Rebellion & In From The Cold

Rebellion & In From The Cold by Nora Roberts

Book: Rebellion & In From The Cold by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
    “No one will doubt it,” Brigham began, then stopped when Gwen entered with a breakfast tray. She took one look at her brother, standing naked and furious, and clucked her tongue.
    “I hope you haven’t pulled any stitches out.”
    “Damn it, Gwen.” Coll grabbed up a blanket and covered himself. “Have some respect.”
    With a gentle smile she set down the tray and curtsied to Brigham. “Good morning, Brig.”
    He touched a handkerchief to his lips in a futile effort to hide a grin. “Good morning.”
    “Brig, is it?” Coll sputtered. He knew that if he tried to stand five minutes more he’d embarrass himself. “You’ve become damn familiar with my sister, Ashburn.”
    Brigham nearly winced, thinking just how familiar he’d become with Coll’s other sister. “We dispensed with formality shortly after we mopped up your blood.” He picked up his greatcoat. “I fear you’ll have trouble with your patient today, Gwen. He’s in a foul temper.”
    Gwen smiled again and moved over to tidy Coll’s bed linen. “Coll never gives me any trouble.” She fluffed his pillows. “You may feel better after your breakfast, Coll. If you’re up to taking a short walk, I’ll go along with you. But I think you might dress first.”
    Stifling a chuckle, Brigham sketched a bow. She might not have the bite of her sister, but Coll’s little angel knew how to get her way. “Now that I see you’re in good hands, I’ll take my leave.”
    Brigham merely laid a hand on Coll’s shoulder. “We’ll be back within a week.”
    Too weak to argue, Coll let himself be led back to bed, “God go with you.”
    Brigham left them with Gwen tugging a fresh nightshirt over Coll’s shoulders. He started for the staircase, then stopped short when he saw Parkins waiting for him, stiff backed, thin lipped and carrying a valise.
    “Decided to return to England, Parkins?”
    “On the contrary, my lord, I mean to accompany you on your hunting trip.”
    Brigham gave him one brief, incredulous look. “I’m damned if you do.”
    Parkins’s pointed chin came up, the only sign of his agitation. “I will accompany your lordship.”
    “Don’t be daft, man. If I wanted to take someone along, I’d take Jem. At least he’d be of some use with the horses.”
    Though he gave an inward shudder at being compared to a lowly groom, Parkins remained resolute. “I’m convinced Lord Ashburn will have need of me.”
    “I’m convinced I won’t,” Brigham responded, and started past.
    “Nonetheless, I will accompany you, my lord.”
    Slowly, almost certain he had misunderstood, Brigham turned to see Parkins standing, a figure of righteousness, at the top of the stairs. “You are ordered to remain,” he said in a very quiet, very dangerous voice. Parkins’s stomach lining turned to ice, but he remained unbroken.
    “I regret that your orders fail to persuade me that my duties are not best carried out in your company, my lord. I will accompany you.”
    With his eyes narrowed, Brigham ascended a step. “I’m of a mind to dismiss you, Parkins.”
    The pointed chin quivered. “That is your lordship’s prerogative. That being the case, I will accompany you still.”
    “Damn your eyes, Parkins.” Exasperated, Brigham stormed down the steps. “Have it your own way then, but you won’t care for the pace or the accommodations.”
    “Yes, my lord.” Fully satisfied, Parkins smiled at Brigham’s back.
    Surly, Brigham strode out of the house and toward the stables to have a word with his groom.Barely dawn, he thought, and already he’d been engaged in two arguments. He flung on his greatcoat as he went, his long, purposeful strides eating up the frosty ground. God, it would be good to get in the saddle and ride. Away from here, he thought, glancing back and homing in unerringly on Serena’s window. Away from her, he corrected, almost savagely.
    She had managed to avoid him all through the evening. Or when she could

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