Authors: Amanda Quick
Titles by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Amanda Quick
'TIL DEATH DO US PART
GARDEN OF LIES
THE MYSTERY WOMAN
THE PERFECT POISON
THE THIRD CIRCLE
THE RIVER KNOWS
LIE BY MOONLIGHT
THE PAID COMPANION
WAIT UNTIL MIDNIGHT
LATE FOR THE WEDDING
DON'T LOOK BACK
I THEE WED
WITH THIS RING
Titles by Jayne Ann Krentz
TRUST NO ONE
IN TOO DEEP
SIZZLE AND BURN
ALL NIGHT LONG
TRUTH OR DARE
LIGHT IN SHADOW
SUMMER IN ECLIPSE BAY
TOGETHER IN ECLIPSE BAY
SMOKE IN MIRRORS
LOST & FOUND
DAWN IN ECLIPSE BAY
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
THE GOLDEN CHANCE
Titles by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle
THE HOT ZONE
THE LOST NIGHT
CANYONS OF NIGHT
The Guinevere Jones Titles
DESPERATE AND DECEPTIVE
The Guinevere Jones Collection, Volume 1
THE DESPERATE GAME
THE CHILLING DECEPTION
SINISTER AND FATAL
The Guinevere Jones Collection, Volume 2
THE SINISTER TOUCH
THE FATAL FORTUNE
THE SCARGILL COVE CASE FILES
BRIDAL JITTERS (WRITING AS JAYNE CASTLE)
(with Julie Beard, Lori Foster, and Eileen Wilks)
Titles written by Jayne Ann Krentz and Jayne Castle
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Copyright Â© 2016 by Jayne Ann Krentz.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Quick, Amanda, author.
Title: 'Til death do us part / Amanda Quick.
Other titles: Until death do us part
Description: First edition. | New York : Berkley Books, 2016.
Identifiers: LCCN 2015037168 | ISBN 9780399174469 (hardcover)
Subjects: LCSH: London (England)âSocial life and customsâ19th centuryâFiction. | Man-woman relationshipsâFiction. | StalkersâFiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Romance / Suspense. | FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Historical. | GSAFD: Romantic suspense fiction. | Mystery fiction. | Historical fiction.
Classification: LCC PS3561.R44 T55 2016 | DDC 813/.54âdc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2015037168
Export edition ISBN: 978-0-451-48806-0
eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-19361-1
Cover photograph: Elisabeth Ansley / Trevillion Images.
Cover design by Rita Frangie.
Endpaper art by Anneka / Shutterstock Images.
Title page image of lace Â© jeangill / istock.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For Frank: always and
get rid of her, Birch.” Nestor Kettering reached for the brandy bottle and refilled his glass. “I can't abide the sight of my wife. You have no idea what it's like living with her in the same house.”
Dolan Birch shifted a little in his chair and stretched out his legs toward the fire. “You are not the first man to marry for money and find himself dissatisfied with the bargain. Most husbands in your situation would find a way to coexist. It is quite common for couples in Society to lead separate lives.”
Nestor contemplated the fire. Dolan had invited him for a late-night brandy following another evening of cards at their club. The result was that they were now sitting together in the small but quite elegant library of Dolan's town house. Anything to avoid going back to Number Five Lark Street, Nestor thought.
They had considered stopping at a brothel but Nestor had not felt any great enthusiasm for the notion. The truth was, he did not like brothels. He worried that the women carried disease. Furthermore,
it was no secret that the prostitutes frequently stole their clients' watches, tiepins, and money.
He preferred his women to be respectable, virginal, and, above all, devoid of close family connections. The last thing he wanted was to be confronted by an irate father or brother. He chose his mistresses from London's spinster classâinnocent, well-bred women who were grateful for a gentleman's attentions.
Thanks to Dolan Birch, for the past year he'd had access to a steady supply of young, attractive governesses who met his criteria. He lost interest once the conquest had been made, but that was not a problem. The women were easy to discard. No one cared what happened to them.
Dolan's town house was not nearly as large as his own mansion, Nestor reflected, but it was a good deal more comfortable because there was no wife hanging about. Dolan had inherited the house upon the death of his wife, a wealthy widow. The woman had expired in her sleep soon after the weddingâand shortly after she had redrafted her will leaving the house and her handsome fortune to her new husband.
Some men had all the luck, Nestor thought.
“I do not know how much longer I can abide Anna's presence,” he said. He swallowed more brandy and lowered the glass. “I swear, she drifts through the house like some faded ghost. She actually believes in spirits, you know. Attends a sÃ©ance at least once a week, regular as clockwork. She seeks out a new medium every month or so.”
“Who is she trying to contact?”
“Her father.” Nestor grimaced. “The bastard who trapped me with the terms of his will.”
“Why does she want to contact him?”
“I have no idea and I don't give a bloody damn.” Nestor set the brandy glass down hard on the table. “I thought it would be so easy back at the beginning. A beautiful bride and a fortune to go with her.”
Dolan contemplated the fire. “There is always a catch.”
“So I have discovered.”
“Your wife is quite beautiful. Most men would say that you are extremely fortunate to have such a woman in your bed.”
“Bah. Anna bears a striking resemblance to a corpse in bed. Cold as hell. I haven't been with her since I cut short the honeymoon.”
“The chaste ones sometimes are quite cold. One must seduce them.”
Nestor snorted. “Anna was no virgin when I married her. Another reason why her father was so eager to marry her off, I suppose.”
Dolan set his glass aside and propped his elbows on the arms of his chair. He put his fingertips together. “There's an old saying to the effect that if you marry for money, you will earn every penny.”
“I cannot escape her. If she dies, the money goes to distant relatives in Canada, and believe me, they will be waiting to pounce on the inheritance.”
“Some in your position would have her committed to an asylum,” Dolan mused. “If she is declared insane, she will lose control of her fortune.”
Nestor groaned. “Unfortunately, her father considered that possibility. If I have her committed, the result is the same as if she diesâthe money goes to Canada.”
“Have you considered renting or buying a house in the country and sending her there to live?”
“Of course,” Nestor said. “The problem is that she won't obey me and there is no way to force her to do so. She says she does not want to live in the country.”
“But she does not go out into Society.”
“No, but London is where most of the mediums are located.”
“A good thrashing might change her mind.”
Nestor grunted. “I doubt it.” He tightened one hand into a fist. “As I told you, she controls her own inheritance. If she leaves me, she can take the fortune with her. Damn it, there must be a way out.”
Dolan was silent for a long moment.
“Perhaps there is,” he said at last.
Nestor went still. “Do you have a suggestion?”
“Yes, but there is a price.”
“Money is not a problem,” Nestor said.
Dolan drank some brandy and lowered the glass. “As it happens, it is not money that I require in exchange for my services.”
A shiver of unease gave Nestor pause. “What do you want?”
“I am, as you know, a businessman. I wish to expand one of my enterprises, and you are in a unique position to be of assistance to me.”
“I can't imagine how,” Nestor said. “I don't have a head for business.”
“Fortunately, I do, so I don't require your business skills. It is your other talent that I wish to utilize.”
“What other talent?”
“You have a gift for charm and seduction,” Dolan said. “Your skills in that department are really quite extraordinary.”
Nestor waved that aside. It was the truth. He did have a talent for seduction.
“What do you want from me?” he asked.
Nestor relaxed. He smiled.
“Shouldn't be any problem,” he said. “That's all the payment you require in exchange for getting Anna out of my life?”
“Yes. If you are successful, I will consider your account settled.”
“Then we have a bargain,” Nestor said.
For the first time since his wedding night, he glimpsed a spark of hope.