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Authors: Hazel Statham

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BOOK: Dominic
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Her thoughts in tur
m
oil,
she gave no answer. Surely the d
uchess
would
insist
t
h
at
she
be
r
e
turned
to
h
e
r
f
a
m
ily, yet
how
was
she
to
affect
her
escape
fr
o
m Vale’s protection?
She
could
not
e
m
broil
him in
this
dread
fu
l tangle.
She knew her brother
and
would
not
lay
the
e
arl open to his reprisal, the con
s
equences of which could be disastrous.
Seeing
him
stifle
a
would-be
yawn,
she
took the
opportunity
to
delay
the
ordering
of
her
future, thinking
that
once
he
had
taken
so
m
e
sleep
and
the
re
m
aining
effects
of
the
brandy
had
been
allowed
to
dissipate,
he
would
view
t
h
e
s
it
u
ation
m
ore
logi
c
all
y
. Though exactly what she was to do, she knew not.

Vale rose and taking her silence as agree
m
ent to his ordering
,
took
her
arm and
said,
“Co
m
e
now,
we
are
both
in
need
of
rest
.
All
will
seem
a
deal
better
in
the
morning.”
T
hen
seeing
the
terr
o
r in her face as he would have
lifted
her
to
her
feet he
s
m
iled.
“Have
no
fear,
m
y dear, you are quite safe. I have no thoughts of seducing you.
I
am not
in
the
habit
of
r
u
ining
ladies
of
quality.
You will sl
e
ep in
m
y chamber
and I will do very well in the chair by the hearth.” Grinning he presented her with the fruit knife. “You
m
ay take
this with you for protection
as I know
you
will
have
no
co
m
punction
in using it.
However,
m
ay
I
suggest
that
the
next
ti
m
e
you
feel
the
need
to protect
yourself,
you
aim
for
m
y
ribs
and
not
my
a
r
m as
it will
have
f
ar
m
ore e
ff
ect.”

“I ce
r
t
a
inly will not,
s
i
r!
” she said i
n
dignantly.

I have done you enough harm, and I have every confidence in your
intentions.
However,
I
m
ust
ad
m
it
I
a
m tired
and would be grateful for your bed.”

“Then
away
with
you,
Jack,”
he
said,
leading
the
way to
his
cha
m
ber
and
opening
the
door
for
her
to
enter.
“I will
atte
m
pt to forestall
my
m
an
in
t
he
m
orning.
It
would not do that he should find you in
m
y bed.”

She
entered
and
turned
just
as the door closed in her wake. “Goodnight, sir,” she whispered to the e
m
pty roo
m
, “and thank you for your great kindness to
m
e.”

Vale
did
not
hear
her
words,
and
turning
wearily
from
the
do
o
r,
retreated
to
t
h
e
chair
by
the
hearth.
T
he
effects
of his night’s carousing were sta
r
ting to take effect and he wished nothing
m
ore than to seek his own repose. Stretching
his
long
legs
out
before
him he
rested his
head against
the
winged
back,
his eyes
closing
aut
o
m
aticall
y
. Im
m
ediately,
he fell
into a deep slu
m
ber from which it would
have
taken
a
thunderbo
l
t
to
wake
hi
m
,
t
he
effects
of the spirits rendering him as one in a co
m
a.

 

 

Chapter
Two

 

The
e
arl
awoke
to
the
sound
of
his
m
an
going
about his business and,
seeing
by the
m
antle
clock
that
the
ti
m
e approached
noon, he sat upright
in the chair, easing his aching li
m
b
s to a
m
ore co
m
f
ortable position.

“Ah, Peters,”
he said guardedly. “I trust you have not woken our visitor
?

Peters, a tall angular ind
i
vidual looked so
m
ewhat taken aback.
“I
was
not
aware
that
we
have
a
visitor,
sir,”
he said,
glancing
toward
the
bedroom door.
“I
thought
you
to have
fallen
asleep
in
the
chair last
night
and
have
tried
m
y best not to wake you. Should I lay covers for two then,
m
y
lor
d
?”

“Firstly I
m
ust see t
h
at my guest is awake,” said Vale, rising from
t
he chair and stretching his stiffened li
m
bs. “In the
m
eanti
m
e, I would be grateful if you would prepare your brew. I have the devil’s own hangover.”

“Im
m
ediately, sir,” re
p
lied Peters
m
aking his way toward
the
kitchen.
It
was
not
unusual
to
find
his
young
m
aster
in
need
of
repair
aft
e
r
an
evening
at
his
clubs
and
he
had
ev
ol
ved
a
re
m
e
dy
that
ap
p
eared
to
alleviate
his sy
m
p
to
m
s.

W
aiting
f
or
Pet
e
rs
to
di
sappear,
Vale
quietly
knocked on
the
door
to
his
bedcha
m
ber,
but
as
there
was
no answer, he knocked again so
m
ewhat
louder.
S
till no reply and, beco
m
ing i
m
patient,
he t
r
ied the door only to find it
unlocked
and
, thrusting
it
wide
, peered into the now
e
m
pty
room.

W
here
the
devil has she gone now
?
” he expostulated, slam
m
i
ng the door shut and returning to the parlor.
Snatching
up
his
discar
d
ed coat,
he
felt
in
its capacio
u
s
p
ockets for the
key, b
u
t it
was n
o
t there
and striding over to the door found it to be in the lock.

“Stupid little fool,” he s
n
apped, cursing softly and long at
her
need
to
be
gone
f
r
om
his
protection.
“I
suppose
now I
will
be
obliged
to
go
in
search
of
her,
though
exactly what
is
to
be
done
should
I
find
her,
I
know
not.
D
a
m
nable
females
!
Nothing but trouble,
and
obstinate
into
the
b
ar
gain!
Sur
e
ly
she
was
not
in
f
ear
of
m
e?
For once
in
m
y life,
m
y intentions were of the
m
ost honorable. I wished
n
othing
m
ore than to
h
elp her
.
” Then as if reac
h
ing
a
deci
s
i
on,
“No,
I
will
not
scour
t
h
e
streets
for her.
She
m
u
st
m
ake
what
best
she can of the situation.
I offered
m
y
assi
s
t
ance
and
she
has
rej
e
cted
it.
So
be
it.
I will gi
v
e
it no
m
ore
m
i
nd; I have
p
roble
m
s enough of
m
y own to contend with.”

BOOK: Dominic
12.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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