The Lord’s Deceiving Game (Preview)


Chapter One

“Oh, Lady Christianna, there you are!”

Christianna could feel her heart sinking as she looked up from the pianoforte to see the Countess of Willowshire coming through the throng of people towards her, wearing that beaming smile of hers that was pretty much all teeth. Taking a deep breath, Christianna gathered her music sheets together, giving the Countess a pleasant smile.

“Lady Willowshire. I hope you enjoyed the music.”

“I did, very much so.” The Countess beamed as she looked around the drawing-room. “Don’t you think this looks charming right now, Lady Christianna?”

“It certainly is, My Lady. If you’ll excuse me?”

Before Lady Willowshire could respond, Christianna curtsied and stepped away from the pianoforte. While she liked to play it, she didn’t want to be stuck at the keys all the time. Even she got fed up being the one who provided the music, and Christianna needed time on her own to sit down and soak everything up.

Avoiding eye contact with everyone, Christianna made her way through the house and stepped out of the back door onto the terrace. It was mid-afternoon, but the chill from the morning was still there. It was a surprisingly cool day, considering the previous days had been lovely and warm. The winter months were beginning to creep in early. Christianna thought about going back for her shawl, but she decided against it. She just wanted a moment alone.

She sat on the edge of the terrace wall, clutching her folder to her chest, and stared out into the garden. Why was she so apprehensive now when the week before it had been fun? Christianna could still remember the laughter and gaiety of her birthday party. She hadn’t stopped smiling the whole evening.

Christianna wished she was back there now. People had complimented her playing, and she had not been alone for more than a few seconds. Everyone kept coming over to talk to her. Correction, the gentlemen had come to talk to her. Christianna may have been young, but she wasn’t a fool. She knew the gentleman had their eye on her, and it was flattering. She had liked the male attention for a little bit.

It would have been a better evening if he had come to introduce himself. I would have enjoyed talking to him.

Him. Adam Beckett, Viscount Balenbury. He had been present at the party, either hovering close to a petite, plump lady who turned out to be his mother, or he was hiding in a corner scowling at everyone. Christianna had been immediately caught as soon as he walked into the room. Everyone had; the chattering dying down when they realized Balenbury was making an entrance. Christianna had been surprised at everyone’s reaction, especially when she saw a few people giving him nasty looks. What was that about? Was he a bad person?

She should have asked, but Christianna had been too shy to do so. Instead, she threw herself into talking to anyone who wanted to converse with her, silently hoping that Balenbury would approach her to introduce himself. Then she might be able to find the courage to ask why some of the guests looked at him with such sneering expressions.

Even when he was in a crowd, Balenbury certainly stood out. Not too tall, but tall enough to be noticed. His jet-black hair was cut short, and he wore a goatee that framed his hardened mouth. Christianna found herself trying not to stare at his mouth. His suit was a light brown; it fit nicely on his frame, but the cut of it looked a little out of date. Did he not keep up with what everyone was wearing? From the look of it, Balenbury didn’t seem to care. There was something about him that told Christianna that he wasn’t a man she should be around.

And yet she couldn’t stop looking at him. It had been a week since the party, and Christianna hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him. What was it about him? What was it about a man she had only glanced at and not spoken to that had Christianna fascinated? Why was he taking up so much of her thoughts? It was confusing, and Christianna didn’t know what to think about it.


Christianna looked up. A petite girl with pale red hair had stepped out onto the terrace, wearing a beautiful dress in powder blue. She was frowning at Christianna. Clearing her throat, Christianna put her folder aside and smoothed down her skirt.

“Chloe. Forgive me, I needed some air.”

“I had a feeling that was the case. You wandered off twenty minutes ago and I was beginning to worry.” Chloe Harrington approached her, shivering as she settled onto the wall beside her friend. “Why haven’t you come in yet? It’s cold out here today.”

“I didn’t realize so much time had passed.” Christianna glanced towards the house. “It was getting a little too much for me.”
Chloe frowned.

“That didn’t seem to bother you last week, I noticed. What’s wrong?”

Christianna hesitated. She could talk to her closest friend about anything and everything. But somehow broaching the subject about Viscount Balenbury didn’t seem to be an appropriate topic.

Why not? You’ve talked about boys before.

That was the problem. Lord Balenbury wasn’t a boy. He was a man. And Christianna could not stop thinking about him.

“Chrissie.” Chloe took Christianna’s hand. “We always talk about things. You know you can talk to me about whatever is troubling you.”
“I know I can.”


Christianna sighed. She looked out at the garden.

“I’ve been thinking about my party. About…” She stumbled over her words. “God, I’m going to sound like a fool.”

“Oh, Chrissie, when have you ever been a simple fool?” Chloe tilted her head to the side as she regarded her friend. “Did something attract your attention last week? Or rather, did someone catch your eye?”

Chloe’s eyes twinkled. She grinned.

“I knew it. I had a feeling if you’re this distracted it would be about a man.”

“How could you be so sure?”

“Because I know you. You’re like this all the time when you find a boy attractive.”

“This is hardly a boy, Chloe.”I know, but it’s sort of the same thing.” Chloe gently shook her friend’s hand. “Come on, talk to me. You saw someone to your liking, didn’t you?”

“I…in a manner of speaking.”

Chloe laughed.

“You’re making it sound like a bad thing. Unless he’s undesirable, I don’t see the problem.”

“That depends on which way you think about it, considering how he was being treated during that party.” Christianna took a deep breath.

“Viscount Balenbury.”

It took a moment before Chloe reacted. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes widened. She looked like Christianna had hit her over the head.

“You…what…Viscount Balenbury? Really?” Chloe’s mouth opened and closed as she spluttered. “Are you mad?”

“From your reaction, clearly.” Christianna glanced towards the house. Hopefully, no one had heard that outburst. “And will you keep your voice down? I don’t want everyone to hear this.”

“I can’t help it!” Chloe lowered her voice to a loud whisper. “Are you mad, Chrissie?”

“What’s the matter with that?”

“Because he’s far from the perfect choice for you. Don’t you know the scandal that surrounds him?”

“What scandal?”

Chloe frowned.

“I’m not sure I should share this. It’s only what I’ve heard from Mother.”

“Since when has that stopped you from forming an opinion?”

“True.” Chloe paused. “Lord Balenbury used to be married. He was a little older than us when he married the beautiful Lady Edith Westbrook, but the marriage barely lasted three years. One day, Lady Edith died very suddenly. An inquest was held, and the official determination was that she had died of an overdose.”

“You mean she took her own life?”

“Not exactly. It looked that way, but there were many people that believed she didn’t take her own life. Or that she died of natural causes.”
It took a moment for the words to sink in. Christianna stared.

“Are you saying that people believed Lord Balenbury killed his wife?”

“That’s what I heard.”

Lord Balenbury had murdered his own wife? She didn’t get that impression when she looked at him. Christianna just couldn’t see it.

“Why would he do that? Did he have any reason for doing it?”

“Rumor was that he was having an affair; although, nobody’s found out who the lover was.” Chloe looked like she was getting into this story, her eyes sparkling. For someone who didn’t like her mother’s gossiping ways, she had certainly inherited the gift for it. “People say his wife found out that he was with another woman, so he made sure that she kept quiet for good. It’s been five years, and nothing was ever proven, but people don’t forget something like that. Nor do the rumors die down.”

Christianna knew rumors never really went away. She had barely started her Season, but she was aware that people were comparing her to her oldest brother and if she would turn out like Patrick. She was not her brother, but the family tended to be joined together when one of them did something to threaten the family’s reputation.

“Since then, Lord Balenbury has been something of a hermit.” Chloe went on, her voice quickening in her excitement. “He withdrew to his country house and refused to see anyone. His mother was still in Society, and she was very good at deflecting the rumours away from her son, but, as you know, mud sticks. This is the first time in five years that he’s ventured back into London.”
Five years. Christianna couldn’t imagine how anyone could come back to Society after being made into something they more than likely didn’t deserve.

You don’t know the man and you already believe that he didn’t commit a murder?

Should I then condemn someone who had no proof against him?

“That explains why he kept away from everyone and why people reacted in such a way when he entered the room,” Christianna sighed. “He’s probably still seen as the bad one in this matter.”

“Do you think he’s innocent?”

“Chloe, it’s only rumours, much like everything else in London. Scandal is far more interesting than the truth, Mother says.” It seemed to be the case right now. “If Lord Balenbury did kill his wife, he would have been charged and hanged years ago, but he’s still very much alive and he was never arrested.”


“Adam, dear?”

Adam looked up. His mother was sitting across the table from him with a frown, her eyes drifting to the glass that was still in her son’s hand.


“You’ve been staring into your glass for the last five minutes.” Lady Balenbury sighed. “And I’m sure you haven’t heard a word I’ve said.”

Adam bit back a wince. He put the glass down and rubbed at his eyes.

“Forgive me, Mother. I was going over things in my head. I guess I forgot where I was.”

“I noticed.” The Dowager Viscountess shook her head. “You need to stop thinking so much and just enjoy yourself. Living your life to the fullest isn’t going to hurt you.”

Adam wanted to make a retort with regards to that, but he kept it to himself. It would just result in him being angry over memories that wouldn’t leave him alone and his mother getting upset. She meant well, even if it was a little too much. The sweet woman didn’t deserve his callous remarks.

A bit of recklessness did hurt people. It had hurt Adam, and he hadn’t even been involved. His wife had seen to that.
Edith. It had taken over a year before he could think about her without fresh anger building. Now he was merely indifferent. But she was still there, hovering in a part of his head and refusing to leave. Adam did his best to ignore her.

It didn’t often work.

“I’m glad you could actually join me for dinner.” Lady Balenbury picked up her glass and took a sip, giving her son a smile. “It’s nice to see you sitting across from me while I eat. I feel lonely dining here with nobody to talk to.”

“I know you’d like to have me eat meals with you more, Mother.” Adam pushed his food around on his plate. He had eaten a little, but he wasn’t very hungry. “It’s only because I’ve got an appointment tonight that I’m here. I’m going to be out late.”

His mother’s smile flickered a little, and she gave a sniff.

“Nice to know your family is a far second.”

“Mother.” Adam wished he wasn’t so good at putting his foot in it. “You know I adore you, and I would love to spend more time with you. I’ve just got some things to deal with first.”

“Just as long as you don’t forget your mother.” Lady Balenbury cut into her chicken. “I’m glad to see you actually venturing into Society for the first time in years, and I don’t want to see you retreat again.”

Adam wasn’t going to do that. Not this time. He had spied a reason to venture back out into the public eye, and that reason had been a young woman with golden hair who kept looking at him from across a crowded room. She had watched him with a keen gaze, never approaching him but always very aware of his presence.

He had no intention of openly approaching her. Not once he realized that she was the special guest, the one having a birthday. And the younger sister of Patrick Fletcher, former heir to the Earl of Carnarvon.

The man who had turned Adam’s life upside-down.



Lady Balenbury tilted her head to one side. Now she was looking concerned.

“You’ve got that look on your face.”

“Hmm?” Adam tried to look innocent. “What look?”

“That look which says you’re going to be up to something soon. And it’s going to be something that brings a lot of trouble.”Adam snorted.

“That’s not likely to happen, Mother. I’m not the one who decided to go against Society’s rules, am I? That was done for me. I was merely condemned by association.”

And almost arrested and charged for his wife’s death. Adam had not forgotten that, and from the way people had been looking at him once he set foot outside the house, they hadn’t forgotten about what happened either. They saw him as a killer, even though he had protested his innocence many times in the beginning.

Now he had just given up. Let them think about what they liked about him. Adam had decided he wasn’t going to care anymore, but he was going to make sure that he got his revenge over what happened.

Patrick Fletcher had been an integral part of it all, and Adam had suffered the brunt of his actions. Sadly, the man was no longer of this world, but his family was. Especially his little sister; the beautiful Christianna.

He shouldn’t consider that eighteen-year-old who played the pianoforte with such delight and had a smile that made Adam’s chest warm at the sight of it beautiful. She was the enemy. But Adam had been struck by her as soon as he walked into the room. Christianna was young, but she lit up the whole room. The gentlemen who had been invited were certainly aware of it, and she wasn’t alone for more than a few seconds before someone was trying to get her attention. Lady Christianna would certainly get an advantageous match.

If Adam didn’t get there first to do some damage.

“Whatever you’re up to, Balenbury…Adam…” His mother hesitated. “Please…don’t hurt anyone. Or yourself. I don’t want to see you miserable again.”

His mother had been on his side the whole time. One of his few very supporters. Adam gave her a smile and put his knife and fork on his plate.

“I’m not going to break this time around, Mother, so you needn’t worry about that. It’s not me you have to worry about.”

“But I do worry.” She sighed. “I always will.”

“I know.” Glancing at the clock, Adam got to his feet and walked around the table. He kissed his mother’s head. “I’d better be off. Don’t wait up for me. I don’t know what time I’ll be back.”

“I’ll make sure Fosgett keeps the door unlocked for you to come back in.” The Dowager Viscountess bit her lip as she looked up at her son.

“Take care of yourself out there. It’s getting foggy even now.”

“I will.” Adam took her hand and kissed it, giving it a squeeze before releasing her. “Good evening, my Lady.”

He could feel his mother’s eyes on him even as he left the room.

Chapter Two

Once safely in her carriage and having handed her folder across to her maid, Christianna pressed her fingers to her temples. She had been looking forward to having her first Season for a long time. Christianna liked to think she was a sociable person, and she could hold a conversation with someone that was meaningful. But from her week in London, meeting people with her mother before the Season truly started, Christianna was shocked at how bland the conversations were.

Women talked about fashion, the weather, and what everyone else was doing. Basically, a lot of gossips. It seemed to be something they thrived on. Lady Carnarvon felt uncomfortable with it as much as her daughter, but she pinned a smile on her face and listened attentively, nodding in all the right places. Christianna wished she could have her mother’s composure. Holding back her opinions made her want to have a lie-down.

At least Edward and Louisa were going to be with her at future engagements. Christianna had missed her brother while she was at school, and she was looking forward to catching up with him further. She was also keen to hear more about her new sister-in-law. According to her mother, their meeting was not exactly conventional.

Anything that wasn’t straightforward would certainly capture her attention.

Hopefully, her first Season would be interesting and Christianna wouldn’t have to grow bored at going out every day to see people and listen to the most boring topics.

It didn’t take long to get back home. Christianna’s head was throbbing as she got out of the carriage and up the steps. She was glad that her maid Isabella didn’t attempt to strike up a conversation; it was too much right now. She had things to do, but Christianna could barely keep her head up. The headache resulted in her stomach churning as well.

Christianna handed her hat and coat to the butler, Miller, before turning to Isabella.

“You go and see if Mrs. Crosbie needs you for anything. I’m going to retire for a little bit once I’ve seen Mother.”

“Yes, my Lady.”

Isabella curtsied and walked away. Christianna looked at Miller as he put her coat away.

“Where’s Lady Carnarvon, Miller?”

“In the drawing-room, Lady Fletcher. Shall I tell her you’re home?”

“I’ll do it, thank you.”

Christianna entered the drawing-room and saw her mother sitting on the couch by the fire, her dark head bent over some embroidery. She looked up and smiled when she saw her daughter.

“Christianna, darling. How was the tea party?”

“Long.” Christianna flexed her hands around her music folder. They were feeling sore now.

“Lady Willowshire was her usual self.”

Lady Carnarvon’s smile faded, immediately replaced by a frown.

“That’s not how you should talk about a Countess. Especially when her influence is needed.”

“So, I have to pander to her whims every time she comes to you?” Christianna complained.

She immediately regretted her words when her mother’s eyes narrowed, her lips pursed in disapproval.

“I did not raise you to forget your manners, Christianna. We should be lucky that we’re in her favour.”

Christianna disagreed, but her head was throbbing too much for her to argue back. She turned away.

“I’m going to take a nap before dinner, if that’s all right? I have a terrible headache.”

“Of course. If you don’t feel like coming down later, just ask for a tray to be sent up.”

“Thank you, Mother.”

Christianna climbed the stairs and went into her bedroom. Dropping her folder onto the dresser, she slipped off her shoes as she sat on her stool, carefully sliding the pins out of her hair. As her curls fell down her back with each pin sliding away, her thoughts turned back again to Viscount Balenbury. Again. It was like she was being infected by the mere sight of him.

How was it even possible to be consumed by one man when they hadn’t even spoken? Christianna had thought she wouldn’t find herself in a position where her mind was possessed by a person she had only seen from afar, but it was happening. Lord Balenbury simply persisted in her mind, his piercing gaze focused on her. That sent a shiver down her spine.

He had come into the room with such a scowl and barely spoke a word to anyone. However, Lady Balenbury had come to greet Christianna. She was a lovely lady, and Christianna had warmed greatly to her. She was very friendly, very sweet. How she was the mother of a man who looked like he was about to burst into flames, Christianna had no idea. They were completely different.

Had Balenbury been like his mother before? Had he been warm and friendly years ago when he was married? Christianna liked to think so.

She wanted to believe that he had been much like his mother when he was younger. The scandal of his wife dying and people pointing the finger at him without proof had to have taken a toll on him. It was just not fair that this happened.

Then again, life wasn’t fair. If it was, her father and brother would be alive.

With all the pins finally out and her hair flowing down her back, Christianna climbed onto her bed and lay down. It felt nice to be lying on the pillows, the cotton smooth against her cheek. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift off. A short nap would help her headache ease off, and Christianna would be able to feel less like her head was about to explode.


Christianna was aware of someone brushing her cheek and she opened her eyes. Then she started upright. Viscount Balenbury was there, sitting on the edge of her bed, wearing the same clothes from that day at the party. His eyes were a piercing hazel, focused completely on her face. But he wasn’t scowling this time. He looked…soft. Gentle.

What was he doing in her room? Christianna’s heart missed a few beats before stumbling back into rhythm.

“What…what are you doing in here?”

“I came to see you.” Viscount Balenbury tilted his head to one side, a slight smile tugging at his mouth. “You look really beautiful when you sleep, do you know that?”

Christianna didn’t know what to say. His voice was a beautiful tone, deep but melodious. It sent shivers all over her body, something tightening in her gut.

“Is this a dream?”

“What do you think it is?”

“I…I don’t know.” Christianna licked her lips. “But I don’t want to wake up.”

Something flickered in Lord Balenbury’s eyes. He shifted closer, leaning towards her.

“Do you trust me?” His eyes drifted to her mouth. “Do you believe I’m innocent?”

Christianna didn’t need to think. She nodded.

“I do. I trust you.”

Lord Balenbury’s expression darkened. He reached up and brushed his fingers across her cheek before cupping her jaw.

“My sweet Christianna.”

He tugged her towards him, and Christianna went with him willingly, falling into his embrace as he kissed her. He didn’t start off gently; instead, he grabbed onto her and took her mouth hard, practically devouring her. It had Christianna gasping, clutching onto him as desire built in her belly at a frightening speed. Oh, God, if this was what kissing was like…

Christianna started when she heard a sudden knocking. Immediately, Lord Balenbury faded away, leaving her reeling and falling off the bed. Gasping, she jolted to stop herself from falling and she woke up. She was still in her room, still on her bed, but she was alone. There was no sight of Viscount Balenbury.

It had really been a dream. She had been imagining him taking her like he was a starving man.

And someone was knocking at the door.

“Christianna? Are you all right?”

Christianna frowned and sat up.

“Mother? Is something wrong?”

“I came up to fetch something and I heard you talking. Are you all right in there?”

She had been talking in her sleep? Christianna hadn’t realized she had been doing that. And her mother had heard her? Christianna bit back a groan.

“I’m fine. I guess I…I’m overtired. My mind…well, there’s a lot going on.”

“All right.” Lady Carnarvon didn’t sound convinced, but she let it go. “If you want me, you know where to find me.”

“Thank you, Mother.”

There was a brief moment of silence, and then Christianna heard her mother’s footsteps fading away. She slumped back onto the pillows and stared up at the ceiling. Her heart was still racing.

How had she been talking in her sleep? And how had she conjured up Viscount Balenbury like that? Christianna had never had a dream like that before.

She was going to have to choose her words carefully in the future, especially if it was as if Lady Carnarvon was listening in at the door while she slept.


The fog was coming down rapidly. Adam hadn’t seen anything like it in a long while. Out in the country during the late autumn, early winter months, the fog would be present, and it would feel like it was lingering for days on end. On a bad day, it left Adam’s mouth feeling like he was sucking on coal.

Keeping his hat lowered over his eyes, his collar turned up, and his cane gripped tightly in his hand, Adam made his way through the streets. He didn’t think members of the ton would be out at this time of day in this weather, but Adam wasn’t about to take that chance. People openly stared at him, and he didn’t need to be intelligent to know what they were thinking.

They would be wondering how he could show his face again after all this time.

Adam had wondered in the beginning as well. If he was honest, he would prefer to be back at his country house, hiding away from everyone. It had been painful to start with, but eventually peaceful as he accepted that this would be his future. Even if he did go back to Society, he would always be on the outside. Smears stayed, no matter how much you tried to scrub. Even when they weren’t of your doing.

But his mother had said it would do him good to come out every now and then, slowly integrate back into the public eye. Adam didn’t like the idea of doing that, but he could hardly argue with the Dowager Viscountess. She had done a lot for him to the point she had isolated herself from anyone who dared speak a word against him. He did owe his mother a lot, and he would pander to her on occasion.

That was how he had ended up at the house of the Earl of Carnarvon for a surprise birthday party for his younger sister. Adam couldn’t believe what he was hearing when his mother told him where they were going, but she said they couldn’t be rude. He was just surprised that the family even extended an invitation to them, considering what had happened in the past.

Patrick Fletcher, former heir and the apple of his father’s eye, had turned Adam’s life into a mess. Within a few short months, he had broken Adam’s marriage. Even now, it was seen as Adam’s fault, not the man who had set the wheels into motion. Somehow, even in death, Fletcher came out looking like a dramatic hero, while Adam was forced to slink away and hide to stop people talking.

The talk had not gone away, but it wasn’t as painful. However, even though the anger had faded, it was still there, and he had felt it threatening to build as he hovered in the Earl of Carnarvon’s home pretending to celebrate Lady Christianna Fletcher’s birthday. It had left a nasty taste in his mouth, and he was still trying to get rid of it.

Just like he was trying to get rid of the image of Christianna Fletcher out of his head. She was eye-catching, that was true enough. And she was beautiful. And that smile of hers…

He pushed that aside. No, he would not think about that. It certainly helped with what he had in mind with his plan, but he wasn’t about to let it consume him. Adam needed to keep a clear head about him.

Revenge, in his case, was going to be served cold. And it was going to taste so sweet once it was achieved. But not if he got distracted and started thinking about Lady Fletcher’s beauty.

She is innocent in all this. She was a child when Edith died.

She’s a Fletcher. It doesn’t matter.

The fog was getting thicker by the time Adam reached his destination, a building just off the main street a half-hour walk from his house. He had considered taking a carriage, but he didn’t want his driver to know where he was going. The fewer people knew about what he was up to, the better. His servants were known to talk a lot, and his plan would be all over the house and spreading to other households within a couple of days.

It was a shame; he wouldn’t be looking over his shoulder going through the murkier streets of London in a carriage.
Getting inside wasn’t a problem. The doorman, hovering just inside the main door, was merely a shadow as Adam came in and took off his hat. He only materialized when another servant appeared to take his hat, coat, and cane, standing near the door with a scowl as if he expected the Viscount to cause trouble. Adam gave him a nod before turning away.

He was going to cause trouble, for certain. Just not in the club.
The clock in the main room chimed the hour as he entered. Right on time. The room was partially full, people playing cards or just sitting around drinking. It wasn’t White’s, but the atmosphere was a little more relaxed than Adam expected. The lower classes didn’t care what you looked like as long as you weren’t a complete fool or behaved as such.

He could get behind that.

A tall, thickset man in his late thirties with thick blond hair and an equally thick beard was sitting by the fire, a glass-half-full of a yellow-brown liquid. He was in a large chair, but he seemed to be too big for it, his body seeming to spill out of the chair. Adam had never met him before, but his contact in the area had given an accurate description. This was a man who would do anything for the right price. He could be a bully, a thug, whatever you wanted.

Perfect. Adam knew he could use a man like this to his advantage.

He crossed the room and stood near the fire.

“Mr. Jackson?”

“That’s me.” Jackson’s ice-cold blue eyes looked up, narrowing ever so slightly as he focused on him. “Are you the man Victor told me about?

The one who had a job going?”

“I am.” Adam turned to put his back to the fire. The heat tickled his seat and the backs of his legs. “Did Victor give you the conditions I laid out for you?”

“He did, and I looked them over.” Jackson tilted his head to one side as he regarded him with a curious expression. “I must say, it’s a little surprising that you’re asking me to do this.”

“Surprising how?”

“Well, it is…not like my other jobs.” Jackson shrugged. “But I’m not going to argue. Especially with what you’re going to pay me.”

“Good.” Adam reached into his pocket and pulled out a thick envelope. Glancing around to make sure no one was looking their way, he handed it to Jackson. “It’s all there. And there’s a little extra to come your way if you manage to carry this out successfully for me.”

Jackson arched an eyebrow.

“There is?” He opened up the envelope and looked at the money notes. “You must really want something from this woman if you want her to be accosted in your presence. Nothing too nefarious, I trust?”

“Nothing like that at all.” Adam wanted something. Lady Christianna Fletcher was not going to know what happened once he was done with her. “But there is a bit of revenge involved. Don’t worry,” he added when a flash of worry passed across Jackson’s face, “I’m not going to violate her. I just need your help to get our paths to cross.”

He had explained this in the letter he had passed to Victor. Victor was a man to be trusted. He knew a lot of people who could be useful to do practically anything, and they didn’t necessarily have to have scruples. Just what he needed.

For a moment, he thought Jackson wasn’t going to agree to this. It would be typical for someone to turn it down and keep the money once it was handed over, but Jackson grinned and took a hefty gulp of his drink.

“All right, I’ll do it. This feels like easy money for me.” He sat back and made the envelope disappear. “Maybe I should advertise my services.”
“If you make this successful for me, I’ll send more money to you at a later date.” Adam would if it meant getting what he wanted. “But apart from that, I don’t know you. Don’t greet me if we pass in the street. Just do what I ask and leave.”

“Of course. Anything for easy money.” Jackson waved down a steward, who approached them. “But for tonight, have a drink on me. I insist.”
Adam hadn’t planned on staying long, but the fog was bad outside. He didn’t feel confident walking home with it as it was; besides, the fire was nice, and the atmosphere was more comforting than he expected. He smiled and settled himself into the chair across from Jackson.

“Why not? I’ve got time.”

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  • Very much intriguing for the first chapters and the initial characters.. I find the story line interesting and captivating in what happens to the lady in question…cant wait to read more !!

  • An intriguing story, can’t wait to read the whole book and find out the whys and wherefores.

    This is the type of story that will surely keep you glued till the end …..

  • Can’t wait. These two chapters have peaked my interest. I couldn’t figure out what book this is the sequel to. Hope to find out soon.

  • The start of the book was compelling. An innocent debutant, an obsessed nobleman, wrongs needing to be righted, and hidden family secrets. The storyline has all the makings of an intriguing conspiracy scheme with a side of unconventional romance. Looking forward to the release date.

  • This should be interesting, I don’t thing he should take it out on her, she had nothing to do with it, it was her brother.

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