Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(86) by Lorraine Heath
He wanted to crawl into the bed, have her scoot over, and scrunch up against him. He wanted to feel her pressed against his side, her head nestled on his shoulder, her hand curled on his chest. Once more, just once more, then perhaps he would set her free.
So as not to disturb her, he quietly opened the door and stepped into her bedchamber. Immediately he felt her absence. It was as though all the life, breath, joy had been sucked from the room. He didn’t have to look to know she wasn’t in the bed. He didn’t have to look to know she wasn’t in the residence.
But still he stormed across to the armoire and nearly tore the door off its hinges as he opened it. All the gowns were there: the red, the violet, the yellow. Every dress, every wrap.
All except the hideous black dress and the matching black cloak in which she’d arrived.
It was a strangled sound, the cry of disbelief. He hurried over to her vanity, to the jewelry box. Every piece he’d given her was nestled on velvet, winking up at him mockingly. Only the two pieces that her father had given to her were missing.
He felt as though something inside of him was ripping and being torn asunder. She wouldn’t leave him. He wouldn’t allow it.
He tore out of the room and down the stairs. “Laurence! Laurence!”
Somewhere a clock was chiming—once, twice, thrice. It was the bloody middle of the night. Where could she go?
His hair untidy, his jacket askew, Laurence appeared in the entryway just as Rafe reached it.
“Did Eve have a carriage brought round?”
“Miss Chambers, sir? No.”
Then she was on foot. Where was she going?
He rushed out the door and down the steps. He couldn’t see her on the drive. He couldn’t see her in the shadows of the night. He almost screamed her name, but his pride wouldn’t allow him to do it, to let all of London know that once again, he’d been left behind.
Rafe was standing at the window of his apartments at the club, watching the people coming and going, trying not to remember how much they had fascinated Eve. To not think of her was proving a fruitless endeavor. Everything reminded him of her.
When he walked through his residence, he inhaled her fragrance. He could no longer tolerate being there, not even for a moment. Every room held a memory of her.
It was equally as difficult being here, at his club.
When he boxed with Mick, he thought of Evie enduring his lessons in the ring.
When he looked out over the gaming floor, he saw it through her eyes.
When he went to his office, he regretted that he’d not shown her the globe that Tristan had carved for him, that he’d not told her that he was afraid to be grateful for it. If he truly cared for something, it would be stripped away. The best recourse was not to care.
Then he was immune to hurt.
So why was he now in so much blasted pain?
Because he adored her, dammit. That was the reason he was in such agony now, why he wasn’t seeing after his club, why he didn’t care how much money was being raked in, why he didn’t care that some men owed him more than they’d be able to repay in ten lifetimes.
She’d had no one, nowhere to go. Yet she had managed to disappear like smoke caught on a wayward breeze. If he didn’t know better, he’d consider that she might be a figment of his demented imagination.
He should leave her be, stop worrying about her. She had made her decision. She had left.
But she had done so without knowing how he truly felt. She had departed believing that he didn’t care.
What a jackass he was.
Would it have killed him to tell her that she mattered?
He removed the coin from his pocket, studied it, remembered how warm it had been when his father had placed it on his palm. He didn’t believe in fate, luck, or good fortune. He believed that a man created all three, sometimes from nothing.
He turned the coin over, once, twice, thrice. He wouldn’t play her silly game. But he would flip it. Heads he would let her go. Tails he would search for her.
Tossing it up, he watched as it reached its apex, turning end over end, before beginning its descent. He was halfway to the door when it clattered on the floor. He realized with everything deep inside him that it didn’t matter how the coin had landed.
He would search for her until he found her or drew his last breath.
He hurried down the stairs and toward the back door. He wasn’t quite certain where he would start. The rookeries he supposed. She certainly would not have returned to Wortham, and if she’d had anyplace else to seek sanctuary, she’d have not stayed with him that first night.
He’d told her where to sell her jewelry. He’d shown her where to seek shelter. Yes, the rookeries. That was where she would go.
Stepping outside, he locked the door behind him and headed down the mews. He’d sent his carriage home, because he’d had no plans to return there. It was a miserable place without her. The small things about her brought him such delight. No one had ever fascinated him as she did.
He turned into an alleyway, intending to make his way to the nearest street to hire a hackney, but six hulking men closed in around him. He had neither the time nor the patience for this nonsense. “If you know what’s good for you, gents, you’ll back off and let me be on my way.”
“And if ye know what’s good for ye, ye’ll sign me club back over to me.”
Rafe watched as the group parted and Dimmick stepped through, and while the light was dim, it was clear that he was as ugly as ever. “Ah, Dimmick, I’d heard that you were dead.”
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