Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(46) by Lorraine Heath
Someone snagged her from behind and hurled her against the brick wall. Before she could react in self-defense, he was pressing his body against hers, pinning her in place, one of his hands gathering up her skirt, lifting it—
“I’m ’ere to deliver a message from Bob Sykes,” he rasped, his breath rancid from too much drink and rotting teeth. “Leave his boys be.”
“Let me go,” she demanded, trying to buck him off.
He jammed his thigh painfully between her legs. “Not until I get payment fer delivering the message. I’ve always wanted a taste of a fancy skirt.”
He clamped his hand on her jaw, his mouth smothering hers, his other hand touching her—
No, no, no!
She was twelve again, fighting, fighting—
Everything happened in a heartbeat. Struggling against the dark abyss into which she wanted to fall, she pulled out the knife and thrust it—
He yelled and was gone. She heard a thud, even as the knife hit something hard, and the impact reverberated up her arm.
A strangled groan sounded.
Labored breathing echoed around her.
Fingers dug into her shoulder. In the pale glow of a distant gas lamp, she found herself staring at Greystone, his hand pressed to his side. She could barely make out the inky blackness flowing between his fingers.
She heard a scrabbling motion and was vaguely aware of the other man running away. “This ain’t over, Frannie Darling,” her attacker called out as he disappeared in the deep shadows and around the corner of the building.
Releasing the knife, she pressed her hand over Greystone’s. He ground out a strangled curse, and she felt the warm blood oozing between her fingers. So much blood.
“Dear God. How badly are you hurt? Can you make it up the stairs? I want to have a look, see how—”
He wrapped his hand around her neck, surprisingly strong, holding her near. “If I’m to die,” he rasped, “let me do so…with the taste of you upon my lips.”
Without his usual finesse he planted his mouth over hers. She told herself that he couldn’t be mortally wounded if his hand still held such strength and his mouth such passion.
A strange fluke of fate that he’d jerked her attacker off her just as she was plunging a knife toward his midsection. Greystone, with his heroics, was now spilling his blood over himself and her. So damned much blood.
She pushed against him. “You fool. You’re going to bleed to death.”
“It’s a mere scratch.”
“Then you’re an even bigger fool for making me worry. Have you the strength to climb the stairs?”
She snaked her arm around his back, while his landed hard on her shoulders. They staggered toward the stairs, the weight of him increasing with each step as though he were losing strength along with the blood. It wasn’t a mere scratch. A mere scratch wouldn’t drench her hand in blood. They were halfway up the stairs when he dropped to his knees.
“Seems I misjudged,” he said.
“It would be undignified for you to die here.”
He chuckled low. “I’m nothing if I’m not dignified.”
“I’m glad you find this humorous.”
“Not in the least.”
Grabbing onto the railing, he pulled himself up. They lurched up the steps. Anyone seeing them might have thought they were drunk. When they reached the top, he leaned against the wall while she dug the key out of her pocket. Once she opened the door, she led him into the apartment.
Like her office, it was sparsely furnished. She considered the sofa, but decided on the bed. It was far more comfortable and he might need to lie down. He sat on the edge of it while she gathered some towels. She came around and knelt in front of him. His clothing was soaked. So damned much blood. That’s all Frannie could think as she tried to staunch the flow of blood. “This doesn’t look good.”
“I think it’s just a gash. Hurts like bloody hell, though. Remind me…to never try to rescue you again.”
“I can’t believe the timing, that you stepped in just when I was thrusting. I didn’t see you.”
“I didn’t see the knife, so we’re even.”
Hardly. “May I…may I unbutton your waistcoat and lift your shirt?”
He nodded. He was growing paler by the minute. She was gentle but as quick as she could be. The gash was horrible. Long and deep, it ran up his side. Thank goodness nothing was spilling out except blood.
“Lie down. I’m going to send someone to fetch Bill.”
“Bill?” He was taking short breaths as though anything more was painful. With a low groan he stretched out on her bed.
“William Graves. He’s a physician.”
“Right. He looked after Catherine.”
“Yes. Just wait here. I’m going to fetch him.”
He gave her a crooked, endearing smile, as though her order made him want to laugh, because he couldn’t go anywhere if he wanted.
She took a step to leave, then turned back to him. “What were you doing here?”
“Came for my watch. Thought your…taking it was an invitation.”
She’d forgotten all about that. Reaching into her pocket where she’d been carrying it all day, she removed it, placed it in his hand, and folded his fingers around it. “It was,” she whispered quietly, before brushing a kiss over his forehead. But it certainly hadn’t been an invitation for this.
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