Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(49) by Lorraine Heath
Whatever retort Swindler may have wanted to make went unsaid as Frannie walked out from behind the screen in a black dress, as though Sterling was already dead and she was preparing to go to the funeral. He wanted her in the green gown or nothing at all. Yes, nothing at all was preferable.
“You’re awake,” she said.
She smiled at Swindler. “Thank you for seeing after him while I tidied up. I think you can go now.”
“Frannie, I don’t think it’s wise to leave you alone—”
“Jim, I retrieved my dagger.” She patted her side. “He’s aware I know well how to use it. Besides, he put himself in harm’s way earlier. I think he deserves a bit of trust.”
Swindler gave Sterling one last glare, designed to kill a lesser man, before pushing himself to his feet. Heading for the door, he stopped momentarily to touch Frannie’s cheek. “Just watch yourself.”
Frannie followed him to the door, gave him a reassuring smile and a gentle nudge onto the stoop. After closing the door, she turned the lock. Sykes’s man might have run off, but nothing prevented him from returning at his leisure.
With a weary sigh, she walked toward the bed, coming up short when she saw that Greystone was watching her with those cobalt-blue eyes.
“That inspector…he’s in love with you,” Greystone said quietly.
“All of Feagan’s lads are.” Brushing off his words, she walked to the chair and sat.
“Not like he is.”
“We’re friends, nothing more.”
“Why did you lie to them?” Greystone asked, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and pushing himself up to a sitting position. “You did know who attacked you and you knew what he wanted.”
“I didn’t know who he was. And they would just worry.”
“I wasn’t close enough to hear everything, but I did catch the name Sykes. Has this anything to do with the boy?”
“Possibly. He ran away. I spent much of today in the rookeries searching for him. I came away with four children but none of them were Jimmy. I’m assuming Sykes was outside your residence last night and probably saw us taking the lad to the orphanage. He may have seen me going into your residence, recognized me. I don’t know. Perhaps the boy told him.”
“Why didn’t you explain all this to Swindler? He could arrest this Sykes fellow—”
“For what? It’s not against the law to threaten.”
“He sent someone to hurt you.”
“What proof do I have that he was behind it? I didn’t get a good look at the fellow, so there’s no one to testify. And even if I did know who attacked me and Jim located him”—she shook her head—“Sykes is not someone anyone would testify against. He is the devil incarnate.”
She didn’t appreciate the way he was scrutinizing her, as though he could read her thoughts. “You didn’t tell them what you knew because you knew they’d try to take care of it.”
“I thought they might get hurt trying to take care of it. And because…” Her voice trailed off.
“Because?” he prodded.
She gazed at him intently. “How many of them have threatened you?”
A muscle in his jaw jumped. Men. So damned proud. They wanted to handle their own affairs, not show any weakness, not ask for help. Why couldn’t they understand that sometimes a woman felt the need for the same considerations?
“All of them,” she said with conviction.
“No,” he responded quickly.
She nodded thoughtfully. “Bill didn’t. He wouldn’t. That’s because he’s a healer. He can’t stand to see anyone suffering. But the others…I love the lads. I’ve always loved them, but sometimes I feel as though they’re suffocating me.”
“You need their help here.”
She nodded. She knew she did, but just once she wished she could be as independent as she wanted.
Reaching out, he took her hand and skimmed his thumb over her knuckles. It seemed he welcomed any excuse to touch her, as though he relished her nearness as much as she did his. “Come to my residence for a few days.”
“And to your bed?”
“No. Not unless you want to.” With a low moan, he reached back for his shirt and began putting it on. “You were attacked tonight and that had to be…difficult.”
She felt the tears stinging her eyes and blinked them back. In most ways it wasn’t like before, but still it had brought back the horrid memories.
“You nearly killed me, which would have been tragic.”
She bit back her smile. How could he make her want to laugh and cry at the same time?
“You’re bound to be feeling guilty about it. And now you have to worry about this Sykes fellow. How can you think clearly, Frannie? He won’t think to look for you at my residence. Even if he saw you come there last night, he won’t think I’ve invited you back.”
“Can survive for a few days without you. You have staff to look after them. And I need a nurse to help me with my recovery. I’d think you’d suffice. When was the last time you had a few days of not worrying about anything?”
But being in his residence would bring with it another set of worries. Could she remain near him and not want him?
“My coach is waiting down the street.”
“Your poor driver—”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online