Today's Reading

"Then let's get you out. Are you sure you've got your footing?"

She shoved her sodden cloak back over her shoulders.

"Since I am now standing barely chest-deep, I believe I can manage to stay upright."

The mention of her chest naturally brought his gaze to that part of her anatomy. Her pale yellow dress was a sagging mess that exposed the tops of her stays. It also clung to what appeared to be a grand set of breasts—perfectly round and full. And she obviously was chilly, because even through the various layers of fabric, he could see the jutting of her pert nip—

"Ahem."

Graeme jerked his head up to once again meet an irate peacock stare.

"Right," he said briskly. "Let's get to it."

He vaulted up onto the embankment, inadvertently splashing her with yet more water. She spluttered indignantly as he reached down a hand.

"Sorry," he apologized.

She wrapped her gloved fingers around his wrist. "I suppose you can't help it, since you are exceedingly large."

"Aye, that."

He hauled her out and set her on the grass, keeping a hand on her waist to steady her.

"And strong," she said, a trifle breathless. "And Scottish, obviously."

"Guessed that, did ye?"

She made a game attempt to shake out her dripping cloak. "I'm not a moron, sir, despite certain indications to the contrary."

"Never said you were. And you'll catch your death if you keep that stupid cloak on."

He swiped up his coat from the grass. While damp, it would be warm compared to her soaked garments.

The poor girl was shivering, and her pink lips held a tinge of blue around the edges. Graeme's worry spiked. If he didn't get her dry and warm, she could catch a fever. He'd seen it happen in his own family, and results had been dire.

"Let me help," he said, as she struggled with the ribbons of her cloak.

They were hopelessly knotted, so he just snapped them and tossed the cloak to the ground.

She grimaced. "That was new and quite expensive."

"Lass, you're safe. That's what matters. Now, let's get that bonnet off, too."

"Also new and expensive." She pulled off the offending headgear and tossed it onto the cloak.

He tucked his coat around her shoulders, then tapped one of her delicate gold earrings. Graeme had never found ears enticing before, but hers just might be the first.

"At least you didn't lose your earrings."

She pulled his coat tight around her body. "Thank you for this. It's so—"

Breaking off, she reached inside the jacket and gingerly extracted his knife.

"Sorry about that." He slipped the knife into his right boot.

"There seem to be a few other, er, implements in your pockets."

"Right. Sorry."

Feeling like ten times an idiot, Graeme extracted his pistol from one of the coat pockets, shoving it into the back of his breeches, then pulled a pair of knuckledusters from the other pocket. Those he tossed on top of her cloak before tucking the jacket back around her body.

She eyed him. "Are you by any chance a Bow Street Runner?"

"No, just the sort that likes to be prepared. Never know whom you'll run into, as you just discovered," he added with a wink.

His answer got the response it deserved. She shuffled back, which brought her dangerously close to the edge of the embankment.

"Watch it, miss. You don't want another dunking."

She studied him for a few moments longer before apparently making a decision. "I suppose if you wanted to murder me, you would have done it before now. But it is rather odd to be carrying so many weapons on one's person."

"No odder than a genteel young lady wandering alone in Hyde Park at the crack of dawn, in the rain."


This excerpt ends on page 13 of the paperback edition.

Monday we begin the book Grown-Up Pose by Sonya Lalli.
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