Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(13) by Lorraine Heath
She handed it over. She knew he’d never admit to being wrong on this matter, but as he’d shifted the conversation, she was going to mark it as a win in her favor. Besides, she knew he now had more important matters on his mind. One of Jack’s customers, the Duke of Lovingdon, had left Jack all his non-entailed properties. And Jack, in typical Jack fashion, didn’t trust his good fortune, so he was scrutinizing every aspect of the arrangement.
“Will you send a missive to Greystone or shall I?” she asked.
He gave her a pointed glare.
“I suppose I should do it,” she said. “He’d never be able to read what you wrote. You didn’t do anything else to him, did you?”
“No, I did not.”
“Swear to me.”
“God, Frannie, I said I didn’t, and I didn’t.” He studied her for a moment. “You still carry the dagger I gave you?”
She patted her hip. She kept it in a scabbard hidden inside her skirt. “Always.”
“It’s been a while since we’ve practiced. Maybe we should, tomorrow. Make sure you still know how to use it.”
“I know how to use it.”
“Remember, the object is not to wound, but to kill. And don’t worry about him being a blasted lord. Jim will handle any inquiries.”
So now he was suggesting she should kill Greystone? Lovely. “I think if he was going to take advantage, he would have done it in the library when he…” She realized just in time that she was traveling down a path she shouldn’t go with him.
“Luke’s library? What did he do?”
“What did he say?”
“That I was interesting.” She took back her ledger and cradled it against her chest. “Shall I interrogate you regarding your encounter with the young Duchess of Lovingdon?”
“It’s very different. The widow is not looking to take advantage of me.”
She nodded. Strange thing was, she hadn’t been under the impression that Greystone wanted to take advantage either. Rather he wanted to give and receive something that might have been very pleasant for them both.
“Good night, Jack.” She turned on her heel—
“My heart was in the right place, Frannie,” he called after her.
It was so difficult to stay angry at the lads. “I know.”
She returned to her office and wrote eight letters to Greystone until she finally wrote one that didn’t say too much or too little, that gave nothing away regarding her own feelings on the situation. It reflected nothing except business. It would do.
She rose from her desk and strolled across the room. She snatched the cloak hanging near the door and draped it around her shoulders before walking out of her office and into the hallway that never was quiet enough. The exuberant activities that took place beyond the closed door at the end of the hall leading into the gaming area always echoed through the building. She’d grown accustomed to it and barely heard it any longer. On the other side of the hall was the door that led outside.
She unlocked it and stepped out onto the stoop, where a lantern cast a ghostly glow around the dark alley. Quickly she locked the door. She didn’t take the lantern because she knew this area as well as she knew the back of her hand and was comfortable in the shadows. Her room was up the stairs to the left. At her door, she inserted another key. Jack’s apartment was next to hers, but he seldom stayed there anymore, not since he’d inherited a fancy residence in St. James.
Closing and locking her door behind her, she walked over to a nearby table and lit the lamp. With a sigh, she hung up her cloak and began to undress as she made her way across the apartment to the area where she slept. Her small rooms were as sparsely furnished as her office. A sofa, a bed, a vanity, a few odd chairs, a couple of small tables. She didn’t require much in the way of possessions for her happiness.
After she’d washed up and slipped into her nightgown, she sat at her vanity and began to brush her hair. She detested its shade and the abundant curls that made it so difficult to manage. She wondered if Greystone had found it unattractive. She leaned toward the mirror. Her green eyes were her best feature. She remembered how often he’d gazed directly into them. Could he become lost in them? Was there something she could do to ensure that he did?
But she wanted him to become lost in more than her eyes. She wanted him to become lost in her. What a dangerous, dangerous desire.
With a moan, she got up and carried the lamp to the table beside her bed. After crawling beneath the sheets, she extinguished the flame in the lamp and stared into the darkness above her. With very little effort, she imagined Greystone rising over her. He would come to her unclothed and every bit of skin that she could reach would be sun bronzed.
Releasing a groan, she rolled over to her side. When she finally drifted off to sleep, she dreamed that she’d sent him a very different sort of letter than the one she’d written earlier. One that had contained a single word.
As Catherine sat in what had been her father’s—and was now her brother’s—library, she noted the changes in Sterling one by one as he stood at the window, his profile to her as he gazed out, slowly sipping his brandy while the late afternoon sunlight cast a faint glow around him. His once golden hair had darkened considerably, which made him appear older than his twenty-eight years. His shoulders had broadened as though he—rather than servants—had handled a good deal of the difficult labors of traveling the continents. He’d acquired a thin scar on his left cheek, just below his eye. He’d lost his smile.
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