One Night With A Prince(3)By: Sabrina Jeffries
Gavin snorted. Yet another attempt to coerce him by pricking his pride. Hadn’t Draker learned by now that he could see through such ploys? “I’ll let the woman speak her piece. But she’d better be unarmed for the meeting.”
Iversley shot Draker a smile. “What do you say, Draker? Shall you search Lady Haversham now or shall I?”
“She’shere ?” Gavin growled. “Have you lost your mind? You let her in your house, around your wife and son? Did you lock up your firearms first?”
Draker scowled. “We had to arrange a meeting between you and her that no one would find suspicious, so you’re both here for dinner. But she can’t be as bad as you say. The woman seems perfectly amiable, if a little…well—”
“If that’s what you call it,” Gavin muttered. “Fine, go fetch the wench. After I hear why she wants to drag me into this, I’ll consider your proposal.”
Draker nodded and left the room with Iversley. Only a minute passed before Lady Haversham herself marched in. Up close, she was prettier than he remembered, despite her awful widow’s weeds and lopsided coiffure. She also looked quite fierce for a woman who came up only to his chin—a little spitfire with snapping green eyes and an impudent nose.
He stubbed out his cigar, though he wasn’t sure why he bothered. Despite her title, Lady Haversham was no lady. She was a soldier in skirts.
“Good evening, Mr. Byrne.” She thrust out her black-gloved hand as boldly as any man. Gavin took it in a firm grip, then in one quick motion, jerked her around so he could clamp an arm about her waist and hold her still from behind while he smoothed his other hand down her starched wool gown. She began to struggle. “What the devil—”
“Be still,” he growled. “I’m making sure you didn’t pack a pistol in some pocket.”
“Oh, for pity’s sake,” she muttered, but stopped fighting him. After a moment of enduring the indignity of having his hands on her, she snapped, “My pistol is in my reticule, which is sitting in Lord Draker’s drawing room. All right?”
The woman was a walking arsenal. “All right.” He released her, not because of what she’d said, but because running his hands over her petite but surprisingly womanly figure had perversely aroused him. He didn’t want her to know it, however—the female was liable to shoot off his cock for its impertinence. She faced him, crossing her arms over her chest. “Well? Will you help me?”
Nothing like going to the heart of the matter. “Why me?” he countered. “The last time we met, you weren’t exactly impressed with my credentials.”
A small smile touched her lips. “You mean I nearly put a hole in your credentials. I suppose I should apologize for that.”
“That would be a good start.”
She lifted her chin. “I was only trying to save Philip from certain ruin.”
“Ruin! Your husband paid off his debt easily enough.”
A weary sadness passed over her face. “Yes, he did. He gained the money by selling to Lord Stokely something belonging to my family.”
Suddenly, things began to make more sense. “That’s why you want an invitation to Stokely’s. To retrieve your property. Or more accurately, to steal it.”
“If I couldbuy it back, I would. But Lord Stokely won’t sell.”
“You asked him?”
“His Highness asked him.” When Gavin’s eyes narrowed, she added hastily, “On behalf of my family, of course.”
Not bloody likely. Prinny didn’t have a philanthropic bone in his body. Whatever her property was, Prinny clearly had a vested interest in it. Otherwise, he would never offer Gavin a barony to help recover it.