The Duchess (Montgomery/Taggert 16) - Page 84

“Keep it. Just get out of here. I forgot what a humorless little prig you can be.”

At that Claire, with her head held high, walked out of the room. But once she was in the writing room, she saw Oman sitting on the window seat, his head nodding in sleep. She put her finger to her lips to tell him to be quiet, then motioned for him to follow her.

She went down the stairs and outside into the moonlight. Oman was soon beside her. She looked up at the tall man. “Was it a murder attempt? Not an accident?”

“It was murder.”

Claire sighed and she was amazed at how much fear she felt—and anger. How could anyone think to take such a great man as Captain Baker from the world? He was so young and he had so much yet to do.

She looked back at Oman. “Trevelyan said that Powell has something from Pesha called the Pearl of the Moon. Do you know what that is?”

Oman nodded.

“I’m assuming that this thing is very valuable. Would Trevelyan try to take it from Powell?”

“If the man Powell has the Pearl, then Captain will take it from him.”

Claire took a deep breath. She had thought so. From the way the news that Powell had this thing had shocked Trevelyan she’d guessed he might try to take it back. “When will he leave?”

“Now,” Oman said and moved past her to reenter the west wing.

Claire stood where she was for a few moments and looked up at the stars. There was no doubt in her mind that she shouldn’t consider going with Trevelyan. She was a woman engaged to another man. She was a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and had gone after it. She was in love with Harry; she was going to spend her life being the duchess of MacArran.

On the other hand, she did owe Trevelyan something. He had been the one to help her in her scheme to marry Leatrice to James Kincaid. Never mind that the union hadn’t seemed to change anything in the house, but Trevelyan had helped. He hadn’t done it correctly, but that was neither here nor there.

And, also, Trevelyan was Ha

rry’s cousin. Wouldn’t Harry want her to help any of his family who needed help? Wasn’t part of being a duchess taking care of all her husband’s family? She couldn’t do things for her own family and neglect Harry’s. If Harry were here, he’d no doubt help Trevelyan. He’d probably ride out on his big horse and go into Edinburgh and demand that this man Powell give him the Pearl of the Moon. Yes, of course Harry would do that.

She looked back at Oman. “Make him travel in a carriage and make him wait for me. I’ll be in the stables as soon as possible.”

With that she turned back toward the house, only to realize that she didn’t know how to get into the house secretly. She couldn’t go through the front door, as she was sure people would see her, and the only entrance to the tunnels that she knew was through Trevelyan’s tower.

Oman seemed to know what her problem was. He started walking around the house, all the way to the east wing, and there, behind concealing shrubbery, was a small door. When Oman opened it, it creaked loudly. She started to say that she had no candle but Oman pointed to a niche in the wall where candles and matches lay. She lit a candle, then looked back to thank Oman, but he was gone.

Claire had no idea where she was or how to get to her room in the tunnels. She looked at the dust on the floor to see if there were tracks. She wasn’t surprised to see that there were many tracks and all of them were made by a foot that looked to be exactly the size of her sister’s.

Claire started down the tunnel, looking at the tracks and trying to figure out where she was. She came to a door and saw that the area in front of the door had been used so often that it was bare of dust. Cautiously she opened the door. It moved silently.

A stream of light so bright it could have been sunlight poured into the dark tunnel, and she heard a voice that could only have been her sister’s.

“I will not!” Brat said.

Claire stepped into the room to see a small, gaudy stage encrusted with gilding. Standing in the middle of the stage was her sister, dressed in a skimpy costume of colored silks, and a tall, very thin man wearing rags. They both turned when they saw Claire.

“What are you doing up at this time of night?” Claire asked. “And what disgusting thing are you wearing?”

“I’m Salome and I’m supposed to get to dance but he says we don’t have time.”

The skinny man made an elaborate bow to Claire. “Camelot J. Montgomery at your service, ma’am.”

Claire looked about the room, with its stage and its red plush chairs in front and its oddly dressed occupants, and opened her mouth to ask questions. But she didn’t have time. She looked at her sister. “I need you.”

“Can’t find your way back?” Brat asked, smiling. “I charge for guiding. And speaking of garments, what are you wearing?”

Claire ignored the last question. “I need you for more than guiding, and I’ll pay whatever you charge.”

At that Brat’s eyes opened wide and she smiled happily. “I’ll see you later, Cammy,” she called over her shoulder and led Claire into the tunnels.

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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