So where the devil was Fitzgelder? And what was in that bloody parcel he'd received?

A commotion from farther down the hallway snagged Lord Lindley's attention. It seemed to be coming from behind a
narrow door, probably a closet or cupboard. He heard the low drum of Fitzgelder's voice, and the panicked high pitches
of a female. Well, it would appear he might yet catch Fitzgelder in the act, although sadly this was far from the act he
was hoping for. Apparently the parcel had turned out to be less enthralling than Fitzgelder expected.

Really, Lindley knew he ought to leave the man to his efforts. He'd worked hard to insinuate himself into Fitzgelder's
confidence. A good friend would never interrupt a gentleman—or rather, in Fitzgelder's case, a ruddy lecher—who was
availing himself of an opportunity for a little tussle with a willing maid. An interruption just now might actually sever
what bond of trust had been established between the men. Was Lindley prepared to sacrifice that?

Yet the female's protest and the sounds of struggle were obvious. She was clearly—and not surprisingly—unwilling.
Lindley decided he was not game for heaping that guilt upon his shoulders along with all the other. He'd no doubt kick
himself for it later, but right now he must certainly intervene.

And he was glad that he did.

Light from the many sconces in the hallway poured into what turned out to be a linen cupboard. Fitzgelder, startled,
struggled to right his clothing. Lindley politely averted his gaze. What his eyes landed on made him temporarily forget
his disgust, his guilt, and his mission to implicate Fitzgelder.

Sophie Darshaw. Hell and damnation, it was she who had been struggling with Fitzgelder. By the looks of it, she'd been
giving the man quite a fight, too. Her clothing was in dreadful disarray, her fair hair was mussed and tangled in clumps,
and were those droplets of blood spattered on her pretty, ashen face? By God, he'd kill the man.

No, he couldn't. He'd come too far and had too much at stake. Sophie Darshaw was just a minor player in this, and
Lindley reminded himself he wasn't even entirely sure yet what part she played. He'd interrupted and that was enough.
He would not give in to ridiculous sentiment when there might still be a chance to salvage things.

He wiped all trace of loathing from his face and carved out a disgruntled pout.

"I say, Fitz, why did you not bother to tell me the festivities had begun already? You know how I deplore coming in late
on the entertainment."

"Bloody hell, Lindley," Fitzgelder growled. "What in damnation are you about, tearing in while a fellow's readying to
plug himself a little laced mutton?"

Lindley simply shrugged and allowed a lengthy—and welcome—look over Miss Darshaw's disheveled person It
appeared he'd come just in time. The girl was shaking and pale as the crypt, but he was pleased to see a healthy spark
of defiance left in her crystal blue eyes. She'd done well for herself, all things considered. Fitzgelder sported a bloody lip
while she was merely untidy.

"Well then," Lindley said, unbuttoning his coat and placing his hand as if to begin unfastening his trousers. "If the
mutton's willing, I might fancy a go at her myself."

"The mutton most certainly is not willing!" Miss Darshaw announced firmly.

She shoved Fitzgelder aside and pushed her way out of the tiny room. Lindley stood aside to let her. He could well do
without a bloodied lip tonight, and Miss Darshaw seemed every bit capable of giving him one. Hell, if he hadn't
interrupted when he did poor Fitzgelder might have ended up singing soprano. The way Miss Darshaw glared murder at
them both he wasn't entirely convinced she had needed his intervention at all. The girl showed ferocity enough to do
serious damage.
England, 1816
A handsome earl and a beautiful seamstress are looking for answers.
Both are willing to do what it takes to get them--even if it requires a
little seduction.

Sophie Darshaw is skilled with a sewing needle and in high demand
by the "ladies" at Madame Eudora's brothel. She dreams of a better
life, but stumbles into a murder plot. And the arms of someone

The bitter Earl of Lindley is searching for the double agent who
killed his family. He keeps finding Miss Darshaw. The chit may look
innocent enough, but what deadly secrets does she hide? Bedding
her seems an appealing way to get answers.

But Sophie learned a few things from the girls at Madame Eudora's,
and she's ready to put them to use.
Temptress in Training
(Book 3--Warwickshire Series)