Lord of Wicked Intentions(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 3)(90) by Lorraine Heath
“Not to worry. Got the best ferreters in the world at my fingertips. This way, Miss Chambers, gentlemen.”
Leaving Geoffrey where he was, with a huge hulk of a man watching him from the doorway, Mick led them out of the office to the balcony where they’d been earlier. Reaching up, he jangled a bell. All activity below ceased. Everyone glanced up. “Gentlemen, I must ask you all to leave. We have a bit of cleaning up to do here. When we reopen you’ll find your accounts wiped clean of debt. But you must leave now, as quickly as possible.”
A bit of grumbling echoed over the floor, but soon the only ones standing about were those who worked for the club.
“All right, listen up,” Mick said. “Seems Mr. Easton has gone missing. Spread out through St. Giles, see what you can uncover. Let me know as soon as you hear any whisperings, especially if they involve a bloke named Dimmick. Many of you know him, some of you don’t. Be grateful you don’t. Let it be known that there is a five hundred pound reward to the man or woman who can tell us exactly where Mr. Easton might be found. Off with you now.”
Everyone began to scatter.
Mick turned back to them. “That should do it. I suspect we’ll have something before the night is done.”
“They’re all from St. Giles,” Evelyn said.
“Every last one of us. He always takes the hungriest, the filthiest, the worst off of the lot—gives us something better. Not a soul out there wouldn’t die for him.”
“You’ve known my brother for a long time,” the duke said, not really questioning, but affirming.
“Ever since I was a scrap of a lad, fighting to make my way about the streets. He had no patience for me, was constantly telling me to bugger off, to leave him be. But he was always there with a ready fist when the bullies began picking on me, taught me how to raise my own fists and deliver a good solid blow. When my belly was aching, he’d toss me something to eat, even if it was all he had. He has a heart surrounded by stone, your brother. But inside that stone is a far better man than even he knows he is. I’ll go down fighting for him, and if it is Dimmick who is responsible for you not being able to find him—God help your brother, then God help Dimmick once I get my hands on him.”
“You’ll have to stand in line,” the duke and Lord Tristan said at the same time.
They’d left him bound tightly in ropes. Without food, without water, without solace. He didn’t know for how long. Days, weeks. Time had no meaning. The only thing he was aware of was the constant agony in his hand.
They came for him, took him back to the almost empty room, placed him in the chair at the table, secured him to it. Only this time, Dimmick was sitting as well, scrawling on the paper.
“When I’m finished here, ye’ll just sign it as best ye can,” Dimmick said. “Then yer hell will be over.”
Rafe doubted it. He’d not gone mad with the binding. He simply pretended that they were Eve’s arms, wrapped around him, holding him close, as she whispered words of encouragement. All would be well, everything would turn out fine.
Lies. A man could survive on lies. So could a boy.
“Did you already forget that I write with my left hand?”
“I don’t forget nothing. I don’t forget how ye blackmailed me.” He lifted his gaze and stared pointedly at Rafe, with one eye closed and the other hard and accusing. “I don’t forget how you turned my own lads against me. Even those who owed me coin stopped fearing me, thought you’d watch over them.”
Rafe wouldn’t go so far as to say that he watched over anyone. He had no stomach for bullies, and Dimmick had been one of the worst. That Rafe worked to undermine the ruffian brought him a great deal of satisfaction. That was why he offered better things to those upon whom Dimmick depended. Not for what they received, but for what it brought him.
Everything was always about him. His world centered around him.
Until Eve. Then the center had shifted, and nearly toppled him.
Dimmick returned to his scribbling. “I, Rafe Easton, bein’ of sound mind and body, do hereby . . . how do you spell bequeathed?”
Dimmick looked at him again. Rafe simply looked back.
Dimmick sighed heavily. “You are a stubborn one. Charlie, the hammer.”
“B,” Rafe began, “e-q-e-t-h-e-d.”
“Thank you kindly.”
Rafe hoped that Mick or a solicitor would recognize with the misspelled word that Rafe had not in fact written the will. It might not make any difference, but perhaps—
“Bequeath to Angus Dimmick the Rakehell Club—”
Rafe was vaguely aware of a commotion, the sound of a door crashing open, the rush of feet. The air suddenly filled with shouts and yells. Dimmick was scrambling out of his chair, a blurred figure rushed by and grabbed him by the throat.
“You dare to harm my brother?”
Sebastian? What the bloody hell was he doing here? Had the pain caused Rafe to hallucinate? Was all this a dream?
Rafe watched as he took Dimmick to the floor and began pounding him as Rafe had longed to do ever since he’d found himself bound.
“Oh, my God. Help me get the bindings off him. Quickly. Quickly.”
Eve was suddenly kneeling beside him, touching his face. “My love, we’ll have them off in no time.”
“Eve,” he rasped.
“I’m here now.”
Mick and Laurence were cutting the binding, he felt it loosening, felt as though he could finally breathe again. When his good hand was free, he cradled her face. “I want to make you laugh, Evie.”
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