Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 4)(72) by Lorraine Heath
Rockberry sank back down, his small excuse for manhood as shriveled as his soul. Swindler rocked Emma while tears coursed down her cheeks and tremors cascaded through her. “It’s all right, sweetheart. You’re safe now.”
“He’s worse than his brother,” she sobbed.
“I know.” He hated to ask but he had to know. He buried his face in her hair, near her ear, and whispered, “Did he…did he hurt you?”
Shaking her head, she relaxed against him. “Frightened me more than anything. How could they?”
“They are warped, perverted. I can’t explain it.” He glanced over his shoulder to see Greystone’s driver and footman tying the hands of the men and ladies. His gaze averted out of respect for Emma’s modesty, Greystone knelt before Swindler.
“Christ, we’ve got three lords here. And one of those ladies is the daughter of a duke.”
Swindler nodded, not surprised by that discovery. Idle people searching for something to fill their lives. People of influence thinking that they couldn’t be touched. “We’ll take them to the back door of Scotland Yard. Sir David will decide how best to handle this matter. Bundle them up into their carriages. Warn their drivers that if they don’t cooperate they’ll answer to Scotland Yard.”
“Right.” Greystone cast a quick glance at Swindler before looking away. “How’s Emma?”
“Shaken, but brave.”
“She was a lioness, your Emma.”
His Emma. God, he hoped that was true, but he had no idea if she’d forgive him for what had happened tonight.
Emma would have been content to wear nothing except the silk. She simply wanted to get out of this hideous place as quickly as possible. But James insisted that they had time to find her clothes and get her properly dressed while Greystone’s driver went to fetch their coach. Now they were alone inside it, his friends having decided to divide themselves among the other carriages and ensure that the blighters crammed inside them were properly delivered to Scotland Yard.
Leaning against James, Emma was exhausted from the draught and the ordeal. His arm was around her, his hand stroking her arm, so comforting. “However did you find me? How did you know where to look?”
He stiffened beside her, as though preparing himself for a blow. “We never left Greystone’s.”
She shook her head. “But, Eleanor…”
“She went to Cremorne Gardens, but Sir David and several men from Scotland Yard accompanied her. I can’t explain it, Emma. I just felt as though we were missing something. Rockberry was so forthcoming with information, and in spite of the horrors his brother had committed, the new Rockberry almost seemed to relish telling us what a monster his brother had been.” Shifting around, he cradled her chin and turned her face up until he could gaze into her eyes. “Forgive me, Emma, but I couldn’t tell you what I suspected. I knew that they’d give you some draught like they did Elisabeth, and it might cause you to say things that would have alerted them to the fact that we were in pursuit.”
Reaching up, she touched his beloved face. “Do you think there will ever come a day when we’ll be completely honest with each other, when we’ll hold no secrets from each other?”
“From this day forward, I swear to you.”
Nodding, she buried her head in the nook of his shoulder. And could only hope that his words were true.
She didn’t recall drifting off to sleep. She hadn’t wanted to, actually. She’d wanted to enjoy what little time remained to be in his arms. But she awoke to his lips pressed against her temple as he nudged her awake.
“Emma, we’ve arrived.”
With a sigh she struggled to open her eyes. It was the draught, she supposed, continuing to make her lethargic. Then she came fully awake with the realization that she would learn the truth of Eleanor’s fate. But the alertness quickly disappeared, and if not for James’s arm around her back, guiding her up the steps, she wasn’t certain she could have avoided lying down to sleep once again.
The butler opened the door. James only barely led her into the parlor when Eleanor popped up from the sofa—who was the man sitting beside her?—rushed across the room and hugged her as though her life depended on her doing so.
“Oh, Emma, dear Emma, you’re all right! Did he harm you?” She leaned back, studying Emma’s face, touching her cheek, her hair, as though needing to reassure herself that her sister was alive and as well as could be expected under the circumstances. “What did they do to you?”
Emma forced herself to smile, to try again to shake off the lethargy. “Nothing.”
Eleanor’s gaze shot to James.
“They gave her a draught or something to make her more easily bendable to their will, only to discover she’s not easily manipulated,” he said. “She’s not fully recovered.”
“Oh, then you must sit down,” Eleanor ordered her sister.
“Yes, I’d like that. I’m frightfully unsteady.”
Eleanor guided her to a chair. It felt wonderful and cozy to Emma as it enveloped her body.
“Emma,” Eleanor said, kneeling in front of her, touching her hair again. “Are you truly all right?”
“She fought him off,” James said, his voice echoing with pride. “She was quite remarkable.”
“She always has been.” Eleanor squeezed her hands.
“What of Sterling?” the duchess asked, and only then did Emma realize that she was in the room also.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online