She Tempts the Duke(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 1)(14) by Lorraine Heath
“I’ve killed. It is not a pleasant undertaking.”
“As have I, although I am not at all adverse to sending to the devil those who deserve it.”
Sebastian studied him. It had been only a fortnight since he and his brothers had managed to reunite. He had left each of them with the command to meet at the abbey ruins near Pembrook in ten years on the date that they escaped the tower. But war and wounds had delayed Sebastian. The sea had thrown obstacles Tristan’s way and he, too, had failed to show at the appointed time.
Rafe had hired a man to live near the ruins until the brothers arrived. Not once had it ever occurred to him that they were dead. After months spent recovering from his devastating wounds, Sebastian finally made his way to the abbey. The man had provided him with the address to The Rakehell Club and a message from Rafe. Here he would be safe.
But rather than head to London straightaway, he’d spent a fortnight securing the estate. Then he’d come to London. He and his brothers had planned their return to London Society. They’d wanted a dramatic entry. He thought they’d achieved that end with a remarkable bit of success.
But the final curtain had yet to draw closed, and several acts still remained unperformed.
“I don’t want any more blood on my hands,” Sebastian said now.
“They’d be on mine.”
He didn’t much like the speed with which Tristan responded. “You’ve become quite bloodthirsty.”
“I’ve learned to survive, no matter the cost.” He shrugged. “I’ve also learned to take comfort where I can find it. Rafe has a charming girl working here who is very talented at giving comfort. So if you’ll excuse me, I believe I shall seek her out. I’m certain she has a friend if you’re interested.”
Tonight he had far too much on his mind. After his brother left the room, he dropped into the chair and filled his glass with more brandy. He took a long swallow and leaned back. From his pocket, he removed the threadbare bundle. The yellow ribbon had faded with time, but it still managed to hold secure that which he treasured most.
He brought it near his nose and inhaled deeply. The rich scent of the soil tantalized him, spurred him on, made him yearn for home. He would return there soon—once his place in Society was firmly established.
I am the Duke of Keswick, he told the fire. It merely snapped and popped, as though it didn’t believe his words any more than he did.
Fool! So close. You shouldn’t have waited so long.
“What choice did I have? I had to fend off suspicions.”
But twelve years? Fool.
Lord David Easton paced with agitation. So close. So close. So close.
Twelve years ago, he sent his man to the tower to dispense with his troublesome nephews. He was going to claim a hunting accident. It was a poor explanation. He’d known it at the time, but creativity had never been his strong suit.
Only the lads had somehow managed to escape. Search parties had no success in finding them. The boys had skillfully eluded Lord David until even he began to believe the rumors that they were dead.
He shouldn’t have waited to press his claim to the titles, but he hadn’t wanted to be suspected of foul play. Not that it would have done him any good. A half-blind man could see the twins’ remarkable resemblance to their father.
Only one of them does. The other is half-blind, which fosters a weakness, would make him easier prey.
“After tonight’s fiasco, you can’t think I can get away with killing them.”
You must. Lucretia will leave you if you once again become nothing—just as the lads’ mother tossed you over for their father, for Randall. She was yours. But it took only one smile from Randall for her to turn her favors toward him. She said she loved him, but all she wanted was the title. It’s all any woman wants.”
“But three murders—”
Accidents. Just as one befell their father. They are cursed.
“No one will believe it.”
They believed your father died of illness. You proved to him how clever you were.
Lord David stopped his pacing and stared into the fire. “You are not as clever as your brother,” his father told him over and over as he was growing up.
“I am clever.” His laughter echoed around him. “Even my father had to admit how clever I was in the end, when the poison had done its work and all thought he’d fallen ill.” But when he died, Randall became duke and stole David’s love.
He had to pay for his betrayal, for his thievery.
“I never should have listened to you,” he whispered to the shadows that had long been his companions.
And Eve never should have taken a bite from the apple. You have tasted vengeance. Surely you would not pass up a feast.
He licked his lips, already savoring the sweetness of it.
The morning following the most interesting ball of the Season, Mary was sitting in the morning room reading Jane Eyre when the butler walked in and bowed slightly.
“M’lady, you have a guest.”
Inwardly she groaned. Lady Hermione had certainly wasted no time in seeking her out for gossip. “Inform her that I’m not at home.”
“Not ‘her,’ m’lady, but the Duke of Keswick.”
Her heart thundered as she rose quickly to her feet, patted her hair, smoothed her skirt. “Show him in.”
“He is in the library with your father. I’m to take you there.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online