Freedom. That’s all Lady Honor Baxendale wants—for her sisters and for herself. Honor has a bold plan to become financially independent, using a skill she learned at her father’s knee. She seeks the help of a solicitor and is pleased with her choice…as long as she can resist the solicitor himself.
Lord Edward Winborne has been happy to come to the aid of his four sisters in the past. But when a neighbor’s daughter, Lady Honor Baxendale, requests his help for a dangerous scheme she has in mind, he feels it his duty to dissuade her. When that fails, he wants to protect her, and then somehow finds he wants to do more. Much more.
Lady Honor walked into the room, bringing with her the scent of violets. “It’s very good of you to see me, my lord.”
She handed her pelisse to Roland with a purposeful gesture, which suggested her stay would be a lengthy one. Edward sighed inwardly. “Not at all. Please have a seat. May I offer you coffee or tea?”
“No, thank you.” She wore a drab-colored walking gown and a plain bonnet. Not much improvement there.
“I did not expect to see you in London, my lady,” Edward said, tactfully refraining from adding “in my office.”
“My stepfather has agreed to Faith staying in town for the Season. My mother and I are here to chaperone her.”
“Lady Faith mentioned she wished to attend balls and dances. I am pleased for her.” He was pleased. He liked Faith.
“Does that mean her engagement to Lord Gillingham is no longer forthcoming?” She settled her skirts around her.
“That is so.”
“Then what might I do for you, my lady?” His gaze came to rest on her eyes. Hazel? Brown? Dashed glasses reflected light. How shortsighted was she? Ladies so seldom wore glasses; even his mother refused to be seen in them. “You have a problem?”
Lady Honor clasped her hands in her lap. “I wish you to find someone for me.”
The request seemed so incongruous that Edward found himself staring. He gathered his wits. “Someone you know has gone missing?”
“Not missing, precisely. I want to learn his whereabouts. Where he lives, what clubs he belongs to, the gambling houses he frequents, that sort of thing.”
“My dear Lady Honor, I am a solicitor, not a private investigator.”
“I am sure you know such people. I am quite prepared to pay your fee.”
“What does this man mean to you?” he asked. He relegated his files to the far corner of his desk and folded his arms. Had Lady Honor been jilted at the altar? It struck a warning, and he worked to extricate himself. “There are certain matters I will not take on. Domestic affairs, for instance,” he said in an uncompromising tone. “Who is this man?”
“Mr. Alberic Leighton.” The name meant nothing to Edward. “You’ve only answered the second part of my question. Might this be a matter of a breach of promise?”
“It is not.”
“Perhaps you’d better start from the beginning.” He rang the bell for Roland. “Bring coffee for Lady Honor,” Edward said when Roland entered, “and fetch cakes from the coffee house.”
“I do not wish for cake, my lord. I only wish you to agree to locate Mr. Leighton. It is a very old matter concerning my father.”
“Go on.” Edward took a sip of coffee, which failed to rival tea, in his opinion. It tasted like inky soot, but he was addicted to the boost of energy it provided, particularly at this moment. He studied her over his cup. “Your father must have passed away a long time ago.”
“Eighteen years ago this month.”
“You’ll have to give me more information, my lady.”
“After Mr. Leighton swindled my father out of his fortune, my father took his own life.”
Edward drew in a breath. A suicide cast a dreadful pall over a family. “I’m very sorry to hear of it, but it’s too long ago to bring this man to trial. Even imagining we could prove him culpable.”
She frowned. “I don’t require you to take it that far.”
“What is it you want of me?”
“Just learn his habits and his whereabouts, as I’ve said.” Bewildered, Edward leaned forward. “Why, after all this time?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I have my reasons.”
“That’s not enough for me to take up your case.”
Lady Honor removed her glasses; her gaze dipped as she polished them with a handkerchief. Thick dark lashes swept her cheek as she blinked, then her brown eyes met his, coolly assessing. Talk about hiding one’s light under a bushel! Edward couldn’t help staring. She had the most beautiful almond-shaped eyes beneath fine, straight brows. He wondered if they would turn to melting chocolate when she smiled. But she was in no danger of smiling now; she was frowning at him, in fact.
Lady Faith Takes a Leap Book Two is released 1st May 2015.
Further details on my author webpage:
Tags: 99 cents, Lady Honor’s Debt, Maggi Andersen, Regency, Historical Romance.