Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(71) by Lorraine Heath
Rafe almost responded, “No, he doesn’t. Not my legacy at least.” Instead, he said, “Once I left”—escaped—“the workhouse, and made my way to London, not everything I did was within the law.”
“You think that everything I did was?” Tristan asked. “I wasn’t serving in her Majesty’s navy, you know. I was on a ship captained by a man who thought laws only applied when he was on land—and then only when he was in the mood to heed them. On his ship, he was Caesar. We didn’t always come by our spoils honestly.”
“But when you were captain of your own ship?”
Tristan swirled the liquid in his glass. “A ship I won at cards. Cheated to obtain it, if you want the truth. Because I was desperate to have it, to be in control. My point is that we have all done things with which we must live, but at least we are here to live with them. I for one am glad of that. Even arguing with you is better than not having you around to argue with.”
Rafe looked over at Sebastian. “Does he always talk this much?”
“Afraid so, but every now and then he does say something worth listening to.”
“I wouldn’t have to carry the weight of the conversation if you weren’t so melancholy. It’s the horrors he faced in the war,” Tristan added for Rafe’s benefit. “The one thing you can say is that we’ve not led boring lives. Perhaps we should consider that Uncle did us a favor.”
“No,” Sebastian growled at the same time that Rafe said, “Never.”
Tristan appeared very pleased with himself, as though he’d just proven that for all their differences, they did have commonalities. “Join us on the ship Friday.”
Begrudgingly Rafe said, “I’ll consider it.”
“Well, then we’re making progress.” Tristan downed his drink and stood. “Now, if you gents will excuse me, I need to dance with my wife.”
Rafe watched him stride from the room, before setting his own glass on the mantel. “I should be off as well.”
“He’s not as unaffected as he acts,” Sebastian said. “Did you know that I sold him?”
Rafe hadn’t known, but before he could respond Sebastian continued. “For a pouch of coins so I could purchase my commission. He never said a word. After we reached the wharves. He just remained stoic and silent. It always haunted me.”
“Unlike me, who blubbered and begged.”
“You were only ten. It tore me apart to leave you behind, but it was either the workhouse or settling you with gypsies. I didn’t know how else to protect you. And in spite of the hardships I suspect you suffered, I’m extremely proud to call you brother. You not only survived, but you’ve done very well for yourself.”
Rafe didn’t know what to say, how to respond. “I need to make sure that Evelyn is carrying on all right.”
“Off with you then.”
Rafe was halfway across the room when he stopped and said over his shoulder, “You’re a better man than I am. You and Tristan.” It was all he could give his brother for now, but perhaps it was a start.
She was in her nightdress by the time she heard him leave his bedchamber. She expected him to come to her, but instead his footsteps echoed in the hallway, growing fainter as he retreated down the stairs. She considered crawling into bed, but had decided this mistress business involved more than what happened between the sheets. He might not want it to be so, but it was. For whatever reason, he was estranged from his brothers, and while he might not admit it, it caused him considerable pain.
Grabbing her wrap, she slipped into it and belted it firmly at her waist before heading out of her room and following the path she was certain he had taken. He might have gone to his club for all she knew, but she hoped not. She knew it was his place of solace, when she dearly wanted to play that role in his life. She wasn’t certain when she’d developed such a fondness for him. He was obstinate, moody, and didn’t possess a frivolous bone in his entire body, but for the moment at least, he was hers.
Until he tired of her, she intended to have some purpose in his life other than looking presentable and being available for him to slake his lust upon. Because it was after midnight, the servants were already abed, so she opened the door to the library herself, not even certain why she knew that she would find him there—if he were still in residence.
He was. Dressed in his loose linen shirt and trousers, one arm raised, pressed to the mantel, while the other held an almost empty tumbler. He was staring into the barren hearth before glancing back at her, heavy lidded.
“Go on to bed, Evie. I won’t be bothering you tonight.”
Her belly clutched painfully, and her chest filled with a sadness that nearly cracked her ribs. Was that how he viewed things between them: that his coming to her was a bother for her? Did her cries of pleasure mean nothing? Did he not understand that she had come to cherish him? Did she mean nothing at all to him?
She wandered over to the table, removed the stopper from a decanter, and lifted it.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m of a mind to have something to drink.” She filled a glass. With decanter in hand, she walked over to him and poured the amber liquid into his glass. She could feel his speculative gaze on her, but didn’t dare bring herself to look into his eyes. They could easily dissuade her from her purpose. She returned the decanter to the table, took her glass, and made herself comfortable in a nearby chair, pulling her legs beneath her. She lifted her glass. “Cheers.”
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