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The Devil's Pearl
by Jennifer Haymore

Genre: E-book, Historical Romance

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How she had missed him. Part of her wanted to run to him, to throw herself into his arms. Ridiculous, considering his attempts to bully the three of them. But how could she forget the talks and laughter she and Dev had shared, the cozy days in his bed and at the inn, the passionate lovemaking…?

A shudder rolled through her. Relinquishing her body to him had given her the most profound pleasure she had ever known. Her life in the past year had been utterly sterile in comparison.

“Come to me, Julia,” he ordered, his tone of one accustomed to command.

That voice sent waves of heat pulsing across her skin, centering low in her belly and pooling into desire.

No, no, no. That was a terribly incorrect response to this man — to this situation. What a traitorous body she had.

She might have spent the happiest afternoons of her life with Sir Devlin Vaughn, but he had also ruined her for anyone else, and now he threatened her closest friends in the world. She clenched her jaw against a sudden flare of anger.

“I will go,” she whispered to her cousin.

“Julia, you are not thinking clearly! You cannot.”

“I am thinking quite clearly.” And she was. Dev’s presence here, tonight, had a magically sobering effect.

She would not watch Thomas and Algernon get pummeled on her behalf. There was no question they would lose, even two against one. Dev was a trained fighter who boxed for sport, and Algernon and Thomas were…well, they were tailors, for heaven’s sake.

She took a step forward.

“Julia!” Thomas hissed, prepared to fight

“Please don’t, Thomas. I beg you. I promise he won’t hurt me.” Dev could hurt her, but not in the way they imagined — she knew that much. “He would never harm me. I’ll go with him and talk some sense into him.”

“Julia—”

“No. Now promise me you won’t go to the authorities.”

“Julia—” Thomas said.

“Promise me!” she snapped.

The upper crust of London society often avoided the authorities and took matters into their own hands because the repercussions, should certain things become subjects of gossip, could be devastating. Instinct told her it would be wise to follow their lead in this matter.

Algernon looked bewildered, clearly not understanding why involving anyone else would probably only serve to make matters worse. “I don’t think—”

Now. She had to go to Dev now or they would do something rash. She couldn’t allow that to happen. She turned her back on them, lifted her skirts, and hurried up to Dev, stopping when she was within an arm’s length of him.

She looked up into his handsome face, with its straight, long nose, square jaw and brooding eyes. Ignoring her stuttering heartbeat, she met his dark gaze.

“Very well, Sir Devlin. Here I am.” And a rebellious spark somewhere deep within her added, Now what are you going to do with me?