Devil in Winter Page 89

That, it seemed, was all that Sebastian was willing to allow. Coming forward, he retrieved Evie and spoke brusquely to Cam. “Go send for the mortuary man.”

“Yes,” the boy said almost absently. He hesitated. “They’ll have heard the noise downstairs. We’ll have to offer an explanation of some kind.”

“Tell them someone was cleaning a gun, and it went off accidentally,” Sebastian said. “Tell them no one was hurt. When the mortuary man arrives, bring him up the back way. Pay him for his silence.”

“Yes, my lord. What if a constable should make inquiries—”

“Send him to the office—I’ll deal with him there.”

Cam nodded and disappeared.

Pulling Evie from the apartments, Sebastian locked the door, pocketed the key, and took her to another bedroom down the hallway. She accompanied him in a daze, trying to make herself comprehend what had just happened. Sebastian was silent, his profile granite-hard as he tried to marshal his composure. With great care, he brought her into the bedroom. “Stay here,” he said. “I’ll send a maid to attend you. And a glass of brandy—I want you to drink all of it.”

Evie looked up at him anxiously. “Will you come to me later?”

He gave her a short nod. “I have to take care of things first.”

But he didn’t return to the room that night. Evie waited for him in vain, finally going to bed alone. Her sleep was broken by frequent awakenings, her hand fumbling to the empty space beside her as she searched in vain for Sebastian’s warm body. Morning arrived to find her worried and exhausted, her gaze bleary as she beheld the maid who had come to light the grate.

“Have you seen Lord St. Vincent this morning?” Evie asked huskily.

“Yes, milady. His Lordship and Mr. Rohan have been up most of the night, talking.”

“Tell him that I wish to see him.”

“Yes, milady.” The maid set a ewer of hot water on the washstand and left the room.

Climbing out of bed, Evie performed her morning ablutions and smoothed her hands over the untamed curls of her hair. Her brush and comb and pins were all in the other bedroom, where—

She shivered with revulsion and pity as she remembered the events of the previous evening. How glad she was that her father had not lived to see what had become of poor Joss Bullard. She wondered what his true feelings for the young man had been, or if he had ever let himself believe that Bullard had been his son. “Papa…” she murmured, staring at her own blue eyes in the looking glass. Ivo Jenner’s eyes. He had taken so many secrets to the grave with him, and had left so much unexplained. She would always regret not having known him better. It gave her comfort, however, to think that he would have been pleased to know that Jenner’s would finally achieve the heights he had always aspired to…and that his own daughter had set in motion the events that would result in the club’s salvation.

As her thoughts turned to Sebastian, he entered the room, still wearing the same clothes he had worn the previous evening. His hair was a disordered mass of gold and amber, and his light eyes were heavily shadowed. He looked fatigued but resolute, with the air of a man who had made unpleasant decisions and was determined to stand by them.

His gaze combed over her. “How are you?”

Evie would have run to him, but something in his expression checked her. She stood by the washstand, staring at him curiously. “A bit weary. Not so weary as you seem, however. The maid said that you were awake most of the night. What did you and Cam discuss?”

Sebastian reached up to rub the nape of his neck. “He’s having a bit of difficulty coming to terms with what happened last night. But he’ll be all right.”

Evie stood before him uncertainly, wondering why he was trying so hard to appear remote. As he glanced over her nightgown-clad form, however, he could not conceal the flare of yearning in his eyes. The sight reassured her. “Come to me,” she said in a low voice.

Instead of complying, Sebastian walked to the window, away from her. Silently he gazed at the busy street lined with carriages, the pavements crowded with foot traffic.

Perplexed by his behavior, Evie watched the long, sleek line of his back, and the taut set of his shoulders.

Finally Sebastian turned toward her, his face carefully blank. “I’ve had enough,” he said. “You’re not safe here—I’ve said it from the beginning. And I’ve been proven right one time too many. I’ve made a decision that will not be altered. You are leaving on the morrow. I’m sending you to the country, to stay at the family estate for a while. My father wants to meet you. He’ll be pleasant enough company, and there are a few local families to provide some diversion—”

“And you intend to stay here?” Evie asked with a frown.

“Yes. I will manage the club, and I’ll come to visit you from time to time.”

Unable to believe that he was proposing a separation between them, Evie gave him a round-eyed stare. “Why?” she asked faintly.

His face was grim. “I can’t keep you in a place like this, worrying constantly about what might happen to you.”

“Things happen to people in the country, too.”

“I’m not going to argue with you,” Sebastian said gruffly. “You’ll go where I want you to go, and that’s that.”

The old Evie would have been cowed, and hurt, and would probably have obeyed without further argument. The new Evie, however, was much stronger…not to mention desperately in love. “I don’t think I can stay away from you,” she said in a level tone. “Especially when I don’t understand the reason for it.”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies