Gemma, misunderstanding something Jeff said and desperate to see him in the face of her family’s interference, set out on foot for Regent’s Park at dawn. Luckily servants alerted Jeff and they came upon her just as a sneak thief took her reticule and knocked her in the gutter, and before he could do further harm. She has a nasty cut on the back of her head. He has taken her to her home rather than his, which was closer.
There being no way for a carriage to approach the rear of the Eaton townhouse—or so Johnny insisted—Jeff ordered the coachman to stop as close as possible to the front on the Brook Street side, hoping to carry Gemma the short distance to the modest door that opened directly at street level out of the view of neighbors
Early as it was, he expected the wealthy and worthy who resided along Brook Street to still be sleeping. Servants would be another situation entirely. Any butler, cook, or lesser servant with business at the tradesman’s entrance below street level would likely pop up in curiosity. What one saw, the servants the length of Brook Street would know. He shoved that thought aside.
Jeff set Gemma gently on the floor of the carriage before backing down the steps and reaching for her.
“Graham! I didn’t take you for a man about town. Sampling the capital’s pleasures were you?” Percy Fitzwallace, the Duke of Aubry’s degenerate nephew, obviously returning from such a night himself, appeared foxed and disheveled.
Jeff clenched his teeth, hoping Fitzwallace would go on his way. He did not.
“I say. Is that one of Eaton’s chits?” Fitzwallace asked, peering rudely over Jeff’s shoulder. “Looks like you dragged her through the midden.”
What is the blasted fool doing on Brook Street? Whoever he is sponging on must be tolerant. There was nothing for it. Jeff reached in and lifted Gemma out.
“Wait, aren’t you betrothed to one of them?” Fitzwallace chuckled. “If you weren’t, you are now. Not the done thing old boy. It will be all over town by evening.”
Burdened with arms full of injured womanhood while the footman knocked on the door, Jeff, seethed. If his hands were free, he would lay the lout out on the pavement. “Mention Miss Burke’s name to anyone, Fitzwallace, and you will answer to me,” he growled through clenched teeth.
Fitzwallace guffawed. “Won’t have to. Every butler in Mayfair will know by noon. Your head is in the noose for certain.” He staggered several doors down chuckling as he went.
Jeff peered back at the door and met the steely gaze and pursed lips of Hillary, Eaton’s formidable butler.
Jeff shouldered his way across the threshold, his arms around Gemma. “Summon a physician immediately.”
Note: excerpts from works in progress may have not yet been edited, will likely undergo change, and may not even make it into the final work!