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Truly Yours

Author(s): Barbara Metzger

Alone in the world, Amanda Carville has no dowry, no reputation left, and no one who believes her to be innocent of murder, since she was found holding the gun that killed her stepfather. Viscount Rexford also has his troubles. He's scarred by war, and cursed--or blessed--with the family trait of knowing the truth when he hears it, and his success at extracting the truth from military prisoners has left many doubting his honor and his methods. When Amanda tells him she didn't do it, he believes her. Tired of the truth business, Rex refuses to get involved...until his heart leaves him no choice.

Excerpt


 “Bloody hell,” Rex cursed when they opened the cell door. “What the devil happened to her?”
 
“That would of been the scuffle in the yard, afore some bleedin’ heart gentry mort sent funds for a private cell.” 
 
“That bleeding heart lady is my mother, by Zeus, and she would have sent enough blunt for better treatment” 
 
The guard shrugged. “Resistin’, she was.”
 
Rex looked at the brawny warder, then at the small scrap of a woman asleep or unconscious on the floor. Her gown hung in torn and bloodied shreds, her feet were bare, and her hair was so filthy he could not tell the color. Someone had lopped off the rest, likely to sell to the wig makers. “She must have put up quite a fight.”
 
The guard counted his keys, not coming into the rancid-smelling cell.
 
Rex had to. “Miss Carville?”
 
“She don’t talk. Don’t do nothin’. That’s resistin’.”
 
Rex knelt, grimacing in disgust, at the guard’s reasoning, his stiff leg, and the dirt that would get on the fresh uniform that Murchison insisted he wear. He touched the girl’s gaunt shoulder to awaken her. By light of the guard’s candle he could see cuts and bruises, discolorations and swellings. Even through his gloves he could feel the heat of her fevered body. She did not stir. “Bloody hell,” he swore again.
 
As a boy, he had once come upon a wounded deer, trembling, yet too weak to run away. He’d dispatched the poor creature and never hunted again, but the image had stayed with him. Miss Amanda Carville was like an injured helpless fawn. Something about her stirred protective instincts he never knew he had. There was no way in Hades he could leave her here to die in this filth. Only an ogre, he told himself, could look at her and not feel pity. Rex looked at her and felt rage. He turned and had the guard by the neck before the bigger man could call out for help. In a flash, out of nowhere, Rex’s knife was pressed against the man’s jugular vein. “Was she raped, besides? Tell me now, and tell me the truth, for, by Heaven, I will know if you lie.”
 
The guard looked into Rex’s eyes and knew he was inches away from death for the wrong answer. Captain Lord Rexford’s reputation had preceded him. “N-no. Not yet. Tonight…”
 
Rex slipped the knife back up his sleeve. “Tonight the lady will be out of here. See to it.” He tossed the man a leather pouch filled with coins.
 
“But there ain’t no bail for capital offenses,” the guard complained, tucking the purse under his filthy shirt anyway.
 
Rex was already unbuttoning his coat to wrap around the woman. “Then see that she is released for medical reasons. And you’d better pray she recovers or I’ll have your hide, and every other warder here. The woman is a lady, by Jupiter.”
 
“She be a murderess, Cap’n.”
 
“She is not convicted yet—only charged. With Lord Royce as her legal counsel, she will be free before the case comes to trial.”
 
His father’s name still held sway in the prison, but the guard scratched his head. “I don’t know ’bout releasin’ her, not even to your custody, pardon, milord. Sir Nigel won’t be happy none.”
 
“Sir Nigel…?”
 
“Aye, the chief prosecutor for the Crown. Sir Nigel Turlowe. He wanted to see the mort hang particular-like, her shootin’ a titled swell and all.”
 
Nigel Turlowe, before he was knighted, was the man who had orchestrated Rex’s father’s downfall and disgrace. That made getting Miss Carville out of prison sweet, besides necessary. “You can tell Sir Nigel for me that the charges must be dropped for insufficient evidence.”
 
The man’s jaw gaped open. “But there was witnesses, and the gun.”
 
“The witnesses lied.” They always did. “Tell him. And tell him we will bring suit for the mistreatment of the prisoner. We shall start with him, name the warden and the matrons and every blasted guard in this benighted place. If the suit does not work, I will see what my superiors at Whitehall can do. Have you ever heard of a gentleman called the Aide?”
 
He could tell by the guard’s suddenly shaking hands that the Aide’s reputation was worse than his own. “If all else fails, I will personally pay a visit to every last one of you bastards. Do you understand?” The knife back in his hand again made his meaning fairly obvious. The guard nodded.
 
Rex glanced toward the bulge of the leather purse at the man’s waist. “I am taking her. Make it right, make it legal, or make peace with your god.”
 
No one stopped Rex as he limped through the halls of the prison carrying his slight burden. Then he was out in the fresh air, headed for his…horse.
 
Damn. If ever he needed Murchison and his father’s coach, this was it. They were an hour outside of London, though. Two hackney drivers sped away, rather than take up a sickly passenger from Newgate.
 
“Now what?” Rex asked. The woman did not answer. She was so quiet he would have wondered if she still breathed, but he could feel her chest rise and fall even under his uniform jacket, which enfolded her. For how long? He knew he could not stand outside the prison gates waiting for a messenger to fetch Murchison and the carriage. Miss Carville needed help, now, and his bad leg could not support her for so long. So he draped her limp body over his horse’s neck until he mounted and gathered her up again, silently apologizing to both the woman and the horse for such rough treatment.
 
Then he cursed again, turning the horse in a wide circle while he thought. What the devil was he going to do with Miss Amanda Carville now that he had her? He could not take her to the house, where she had—perhaps—shot the owner. If Sir Frederick’s household had cared about the chit, she would not have been in such mean accommodations in prison. She’d had no visitors, the guard had said, confirming their belief in her guilt. Rex could not take her to his inn, not with the riffraff there, or the lack of a physician or an apothecary or a decent woman. He could try a hotel in Town, but Lud, he’d be laughed at for trying to bring his filthy, fetid burden into a respectable place. Daniel’s lodgings were out of the question, even if he knows the location. The girl needed tending, not likely to be found at whatever rough bachelor digs Rex’s cousin had claimed. No, Rex had one choice. One blasted, blighted choice: Royce House. Where his mother lived.

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 9781611876567
Genre: Historical
Date Published: 01/19/2014
Publisher: Untreed Reads

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