Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(4) by Lorraine Heath
“Think they’ll be happy?” Jack asked as he offered her another glass of champagne, forcing her to drag her attention away from the man who fascinated her. He was larger than life, and as a general rule she preferred the small and mundane.
Jim and Bill were standing nearby, suffocatingly so, as though they could shield her from her own discomfort with the elegant elite.
“I’m sure of it,” she said. “Catherine is good for Luke.”
“What do you make of her brother?”
That he was as powerful as the storm raging behind him. That within his arms a woman would discover pleasure beyond anything she’d ever known. Heat swirled low within her as she licked her lips and offered up a small lie. “I’m not sure.”
“He’s been watching us,” Jim said.
“A good many of the guests are watching us,” Bill muttered.
“And their pockets,” Jack added. “I’m halfway tempted to walk through and lift things.”
Frannie scowled at him. Luke’s grandfather had taken them out of the rookeries, but he’d not been able to take the rookeries out of them—not completely. “Don’t do anything to let our presence embarrass Luke. He’s finally being accepted by his peers. It was a bit of rebellion on his part to invite us.” The scoundrels of his youth, although she knew he’d never completely leave them behind. Their pasts had forged an unbreakable bond.
“Still watching out for him?” Jack asked.
“The same as I watch out for all of you.” She gave him a playful smile. “And you watch out for me.”
Although there were times when they watched a little too closely, were just a bit too overprotective. She loved them dearly, but sometimes she craved something more, something that she couldn’t quite identify. Perhaps that was the reason she was suddenly feeling the need to stage a rebellion. She glanced back toward the gentleman at the window. “I believe I’m going to introduce myself.”
“He’s a bloody duke,” Jack reminded her.
“Yes, I’m well aware of that,” she murmured before handing the flute back to him, taking a deep breath, and walking across the room.
As a rule she avoided those who carried titles because they made her uncomfortably aware of her humble origins, but something about this man demanded her attention, made her desire a moment of recklessness. She’d worked so terribly hard to insulate herself from anything that might bring her harm, and she’d only managed to give herself an incredibly boring existence. Nothing about him struck her as boring.
She felt eyes come to bear on her, other guests making note of her actions. Because she’d never cared much for their perusal, she should have been bothered by their increasing interest in her, but the man chose that moment to settle his gaze on her, and she felt it like a gentle caress that swept the length of her body. Her step almost faltered. Feagan’s lads never looked at her with desire smoldering within their eyes. Perhaps that was the reason Greystone was so dangerous to her. Because with only a glance, he made her feel as though she’d suddenly transformed from an awkward girl into an attractive woman with the power to lure a man toward a sinful encounter.
Even more astonishing was the attraction she felt toward him. She’d never met a man who stirred passion within her, who made her yearn for a touch of his lips, a stroke of his fingers.
Fighting off the urge to turn on her heel and return to her safe haven, she came to a halt before him. His eyes were the blue of a sapphire gemstone that had been embedded in a necklace she’d once lifted from a pompous woman’s neck. Feagan had been so delighted with the take that he’d bought her a strawberry. She could never taste one now without thinking of it as a reward for wicked behavior. She thought an evening with Greystone would result in her eating an entire bowl of delicious strawberries.
“I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Frannie Darling.”
“The bookkeeper at Dodger’s.”
She knew her eyes widened at that. She seldom stepped out into the gaming area. Her work was handled in an area accessible only by those who possessed the proper key. “I seem to recall you’re a member.”
“And I seem to remember your friends”—he nodded toward where Jack, Jim, and Bill waited expectantly for her return—“are all thieves.”
Disappointment slammed into her with the realization that he was one of those, those who didn’t believe someone could rise above her station in life, those who had made her life miserable while she lived with Claybourne. She should have left him to his pettiness, but something compelled her to stay. Perhaps she wanted to give him the opportunity to redeem himself.
“As it’s customary for the wedding breakfast to be held at the home of the bride’s family, am I to assume you disapproved of the guest list?”
“You may assume what you like, but I value my property and prefer not to have light-fingered guests about.”
“I see.” She was an excellent judge of character, and she didn’t have the sense that his was being truly revealed. The most skilled actors in the world were beggars. With a practiced look, they could win over a heart, nab sympathy, cause a person to give away his last coin. Greystone, it seemed, was putting on a performance guaranteed to earn him no kind regard. She wondered at his reasons.
He shifted his gaze to the crowd. “Will he make her happy?”
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