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Authors: Jane Charles

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BOOK: Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake
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It didn’t matter what Miss Montgomery
wanted, as long he received the answers that had plagued him for
almost a year.

Jordan tossed back the rest of his wine
and took a step in her direction only to be brought up short by a
hand on his arm. Jordan glanced down to his left, noting the
sparkling rings on long-delicate fingers. He knew that hand well
and a smile formed on his lips. Jordan let his gaze follow her arm,
to her breasts, practically spilling out of the burgundy gown, up
her long slender neck until he reached her emerald eyes, sparkling
with laughter. “Lady Rothsbury, how are you this
evening.”

“Delightful, Mr. Trent.” Her smile
widened. “And you?” A thin, russet eyebrow rose with the
question.

“Much better than before.” Jordan
turned to face the fairly young widow. Her husband had been killed
in a hunting accident some three years ago and Lady Rothsbury had
made no effort to remarry, as far as he knew. And why should she?
Widowed at the age of five and twenty, with already an heir and a
spare, her life was hers to do with as she pleased.

She linked her arm through his and drew
Jordan across the room until they stepped out onto the moonlight
veranda. “I understand you have been keeping a secret,” she
murmured.

Jordan leaned in and whispered. “To
which secret are you referring?”

At one time they had enjoyed the
other’s company, after she came out of mourning. There were many
nights Jordan had spent in her bed to their mutual satisfaction. At
the time he wasn’t ready for a wife, not that his father would have
allowed it anyway, and she wasn’t sure if she would ever marry
again. It was the perfect relationship with both taking what they
wanted, enjoying the other, without the need of commitment. Their
association ended with the death of his father and when Jordan
vowed to become a respectable gentleman. Who would have known such
a feat would be so bloody hard?

Lady Rothsbury laughed. “I understand
you are a solicitor and have been for a number of
years.”

“Not a number,” he corrected. “Only
three.” This wasn’t the first time he had been approached when
someone learned of his profession, but this was the first Season he
didn’t find himself hushing the other person, insisting they keep
it quiet. Prior to his father’s death, Jordan simply denied the
belief and only told the truth in private, and if he knew he could
trust the person making the inquiry not to tell his father that
Jordan had a profession. Actually, it was worse than a profession,
he was in trade.

In his mind, a solicitor was as
respectful as a barrister, but a solicitor actually took money
whereas a barrister received payment from clients through
solicitors so as not to be sullied. It was an idiotic belief that a
man was less than a gentleman because he was paid for his services
when a number of solicitors came from families within society. With
his father’s passing, Jordan no longer needed to guard or keep the
secret, yet he wasn’t sure he wanted his profession to be fodder
for gossip either so he still kept his activities quieter than most
men would.

“Long enough,” she insisted. “I am
rather hurt you hadn’t told me before.”

“But there were so many more
pleasurable things to talk about, and do.” He grinned down at her.
“Is there something I could help you with?”

The corners of her eyes crinkled with
humor as she studied his body from head to toe. “Yes, but that
isn’t the reason I pulled you out here.”

Though the attraction for Lady
Rothsbury was rising, Jordan had no desire to enter into an affair
again.

“I think my brother-in-law is stealing
from the estate.”

Jordan stilled. “Mr.
Creighton?”

“Yes.” All earlier humor was gone from
Lady Rothsbury. “He controls the purse strings, and allows me only
so much in pen money.”

Was this simply a matter of the woman
wishing for more funds and being denied?

“I’ve made inquiries and
learned he is behind in payments to the staff and his debts are
mounting.” She pulled him further into the garden. “A
friend
told me that he
has been frequenting the hells.”

That concern did give one pause. Though
Creighton should not have the ability to spend his nephew’s
inheritance, simply manage the money, there was nothing that truly
kept him from bringing the estate to the brink of financial ruin.
“I will check into the matter if you would like,” Jordan found
himself offering.

Her eyes bore into his. “Please be
discrete. He gets very angry when I question him and I don’t wish
to have what little funds he does allow cut off.”

“Why were you outside with Trent?”
Millicent demanded as soon as her husband was gone and Mr. Bilkin
had been sent on his way.

“I wished to tell him to leave me
alone.”

Millicent’s features softened. “You
would do that for me?”

It wasn’t exactly for Millicent but it
was because of her. “I didn’t want the conversation to be overheard
by the gossipmongers.”

Millicent patted Audrey’s arm and
nodded. “That is very wise of you.” Millicent turned away and once
again watched the door leading to the garden. She had been doing so
since Trent had gone outside.

“He must not be interested in Lady
Rothsbury,” Millicent noted with almost glee before she starting
patting her hair and tugging her gown to lower the bodice more. She
was liable to pop free from the gown if she pulled it down much
further.

Audrey glanced to the doorway and noted
Trent returning with Lady Rothsbury on his arm. It shouldn’t
surprise her that Trent had chosen a private moment with Lady
Rothsbury. The woman was a widow, as well as young, and beautiful.
Audrey was actually surprised to see them return so soon given his
reputation.

“Perhaps he would stroll in the gardens
with me,” Millicent sighed.


What are you thinking,”
Audrey hissed and turned to her friend. “Hasn’t Trent caused you
enough trouble?”

Millicent offered an impish grin. “It
doesn’t matter.” She shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind if he wished to
revisit a past occurrence.”

“You are a married woman,” Audrey
insisted in a low tone. What madness had possessed
Millicent?

“Which gives me much more freedom,”
Millicent grinned and pulled away. “When Lydell returns, please
offer him my apologies.”

“What am I to say?” Audrey demanded,
unable to believe her friend was thinking of making an assignation
with the very man who had ruined her.

“I don’t care.” Millicent laughed.
“Invent a plausible story.”

With that Millicent was gone, gliding
across the ballroom, straight for Mr. Jordan Trent who had just
bowed and turned from Lady Rothsbury.

“Where is my wife off to?” Lydell asked
a moment later as he presented a cup of punch to Audrey.

It wasn’t in her to lie and Audrey
desperately tried to find a proper excuse as she accepted the
beverage.

Lydell glanced across the room and
sighed. “There is no need to think of an excuse. I am well aware of
where my wife went and what she is up to.”

Jordan stepped through the doors of
Dagger’s Haven, a gaming hell, and paused to let his eyes adjust.
It wasn’t the shock of coming in from the pitch-black night to a
lit room, but the heavy smoke that hung in the air like a blanket.
His eyes watered and Jordan blinked a few times before moving
further into the establishment. He nodded to several acquaintances
and waved away their gestures for him to join them. There was only
one thing he was interested in and that was locating Creighton.
Jordan spotted the shock of red hair at a back table and he made
his way in that direction. He arrived in time to see Creighton
lose.

A footman placed a glass of amber
liquid at Creighton’s elbow and removed the empty one.

“You are tapped out, Lord Creighton,”
the dealer announced.

Creighton started patting his pockets
as if looking for more funds. A moment later he withdrew his purse
and opened it. Jordan glanced over his shoulder and frowned. It was
empty.

“Credit,” Creighton slurred. “I know
I’m about to win.”

Jordan placed a hand on Creighton’s
shoulder. “I think you have had enough to drink.” He moved the
glass out of the way. “And lost more than you are likely to
recoup.”

Creighton turned and stared up at him.
The man’s eyes were so bloodshot barely any white showed. He had
aged since Jordan had seen him last fall. Creighton was only
thirty-five but the lines and sallow complexion of his skin made
him look closer to sixty.

“Let’s go.” Jordan pulled on the man’s
arm.

“Perhaps if you had something to offer
as collateral,” Sebastian Stanwick suggested. Jordan hadn’t seen
Dagger in months. The nickname came about in school because of the
knife Stanwick always kept in his boot and didn’t hesitate to
flourish about when threatened or when threatening. Stanwick was
elegantly dressed in black evening attire and owner of this
particular establishment. They had been close friends once, until
Stanwick left school to make his fortune and shun
society.

“He has no collateral,” Jordan informed
Stanwick.

Creighton blinked up at him. “But I do.
There is the land in … . in… .” he frowned. “I can’t
‘member, but it is not ‘tailed.”

Jordan breathed a heavy sigh. “Even if
it is not entailed, it belongs to your nephew and not
you.”

“Bah,” the man dismissed with a wave of
his hand. “What does that whelp need with land? He is barely off
leading strings.”

“It is his inheritance,” Jordan bit out
and grasped the man’s arm tighter. He was not going to leave
without Creighton.

Stanwick moved to block Jordan’s path.
Jordan glanced about the establishment weighing his options and
odds. He didn’t want to strike Stanwick, though they had fought in
the past, but what of the others guarding the patrons and the
owner. Could he take them all? Were enough men so deep in their
cups that they would gladly join in the fray or slink away from any
disturbance? On the other hand, Jordan was itching for a fight.
Perhaps it would relieve some of the frustration building because
of Miss Montgomery.

Jordan looked Stanwick in the eyes so
he understood. “Mr. Creighton has no funds of his own. He is the
guardian and trustee of Lord Rothsbury’s estate. The lord is only a
child and I am here to ensure no more of his funds are gambled
away.”

Stanwick stiffened and glared at
Creighton. “You’re gambling with a child’s inheritance?”

“He don’t need it,” Creighton argued.
“I’ll win it back.”

The owner took a step back, hands
balled into fists. Apparently Stanwick was in the mood for a fight
as well. It just wouldn’t be Jordan receiving the brunt of his
fists.

“I hadn’t realized,” Stanwick’s face
held nothing but disgust for Creighton. “I’ll see that he is barred
from admittance.”

“Thank you.” Jordan nodded and pulled
Creighton toward the door. He stopped beside one of the burly men
guarding the entrance. “Watch him for a moment and have his
carriage brought around.”

BOOK: Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake
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