Never Trust a Rebel(3)

By: Sarah Mallory


Drew argued, but in vain. In the end he called for pen and ink and helped Harry to write his final letters. It took a long time, sitting up seemed to cause Harry even more pain and he fainted off more than once, but at last the business was finished and Harry leaned back, closing his eyes.

‘There, it is done.’ His voice was little more than a thread. ‘Give this to my sister, she will find you all the documents relating to this business.’

‘Hush, my friend, no need to talk more of this now. Wait until the morning—’

‘I doubt I shall see the morning. The pain in my gut is damnable.’ He waved his hand towards his frockcoat, thrown over a chair. ‘You’ll find some papers sewn into the lining, and a letter of introduction to a certain gentleman in Lyon. Go to him and he will give you access to my funds.’

‘Harry—’

‘No, let me finish.’ He drew another laboured breath, the skin on his face as grey as old parchment. ‘Take what you need for your journey, and give the rest to Elyse on her birthday. ’Tis her inheritance.’

‘I will, Harry.’

‘Do I have your word as a gentleman? And don’t give me that rubbish again about your being a rebel. I knew you for a gentleman the first time I saw you!’

Drew grasped the hand, and not by the flicker of an eyelid did he show his dismay at the cold skin.

‘You have my word, Harry. A rebel’s honour, for what it’s worth.’

‘Good.’ He closed his eyes and seemed to relax down into the pillows. ‘Then I commend my daughter to your care.’

Within an hour Harry Salforde was dead.





Chapter One

‘Miss Salforde, I prostrate myself at your feet. I am your slave!’

Elyse looked down at the portly gentleman kneeling before her, his badly powdered bagwig failing to cover completely his straggly blond hair.

‘Well, you need not, Mr Scorton. I cannot give you any hope because I am promised to another, as you are very well aware.’

She tried and failed to stop the smile that was bubbling inside her. The gentleman, looking up at that moment, saw her lips twitch and struggled to his feet, saying in an injured tone, ‘You are very cruel, fair beauty. If you will not countenance my suit, why did you agree to come outside with me?’

Yes, why had she?

Elyse pondered the matter. She could not deny that the drawing room was very hot and crowded, but there had been no shortage of gentlemen offering to escort her out on to the terrace. So why had she favoured Mr Scorton?

Because he was the least likely of her many admirers and tonight she had decided to take pity on him. Elyse did not consider herself vain, but she was often called beautiful, so she supposed it must be true. Her figure was good, and there was something about her dark curls, brown eyes and heart-shaped face that seemed to draw gentlemen to her. All sorts of men, married or single, young or old, they crowded around her. They paid her compliments, teased her, flirted with her. She was happy enough to respond to them all, knowing herself safe from any serious courtship because she was in love with the Honourable Mr William Reverson, younger son of Viscount Whittlewood, and she was going to marry him. And her admirers, too, knew of her engagement and were content to enjoy a mild flirtation, a little amusing badinage with a pretty young lady. All quite harmless.

However, it seemed that Mr Scorton, with his pompous manners and badly fitting wig, was so smitten with her that he was not content to kiss her hand and whisper ridiculous compliments into her ear, he had actually had the temerity to propose!

It was a salutary lesson, and one that she knew regretfully she should have learned before this, but what was one to do when men were silly enough to shower her with praise and adulation? However, she had no wish to cause distress to anyone, and she realised she must be more circumspect in future. With a rueful smile she held out her hand to Mr Scorton.

‘Why, sir, I came out with you for a little air, nothing more, but if I have raised false hopes in you then I am very sorry for it. Pray cry friends with me, sir.’

He clasped her fingers in his pudgy hands.

‘Ah, so kind, so generous. I cannot let you go without trying to persuade you to think seriously of my offer.’

Before she knew what he was about he had pulled her into his arms.

‘Really, Mr Scor—’

Her words were smothered as he covered her face with hot, ardent kisses.

He might only be the same height as Elyse, and as broad as he was wide, but Mr Scorton in the throes of passion proved himself immensely strong. She could not break out of his hold and was crushed against him, unable even to deliver a well-aimed kick to his shins because the thick folds of her black petticoats were in the way.

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