk falling asleep himself. If the nightmares came, he didn’t want her to be near enough to hear his screams.
“I’m glad it was you.”
He doubted she would be as glad if she discovered that she had been taken by a madman.
Even if he hadn’t told her that he’d be gone when she awoke, she would have known. The residence took on a different feel when he wasn’t about. She couldn’t quite explain it, but it seemed emptier, less vital, more plain.
After Lila helped her dress, she stepped into the hallway just as a rather short and podgy servant was opening the door to the bedchamber across the hall. Ironed shirts were draped across his left arm. She tried not to stare at the clawlike gloved hand that seemed to be frozen in a most uncomfortable position. He stopped and gave Evelyn a quick bow. “Good morning, miss. I’m Mr. Easton’s valet. Bateman.”
Evelyn forced herself to smile so he wouldn’t read her mind. She was wondering how a one-handed valet could possibly see to his duties properly. He must have known what she was thinking, however, because he explained, “My hand got smashed when I was younger. It never healed properly. Still aches a bit, especially when the weather is cold and damp.”
“I’m terribly sorry, but I’m certain you’re a marvelous valet.”
He straightened his shoulders. “The master never complains.”
“Those are his shirts I assume?”
“Yes, miss. I was just putting them in his room. His tailor delivered them yesterday. He likes them washed and pressed before he wears them.”
At a quick glance, Evelyn estimated a half-dozen shirts. New shirts. So many. Although after last night’s encounter, he certainly needed to replace at least one.
Evelyn felt rather self-conscious pointing at the room next to hers, but it was part of her responsibilities to see that everything was taken care of properly for him. “But that’s his room.”
Bateman blinked. “No, miss. This is the room where I dress him. That room there, no one is allowed in there.”
“How is it cleaned and tidied?”
“As far as I know, it isn’t.”
“I see.” Only she didn’t.
“Will that be all, miss?”
Evelyn nodded. “Yes, carry on.”
After the valet disappeared into the room, she walked over to the door that she knew was locked. What secrets was he hiding in there?
The jewelers on St. James was one of the finest in all of London. When Rafe walked through the door, he wasn’t surprised to see a duke standing at one of the glass cases. He only wished it wasn’t that particular duke.
Due to the positioning of the door, and his limited sight because of the eye patch he wore, his brother had to turn almost completely around to see who was entering. “Rafe.”
“Sebastian.” He jerked his chin up. “Sorry. Keswick.”
Keswick shrugged. “Sebastian works. This is the very last place I expected to run into you.”
The clerk wasn’t about. Rafe considered leaving, but it had been a good many years since he’d felt the need to try to avoid the unpleasant, so he closed the door and walked over to the case. “Where’s the shopkeeper?”
“Retrieving a necklace that I had created especially for Mary. We’re hosting a ball in a couple of nights. Our first in London. She’s a trifle nervous about it. The one we held at Pembrook before Christmas went well, but you know how it is in London. Things are scrutinized a bit more closely.”
“She shouldn’t care what people think.”
“If not for our son, she probably wouldn’t. She married me, after all.” He turned his attention back to the jewelry case, which meant that he could no longer see Rafe. Rafe thought that perhaps he should move to the other side of him, but it was Sebastian’s choice to look where he wanted. “Did you get the invitation?” Sebastian asked quietly.
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