Read Sinful (Hot Regency Romance Novella) Online

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Sinful (Hot Regency Romance Novella)

BOOK: Sinful (Hot Regency Romance Novella)
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Sharon Page

 

Sinful

 


A rising star” –Romantic Times
BOOKreviews

 

This is a work of fiction. Incidents, names,
characters, and places are the products of the author’s
imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, business establishments, or persons living or
dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Smashwords Edition, License
Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment
only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
If you would like to share this book with another person, please
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own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this
author.

 

Copyright 2011 by Edith E. Bruce

 

All rights reserved.

 

Cover design by Croco Designs

Cover photo by Hot Damn Stock

 

www.SharonPage.com

 

Excerpt from Engaged in Sin Copyright 2011 by
Edith E. Bruce

Engaged in Sin is a Dell Mass Market
Original. Published in the United States by Dell, an imprint of the
Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New
York.

Dell is a registered trademark of Random
House, Inc.

All rights reserved.

 

Engaged in Sin

ISBN 978-0-440-24491-2 (mass market)

ISBN 978-0-440-33886-4 (electronic
edition)

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

Chapter One

 

London, March 1817

 

He had caught gangs of murderers in the stews
off Whitechapel High Street. Arrested opium dealers in seedy
brothels near the London docks. But in all the years he had worked
for Bow Street as a Runner, Trevelyan Foxton had never been
required to investigate in a more foreign and intimidating
place.

He stood in a shadowy, narrow passage between
two buildings on Bond Street and watched the front of the shop
across the street. He drew deeply on his cheroot and slowly let the
smoke out of his lungs, but the gentle rhythm of smoking did
nothing to ease the tightness around his heart.

Each time the door to the modiste’s shop
opened, a silver bell tinkled delicately. Ladies flowed in and out
continuously, ladies of every age and every description. Slender,
giggling girls with bright eyes and bouncing curls, along with
their mamas, the formidable matrons of the
ton
. From within,
all he could hear was incessant feminine chatter.

Trevelyan glanced up at the name above the
shop, painted in burgundy and ivory on a large sign, glimmering
with gilt.

No longer was she plain Sally Thomas. She was
now Estelle Desjardins. The last time the door had opened, he’d
caught a glimpse of her. A severe black gown clung to her slender
figure. Her whiskey-brown hair was drawn ruthlessly back into a
smooth chignon. Silver pins stuck out of her mouth, and she ordered
a bevy of seamstresses about with a wave of her hand. Tapping her
chin, she surveyed a girl who stood on a raised podium—a thin,
sallow girl who looked miserable in an ivory dress. At the same
time, she lectured the mother, a blonde, high-in-the-instep matron
Lyan recognized as the Duchess of St. Ives.

A soft smile had tugged at his lips, lifting
his cigar. That was the Sally he remembered.

She’d been the toughest, hardest, and
fiercest woman he had ever known. All of the lads he had grown up
with—the pickpockets, the mudlarks, the thieves—had been afraid of
her. Except for him. He knew the one thing that frightened Sally.
When he wanted her to shut her mouth, all he had to do was kiss
her. Or show her he cared about her.

That had been a long time ago. Back in the
days when he never would have dreamed he’d end up on the good side
of the law as a Bow Street Runner. Back when he had promised Sally
he would protect her forever. When he had pledged his heart to her
and had even given up his virginity to her on a tattered mattress
in his seedy rooms in the stews—on the night that had been their
makeshift wedding night.

That had also been the night she had run
away, vanishing from his life.

Lyan tossed away his cheroot and ground it
into the cobblestones of the street.

Sally had done well for herself. It was a
shame he was going to have to destroy her.

 

* * *

 

Estelle froze. All thoughts of what exact
shade of ivory the daughter of the Duchess of St. Ives should wear
vanished from her head. It no longer mattered that the fashion was
now for long sleeves. Or that she could brighten Lady Amelia’s
complexion, even make her bosom look more ample, with the clever
use of color, pattern, and strategic pleating.

He
stood in the doorway, the
proverbial bull in the china shop. At once, her lavender sachets
were overwhelmed by the rich, masculine scent of him. He smelled of
smoke from the stews, sandalwood and a cheroot, and even shaving
soap and warm skin. His straight shoulders filled the entrance. His
gaze was sharp, intelligent. She had never forgotten how
brilliantly green his eyes were, and how beautifully his thick,
black lashes framed them. Those unforgettable eyes now glinted with
an amusement that made her shoulders quake as he fastened his gaze
on her.

She had just argued with a duchess over a
gown, yet after one look at Lyan, she could not force a word from
her dry throat.

As a young man, Lyan had been bold and
daring. Sinfully handsome, with a wild, wicked grin that had made
her ache for his touch, dream of his kiss, yearn to capture his
heart. Ten years had increased both his size and the lines on his
face, and changed him from a rebellious-looking boy into a
compelling, confident man.

Ten years had not lessened the way her wits
seemed to flee when he looked at her.

She’d wondered if he would ever come and find
her. And now that he was about to invade her shop, what did he
intend to do? It would be so easy for Lyan to get his revenge, the
revenge he must surely want. All he had to do was tell every lady
in her shop exactly where she had come from and who she really
was.

A pin jabbed her tongue. Estelle spat them
all into her hand. The attention of every woman in her salon was
riveted on Lyan, but he had eyes only for her as he slowly stepped
into her shop. He took off his beaver hat as he ducked under the
doorway, revealing his striking coal-black hair and the one streak
of white that began at his temple and followed the sweep of his
unfashionably long tresses to his shoulder.

“Madame Desjardins,” he said, with a
perfunctory bow. He straightened, then ensured he closed the door
behind him. A sardonic smile lifted his lips as the bell tinkled.
“Is it intended to mean ‘Star of the Gardens’? I like that very
much.”

Her stomach almost dropped away. What did
Lyan want? “May I help you, Mr. Foxton?”

The buzz began.

“Goodness, Mr. Foxton is a Bow Street
Runner
,” whispered Lady Amelia to her bosom-bow, Lady
Caroline Trent.

Lady Caroline put her gloved hand to her
mouth and her blue eyes glittered with thrilled delight. “What is
he doing
here
? Do you think there’s been a crime here?”

“Other than the prices?” muttered Lady
Caroline’s mother.

“Have you heard?” one young lady whispered.
“It is said that Mr. Foxton is the heir to the Earl of
Delamore.”

Estelle froze. She took care to know the
gossip of the
ton
. How could she not have known this? Yet if
there was any ordinary man who possessed the autocratic beauty of a
gentleman of the
ton
, it was Lyan.

“That cannot be true,” declared the
voluptuous Countess of Bournemouth. “I heard that he grew up in the
East End stews. It is rumored he has a very sordid past.” She said
it in a breathy purr, as though “sordid” was a commendable
thing.

“I think he is trying to look down Lady
Armitage’s bodice!”

That would not surprise her. Lyan had always
enjoyed playing the rogue. At this very moment, he appeared to be
enjoying shocking her clients. “Madame Desjardins,” he began, in a
voice that had deepened and roughened and grown even more magnetic
in ten years. “I hate to trouble you, but I would like a private
word.”

The ladies gasped, for that meant he must
walk through her shop, past the curtained rooms in which women
stood in various states of undress. Estelle squared her shoulders
and banished her quivers. She had learned to be strong to survive
in London’s stews. She would not let Lyan’s presence make her feel
like an uncertain girl again.

“Miss Sims, advise the ladies to keep their
curtains closed,” she instructed her best seamstress. With brow
raised and what she hoped was a cool, placid expression firmly
fixed in place, she turned to Lyan. “Mr. Foxton, you may come to my
office. I assume a respectable representative of Bow Street will
keep his eyes averted.”

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

Chapter Two

 

In her pastel-colored, daintily decorated
salon, Lyan had appeared large, muscular, and forbidding. In her
small, comfortable, and
private
office, he seemed to fill
the entire space. His rock-solid chest brushed along her shoulder
as he squeezed past her to enter.

Estelle refused to flinch, tremble, or show
any reaction that might reveal how nervous she was. This shop, and
especially this office, was her sanctuary. She was not prepared for
this—for his invasion of her private rooms. She had hurt him once,
it was true, but she refused to cower. It had been a long time ago.
Surely his heart had healed by now. She did not have to tolerate
his sharp tones and cold demeanor.

Then a disturbing thought came to her: if he
had healed, if he wasn’t here for revenge, it meant he was here for
something else entirely. He must have found out what she had been
doing.

She pressed back against the doorframe to let
him pass. His hip grazed past her belly, he apologized curtly, and
she managed to suck in a breath without making a sound. He strode
toward her desk and she followed in his wake. That was one place he
could not invade at will. He would soon find he couldn’t search her
desk just because he wanted to.

When he reached it, he stopped and looked
around. His gaze flicked over the patterned ivory wallpaper, the
shelves filled with books, the inviting leather chairs that looked
as though they belonged in front of a roaring fire in a gentleman’s
club. Tersely, he muttered, “Cozy.”

“Thank you,” she said calmly, as though they
had last spoken yesterday, not ten years ago before she vanished.
“It was what I strove to achieve.”

“You succeeded admirably. This is a most
inviting, albeit small, room.” He said the last as he turned and
discovered her standing right behind him. She stepped quickly back
before her breasts smacked against his wall of a chest.

He went behind her desk and tried the
drawers. “The key, please, Sal.”

That name. She had not heard it for ten
years. It was
not
her name anymore. “Why on earth would I
give you that, when you have not told me what you want? Anyway, if
you want my help in some matter, do not call me that. My name is
now Mrs. Desjardins, and if you really want to be familiar, you can
call me Estelle.”

“I will call you by the name I know. I think
I’m entitled to that, at least.”

Ten years had apparently not eased his anger
at all. Bother. Why in heaven’s name would he hold a grudge for so
long?

She had held onto guilt for ten years, but
that was because guilt was something that could last a
lifetime.

BOOK: Sinful (Hot Regency Romance Novella)
7.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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