Devil in Winter Page 88

“Who?” Evie mumbled, her gaze slowly clearing.

“Our father. We’ll go see ‘im in ‘ell…you an’me.” A laugh rattled in his throat. “‘E’ll be running a cribbage game wiv old Scratch ‘imself.” He urged the knife against her, seeming to enjoy the way she flinched. “I’ll cut you,” he muttered, “an’ then meself. ‘Ow would Jenner like that, to see us arm in arm, strolling into ‘ell together?”

As Evie sought for words that might bring him temporarily to reason, a quiet voice came from the doorway.


It was Sebastian, looking astonishingly cool and unperturbed. Although the danger to her had not lessened, Evie felt a rush of relief at his presence. He entered the room slowly. “Apparently the record keeping at Tottenham’s leaves something to be desired,” Sebastian commented, not sparing a glance for Evie. His gaze was fixed on Bullard’s face, his eyes light and hypnotic.

“I thought I’d put a bullet in you,” Bullard said roughly.

Sebastian shrugged casually. “A trifling injury. Tell me…how did you manage to get into the club? We have men at every door.”

“Coal cellar. There’s a bolt ‘ole in it what leads to Rogue’s Lane. No one knows about it. Not ewen that ‘alf-bred Rohan. Go back, or I’ll stick ‘er like a pigeon on a spit.” This last came as Sebastian came a step closer.

Sebastian’s gaze shot to the knife, which Bullard now angled as if he intended to plunge it into Evie’s breast.

“All right,” Sebastian said, retreating at once. “Easy…I’ll do whatever you ask.” His voice was soft and friendly, his expression calm, though glittering trickles of sweat had begun to course down the sides of his face. “Bullard…Joss…listen to me. You have nothing to lose by letting me speak. You’re among friends. All your…your sister and I want is to honor your father’s request to help you. Tell me what you want. I can get you morphine to ease your pain. You can stay here for as long as you wish, with a clean bed to sleep in, and people to take care of you. Whatever you want is yours.”

“You’re playing me false,” Bullard said suspiciously.

“I’m not. I swear it. I’ll give you anything. Unless you harm Evie—then I can do nothing for you.” As Sebastian spoke, he moved slowly toward the window, forcing Bullard to turn. “Let her step away from you, and—”

“Stop,” Bullard said crossly, with an impatient shake of his head. A tremor shook him, and he let out an animal grunt. “Damned noise in my ears…”

“I can help you,” Sebastian said patiently. “You need medicine. And rest. Lower your arm, Joss…there’s no need to hurt anyone. You’re where you belong. Lower your arm, and I can help you.”

Incredulously Evie felt Bullard’s arm begin to relax as he was drawn to Sebastian’s soothing voice. At the same time, he turned more fully toward Sebastian.

A deafening blast of sound rent the air. Evie was released with a force that sent her reeling backward. Her dazed mind had only a moment to register the sight of Cam in the doorway, lowering a smoking pistol. Sebastian had deliberately moved into the room to position Bullard so that Cam could get a clear shot.

Before Evie could look at the crumpled heap on the floor, she was seized and whirled around, and crushed against Sebastian’s chest. All the tension he had kept so tightly constrained for the past minute was released in hard shudders as he gripped her against him, clutching her back, her limbs, great handfuls of her hair as it tumbled from its pins. She had no breath to speak, could only stand against him helplessly while he cursed and groaned into her hair.

It seemed that her pulse would never return to normal. “Frannie fetched you,” she finally managed to say.

Sebastian nodded, sliding his shaking fingers into her hair until they curved over her skull. “She told me there was a man in your room. She didn’t recognize him.” Dragging her head back, he saw the tiny cut the knife had made on her throat. His face drained of color as he saw how close Bullard had been to the main artery. He bent to kiss the thin mark, and then dragged his mouth feverishly over her face. “Holy hell,” he whispered. “Evie. Evie. I can’t bear it.”

She twisted in his arms to glance at Cam, who had just draped his own coat over Bullard’s head and shoulders to conceal them. “Cam, you didn’t have to shoot him,” she said thickly. “He was going to let me go. He was lowering his arm—”

“I couldn’t be certain,” the boy said in a monotone. “I had to take the shot when I saw it.” His face was blank, but his golden eyes were brilliant with unshed tears. Evie realized that he had just been forced to kill a man he had known since boyhood.

“Cam—” she began compassionately, but he made a staying gesture and shook his head.

“It was kinder to him,” he said without looking at her. “No creature should have to suffer that way.”

“Yes, but you—”

“I’m fine,” he said, his jaw hardening.

He wasn’t, however. He was pale beneath his golden tan, and he looked so shaken that Evie couldn’t stop herself from going to him and putting her arms around him in maternal consolation. He allowed the embrace, though he didn’t return it, and gradually his tremors quieted. She felt the briefest pressure of his lips on her hair.

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