Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(73) by Lorraine Heath
She was vaguely aware of his long strides taking them out of the library.
“I should like to go on your brother’s boat.”
“You shall have to call it a ship.”
“I will, I promise. So will we be going on it?”
“I don’t know. I’ve not yet decided.”
“Have you a coin?” she asked.
“What has that to do with anything?”
“Have you a coin?” she insisted.
“Yes. The same one you used before.”
“Then set me down.”
“You’ll fall on your face.”
“No, I won’t. Set me down.”
He did as she ordered, and her feet settled on the cold marble. They were in the foyer. She wobbled around a bit, before he set his hands on her shoulders and steadied her.
“All right, take out your coin. You’ll be the one to flip it. Heads we go on the ship, tails we don’t. Agreed?”
“I don’t believe in giving fate—”
“Trust me. Are we agreed on the terms?”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Agreed.”
“Toss it in the air, but don’t look at it when it lands.”
“How will I know—”
She placed her fingers against his lips. “Don’t think about it. Just do as I say.” She forced herself to concentrate on his face, his eyes. “Toss it.”
He flipped it up, it spiraled down—
“There,” she said, putting her hand up so he couldn’t see the coin as it clinked with its landing, rolled, and fell onto a side. “There, that split second before it landed, what did you think?”
“That this is ridiculous.”
He started to move away, and she stayed him with a hand on his arm. He glared at her. There was a time when the fierceness of his glower would have sent her cowering up the stairs, but that was before she knew him. “My father taught me that when you flip a coin, there is always a second, just before it lands, when you think either heads or tails. And that’s when you truly know what you want the outcome to be. So what did you think? I saw it in your eyes. I know you thought one or the other.”
“The first night you were here, you flipped a coin.”
“Yes, but I didn’t tell you if heads meant I stayed. And actually, tails meant I stayed, so I lied to you and said it was heads. But you see, that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t matter what lands. What matters is what you hoped would land. And that’s your answer. So what did you want, Rafe?”
“Doesn’t matter what I want.” He swept her into his arms. “We’ll go because you’ll harp about it if we don’t.”
Suddenly exhausted, she rested her head against his shoulder. “When have I ever harped?”
Rafe set her down gently on the bed and unknotted the sash of her robe. She barely stirred as he worked her out of it. Bringing the covers up over her, he was incredibly tempted to slip beneath them with her. But it had been years since he’d been able to stand the weight of covers lying heavy on his body.
She didn’t harp, she didn’t complain. The more he came to know her, the more he realized she’d have not ended up in St. Giles as he’d originally assumed. She possessed a determination, a strength of will that would have had her finding a way to avoid the rookeries. She’d taken the path of least resistance by staying with him, but it had also been her smartest move. Smarter yet to make him think that she’d allowed fate to decide when she’d done it all along. She was here because she had chosen to be. Which meant she could just as easily choose to leave.
He broke out in a fine sheen of sweat. He didn’t care if she left. She meant nothing to him. He hadn’t enjoyed dancing with her. He hadn’t taken pleasure in seeing her in the red. He wasn’t glad she’d worn his pearls. He was ready to leave her now, to get on about his business. Yet he stood there, watching her sleep, thinking that she deserved to have a man holding her tightly, his breath wafting over her neck while she dreamed.
And he found himself desperately wishing he could be that man.
After extinguishing the lamp, he left the room and returned to the foyer. His coin was still on the floor, tails winking up at him. His father had given him the coin one blustery morning. “Go into the village and purchase some humbugs. We’ll share them tonight when I regale you with tales of our hunting.” Then his father had mounted his horse and gone off with his younger brother, Lord David. Rafe had never made it to the sweet shop. It was a cold day, so he’d lounged by the fire instead, playing with a carved wooden horse he’d stolen from Tristan. He didn’t like going to the village alone. He’d planned to convince his father to go with him when he got back.
But his uncle was the only one to return. Servants were sent out to retrieve his father and to put down the horse that had thrown him.
Rafe rubbed his fingers over the coin. He didn’t know why he’d kept it all these years. There was many a time when he could have used it to purchase food to fill his belly. But he had held onto it.
He would never admit it to Eve, but he had hoped for heads. During that one second, just before it landed—heads, his mind whispered. As much as he hated to acknowledge it, he was curious about Tristan’s yacht. Rafe had been disappointed that Tristan had sold his ship before Rafe had a chance to sail on it. If he hadn’t avoided his brothers, if he hadn’t isolated himself—
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