His first impression was of green eyes, wide as a baby owl’s and just as solemn…There was nothing notably strange about her features, and yet it was an odd face, the kind of face that looked out of burrows and tree-knots and hedgerows, unblinking, innocent and old as time.
He liked radical politics and had a fondness for chocolate.
“Your cheeks are nothing like a blancmange, I assure you, my lady. And certainly not a custard.”
Merlin dabbed at the hedgehog, pretending to clean off the ink, while she tried to see if a clear paw print showed through Mr. Pemminey’s letters. But the animal had had enough of espionage. It rolled up tightly and would not uncurl.
He shook his head. “You damsels do choose the most inconvenient moments to swoon.” He smiled faintly. “What’s your pleasure, Sunshine? Shall we save her or let her lie?”
Leigh stepped back. “Let her lie.”
The French lessons at Dove House had ceased. At least to her father’s knowledge. Callie had taken some further lessons at Dove House—if not entirely in French.
“I’m a villain and a blackguard—every quaking little maiden’s nightmare.” He lowered his lashes, watching her with a moody smile and eyes like smoke. “But some get a taste for the devil, don’t they?”
A familiar sense of waywardness possessed Trev, a moody antagonism riding on the lift of ale and latent violence that he could always find in a place such as this.
He’d given up his life to God.
And his horse, and his armor, and his money.
Ruck closed his hand on the jewels she sent and swore himself to the Arch-Fiend’s daughter.
“I will not die a suicide. Nay, I’m ten times worse a fool—I think I might claw my way into Heaven somehow, and be with you when our lives are ended, since there is no way now on the earth.”
It is because my mother was French, she thought. I am frivolous. I am wanton. I am happy.
I cannot be happy.
But it had cost him. Until this moment he had not known how much. He carried always a slow simmer of lust—that was as much a part of his life as breathing.
“Hmmm,” Callie said. “Perhaps I will subjugate him and marry him after all, and keep him enslaved to my smallest wish for years.”
It was hell being a hero.
“Am I like honey?” she asked, shyly, half beneath her breath.
“No,” he said. He pushed his hands up into her hair and held her face between his palms “You’re like water. Like bright water.” He bent his face to her throat. “Oh God, so bright and cold and clear that it hurts to drink.”
“Certainly it’s your responsibility. It isn’t mine! I’ve every right to clean my floor and move my furnishings if I please, without some housebreaker complaining of it!”
He sat down on the bed and glanced at her slantwise, his green eyes shuttered beneath the golden demon’s brows.
“You’re going to rob a coach, aren’t you?” she demanded. “Oh, God—we’ve barely landed, and you’re going to go right out and risk it.”
She was, after all, Lady Callista Taillefaire, who had been jilted three times. Even a gentleman with dishonest designs would have to ask himself what, precisely, could be wrong with her.
A buffle-headed bad wicked man he might be—but he could recognize a miracle when he saw one.