My Lady Quicksilver

Page 35

Lynch shook his head. Ridiculous. No doubt it was guilt that brought the image of Rosa to mind. Guilt that left the taste of her in his mouth. And that revealed his heart’s intentions more than anything else. The shock of it pushed him away from her, so that he could find some sense of breathing room. Some sense of distance.

“Me lord?” Mercury whispered, hands stroking the shuddering planes of his sides.

“I can’t,” he said hoarsely. “My heart lies elsewhere.” The confession burned through him and he caught her wrists and held them away from him. The shock on her face was almost tinged with hysteria as she pulled at her hands.

“No,” she said, voice getting stronger. “No. You can’t.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Who?” she demanded.

“It doesn’t matter,” he replied, letting her wrists go. “You don’t know her.”

Taking a step back, she leaned heavily on the bar. “It’s the redhead, ain’t it?” She looked up, her expression so lost. Then it hardened. “You don’t think I can make you forget her?”

He caught her wrist as she reached for him. “For a few minutes, yes. But I’m not that type of man.”

A sound of faint regret whispered through her throat. When he opened his eyes, she was staring up at him again, helplessly.

“This,” he told her, “is just need. Just desire. She is more to me. She is…everything that I thought I’d never feel again.”

Slowly, she dragged her arm back to her chest, clutching it as if he’d hurt it. “You can’t have her. You know that?”

“I know.” Two days. He smiled bitterly down at his untouched ale. “But I won’t betray her.”

“There you go again, shatterin’ me perceptions.” A hurt smile ghosted over her lips, but her cheeks were still white. She took a deep, shuddering breath. “It were easier when the blue bloods were just monsters. You oughta know, me lord Nighthawk, that I won’t move against you. I couldn’t.” Her fists clenched and she shook her head. “All this plannin’ and you destroyed it in the matter of a few weeks.”

Her lashes fluttered against her cheeks. “I know what the mechs are up to. The massacres in Mayfair were just a test. They’re plannin’ on goin’ after the Echelon with their Doeppler Orbs, creatin’ a widespread massacre. Lettin’ you blue bloods rip each other apart.”

Lynch stilled. “When?”



“I don’t know.” She held up her hands when she saw his expression. “I don’t. Mordecai’s keepin’ ’is cards close to ’is chest. But it’ll be somewhere where a lot o’ blue bloods are gathered. Somewhere as’ll make the biggest impact.”

Where? His mind raced. There were no major political events planned nor even social ones. The Season was winding down, most of the thrall contracts signed.

A commotion caught his ear and he spun, sighting a pair of immaculately shaven gentlemen shoving their way into the pub. His gaze caught Sir Richard Maitland’s, though the man was lacking his distinctive Coldrush livery. Fury flared white-hot in him and Lynch stepped in front of Mercury, shielding her with his body.

“Go,” he told her. “Out the back. Don’t get caught.”

She stared at him, then back to Maitland. “Who is ’e?”

“Go,” he repeated, harshly this time.

Her eyes met his. “This is good-bye then?”

Lynch nodded, the hunger in him screaming its rage. A vein in his temple throbbed, his color dipping to shades of gray, then flashing back through color again.

“Good-bye, me lord Nighthawk,” she whispered.

“Good-bye,” he repeated, then he turned and shoved into the crowd, not looking to see her go. The hunger in him, his inner demon, roared its silent fury.

No! Take her!

Lynch ignored it, shoving the thought deep. Neither of them could be his.

He had a date with the executioner.



She jerked her fingers away from the window guiltily.

Ingrid’s expression was watchful as she stepped over the threshold of the bedroom. “Did you get any sleep?”

“No.” Rosalind’s eyes burned, her thoughts chasing themselves around and around in her head, the same way they had done all night. Those devastating words he’d spoken in the pub, as if there could be a future between them.

There was no future. Not without her brother. And if Lynch found out her secret, he would never look at her—at Mrs. Marberry—the same way.

It isn’t me he loves! It was a person who didn’t exist, a role that she had played all too well it seemed over the past few weeks. The hurt knifed through her. She was finding it difficult to keep herself separated from Mrs. Marberry. Balfour had taught her to place as much truth in her lies as possible, and that lesson had been her downfall.

For Mrs. Marberry was everything that she secretly wished to be. Unburdened by hate, by the violence of her past, the subject of a good man’s love. She touched her lips lightly, as if she could still feel the phantom touch of his caress there.

“What’s going on?” Ingrid demanded, her eyes narrowing in suspicion. “You ain’t been acting like yourself lately. You been lying to us, avoiding us…”

“I didn’t lie—”

“Where were you yesterday then? You said you were only stepping out, getting some fresh air.”

Rosalind saw the truth in her friend’s eyes. “You followed me.”

Shaking her head in disgust, Ingrid stalked to the window and yanked the sash up. “Aye, I saw you at the Dog and Thistle. I saw him. And the day before, when you were supposed to be sleeping all day?”

“I was with him,” Rosalind admitted, feeling tired of all the lies. “I went to help him recover.”


“Because I couldn’t bear to see him like that,” she whispered.

Ingrid’s brows drew together. “I don’t understand. What changed? You hate them—or you did. Fact was, once, you would never have let one of them lay a hand on you.”

“I don’t know. He wasn’t as I expected him to be. He’s…nothing like I expected.”

The sound of footsteps on the stairs broke the standoff. Ingrid breathed deeply. “Jack,” she said.

“Don’t tell him. Please.”

Ingrid gave her an uneasy look, then nodded.

By the time Jack reached her door, he was winded—a residual effect of the scarring. He paused by the door, gaze darting between the pair of them. “Did you tell her?”

Ingrid shook her head. “Didn’t get a chance.”

“Tell me what?” Rosalind demanded.

“The next shipment came through,” Jack said. “Including a mech to do the work for us.”

“A mech from the enclaves? They’ve changed their mind and will work for us?”

“This one will,” he replied.


Ingrid looked up sharply. “Said he was paid good money.”

Her contact in the Echelon. Rosalind turned and stared out the window. She’d always thought her contact had ties to the Humans First Party that spoke in parliament—perhaps Sir Gideon Scott himself, the head of the party. They provided the money and she created the Cyclops.

The hairs on the back of her neck rose. “Scott doesn’t have the sort of money we’ve been receiving this year. None of the party does. Steel’s expensive.”

“A lot of people donate to the cause.” In the reflection, she saw Jack shrug.

That was true. Still, she didn’t like the feeling that itched its way down her spine. “I think it’s about time we discovered precisely who is donating to this cause.” When she’d first taken over Nate’s work, she’d found most of his contacts in place already. The money had been a trickle then, until she’d come up with the Cyclops plan. Then it had become a flood. Too much, in fact, for her suspicions not to be roused.

Someone wanted her to create a metal army and she’d been too preoccupied with Jeremy lately to wonder why.

“What are you planning to do?” Ingrid asked.

“Get some of our humanists in place—the ones we know are loyal to us—and have each member of the Humans First Party watched. If there’s a money trail, we should be able to find it.”

“That’ll take months,” Jack said.

Rosalind nodded. “Yes, it will. But I want answers.”

“And in the meantime?”

She met his gaze boldly. “Get the mech started on the next Cyclops,” she said. “We’ll continue as is for the moment, so that no one grows suspicious.”

“And you?”

She thought of Lynch and the threat of attack. “I am going to go see that my lord Nighthawk thwarts the mech attack.”

And make sure that he wasn’t injured in the midst of it.

Ingrid’s gaze shot to her, but Rosalind pretended she didn’t see. “Ingrid, would you help me into my corset?”


“This is everything, sir.” Garrett tossed a variety of newspaper clippings and invitations on the table.

Lynch snatched them up, raking through them. “A few soirees, a poetry reading, Lady Callahan’s charity dinner…” He paused, unfolding a pristine sheet of parchment. “The Baiting of the Wolf.”

“The opera,” Byrnes murmured, leaning closer to see. “Last showing of the Season. Everyone will be there.”

“This is it.” It had to be. The prince consort himself was most likely to attend, as would anyone of influence.

“It’s an enormous building,” Garrett said. “They could already be inside and we would never know it.”

“And they’ll never let us inside,” Byrnes said quietly.

Lynch looked up, tapping the parchment against his hand. Byrnes was right. Only the purest of bloodlines would have an invitation. No rogue would be allowed in, no matter what Lynch said—especially when Maitland’s men would be guarding the opera house.

Someone rapped on the door to his study.

“Come in,” he called.

Perry stepped through the door, her short-cropped dark hair pomaded closely to her scalp. Rosa followed at her heels, wearing dark green cotton that swished around her ankles. Her gaze met his, then flickered away, a faint pink flush rising in her cheeks. It reminded him of the wicked pink flush in her cheeks as she’d sat astride him, her small white teeth worrying her lip as she slowly, slowly lowered herself down over his cock.

The sensation shot through him, dashing his control and his wits. She was shaded with shadow now, the pinkness of her cheeks lost to the monotony of the predator’s vision. A hand pressed into his chest and he looked down in surprise as Garrett pushed against him, a warning look on his face.

“Your eyes,” his second murmured. “Control it.”

And just that suddenly, he recognized the fierce need surging through him and the intent way in which he’d moved toward her—a movement that he could not remember beginning.

They were all looking at him. Byrnes’s eyes narrowed in thought and he glanced at Mrs. Marberry as if suddenly realizing what Garrett’s words meant.

Lynch swallowed hard. “Rosa.” He inclined his head politely.

She returned the salute and he realized that she was pale this afternoon. The light had drained from her creamy skin, leaving her faintly ashen.

“What have I missed?” Perry asked.

“We think we know where the mechs are going to attack,” Lynch replied, snapping his gaze back to the opera notice. He didn’t dare look at Rosa—not even to wonder why she looked so strained. Was it him? Did she regret what had happened between them? “We know it’s going to be today. The only event of any social import is the opera.”

“So what do we do?” Garrett asked. “Call it off?”

“No.” He rubbed his knuckles. “I’ve spent months playing this safely and—” His voice caught. “I’m running out of time. If we call the opera off, then the mechs will simply fade back into the populace and we won’t be able to bring them before the court…” He almost added in time.

“Then how do we get inside?” Byrnes asked.

“You don’t,” Lynch replied. “The only one with any chance of being accepted at the door is myself. The rest of you—”


The word was soft and came from behind him. Lynch glanced over his shoulder. “We’re all rogues, Mrs. Marberry, but at least my knighthood might finally provide something of use.”

Copyright © novelfull All Rights Reserved.