Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(40) by Lorraine Heath
I have come into possession of something which I believe may belong to you. My coach is at your service.
Sitting at her desk in her office at Dodger’s, Frannie set down the neatly written message and stared at the gold pocket watch that had arrived with it. She was not familiar with the coat of arms of every noble family, but this one she recognized. It had been nestled against her palm when she lifted it from Greystone’s waistcoat during the wedding breakfast.
What could he possibly have that belonged to her? Why didn’t he bring it here instead of insinuating with his unwritten words that she should go there? She knew that was what he wanted, knew it was the meaning behind the inclusion of his watch. That she was to return it to him in order to gain what he possessed.
She closed her fingers around it and imagined she could feel the warmth that would have come from it being nestled in his pocket. She knew it was unlikely. It had been a while since it had been in his possession.
Why now, when she was finally beginning to dream of him with greater infrequency, to look for him in the gaming area less often, to no longer consider the pleasures she’d experience if she were to slip into his residence—into his bed—at midnight? With nothing more than a few written words, she was remembering everything about him that she’d fought so valiantly to forget, wanted to see him again with a desperation that was almost frightening.
This time of night no one would see her climbing into a coach bearing his ducal crest. Even if someone did see, what did it matter? For a child of the streets, chaperones, etiquette, and proper behavior were as foreign as an abundance of coins.
She looked up at the wide-eyed young man who’d brought her the missive. Thomas Lark had been at Dodger’s for only a few short months. Another child of the streets taken in by Jack, who often provided employment for promising lads. Only for Thomas, he’d been providing a place to hide.
“The gentleman who gave this to you. I assume he came in through the front door.”
“Does anyone else know about this?”
So no one was likely to interfere. She nodded, her decision made. “Tell him to bring the coach ’round to the back.”
He gave his head a quick bob and dashed out to see to her bidding. He was so eager to please.
She closed the ledger with which she’d been working. The remaining calculations could wait until tomorrow. For now, she was anxious to determine what Greystone was up to.
Or at least that was the excuse she was willing to admit to. She didn’t want to give credence to the fluttering in her stomach that had more to do with anticipation than worry. Since the night he’d introduced her to the wonders of passion while denying his own needs, she’d not seen him within Dodger’s. He’d sent her flowers, but nothing more. He’d not pressed her to become his lover. She couldn’t deny the disappointment that had slammed into her when she realized that he’d given up his quest to possess her. Where he was concerned, however, her resolve had been weakening.
She knew marriage between them would never be an option. As a noble, he’d never ask a woman of the streets, a bookkeeper in a gaming establishment, for the honor of marriage. Even if he did, his wasn’t a world in which she wanted to live permanently.
But to visit for only one night, to lie within his arms, to be smothered in his kisses, to touch his skin as he’d touched hers, to bring him pleasure as he’d brought her…
What was she thinking? Nothing she hadn’t thought of every night as she drifted off to sleep, clutching his silly handkerchief as though it had the power to return him to her.
She shook her head to clear it, got up from her desk, and strode across the room. She snatched the cloak hanging near the door and draped it around her shoulders before closing her door and striding down the hallway to the far end. Once outside, she lifted her skirts and headed toward the nearby coach, where the footman stood beside the closed door that bore the ducal crest. Without a word he opened it and assisted her inside.
Disappointment rammed into her when she realized Greystone wasn’t waiting for her, that she would be traveling alone. The footman must have delivered the message. Warmer inside than she’d anticipated, she realized a heated brick was resting on the floor. Of course, Greystone would have insisted she travel in comfort. He was thoughtful in that regard.
With a sudden lurch the coach took off. Vanity slapping at her, she wished she’d taken a moment to freshen up, perhaps to change her dress and unpin her hair. If she took it down now, without a brush in hand, she’d look like the very devil when she arrived. Why did she care anyway? What did it matter what he thought?
But it did. The part of her that longed to be desired wanted him to see her as the woman she could be—not the woman that each of Feagan’s lads saw when they looked at her. They loved her, yes. They cared about her. But they didn’t desire her.
While Luke had offered for her hand in marriage, she was fairly certain that he’d never actually envisioned bedding her. And Jim. Now and again, he dropped his armor and she saw how much he wanted her, but it was in the same manner that a child might want a puppy—to care for and look after. Not to share trials, tribulations, joys, and sorrows with. And certainly not to get lost with in wild, sexual abandon.
None of them had ever looked at her the way Greystone did—as though he would like nothing more than to slowly peel the clothes from her body. She knew how talented his mouth and hands could be, and she envisioned him using them to elicit even greater pleasure, envisioned them lying in a tangle of naked limbs.
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