The Kidnapped Bride (Redcakes Book 4)

The Kidnapped Bride (Redcakes Book 4) by Heather Hiestand

Book: The Kidnapped Bride (Redcakes Book 4) by Heather Hiestand Read Free Book Online
Authors: Heather Hiestand
was keeping him on edge, racing his pulse and dampening his brow. His last mistress had told him he had far too many forehead wrinkles for a man of only twenty-five, but he took his cases personally. Especially when they didn’t go well, like this one, and involved innocents, also like this one. But Lady Elizabeth was a true original, and he didn’t care to have her spirit dampened by further misadventure.
    By the time he’d opened the carriage door, four boys had gathered around. He tossed each one a small coin. “Watch it for me, eh?”
    The boys nodded as John stepped out, wrinkling his nose. His older brother didn’t spend much time in the city and was used to the fresher air of his properties.
    “Let’s go in,” Dougal said.
    “As soon as possible.” John followed him up the steps into the deserted lobby. Someone had cleaned up the vegetable matter left behind, and the steps only held a day’s worth of mud. An old woman peered out of a door as they reached her landing. She clutched a small child tightly to her chest and, looking alarmed, slammed her door closed.
    “Friendly bunch,” John commented.
    “We don’t even look like white slavers.” Dougal lifted his eyebrows.
    John shook his head. “I can see the handle of one of your pistols, though.”
    Dougal looked down. “I take your point.”
    When they reached the door of the Cross flat, they found it closed. He knew the lock had been ruined, so it would be easy to get in. Should he have a pistol at the ready? No; he didn’t want to scare Lady Elizabeth, and she was likely to be the person inside, unless the landlord had already filled the vacancy.
    Quietly, he pushed the door open a couple of inches. “Lady Elizabeth? It’s Dougal Alexander.”
    He heard angry, rapid footsteps coming toward the door and he pushed it all the way open, not wanting to give her a chance to attempt to bar the door in some fashion. Stepping in, he met her glare. Relief washed over him at the sight of her road-weary face. But then he felt angry.
    “You little fool,” he exclaimed. “Have ye no awareness of the danger you face?”
    “I had to come back.” She rubbed at her right eye.
    Had he just seen a tear blossom? The girl looked exhausted, pale skin stretched tightly over cheekbones that flared on either side of her perfect nose. Even like this, though, she was a beauty.
    He took her arms and then, damning himself, pulled her against him. “Do not scare me like this again, my lady.”
    She tilted her face up to him. “I am my own person. I will do as I see fit.”
    He pressed her upper arms, wondering if she knew how kissable she looked in that pose. “Your brothers put your safety into my hands. I will not disappoint them.”
    She blinked hard. “So they are what matters, and their coin.”
    “No, ye matter, you hoyden. Strangely, you matter.” He bent his head, touched his lips to hers. But when his skin made contact, he felt how chapped and dry her lips were. She needed water and rest, not his kisses. He pulled away.
    Surprise widened her eyes. “Why, Mr. Alexander, are you courting me?”
    A chuckle behind them reminded Dougal that his brother was witnessing the bizarre scene. “Come, Lady Elizabeth, let us go back to the Hall. I promise you we won’t lock you in, but you need rest and care.”
    “I can’t go,” she said. “I don’t know how to do this alone, but I can’t go with you.”
    “Why not?”
    She bit her lip.
    His fingers shot out to touch her lower lip. “Don’t do that. You’ll break the skin. Come, we have a hamper in the carriage.”
    “I have a daughter,” she cried.
    His hand dropped. She did? Was it Cross’s? Had he lied at Newgate?
    She sniffed. “I took her in after her mother died. But she’s exactly the age you might expect if I’d run away to hide my shame.” She straightened her shoulders. “I did nothing wrong. You can ask Mrs. Shaw. She’ll tell you I never carried a child.”
    He regarded her closely. What

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