Devil in Winter Page 36

After a moment, Evie felt Cam’s capable hands lifting her away from the bed.

“Evie,” the boy murmured, his face averted, “I have to…have to arrange the body. Go with your husband.”

Evie nodded and tried to move, but her legs had locked. She felt Cam smooth her hair back, and then the dry brush of his mouth over her forehead in a sweet, chaste kiss. Blindly she turned away and stumbled toward her husband. Sebastian came to her in a few strides and pressed a handkerchief into her palm. She took it gratefully. Too distraught to notice or care where they were going, she wiped her eyes and blew her nose, while Sebastian led her from Ivo Jenner’s apartments. His arm was strong behind her back, his hand anchored at her waist.

“He was in constant pain,” Sebastian said in a matter-of-fact tone. “This is better.”

“Yes,” Evie managed to reply numbly. “Yes, of course.”

“Did he say anything to you?”

“He mentioned…my mother.” The thought brought a fresh burn to her eyes, but a crooked smile pulled at her lips. “He said she was going to help him through the back door of heaven.”

Sebastian guided her into her bedroom. Sinking onto the bed, Evie clamped the handkerchief over her nose and curled on her side. She had never cried like this before, without sobs, misery oozing from her throat, while the pressure of grief in her chest refused to abate. She was dimly aware of the curtains being drawn and of Sebastian sending a housemaid for some wine and a jug of cold water.

Although Sebastian stayed in the room, he did not come near, only paced for a few minutes and eventually lowered himself into a bedside chair. It was obvious that he did not want to hold Evie while she cried, that he would shrink from such emotional intimacy. She could abandon herself to him in passion, but not in grief. And yet it was clear that he had no intentions of leaving her.

After the housemaid brought the wine, Sebastian propped Evie up on the pillows and gave her a liberally filled glass. As she drank, he took a cold wet cloth and pressed it gently to her swollen eyes. His manner was kind and oddly careful, as if he were taking care of a young child.

“The employees,” Evie mumbled after a while. “The club. The funeral…”

“I’ll take care of all of it,” Sebastian said calmly. “We’ll close the club. I’ll make the funeral arrangements. Shall I send for one of your friends?”

Evie shook her head immediately. “It would put them in a difficult position. And I don’t feel like talking to anyone.”

“I understand.”

Sebastian stayed with her until she had downed a second glass of wine. Realizing that he was waiting for some cue from her, Evie set the empty vessel on the night table. Her tongue felt thick as she spoke. “I think I could rest now. There’s no need for you to watch over me, when there is so much to be done.”

His assessing gaze swept over her, and he stood from the chair. “Send for me when you awaken.”

Lying tipsy and drowsing and alone in the semidarkness, Evie wondered why people always said that the death of a loved one was easier when one had time to prepare for it. This didn’t seem easy. And those same people might have added that her grief should be lessened by the fact that she had never really known her father. That made it worse, however. There were so few memories with which she could comfort herself…so little time they had spent together. Along with the sadness came a gloomy sense of deprivation…and beneath that, even a touch of anger. Was she so unworthy of love, that she’d had so little of it in her life? Did she lack some essential gift for drawing others to herself?

Aware that her thoughts were drifting dangerously toward self-pity, she closed her eyes and let out a shaking sigh.

Just as Cam left Ivo Jenner’s apartments, St. Vincent met him in the hall. There was a scowl on the blond man’s face, and a vein of chilling arrogance in his tone. “If my wife finds comfort in trite Gypsy homilies, I have no objection to your offering them. However, if you ever kiss her again, no matter how platonic the fashion, I’ll make a eunuch of you.”

The fact that St. Vincent could stoop to petty jealousy when Ivo Jenner was not yet cold in his bed might have outraged some men. Cam, however, regarded the autocratic viscount with speculative interest.

Deliberately calibrating his reply to test the other man, Cam said softly, “Had I ever wanted her that way, I would have had her by now.”

There it was—a flash of warning in St. Vincent’s ice-blue eyes that revealed a depth of feeling he would not admit to. Cam had never seen anything like the mute longing that St. Vincent felt for his own wife. No one could fail to observe that whenever Evie entered the room, St.Vincent practically vibrated like a tuning fork.

“It is possible to care about a woman without wanting to bed her,” Cam pointed out. “But it appears that you don’t agree. Or are you so obsessed with her that you can’t fathom how anyone else could fail to feel the same?”

“I’m not obsessed with her,” St. Vincent snapped.

Leaning a shoulder against the wall, Cam stared into the man’s hard eyes, his usual reserve of patience nearly depleted. “Of course you are. Anyone could see it.”

St. Vincent gave him a warning glance. “Another word,” he said thickly, “and you’ll go the way of Egan.”

Cam raised his hands in a mocking gesture of self-defense. “Warning taken. By the way…Jenner’s last words were about Bullard. There is a financial bequest for him in the will…Jenner wanted it to be honored.”

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