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Authors: Jess Michaels


BOOK: Seduced
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(The Wicked Woodleys Book 5)




USA Today Bestseller

Jess Michaels




The Wicked Woodleys Book 5


Copyright © Jesse Petersen, 2016


All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.


For more information, contact Jess Michaels

PO Box 814, Cortaro, AZ 85652-0814


To contact the author:

[email protected]




Jess Michaels raffles a FREE Kindle or Amazon gift certificate EVERY month to members of her newsletter, so sign up on her website:




For all the readers who loved the Flynns and the Woodleys. Thank you for a thrilling year and a half. For Mackenzie Walton, editor extraordinaire and all around awesome person.


And for Michael. You make my world go 'round.


Chapter One



London 1818

Jack Blackwood stared across the ballroom and the sea of milling people. They were all dressed in their finery, spinning around the dance floor with jewels on display and blunt practically falling from their pockets. As a thief, it was a temptation almost not to be borne. It would be almost too easy for him to merely take a stroll through the throng and come out with additional weight in his own pockets.

As a brother, he had to ignore that desire. After all, this was his younger brother Warrick’s wedding, and the guests were his guests. Jack had enough of a troubled relationship with War—he didn’t need to make it worse just for sport.

As if conjured, War appeared at his elbow and stood beside him. The two men didn’t look at each other for a moment, didn’t talk, but just gazed out over the crowd together.

“Are you thinking how easy it would be to steal that lady’s jewels?” War finally asked, motioning his head subtly toward a finely dressed guest.

Jack lifted both eyebrows in surprise, but his tone remained even as he kept his gaze focused on the riches before him. “First her jewels, then the ring on the man in the crooked cravat’s hand.”

War turned to him. “A ring is always risky.”

Jack met his brother’s gaze at last. “Risk is what makes it fun.”

War rolled his eyes, but Jack was happy to see the hint of a smile on his face. War knew Jack was a scoundrel, a thief, an infamous criminal. Hell, for many years War had been at his side, fighting every battle as Jack solidified his rule of the underground.

Until War abandoned him. Jack’s smile fell at that thought.

“You aren’t
plotting are you?” War asked, his tone growing more serious, as if he sensed the shift in his brother.

Jack shrugged one shoulder. “At your wedding? I wouldn’t do such a thing to you or to Claire and her family. I
have boundaries.”

“Good to hear,” War said, his tone noncommittal. Jack wasn’t certain if he was being insulted or not.

He cleared his throat, eager to change the subject. “Well, you are leg shackled now, War. How does it feel?”

The grin returned to War’s face. “Wonderful,” he said simply.

Jack found his brows lifting again. “Truly?”

“You sound surprised.” War shook his head. “I don’t know how you could be. It’s common knowledge now that I have loved Claire for a very long time. If I hadn’t been injured six months ago, I would have married her then.”

Jack searched his brother’s expression. Oh yes, he knew War loved Claire, who was the daughter of a titled family, the Woodleys. His brother had worked for them breaking horses for years. Claire and War had come to London not long ago seeking Jack’s help to find Claire’s daughter, and War had nearly died when they faced off with Claire’s former lover and Jack’s greatest enemy, Jonathon Aston.

But time had healed his brother’s physical wounds, save the scars they’d left behind. And as Jack looked at him, he could see his brother was even happier than he claimed with his words. There was a light to War now, a peace that had never existed before. Not in their abusive childhood, not even when they ran the underground together.

Seeing his brother’s joy was bittersweet for Jack. Sweet to see War so happy. Bitter to know they would never again work side by side, that War would be drawn further away from Jack’s dangerous world and into Claire’s respectable one.

“Are you not happy for me?” War asked, his gaze intense even as his words were soft.

Jack shook his head. “I am
happy for you,” he promised. “For you and for Claire.”

War nodded slowly and Jack watched as his brother’s gaze swept back to the crowd. He knew when War had found Claire by the way his brother’s dark eyes lit up, his face relaxed with pleasure. He practically hummed with the love he felt for her, and Jack felt a sudden need to back away from such intensity of connection.

He forced himself not to and instead followed War’s gaze to his new bride. Jack could not deny Claire was a beauty with her blonde hair and bright, intelligent green eyes. But it wasn’t Claire who caught his attention in that moment. Instead, his gaze fell on her companion, a dark-haired, dark-eyed woman in an amber-colored gown. She might not have been so noticeable except for the way her dress clung to luscious curves.

“Who is that with her?” Jack asked.

“Just Letty,” War said. “I’m sorry—Viscountess Leticia Seagate, Claire’s cousin.”

Jack watched as the lady in question laughed. “Have I met her before?”

War stared at him for a beat before he said, “Perhaps. She was around here and there during the months of my recovery. It’s possible you passed each other during one of your visits to my bedside.”

Jack wrinkled his brow. “It is odd she would seem so familiar with such a vague connection.”

“Perhaps it is the name,” War suggested. “If you recall, when Claire and I confronted Jonathon Aston, he was in the beginning stages of what likely would have been a seduction for Letty’s inheritance.”

“I see.” Jack pursed his lips. “Yes, I do recall some talk of that from you two. I suppose that is why I feel I knew her. It must be her name.”

Except that didn’t feel right either, as good an explanation as it was. It
the lady’s name that had caused his reaction, but the glimpse of her face, the hint of her smile as she stood chatting with Claire and some of the others in her family. No, there was something else that drew his eye to this Letitia woman.

He just didn’t know what it was.

“You look like you are plotting again, Jack,” War said with a long and rather put upon sigh. “Please tell me you are not.”

“Plotting? What could I be plotting?” Jack asked with a laugh he had to force. Luckily he’d been doing that for years, so it sounded true.

“I don’t know. I could think of thirteen scenarios just off hand,” War said.

“Only thirteen? You are slipping,” Jack teased.

His brother shook his head, refusing to smile. “I’m only saying that I know I cannot stop you from taking risks or acting foolishly or doing whatever you like. But I do ask you not to involve Claire’s guests or certainly her family in whatever you do. Will you make that vow?”

Jack bent his head. His brother knew him too well, it seemed. “My dear Warrick, I was merely asking after a lady. I certainly know she is far outside of my rank and I hope you know me better than to think I would treat someone so callously as Jonathon Aston did. I have no intention of harming a hair on the head of any lady or gentleman at this party. You have my word.”

War arched a brow. “Good. I intend to hold you to it. Now, I am off to be with my new bride. This gathering is going on far too long and I am hoping to encourage her to escape it early.”

Jack smiled as War clasped his arm briefly and then disappeared toward Claire. But as he vanished into the crowd, Jack’s smile fell. He’d made a promise to his brother now.

But he knew more than any how difficult promises sometimes were to keep.



Letty stood at the edge of the dance floor and tried not to let her emotions play out over her face. She would have preferred not having those emotions at all, but that was far more difficult. Right now she felt…well, it was a sense of déjà vu, really. Before her marriage, she had been a wallflower, and now that she was a widow, she was right back to that role, watching as the other guests danced and laughed and generally had the best time.

How she hated a party.


She turned at the sound of the voice and smiled despite the melancholy that had just been plaguing her. It was impossible
to smile when faced with her younger brother. Griffin was dressed in his finery, and at seventeen no one would ever say he didn’t fit it. He had grown into a man’s body in the last year. He was tall and lanky, though still a bit awkward, like a colt who didn’t quite have his legs. But his face was still that of her little brother, the nine years that separated them enough that she felt almost motherly toward him.

“Hello, Griffin. Are you having a good time?”

He made a face that gave away his answer even before he spoke again. “I suppose,” he lied. “What about you?”

She shrugged. “I suppose.”

“Would you like to dance?” he asked.

Her heart swelled as she looked down at his now-outreached hand. Once again she recognized them as a man’s hands, even if they were attached to her baby brother.

“Yes,” she said as she took the offering. “I would very much like that, Griffin, thank you.”

He smiled and led her to the dance floor just as one song ended and the next began. A waltz, and he shifted. “I’m not very good at this one.”

“That’s all right, you may trod on my feet, and hopefully it will be good practice for you,” she said. “Just remember to count—in your head, of course—and don’t worry.”

Griffin nodded as they launched into the steps. For a few turns, he stared at his feet, counting silently, even though his lips moved with the effort. Letty couldn’t help but smile.

“Very nice,” she reassured him. “But with a lady who is not your sister, I think you will be expected to look at her and to talk.”

Griffin’s gaze flashed up and his cheeks brightened with color. “Oh. Yes. Sorry, Letty.”

“It’s fine,” she said with an encouraging smile. “But let’s practice, shall we? How are you enjoying Cousin Claire’s wedding ball?”

“She looks very pretty,” he offered.

Letty nodded. Of course Claire looked pretty. Both Claire and her sister Audrey were uncommon beauties. And their brothers had married equal beauties. And all their friends were beauties too.

How could anyone else dare compete?

She pushed that ugly thought away and said, “She does. And she seems happy, no matter how unusual the match is.”

BOOK: Seduced
13.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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