Devil in Winter Page 24

“Is Mr. Egan available at pr-present?” she asked, naming the club’s factotum, who had worked for her father for the past ten years. She had no great liking for Egan, who was a boastful, blustering sort, but he wouldn’t dare refuse her entrance to her own father’s club.


“Then Mr. Rohan,” Evie said desperately. “Please tell him that M-Miss Jenner is here.”

“I told ye—”

“Get Rohan,” Sebastian snapped at the young man, and wedged his boot against the door to prevent it from being closed. “We’ll wait inside. My wife isn’t going to be kept standing out on the street.”

Looking startled by the cold gleam in the taller man’s eyes, the employee muttered his assent and disappeared swiftly.

Sebastian guided Evie over the threshold and glanced at the nearby staircase. “Shall we go upstairs?”

She shook her head. “I would rather speak to Mr. Rohan first, actually. I’m sure he’ll be able to tell me something about my father’s c-condition.”

At the sound of her slight stammer, Sebastian lifted his hand to the nape of her neck, slid it beneath her untidy hair, and squeezed gently. Though his face was still cold, his hand was warm and soothing, and she felt herself relax involuntarily. “Who is Rohan?”

“He’s one of the croupiers…he has been employed here since he was a boy. My father started him as a listmaker’s runner. You would remember Mr. Rohan, if you’ve seen him before. He is rather difficult to overlook.”

Sebastian pondered the remark and murmured, “He’s the Gypsy, isn’t he?”

“Half Gypsy, I believe, on his mother’s side.”

“What is the other half?”

“No one knows.” She threw him a guarded glance as she said quietly, “I’ve always wondered if he might be my half brother.”

Interest flickered in his pale eyes. “Did you ever ask your father?”

“Yes. He denied it.” However, Evie had never been quite convinced. Her father had always demonstrated a vaguely paternal manner with Cam. And she was not so naive as to believe that he hadn’t sired a few illegitimate children. He was a man of renowned physical appetites, and moreover he had never been one to worry over the consequences of his actions. Wondering if the same could be said of her husband, she asked cautiously, “Sebastian, have you ever…”

“Not that I’m aware of,” he said, understanding immediately. “I’ve always been inclined to use French letters—not only to prevent conception, but also to avoid the more exotic ailments that afflict the unwary.”

Bewildered by the statement, Evie murmured. “French letters? What are those? And what do you mean, ailments? Do you mean that doing…that…could make one ill? But how—”

“Good God,” Sebastian muttered, his fingers touching her mouth to still the questions. “I’ll explain later. It’s not the kind of thing one likes to discuss on the doorstep.”

Evie was prevented from asking further questions by the appearance of Cam Rohan. As Cam saw Evie, a faint smile came to his face, and he bowed gracefully. Even when Cam’s manner and movements were restrained, there seemed to be an invisible flourish, a suggestion of physical charisma. He was by far the best croupier at Jenner’s, though his appearance—that of a boy pirate—would hardly lead one to think so at first. He was about twenty-five, his body imbued with the slimness of young adulthood. The swarthy hue of his skin and the inky blackness of his hair betrayed his heritage, not to mention his first name, which was common for a Romany. Evie had always liked the soft-spoken young man, whose fierce loyalty to her father had been demonstrated numerous times over the years.

Cam was well-dressed in dark clothes and polished shoes, but as usual his hair wanted cutting, the thick black locks curling over the crisp white edge of his collar. And his long, lean fingers were adorned with a few gold rings. As his head lifted, Evie saw the glitter of a diamond stud in one ear—an exotic touch that suited him. Cam regarded her with the remarkable golden-hazel eyes that often lulled people into forgetting about the nimble mind behind them. At times his gaze was so penetrating that he seemed to be looking right through you…as if he were watching something behind you.

“Gadji,” Cam said softly, a friendly use of the Romany name for a non-Gypsy woman. He had an unusual accent, cultured, but tainted with hints of cockney and a sort of foreign rhythm, all blended in a unique mixture. “Welcome,” he said with a brief but dazzling smile. “Your father will be pleased to see you.”

“Thank you, Cam. I…I was afraid he might already h-have—”

“No,” Cam murmured, his smile dimming. “He is still alive.” He hesitated before adding, “Most of the time he sleeps. He won’t eat. I don’t think it will be long. He’s asked for you. I tried to send for you, but—”

“The Maybricks wouldn’t allow it,” Evie half whispered, her mouth tightening with anger. They had not bothered to tell her that her father had asked for her. And Joss Bullard had just lied to her. “Well, I’m away fr-from them for good, Cam. I’ve married. And I will remain here until my father…no longer n-n-needs me.”

Cam’s gaze swerved to Sebastian’s implacable countenance. Recognition kindled, and he murmured, “Lord St. Vincent.” If he had an opinion about Evie’s union with such a man, he did not reveal it.

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