Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 4)(38) by Lorraine Heath
“What if he tries to find us, Eleanor? That man at Scotland Yard said he was the best.”
“You told him we live to the north, didn’t you?” Her sister shrugged. “He’ll give up long before he thinks to look to the south.”
Would he give up? Would he even begin to search for her? Or would he simply accept that she’d left?
Emma had become so good at living a life of deception. She’d even lied to Eleanor with such ease that it had been almost frightening. As far as Eleanor knew, she and James had simply ridden around London in the carriage until dawn. Her sister had no idea that she’d sacrificed her virginity or spent the night in James’s bed.
She pressed her hand to her stomach, wondering if she might be carrying James’s child, surprised to discover that the thought brought her a great deal of joy. She didn’t think she’d ever feel for another man the way she felt about him.
He was so generous, so giving. She was grateful for every second she’d spent in the company of James Swindler.
Still, just once Emma would have liked to have heard him whisper her name.
It was the first time Swindler had voiced the words aloud since they’d begun echoing through his mind two days ago. Spoken aloud, they sounded incredulous.
“I beg your pardon?” Sir David asked, leaning back in his chair.
“Miss Watkins. She packed up her things and left her lodgings.”
“What do you make of that?”
Swindler sighed, the truth of the situation difficult to admit. “I may have been duped, sir.”
Sir David arched a brow. “The lady wasn’t with you that night?”
“Then maybe she was simply unsettled about the murder of Rockberry and being arrested.”
“There may be more to it than that, sir.”
“In Rockberry’s library there were two glasses of unfinished wine, which leads me to believe Rockberry may have known his murderer.”
Sir David nodded. “Go on.”
“I went to the morgue to study the body. The dagger that killed Rockberry—I’ve seen it before. That night at Cremorne Gardens.”
“Did it belong to one of the swells who attacked Miss Watkins?”
“No, sir. It belonged to Miss Watkins herself. I’m afraid, sir, that she may have had an accomplice.”
“Damn it, man! How did you miss that?”
“I was focused on the lady. I believed as long as she was within my sight, Rockberry was safe. I believe it’s imperative that I find her, and my search may take me outside of London.”
Sir David stroked his thumb and forefinger over his mustache. “Could still be the brother. He could be the accomplice.”
“Possibly, but I know I must find the lady.” If not for the crime, then for himself. It made no sense to him that she’d leave unless she was trying to hide something.
“You have leave to do what you must, Swindler. Report to me when you have something.”
“Yes, sir.” He turned to go.
He glanced back.
“You don’t look yourself. Do whatever you need to do so you’re back to snuff. I need my best man at his sharpest.”
His best man. If Sir David knew how easily his best man had been duped, he’d have demanded that he leave Scotland Yard.
As though following his thoughts, Sir David added, “You’re not the first to be fooled by a pretty face.”
Swindler took no consolation from the words. It was more than her pretty face. It was everything about her that had fooled him.
“Viscount Watkins’s estate, you say?”
Swindler watched as Greystone’s brow furrowed. It didn’t sit well with Swindler that he’d needed to come to Frannie’s husband for assistance, even though he respected the lord more than he did most. Greystone had proved his worth by putting his life at risk for Frannie last year.
“Unfortunately, until recently I was so absorbed by my own wants, I paid very little attention to anyone outside my father’s sphere of influence. I can make some inquiries. Someone is bound to know where his estate lies.”
“The land wasn’t entailed, so that might make it more difficult.”
“Still, someone must know him.”
“Eleanor told me they lived to the north, by the sea. I suspect all or part of it is a lie.”
What other lies had she told? Had her feelings for him been false as well? If not, then how could she have left?
“I could always ask the queen,” Greystone said.
“I’d rather not involve her majesty.”
Greystone gave a little shrug. “I can be most discreet.”
“You should have him ask, Jim,” Frannie said. “Now is not the time to be stubborn. If she were in London, you’d have already found her by now. No one can follow a scent like you can.”
“Where she’s concerned, I’m all turned about, Frannie. I can think of no logical reason for her to have left as abruptly as she did.”
“It can be quite unsettling to be arrested. Perhaps she was simply frightened.”
He shook his head. “She was with me. She had no reason to fear being arrested again.”
“Perhaps she simply wanted to go home.”
Swindler shoved himself out of the chair. “Without even leaving me a note?” He strode toward the window, stopped, plowed his hands through his hair. “My apologies.”
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