Lady Rebecca Jamison ticked off numbers on the fingers of one revolting brown glove.
“First, I’m not a thief. Second, I’m not a courtesan needing coin. Third, I’ve never been your mistress.” She looked down at her maid’s drab clothes, shuddered. “And if the women you’re taking to your bed dress this shabbily, I suggest you raise your standards.”
The Duke of Sherwyn drew several shuddering breaths. “Correct, on all counts. Now, appease my burning curiosity. What deception did you employ to hoodwink my servant?”
One shoulder lifted in the semblance of a shrug. “Oh, that! A child’s ploy. I laid coins on the fourth step and paid a street urchin to knock on your door and then run. When your gatekeeper bent to retrieve the coins, I slipped around the door and inside.”
Incredulity, then infuriation, surrendered to mirth. The simplicity of her ruse, alongside her detached style of recounting her deception, startled him into a snort of amusement.
“Huh! My ever-vigilant butler diverted by the sight of a few pennies.”
“Oh, no, not mere pennies. Gleaming new gold coins. Rest easy. Your servant’s momentary distraction cost me a high price.”
He lifted his hand to hide his smirk. Since he’d become Sherwyn, Jenner’s behavior vacillated between extreme formality due a duke or nose-lifting disdain owed to the family’s black sheep. This chink in Jenner’s polished armor pleased him.
He dipped his head, and said, “I bow to your finesse as a trickster. Now for my next pressing question. Why are you here?”
“I need your assistance.”
He grinned. “Ah, so once again your white knight is being asked to draw an imaginary sword and defend your ladyship’s honor.”
She groaned. “If only things were still as uncomplicated as in our childhood games.”
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