“She’s with me. Miss Summers is—”
“Somerset,” Delia corrected him, garnering a scowl.
“My apologies,” Jack smirked. “MissSomersetwill be staying with me this evening. In fact, the lady needs a change of clothing as she lost most of her belongings in the storm—and any other accessories Molly deems necessary.”
“Of course. I’ll have her send some garments up shortly.”
Delia wished she could get a better look at their expressions. She was at a considerable disadvantage without her spectacles.
“Much appreciated Mr. Long. We’ll need dinner sent up as well.” It was becoming apparent that Jack was indeed quite familiar with this establishment.
“As you wish.” Mr. Long dipped his chin and then handed Jack something shiny. Delia squinted: a key.
Self-consciously fingering the ends of her hair, Delia wished she’d thought to at least weave a braid before leaving the carriage. Without a bonnet or her reticule, she must look like the worst of hoydens.
Her dress and coat were in even worse condition, covered in mud. It was a wonder they’d allowed her inside.
Halfway up a nearby staircase, Jack glanced backward with a cocked brow.
What was happening?Did he genuinely mean for her to join him?
“Well, are you comingMiss Somerset?” A hint of laughter lifted his voice.
Delia tilted her head. “I—” She weighed her options. She could remain in the tavern in her soggy dress and coat, her hair hanging in tangles down her back, not even a single shilling on her person, and sleep with barn animals, or she could follow her handsome hero who had ordered food and who was, it seemed, willing to share his suite. “I’m coming.”
Dashing up the stairs behind him, she dared not imagine what her mother or Rachel would have had to say about any of this. For all appearances, it was most improper. But she hadn’t any choice.
Besides, it wasn’t as though he was some sort of rogue inviting her to share his bed. On the contrary, he was a gentleman assisting a lady in distress—a considerate hero who’d saved her from freezing to death.
Jack hadn’t looked back to see if she was following, so she studied him from behind.
Black hair curled over his cravat and the collar of his jacket. His shoulders were broad but not too burly, and she didn’t believe he wore padding. The length of his greatcoat prevented her from inspecting more thoroughly than that, but she couldn’t help but remember how hard his thighs had felt pressed against hers inside the carriage.
He stopped at the door, and she very nearly collided with him. When he turned to acknowledge her presence, his face was shockingly close to hers.
Something blazed in his eyes, and then she saw the laughter again.
“I’ll order a hot bath.”
“For me?” She attempted to clarify.
In answer, he trailed his gaze down the length of her body and then up again. “Do you have any objections to that?”
Did she object to soaking in a hot bath and ridding herself of the stench of this disaster of a day?
“Not at all.” And then she smiled. “You are too kind.” He’d also requested clothing brought up for her. She doubted even her own brother would be so thoughtful as that.
Delia followed him inside, and although the room was more spacious than most inn rooms—in her limited experience—it contained only one bed.
A maid knocked on the open door behind them. “Clothing for the missus.” She hurried across to the bed, dropping a small stack of folded garments onto the counterpane, and then curtsied. “Water for a bath will be brought up shortly.”
Once the door closed, Delia became all too aware of the fact that she was alone with a gentleman, in a bedchamber, and utterly at his mercy.
She froze in indecision.