Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(29) by Lorraine Heath
“Did you feel dirty afterward?”
Prudence threw her head back and released the deep, throaty laughter for which she was so well known. “Caw, no. It was bloody marvelous. ’e got transported, ye know? To Australia. Sometimes I dream ’e’ll come back fer me. A gel’s gotta ’ave ’er dreams.” Scrutinizing Frannie, she patted the brush against her palm. “Need some hints on how not to get knapped?”
Releasing a self-conscious laugh at the notion of taking this…whatever it was…to a point where she might get with child, Frannie shook her head before giving a quick nod. Feagan had often taught them things that he’d told them they probably would never use, but knowledge gave them advantages if they got in a tight spot. “I probably won’t need any preventives, but I spend an awful lot of time thinking about him and wondering what it might be like if he did more than kiss me.”
Prudence grinned. “Kissed ye, ’as ’e?”
Feeling as though she were suddenly ten years younger, carefree with never a worry, Frannie had an insane urge to giggle as she’d once seen a young girl with a beau behave as they’d walked down a street arm in arm, lost in each other. Silly, really, to experience this giddiness at her age. “Don’t you dare tell Jack.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Prudence slapped the back of the chair. “Sit down, let me finish with yer hair and I’ll tell ye wot I know.”
What she knew, unfortunately, usually involved the cooperation of the man. Frannie couldn’t imagine discussing such intimate matters with Greystone, and if she couldn’t discuss them, she probably shouldn’t be doing them with him.
So why, then, had she gone to so much bother? Her hair looked quite lovely pinned up with green ribbons woven through it. Where Prudence had obtained the ribbons, Frannie had no idea, but they matched the emerald green of the gown Jack had purchased for her. It left a good bit of her shoulders exposed. She was torn. Would it entice Greystone into trailing his fine mouth over her skin? Did she want him to? Cursing herself as a coward, she drew on a silk shawl. She tugged on the white kidskin gloves Luke’s grandfather had given her years ago. She felt as though she needed something else, but what?
Then she remembered a gift Feagan had given her the day she and the others had said their goodbyes, when they’d moved into Claybourne’s London residence, leaving Feagan behind. She’d not wanted to go, but he’d insisted. “Ye’ll ’ave a better life, Frannie darling, and ’ave I not taught ye that ye always go for the big purse, not the small one?”
Opening a small carved wooden box, she carefully removed a strand of pearls. “A little gift to remember me by.”
Other than the clothes on her back, it was the only thing she’d brought with her from the rookeries. Her clothes had been burned later that night after the filth of the rookeries had been scrubbed from her body. She’d never worn the pearls before, because she was afraid they’d been stolen and someone might recognize them, but as far as she could tell, they possessed no identifying marks to distinguish them from any other strands she’d ever seen. Tonight she was quivering with nervousness and needed a bit of Feagan with her.
“Yer as good as anyone,” he’d once told her.
With a deep breath, she tucked the sentiment away into the corner of her mind where she kept precious memories.
It had grown dark by the time she grabbed a small reticule, left her apartment, and locked the door.
Frannie had not been this terrified or this excited since the day that she, Luke, and Jack sneaked out of Feagan’s at dawn to go to a fair. He’d have not minded if they’d told him what they’d planned. He’d have assumed they were going to pilfer pockets. But the night before, when counting the coins, she’d pocketed a crown for them so they could take pleasure in the day without worry of getting arrested. Rather than stealing, they’d purchased food to eat. As much as she’d enjoyed the day, it had been tainted with worry, because she’d been afraid Feagan would discover that a coin was missing and be sorely disappointed in her. It was one thing to steal from strangers, another entirely to steal from him.
It was how she felt now. Excited to be going, terrified that she would disappoint the lads if they discovered her plans, for surely they wouldn’t approve when they knew as well as she that nothing lasting would come of this encounter. She was a bit of sport for a lord of the realm, and while he might treat her as though she were a lady in the beginning, at the end she’d be nothing more than a memory, if that.
She was halfway down the stairs when she spied Greystone, limned by the gas lamp that hung outside the back door of Dodger’s. The alleyway wasn’t brightly lit in this area, but it provided enough light that she could recognize his silhouette. The breadth of his shoulders, the narrowness of his hips gave him away. His outline alone was elegant.
What was she doing going anywhere with this man?
“Miss Darling.” He gave her a low bow before extending his hand upward to assist her in descending the last few steps. Slipping her hand into his, she felt his long, strong fingers wrap around hers and her heart gave a little patter. Thank goodness, they both wore gloves. She was still on the steps, her eyes level with his, when he said in a low, sensuous voice, “You look beautiful.”
“Anyone can appear beautiful in the shadows.” Why did she sound breathless, as though she’d raced down the stairs?
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