A Lady of His Own (Bastion Club 3) - Page 16

Charles turned his gaze on her. “I checked in Debrett’s. Amberley, Nicholas’s father, was with the Foreign Office.”

She nodded and continued eating her soup. She waited as long as she dared before replying, “He retired years ago—’09, or thereabouts.”

What else had he pieced together? There was only one major fact she knew that he still didn’t. Would he guess…or might he connect Nicholas directly with the smugglers and not realize there was—had been—an intervening link?

Setting down her spoon, she reached for her napkin, glanced at him as she patted her lips. He was finishing his soup, his expression uninformative, but then he glanced down the table and caught her eye.

He’d seen the alternatives.

She looked away as Filchett and his minions returned.

Leaning back in his chair, Charles waited until the main course had been served and Filchett had once more retreated. “Did Nicholas visit Wallingham often over the years before Granville’s death?”

She kept her gaze on her plate. “He’s visited off and on since he was a child—Amberly and Papa were close friends.”


The word sounded mild; she wasn’t deceived.

“But Nicholas hasn’t been a regular visitor here over the last decade?”

She wished she could lie, but he’d check and find her out. “No.”

To her surprise, he left it at that and gave his attention to the roast lamb.

From beneath his lashes, Charles watched her, and let her nerves stretch. She was waiting, keyed up to meet his next tack, his next inquisitorial direction. In lieu of intimidating her in any other fashion, he’d opted for demonstrating that he wouldn’t retreat, but instead, question by question, would press harder until she capitulated and told him all she knew.

The time he was willing to give her to think had become severely limited the instant he’d realized Arbry was involved; it had shortened even further when he’d learned Amberly had been with the Foreign Office, the very office the putative traitor was supposed to have graced.

He held his peace until Mrs. Slattery’s lemon curd pudding was set before them and Filchett departed. Lemon curd pudding was his favorite; delicious, it was gone in too few bites. Lifting his wineglass, he sat back and sipped, and looked down the table at Penny.

“You’re protecting someone, but it isn’t Arbry.”

She looked up; he trapped her gaze.

“So who else? Your family is all female, as is mine these days. None of them are involved.”

She swallowed her last mouthful of pudding. “Of course not.”

“So who else could be involved in running secrets out of the Fowey estuary—who that you would feel compelled to protect?” That was what was fueling her refusal to tell him; that was the point he needed to attack.

When she set down her spoon and looked back at him, unmoved, he arched a brow. “The staff at Wallingham, perhaps?”

Her gaze turned contemptuous. “Don’t be silly.”

“Mother Gibbs herself?”


“Her sons, then—are the Gibbses still running the Fowey Gallants?”

She frowned in mock confusion. “I’m not sure how to answer—yes, or no. But yes, they’re still in charge of the Gallants. I daresay they always will be—Gibbses have been Gallants for over four hundred years.”

“Do they still meet at the Cock and Bull?”


So she’d been there—followed someone there—recently. “Do you have any idea if they’ve been involved in running secrets?”

Tags: Stephanie Laurens Bastion Club Historical
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