Pistols at Dawn

Pistols at Dawn by Andrea Pickens

Book: Pistols at Dawn by Andrea Pickens Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrea Pickens
the basin of cool water and wrung it out. "All we can do is bathe his face and try to get him to swallow the medicine. After that, I'm afraid nature will have to run its course."
    Marcus looked as if to say something, then remained silent as his touch trailed down to the bandaged cheek.
    "Rest assured that my sister and I will see to it that he is not left untended."
    "You think I will rest while he lies here in suffering?" he snapped. "Go to your own bed, Miss Kirtland. I will take my turn by the sickbed, if you will but show me what I must do."
    "But—"
    "But what?" His dark brows drew together in a formidable scowl, and as he leaned forward, Eliza was suddenly aware of the heat emanating from him as well. It was enough to bring two hot spots of color to her cheeks, though she wasn't quite sure why.
    "You think me devoid of all sensibility? Incapable of caring what happens to my nephew?"
    "N—not exactly," she stammered, taken aback by the raw edge in his voice. In truth, she had thought him coldly arrogant and unfeeling in his treatment of everyone, including Mr. Harkness. Now, however, she could see how wrong she was to imagine there was naught but ice water in his veins. His gaze held a simmering intensity that caused her breath to catch in her throat.
    "It's just that from what I observed, there did not seem to be much love lost between you and your nephew," she added.
    "Perhaps things are not always as they seem, Miss Kirtland."
    As the same thought had recently crossed her own mind, she made no retort. But still, at that moment she was sure there was no mistaking was she saw—among the emotions swirling in the depths of his hooded eyes was one that she recognized all too well.
    How strange.
    For what reason was the Earl of Killingworth feeling guilty?
    Too tired and confused to make any sense of it all, Eliza wrung out the strip of flannel. "Perhaps," she answered aloud.
    Without further comment, she showed the earl what to do, then rose and took up her candle. "You have only to ring the bell if you need assistance. My sister will relieve you in an hour or two."
    He waved her off, and Eliza stumbled toward her room, wishing that when she awoke in the morning, this would all turn out to be a bad dream.

 
     
     
    Chapter 8

     
    The magistrate shuffled his feet. "And no clues have been found around the area as to who might be responsible, not even a clear boot print," he continued. "Mayhap when Mr. Harkness regains consciousness, he will be able to tell us something of his attackers." His tone, however, did not indicate that he put a good deal of faith in such hopes.
    Marcus allowed his mouth to dip into a sardonic curl. "And of course no one saw anything out of the ordinary."
    "It is a deserted stretch of lane," replied the man defensively. "And a time of day when most people are at work in their fields. I will continue to make inquiries."
    "Please do," answered the earl with chilling politeness before letting the door fall shut with an audible thud. It was, perhaps, a childish thing to do, seeing as it came within a hair's breath of knocking the fellow flat on his arse. But no doubt planting the insincere little toad a facer—which he had been sorely tempted to do—would have been worse.
    Not that it mattered a whit whether he begged or ranted or threatened. The man might make a show of going through the motions of a real investigation, but it was a sham. Everyone, himself included, knew that no culprit was going to be charged in the beating.
    Still, he would have liked to wipe the smug surety from the fellow's expression, if only for an instant.
    He turned to stalk off toward his study, so caught up in muttering imprecations against the local authorities that he nearly collided with Meredith as she came down the stairs.
    "Has Lucien taken a turn for the worse?" he demanded sharply, noting the tautness around her mouth and the shadows under her eyes.
    "Oh, no, sir." She shrank back from him, her gaze dropping

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