A Talent For Temptation
A Talent For Temptation
Widow Meriel Vyse is stunned speechless when someone tries to abduct her on her way to a ball. Fortunately, Quinn Raines, her secret beau, shows up to foil the attack. Unfortunately, as the two of them are struggling with her abductor, Meriel accidentally stabs Quinn with a knife.
Unbeknownst to Meriel, Quinn set up the fake abduction so he could play the hero and win her hand in marriage. But now that his plan has gone disastrously awry, can he convince her that he’s still the man for her?
“My word, Quinn!” Meriel cried.
Her panicked voice seeped into Quinn’s brain, despite the throb in his arm and the ringing in his ears. He swayed on the steps, and the blade he’d jerked out fell from his hands.
“Are you all right?” She rushed up, her face drawn with contrition and worry. “Oh, heavens, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“I figured as much,” he said through gritted teeth. “It’s fine.”
“It’s not fine!” She tried to examine his wound in the poor light. “I could have killed you!”
Yes. Though he probably would have deserved that, given that he’d been the one to plot the fake abduction in the first place.
Bloody stupid idea that had been. But he’d been so angry about her cancelling yet again that he’d felt he had to act. The plan had been to delay the Fulkham carriage when it prepared to leave the mews so that his servant could drive up instead and attempt to carry her off. Then Quinn would gallantly come to her rescue.
He’d had some fool notion that it might make her consider him in a new light, by showing her that he wasn’t the boring banker everyone portrayed him to be, that he could be just as gallant and brave as Fulkham. Then she would swoon in his arms, shower him with kisses, and be grateful to him for saving her.
He should have known better. Meriel never behaved according to plan.
But he hadn’t expected her to stab him, for God’s sake. Next time he plotted something like this, he should probably make sure she wasn’t armed. Not that there would be a next time. He wasn’t idiot enough to try this again.
“Come,” she said, slipping her slender arm about his waist. “We need to get you inside.”
Wonderful, now she thought him an invalid. As she tried to guide him up the steps, he muttered, “I can walk perfectly well, you know. I’m not wounded in the legs.”
“Yes, but you’re losing blood and you might faint.”
Which would really make him appear the fool. And now that she’d put the idea in his head . . .
Don’t faint, don’t faint, don’t faint, he chanted to himself.
“Which is why I need to get you inside where you can lie down,” she added. “I need to tend to that wound.”
Huh. That sounded promising. And he did rather enjoy having her supporting him. Hell, it might even be worth the searing pain in his arm.
If he didn’t contract some infection. Or bleed to death before she could help him. Which reminded him . . . “Do you actually know anything about tending to a wound?”
“I know enough,” she said evasively.
There she went again, throwing out one of her usual enigmatic remarks. Would he ever parse out the mystery that was Meriel? Did he even want to? After all, what sort of woman carried a blade in her reticule?