Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(72) by Lorraine Heath
“Kill ’er,” Tiny said, and giggled.
Sterling had never known a man to giggle, much less one so large.
“Shut up, Tiny, or I’ll kill ye, too,” Sykes said, before homing his gaze back onto Sterling. “Ye see ’ow it is, Mr. Knight. I’m not someone ye want to upset. So tell me about this robbery yer planning.”
Sterling wished he could see into the shadows, wished he knew if the others were anywhere near. “Are ye familiar with the Koh-i-noor diamond on exhibit at the Crystal Palace? Largest diamond in the world?”
“Indeed I am.” Grinning, Sykes stood up. “Ye got a plan for lifting it?”
“Let’s ’ear it then.”
“Send these two on.”
Sykes seemed to hesitate.
“Ye’ve got me pistol. ’old it on me if ye want.”
Sykes nodded. “Ye two go back inside.”
Sterling listened as their footsteps retreated.
“Well?” Sykes prodded.
“It’s very simple. You go straight to hell.”
Sterling felt the fire before he heard the thunder. Not that it mattered. He’d flung himself at Sykes and taken him to the ground. His first jab to Sykes’s jaw must have numbed him, because he barely flailed.
Sterling didn’t know how many times he hit Sykes before someone was pulling him off. “Wait. He’s not dead!”
“You don’t have to kill him,” Claybourne said, kneeling beside him. “We heard him. Swindler says it’s enough to get him hanged.”
Sterling shook his head.
“No reason to kill him if the law will do it for you,” Claybourne said quietly. “Trust me on this, Greystone. You don’t want to kill him if you don’t have to.”
“He hurt Frannie.”
“She’ll be all right. She never looked at me quite the same after I killed Geoffrey Langdon. She carries the guilt too.”
Sterling nodded. If it was best for her—
He was suddenly aware of the pain rampaging through him. “Where’s Swindler?”
“Here.” He crouched beside Sterling. “We got the boy.”
Sterling grabbed his shirt, then cursed himself as he fell backward, bringing Swindler with him. “Never make her cry.”
He didn’t know if Swindler nodded, because his entire world went black.
When Sterling awoke with his shoulder aching and his head pounding, the first thing he saw was James Swindler standing at the foot of his bed, his arms crossed over his chest, his face not nearly set in the rigid lines of distrust it usually was.
“Frannie. Is she all right?” Sterling croaked.
“You could ask her yourself,” a soft voice said.
He jerked his head to the side, and there she sat in a chair near his shoulder, in a place where any man with normal vision would see her. She combed her fingers through his hair, the way he’d seen her touch so many of the boys she would willingly die to protect. Slipping her hand around his, she raised his hand to her lips and pressed a kiss against his knuckles while her tears splashed against his skin.
“Don’t cry,” he rasped.
“You could have been killed. You silly, silly man.” She buried the fingers of the hand that had been so gentle at first into his hair as though she intended to hold him there forever. She turned her head to the side, looked at the man who Sterling knew loved her. “Will you bring him in?”
“Who?” Sterling asked.
“Peter. He’s been so worried about you.” Fluffing some pillows behind him, she helped him sit up.
“How long?” he asked.
“Three days. Your fever broke last night. You were fortunate. You lost a great deal of blood when the bullet went through your shoulder, but nothing was damaged that Bill couldn’t repair.”
He nodded. He was exhausted. Holding Sterling’s head, she brought a glass of water to his lips. It felt good going down his throat.
He heard the door open and the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps. The boy came into view and Frannie grabbed him before he leaped on the bed.
“Ye gonna be awright?” Peter asked.
Sterling nodded. “You lied to Sykes.”
Peter bobbed his head. “He ain’t a dragon.”
Sterling grinned. “No, he’s not. You’re not to run off again.”
“I wouldn’t ’ave before, but they come fer me.”
“They won’t come for you again. Will they, Swindler?”
Standing at the foot of the bed again, Swindler said, “No. We’ve got Sykes in gaol. He’s not getting out.”
And Sterling heard the determination in his voice. Even if the court found Sykes not guilty, he’d never again walk the streets. Swindler would see to it. If he didn’t, Sterling would. He hoped he never came to regret not finishing Sykes off when he had the chance.
Frannie hugged Peter close. “Say good-bye to the duke now.”
“Be good, Peter.”
“Jim, will you take him, please?” Frannie asked.
Jim gave a brusque nod, turned to go, then looked back at Sterling. “You weren’t half bad for a bloke not raised on the streets. It was my honor to fight at your side.”
Before Sterling could return the compliment, Swindler ushered Jimmy from the room, closing the door in their wake.
Sterling turned his attention back to Frannie. She was so beautiful. He wished he could believe she was safe, but his Frannie continued to live in a very dangerous world. “You’ll continue to go to the rookeries, won’t you?”
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