One Night With A Prince(2)

By: Sabrina Jeffries

Gavin shook his head. “I swear, you and Iversley have gone soft. Ever since you settled down with your pretty wives, you see the world through a haze of sentimental nonsense.”

Hearing envy creep into his voice, Gavin ruthlessly squelched it. He didn’t envy his brothers their contented marriages. Heliked his life—liked being his own man, liked his easy, nonthreatening liaisons with the married women who turned to him for a few hours of wickedness here and there. He liked being essentially alone and rootless.

A scowl knit his brow. “So what must I do to gain this dubious reward?”

Iversley relaxed. “It’s nothing, really. Convince Lord Stokely to invite a certain widow to the annual house party he throws for his gambling friends.”

“How do you know about that?” Gavin asked.

“Prinny has his spies,” Draker put in.

Gavin knocked some ash from his cigar into the tin bowl Draker kept for that purpose. “I take it that the woman is one of them? Or one of his mistresses?”

Iversley shook his head. “She’s definitelynot Prinny’s mistress. And I would guess, having met her, that she’s not a spy either.”

“Stokely is very particular about his guests. They have to be adept at whist and comfortable with wickedness, not to mention discreet. Is she?”

Draker looked blank. “I’m sure she can be discreet, under the circumstances. I suppose she could pretend to be comfortable with wickedness, but I have no clue if Lady Haversham is any good at—”

“Wait a minute—the Marchioness of Haversham?She’s the one you want Stokely to invite? Are you insane?”

That seemed to catch Draker off guard. “She’s not your average marchioness,” he said defensively.

“She’s General Lyon’s daughter.”

“That’s probably why the bloody chit nearly blew my head off a year ago,” Gavin said. Draker blinked. “You’ve met her?”

“If you could call it that.” An image rose instantly in Gavin’s mind, of a small, raven-haired lass with a very large gun. “I rode out to speak to her husband at his estate about his mounting debt at the Blue Swan, and she put a hole in my cabriolet—not to mention my hat.”

Iversley smothered a laugh. “You mean, she didn’t take a liking to you at once, like the other ladies in society?”

Gavin arched one eyebrow. “Apparently the good Lady Haversham didn’t approve of her husband’s gambling. She was reloading her repeating rifle when Haversham himself came out and coaxed her inside. Otherwise, I’d probably be missing a crucial piece of my anatomy.”

He shook his head. “That termagant could never blend in at Stokely’s, even if the man would invite her. She’s clearly opposed to gambling, and probably wickedness, too.” Gavin scowled. “I take it she didn’t tell you of our disastrous first meeting?”

“No,” Draker admitted. “And if it was so disastrous, why did she choose your name from among the list of guests Prinny procured?”

“She probably wants to get close enough not to miss this time,” Gavin said. “With Haversham dead, she’s settling old scores. How did he die, anyway? Did she shoot at him, too?”

“Nothing like that.”

“Well,I didn’t kill the man, if that’s what this is about. He paid me in full right before he died, so I had no reason to wish him dead.”

“She knows that. Besides, he died in a fall from a horse.” Draker poured himself some brandy. “And how he died has nothing to do with it.”

“But you don’t know what does,” Gavin remarked.

“Prinny wouldn’t say, so you’ll have to ask her yourself.” With a sly glance, he added, “Unless you’re too afraid of the woman to talk to her.”

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