Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Cover Designer: Anna Spies
Bridget crept past the mews in the murky London darkness and into the tiny garden. She’d planned it all ahead of time, so she knew exactly where to go. She knotted her skirts front and back, climbed onto the rain barrel, shinned up the drainpipe, and pulled herself onto the roof of the bump-out behind Colin Warren’s lodging house.
The bump-out housed the landlady; conveniently for Bridget, Colin occupied rooms on the first floor at the back. His windows could be accessed from its roof.
It wouldn’t have come to this if Colin Warren wasn’t a lazy, good-for-nothing rake.
Well, perhaps not good-for-nothing at all. He’d been incredibly exciting in bed years ago. What a pity that one wild night was the cause of so much trouble now.
She crept slowly across the roof, keeping low. There were two windows; when she reached the one behind which a light showed, she raised herself slowly until her eyes cleared the sill. She peered through a gap in the curtains.
There he was, the good-looking devil, slouched on the sofa, running his hands through his thick, wavy, annoyingly gorgeous hair. The fireplace glowed with fading coals; a wine bottle and a chipped cup sat on the table beside a pile of newspapers.
The very papers in which she’d advertised! She would gladly strangle him if she didn’t need his help. She sneaked to the next window, which she knew from the previous evening’s reconnaissance was Colin’s bedchamber. He slept with it open, impervious to the smoke and grime. She would never understand why anyone chose to live in this filthy city. Colin had a perfectly good estate in Lancashire a few hours’ ride from her own house, in the brisk, clean countryside.
Gently, she pushed on the window sash. She eased it up, four, eight, twelve, sixteen inches. Listened—no sound from within. She glanced about—no one. Now or never.
She rose, shoved the window up hard, and climbed through, one leg, then her body, then the other leg. The bunched-up skirts of her gown caught on the sill, ripping as she yanked it through. She lost her balance and tumbled to the floor.
“What the bloody hell?”
Ah, well. She’d hoped for a more dignified meeting, but this would have to do. She stood and began calmly untying her skirts. Calmly in appearance, at least; her heart thudded chaotically and her fingers fumbled with the knots.
Colin Warren appeared in the doorway of his bedchamber, a branch of candles in one hand. Her breath caught, just as it had the first time she’d seen him, several years ago. What was it about him? Certainly, he was a handsome fellow. He had enough charm for ten men and knew his way around the bedchamber. But otherwise he was useless. She shouldn’t be so profoundly affected by him.
He stared, bemused and not particularly disturbed, as she got the knots undone and her skirts fell to her ankles where they belonged.
“You’ve got lovely legs, darling,” he drawled, “and it’s kind of you to offer, but I’m not going to take you up on it.”