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Authors: Rebecca King

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Chasing Eliza

BOOK: Chasing Eliza
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CHASING ELIZA

The Cavendish Mysteries

Book Three

By

Rebecca King

Chasing Eliza

Rebecca
King

Copyright 2013 by
Rebecca King

Smashwords
Edition

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

To Missy Wissy, Poppet and Little Man

Thank you for your patience x

To A

Thank you x

Love always,

Rx

Chapter
One

Eliza yawned
and absently swiped an errant curl from her cheek as she crossed
the busy tap-room. Returning Bernard’s surly glare, she
unceremoniously slapped several tankards of ale onto the rickety
wooden table, ignoring the loud protests of the patrons as they
were splattered with the foul brew. With a snarl of warning, she
snatched up the coins from the table and batted the groping hands
off her bottom before collecting several empty tankards and
marching back to the battle-scarred plank of wood that posed as a
bar.

She had
learnt that if she walked fast enough she could get across the
packed room without being propositioned or mauled too much. For the
several months she had worked at the run-down inn, she had been
known to issue patrons a healthy whack upside the head for getting
too amorous. As she wove her way through the milling throng, she
glared at one unfortunate man who was too familiar with his hands,
and wielded the heavy weight of the tankard meaningfully. It was
enough to make him pause in his quest for a quick grope, and
sullenly return to his drink.

Eliza
shot a quick glance at Bernard who had been watching her closely
all night, and returned his warning look, her lip curling with
contempt. She didn’t care if he gave her the sack. She was sick and
tired of spending her nights being groped by drunks who thought
they were funny. Horrible, lecherous men, who thought it was
hilarious to openly make coarse comments about her sexual prowess
in bed, and the voluptuous nature of her body.

If it
wasn’t for the need to be near her sister Jemima, then she would be
far away from this ramshackle little tavern she currently called
home.

She
hadn’t told Jemima that the inn also operated as a bawdy house. Of
late, her sister seemed to be severely pre-occupied about
something; at least she had been two weeks ago when Eliza had seen
her last.

Briefly
she wondered if they were going to be moving on again. She didn’t
want to burden her older sister with her own problems any further
than was necessary, but knew it was only a matter of time before
she had to make the decision to leave her job; before she ended up
being forced into spending her nights as one of the working girls
upstairs. If Bernard had his way, she would be up there right now,
being serviced by the lecherous customers for pittance a
turn.

So far,
Eliza had managed to evade his threats, but she knew the time was
coming where she would have to make the decision to leave and take
her chances elsewhere. It didn’t matter how bad things got, she
wasn’t going to turn herself into a whore for any man.

If only
she could get Bernard to pay her the money she was owed.

Swiping
the bothersome curl off her cheek with a sigh of impatience, she
grabbed several tankards and began to weave her way through the
crush of bodies.

The main
body of the inn consisted of one main room, liberally furnished
with ageing tables and stools with a smaller apex to one side that
was reserved for the quieter and generally older clientele. Eliza
didn’t know which was worse. The heavy crush of sweat-laden bodies
of the main room who were constantly trying to catch a quick grope,
or the cloying smoke-laden side room that had too many dark corners
and an even more gloomy air to it.

A small
round table and solitary stool sat near the entrance to the apex
which was usually kept aside for the patrons who were waiting for
their turn upstairs. Eliza shuddered with revulsion as she eyed the
lank, unwashed hair of the man waiting to go up. From the dark
smudges on his face, it was clear he hadn’t washed for some time.
Even if one ignored the steady odour of sweat and other things she
would rather not identify emanating from him; he was hardly the
most tantalizing bed partner.

She
watched as one client ran down the stairs, a wide grin of
satisfaction on his face as he rejoined his table. Within moments
the even dirtier man began to weave his drunken way upstairs for
his turn. It was a constant procession of men who were prepared to
frequent the most run-down inn in the city almost nightly, and
drink the foul brew the innkeeper called ale in order to take their
turn upstairs for a few pennies a time.

Depositing her burden on a wobbly table, she turned to
collect more tankards and froze, her lip curling in contempt as
Bernard grabbed her wrist in a painful hold. Immediately she
twisted and prised her arm out of his hold, rubbing her bruised
flesh as she scowled up at him, waiting for his inevitable
lecture.


Deal with ‘im.” Bernard nodded to the darkest corner of the
side room. “He’s been ‘ere a while.” He was staring into the
shadows in the far corner warily, a worried frown on his face.
Flicking Eliza one last look, he took the empty tankards off her
and turned away.

Eliza
stared after him nonplussed for a moment before turning to frown at
the darkened corner. From her position in the busy tap, it was
impossible to see who was there but their presence had a profound
impact on Bernard, who appeared to be almost scared of the latest
arrival.

Slowly
she pushed her way through the groping hands towards the side room,
brushing out her ruffled skirts as she broke away from the crush of
bodies. Her stomach began to tighten with nerves and her eyes
flicked nervously around the room.

Had they
found her?

It took
every ounce of self control she possessed to appear unperturbed as
she entered the smaller side room. The noise level away from the
main tap dropped significantly although Eliza daren’t take a deep
breath of relief, because the smoke was so thick she would probably
choke. She was half-way across the room when she spotted
him.

Dressed
almost entirely in black, he sat in the corner of the bench with
his back leaning against the wall. He blended into the shadows so
perfectly that he practically disappeared altogether. She frowned
and tried to see him more clearly through the haze of smoke hanging
in the air.

New
faces in the tavern weren’t anything new. Men came and went all
night, and didn’t warrant a second glance. But this one was
different. Eliza could see from the dark scowl on his handsome face
that he wasn’t a man to be messed with.

He was
without doubt the most handsome man Eliza had ever seen;
startlingly so. To the point that he was almost beautiful. His brow
was wide, his patrician nose lay below wide set, large eyes sitting
below sharp slashes of his brows. His elegantly cut hair was thick
and very dark; almost black. Through the dimness of the room, it
was impossible to tell the colour of his eyes, but they appeared
almost black as they stared unblinking at her as she approached.
She could feel the coiled power and tension in him and knew that
despite his casual pose, this man was ready to strike.

She
swept the errant lock of hair from her face with the back of her
hand and tried to ignore the flutter of butterflies in her stomach
as she drew to a halt before him. She could feel his piercing gaze
slide over her from head to toe and shivered as a wave of awareness
swept through her. Disturbed by the unwanted feelings, she scowled
defensively at him.


What do you want?” She snapped, impatient to be away from
him.


Brandy.” The deep, husky voice hung in the air between them
as his eyes met and held hers.


B-brandy?” Eliza frowned, uncomfortable with the feelings
that shimmered through her. Nobody had made her feel so blatantly
feminine before, especially simply by looking at her.


I take it the innkeeper waters down the ale?” The rich
masculine timbre of his voice was stilted and cultured. Eliza
wondered what he was doing in such a place as this and if he had
made a wrong turn. He certainly didn’t seem the usual type of man
who frequented the girls upstairs. Eliza wondered briefly if she
should warn him, then decided against it. It really was none of her
concern what the man wanted as long as he didn’t work for
Scraggan.


Of course he does. I wouldn’t drink it.” She muttered
ruefully, and watched as the firm sweep of his lips quirked with
amusement.


Then bring me a bottle of the best brandy he has.” The
softness of his rich voice caressed her skin and Eliza found
herself unnaturally wanting to get the man anything he wanted;
including herself.

A loud
burst of raucous laughter from the main tap was enough to snap her
out the sensual web he had so easily woven around her. With a curt
nod she returned to the bar, snapping out his order to Bernard. She
ignored his look of surprise and stomped off to deliver more ale,
her mind firmly locked on the man in the side room and his reasons
for being there.

She
reluctantly delivered the man’s brandy and a goblet several moments
later, and was turning away when her wrist was captured in a firm
hold for the second time that night. Only this time Eliza felt like
she’d been stung, a shiver of molten sensation swept up her arm as
his fingers encased the delicate bones and skin with far too much
ease. Although his hold didn’t hurt as Bernard’s had, the
persistent pressure assured her that he wouldn’t let go until he
wanted to. She could feel his strength and knew it was futile to
struggle.

She
glared at him with a defiant scowl, feeling light headed.
“What?”

She
jumped when Bernard appeared beside her and took the opportunity to
breathe.


Get back to work girl.” He ordered, glowering at the new
customer.


I want a few words with your wench man. Go away.” The tall
man snapped, glowering at Bernard menacingly. The sudden change in
the man’s demeanour was startling. While he had been speaking with
Eliza, he had lost some of the hard edge of menace that clung to
him. The air of authority and warning he swiftly adopted as he
snapped at Bernard made him altogether more dangerous. So dangerous
the burly man immediately bowed humbly, and lumbered off without a
murmur.


Have I just got you into trouble?” The rueful question drew
her attention back to the man still holding her wrist and she
watched as he pushed out a stool and motioned for her to join him.
Clearly he wasn’t going to let her go until he had what he came
for, whatever that was. Eliza tried to ignore the shimmer of
awareness that trembled through her and tentatively took a
seat.


It doesn’t matter.” Eliza replied with a shake of her head
and a quick glance at a rapidly retreating Bernard. “I don’t like
him anyway. What do you want?” She had to admit she was
curious.

Unless
she was much mistaken, he was gentry. He was clean; the cut of his
clothing was expensive. His voice was rich and cultured and carried
an air of authority she had only heard from aristocrats. Despite
the air of menace he carried with him like a warning cloak, he
didn’t belong in such a humble establishment.


I need to ask you a couple of questions.” Edward tried to
keep his voice soft and unthreatening. The last thing he wanted was
to frighten the young woman away. He felt he was on the edge of
something major, and wouldn’t let go until he had the answers he
came for.

BOOK: Chasing Eliza
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