Home > The Duke (Victorian Rebels #4)(6)

The Duke (Victorian Rebels #4)(6)
Author: Kerrigan Byrne

When Trenwyth adjusted his position, his leg rubbed against her so intimately, a stab of sensation caused her to gasp and clench her feminine muscles.

His thigh instantly tensed beneath her and, for a moment, Imogen was terrified that she’d offended him.

Until he did it again.

She had to reach out a hand to the table to steady herself against an assault of wicked pleasure.

His sex hardened against her backside once more, and he leaned up to gather her close. “I have a distinct feeling that you’re quick tinder to set ablaze, aren’t you?” His words slurred a little, but his movements were steady as one hand drifted down her waist and the other up her thigh, angling to meet in the middle.

Imogen caught his wrists, and he allowed her to hold him as though she had the strength to do so. “I’m compelled by your earlier directive to disagree,” she said solicitously, mostly because she had no idea what he’d meant. His mouth quested behind her ear, down her neck, until he nibbled the slight rise of her muscle as it angled south down the column of her back.

Delicious shivers again erupted over her entire body, and she was unable to control the clenching of her thighs as a concerning rush of warmth pooled between her legs.

“It makes no matter to me.” His voice was deeper than before, rougher, and her nipples tightened in response. “You could take as long as you like.”


Swallowing around a tongue gone suddenly dry, Imogen tried with everything she had not to pant, though her lungs felt heavy. “Would you … like another drink?” Failing that, she handed him the half-full glass he’d set on the table, hoping to distract him.

He paused and pulled back, as though pondering the question.

“No.” He answered with the careful diction of a man aware of his own inebriation.

“Then … is there aught else you need?” she queried. “I really should be getting back to my … to my duties.”

“I’ve kept you for quite a while without recompense for your time,” he said ponderously. “That must be why your … employer keeps glaring.”

“Not at all,” Imogen rushed to soothe him. Del Toro had been sending her warning looks, reminding her not to cock this up or it would be her hide.

Trenwyth’s strength astounded her once more as he lifted her bodily and settled her on the bench beside him as though rearranging a sack of potatoes. “Excuse me,” he muttered, then stood and made his unsteady way toward del Toro.

Imogen was surprised he could walk at all, as he’d imbibed enough Scotch to drown an elephant. Every tense moment he and del Toro conversed was an eternity, but they seemed to come to an understanding that pleased them both. Trenwyth paid, and disappeared behind the curtain without a backward glance.

Imogen didn’t take the time to wonder why a pang of disappointment deflated her before she rose and made her way toward the sideboard, meaning to pick up a tray and a cloth with which to start cleaning up.

Del Toro intercepted her, and the gleam in his eyes sent her heart plummeting into her stomach with a suspicion he quickly confirmed.

She cut him off at the pass. “You gave your word that I’d never have to—”

“That was before he gave me a twenty-pound note,” del Toro marveled.

“Twenty pounds?” Imogen’s legs gave out, and she plopped heavily into an unoccupied chair. “Surely you mean two pounds.” Even that sum was an unheard-of price for a place like this. Only those at Covent Garden or Madame Regina’s could charge two pounds a night.

Scratching at his thinning hair, del Toro produced the note, but wouldn’t let her touch it. “I’d sell my own daughter for twenty pounds,” he said without a modicum of shame. “Just think, this pays close to a third of what your father owes me.”

Imogen glanced at the men playing the gambling tables, seized in the grip of a desperate hope. Twenty pounds was more than half a year’s wages at the hospital. It would take her more than a year to earn that here. She had seventy and four pounds left of her father’s debt to remunerate. It would save her a year of her life working in this miserable place. Leaving her sentence, as she’d come to see it, only two years rather than three.

It would only cost her virginity.

Though Trenwyth was ridiculously handsome and desirable, Imogen shook her head before she’d quite made the decision to refuse. By now, she’d given up all her childhood dreams of Continental travel and artistic exploration to care for her family, but she hadn’t lost all hope of being able to live a normal life, eventually. She wanted to marry someday. Though he was an obsessive gambler, her father had once been a wealthy and respectable textile merchant. Her family still had many of his contacts, and she’d always thought that perhaps she’d marry a banker or a doctor, someone respectable.

But if she was no longer a virgin …

“I can’t.”

“You will.” Del Toro was generally a soft-spoken man, but once his temper flared, he showed a dark and violent side that illustrated just how little he cared for the women in his employ. He beat them sometimes, if they fell out of line, and Imogen had lived in fear of the day he ever raised his hand to her.

“You don’t understand, if I find myself … in trouble I’ll lose my other position, and thereby my way of supporting my family.” Supporting a child at this point was completely out of the question.

Del Toro shrugged, his chins wobbling with a disgusting ripple. “My kittens will teach you a few new positions, and you can work here.” He chuckled at his own terrible pun before sneering at her with derision. “Oh, I forget, you are too good for us, too reputable to be seen with us during the day.”

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