DescriptionAdam Durward is an outsider in both his mother’s India and his father’s England. Too much of an outsider for his childhood sweetheart, Caroline, who turned her back on their forbidden love to marry the wealthier, safer Jared Rawley. Taught a bitter lesson about not belonging, Adam left England as a diplomat and spy in the Peninsular War. But even then he could not escape Caroline. When he learned her husband, Jared, had betrayed crown and country, he exposed Jared as a traitor despite Caroline’s pleas.
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London, September 1808
Adam woke quickly, as he always did, conscious of the light in the doorway and the sound of someone's breathing. He looked up and saw Hawkins grinning at him. Hawkins, damn his eyes, always enjoyed the unexpected. Adam turned quickly on his side and sat up, his feet recoiling from the cold floor. "What's the hour?"
"Just past one," said Hawkins cheerfully.
Adam groaned. "God's teeth, this is London. Can't it wait?"
"You've got a visitor."
The band of pain surrounding Adam's temples tightened. He had been up at six this morning, and since the unpleasant interview with Jared Rawley he had drunk far more than was sensible. He swung his legs back into the warmth of the blankets. "Tell him I'm too drunk to talk. Tell him to leave me a message. Tell him to come back in three days' time." Adam pulled the covers over his head. "Tell him to go away."
The covers were jerked unceremoniously back. The lamp was now shining directly in his eyes and Adam put up a hand in protest. "It's a lady," Hawkins said. "She won't tell me her business. She won't go away." Hawkins's face conveyed a rude sympathy. "You'd best get up. She's prepared to spend the night."
These words brought Adam to his feet. "Be a good fellow, get me my clothes. I won't face the wench without my breeches." His voice felt thick with brandy and sleep, and he was aware of a growing anger. "I've been back in England less than three weeks. I don't know any women. Stay with me, Hawkins. It's a jest or a jape or a trap. I don't take kindly to traps."
"And I won't say much for your sense of humor." Hawkins held out the doeskin breeches which Adam had removed less than an hour since.
Adam grinned, his good spirits restored. Hawkins had a cheerful face and was equal to any situation. A compactly-built man, quick and economical in his movements and light on his feet, he was stronger than he appeared. Though Adam topped him by a head or more, he was never conscious of the difference in their height.
"She's rare upset," Hawkins went on, "and trying not to show it. Impatient, too. Not used to waiting. Do you want a cravat?"
"Yes, everything. I won't have it said I was careless in receiving a lady." Adam took the cravat and stared at his friend. "I suppose she is a lady?"
"All the signs."
"Take care," Adam warned, shrugging into his coat. "In this sinkhole that is London the doxies look like ladies and the ladies look like—"
Hawkins pointed to the bedroom door. Adam took a deep breath and entered the sitting room.
A brace of candles had been lit on the round center table, but the woman waiting for him had retreated to the windows. Adam could barely make out her form. Hawkins proceeded to light the candles that stood in brackets on the walls. With each new flare the woman grew clearer to Adam's sight, though the hooded dark cloak she wore obscured both face and figure. Adam broke the silence. "Madam, you have something to say to me?"
He thought she shuddered, but it might have been a trick of the wavering light. With a slow graceful gesture she raised her hand and pushed back the hood of her cloak. Adam caught his breath. "It's all right, Hawkins," he murmured, his eyes fixed on the woman's face.
Hawkins vanished, the soft click of the door the only sign of his going. Adam was conscious of nothing save the woman and the beating of the pulse in his temples and the great cry of longing ready to tear itself from his throat. He closed his eyes for a moment and found his voice. "Mrs. Rawley, I believe."
"Yes," she said impatiently. "Adam—" She moved toward him, then stopped abruptly. "May I sit down?"
"I'm sorry." He gestured to a chair. "Can I get you anything? A glass of wine?"
She sat down, untied the fastening of her cloak, and threw it back from her shoulders. "Nothing, thank you," she said, occupying herself in arranging the folds of her dress. She was dressed for some elaborate entertainment. Her gown, cut low to show off the swell of her breasts, was of a shiny rose-colored material over an underdress in a softer shade of the same color. The pale hair, silvery blond streaked with brown, had been carefully coiffed, piled high on her head with a tangle of ringlets left free to frame her face, as though to say the formality of her appearance was all a game. She wore jewels, too, diamonds, or perhaps paste. In the dim light Adam could not tell the difference. They glittered at her throat and the lobes of her ears, catching the wavering flames of the candles. She looked nothing like the girl he had once known.
"It's been a long time," she said, looking up at last.
"It's been four years," Adam said evenly. Four years, and not a day in which he had not thought of her. Not a day in which he had not cursed the quarrel that had driven them apart, not a day in which he had failed to remember that she had betrayed their friendship and not thought him worthy of her love. He pulled out a chair and sat a few feet away, close enough so he could watch the play of light on her face, far enough to preserve the fiction that this was an ordinary visit.
Formality was the only thing that would save him. The girl who had been his childhood companion, who had become his first and only love, was now a woman, and a married one at that, and he could no longer claim her as his own.
Caroline twisted her hands together, uncertain where to begin, conscious of the gulf between them. Once it was Adam she had run to whenever she had a problem or was troubled in mind or soul, Adam who had given her advice—no matter that she seldom took it—and Adam who had offered comfort. But now, in a strange sitting room with a dozen feet and four years between them, she could not run into his arms, however much she might wish it.
She had not thought to find him so changed, nor had she expected the faint note of hostility in his voice. His eyes were the same, narrow and watchful under dark heavy brows, but his face was leaner and there were lines she could not recall having seen before. He was more contained, too, and it seemed like a denial of his former self. Adam was a man to know out of doors, where space and air and movement could dissipate his raw energy. Disturbed by images of the past, Caroline took refuge in commonplaces. "I'm sorry to call so late, I had no idea of the time."
"I must accustom myself to London hours." Adam gave her a searching look. "You're very fine, madam."
"I was at a. reception," Caroline said, wanting to make it clear that she had not dressed so for him. She did not tell him that she had left the reception early and returned home, where Jared had told her a story that drove her out into the night to seek a man she had thought never to see again.
Adam was not making this easy. "I came to you because we were friends," Caroline said, an unaccustomed diffidence in her voice. "We are still friends, aren't we?"
He made a gesture that was neither denial nor affirmation, but did not venture an answer.
Caroline felt a stab of pain at his unwillingness to admit so simple a bond between them. "Adam, don't," she said. "You can't still be angry, not after all this time. We were children."
"You were nearly eighteen."
"Oh, eighteen." Caroline laughed, dismissing her younger self as unworthy of serious regard, but the sound rang artificial in her ears. "At eighteen one thinks one knows everything."
"And at twenty-two?"
She made a joke of it. "One finds one doesn't know anything at all."
"You gave yourself to Jared," Adam said, forcing her back to the essential point. "Are you telling me you regret it?"
"I didn't give myself to him." Caroline's voice was sharp because she could not bring herself to answer his question. "I married him. It's not at all the same."
"With us it would have been."
Caroline felt a sudden constriction in her chest. Adam was watching her intently and she could not help wondering what it would have been like if she had chosen differently. Adam would have taken all or nothing. He would have invaded all the corners of her house and her bed and herself. He would never have let her set the terms of their encounters.
She found herself trembling with the same mixture of fear and resentment Adam had aroused in her four years ago. She had not lain with Jared for nearly two years, not since she had learned he was keeping a mistress. Was that the reason for her disturbing response? No. Jared's gentle caresses had never stirred her in the way Adam's few shattering kisses had done.
Caroline clasped her hands firmly in her lap to still her treacherous thoughts. "I'm sorry for what happened. I'm truly sorry. I said some vile things, but I never meant to hurt you."
Adam suppressed a groan. From the moment he returned to London he had known this meeting was likely to occur, and after his interview with Jared Rawley he had realized it was inevitable. But he had not expected it to take place in the intimacy of his rooms, at such an ungodly hour, and he had not expected it to be so very painful. He had loved Caroline without reservation and she had refused his love. He had gone away to put her behind him. It had been impossible to do.
"You don't need to apologize," he said. "That's not why you came. Why did you seek me out, after so many years? Why seek me out at all?"
"I need your help, Adam. It's Jared."
"Ah, yes, your husband."
"My husband. That hasn't changed. I'm afraid he's in trouble."
Adam knew well that Jared Rawley was in trouble, for he had himself informed Jared of it that afternoon. An unpleasant encounter. Adam had been aware of an unworthy touch of vengefulness, because he knew Jared would suffer, and guilt because he knew Caroline would suffer as well. Now guilt was uppermost. He was nearly undone by the sight of Caroline's distress. If he let her get too close, he would forget why the interview with Jared had been necessary. Using words to keep his distance, he said, "My sympathies, madam."
Caroline had not expected Adam's scorn. She studied his face, trying to find a trace of the boy who had sworn to be her friend forever. But she could not afford the luxury of thinking of the past. She must think only how to regain Adam's good will. If he refused to help Jared, they were lost. She might regret her marriage, but she could not stand by and see her husband ruined.
"Jared is in a dreadful state," she said. "He told me he's about to be accused of some most unpleasant things, and they aren't at all his fault. He'd been drinking most of the evening and I couldn't get much sense out of him, but it seems to have something to do with the foundry." Jared was always involved in some scheme for making money. After a year of marriage, Caroline had realized they were living well beyond their means, but somehow Jared always managed to pull them through. "And he seems to blame you for whatever is about to happen."
Caroline waited for Adam to reply, but he was silent and his face gave nothing away. Very well. She would force him to speak. "You threatened Jared," Caroline said, to make it clear she knew of their encounter. "He didn't tell me much, but he was clear on that point. You sought him out at his club, but you refused to drink with him. You said you were going to expose him. You were going to go to the Master-General of Ordnance with the story. Adam, what's going on? You've got to tell me."
In her fervor she leaned forward, her eyes widened slightly, her mouth parted. This was the way Adam remembered her, passionate, demanding, infinitely desirable. In that moment he longed to hold her in his arms and make everything right, but he could not help her without betraying his honor. "It doesn't concern you," he said, more harshly than he intended.
"It concerns my husband, doesn't it?" Caroline's gray eyes, dark in the candlelight, grew even darker with anger. "We are one flesh, Adam. In this as in all things we are one."
The reminder that she shared another man's bed infuriated Adam, but he kept his voice calm. What he had to say would do damage enough. "Very well." He hesitated, wondering how much he need tell her. "I was in Spain, Caro. I'm on Sir Charles Stuart's staff."
Caroline looked at him in surprise. "I thought you'd gone to India."
"I did. I returned to England early this year, then accompanied Stuart when he was sent to the Peninsula on a diplomatic mission. After some weeks he sent me to Portugal with dispatches for Wellesley. I arrived just after the battle of Vimeiro. You've heard of Vimeiro, haven't you? You read the papers?"
She nodded. "They called it a great victory."
Adam shrugged. "Wellesley beat back Junot, and the French had to evacuate their troops. There were losses on both sides, that's the way of battles. One expects to be slaughtered by the enemy." He leaned forward, watching the surprise and incomprehension on Caroline's face. "What one doesn't expect is to be slaughtered by the incompetence and venality of one's own side."
Caroline's eyes widened. "I don't understand."
"Most of the cannon blew up in their gunners' faces," Adam said slowly, spelling it out for her. "How many deaths do you think that caused, Caro? We were fighting the French. These were English deaths."
"Cannon?" He heard the sudden intake of her breath. She shook her head as though she would hear no more and at the same time said, "Go on."
"Wellesley's force was gathered in haste, that's understood. Men, ships, ordnance. It wasn't all immediately available, and the Government had to let out private contracts for supplies. The contracts were lucrative, but in times like these, who's to care as long as the army has what it requires to do its work."
Adam stopped, reluctant to go on, but Caroline's eyes stayed unwavering on his face and he was forced to continue. "You know what I'm saying, don't you? Your husband would have made money in any case, but he made a great deal more by supplying defective materiel for Wellesley's expedition."
He sat back and closed his eyes, conscious of an intense weariness. "Go away, Caro. I can't help you. I can't help your husband. I'm sickened by the whole affair."
Caroline too was appalled, in the distant way that one shudders at the news that a ship has gone down or a fire has taken a score of lives or so many thousands have fallen in battle. But it had nothing to do with Jared. He was a partner in an iron foundry, but he did not manufacture the cannon himself. If they were defective, Jared had been cheated as well as the Ordnance Office that had bought them. And besides—"Jared was not the sole supplier of cannon, he was not even a major supplier. Besides, the fault doesn't lie with him, it lies with the ironfounder. Jared wouldn't have sold defective goods, not if he'd known. And he wouldn't know. He scarcely knows one end of a rifle from another, let alone a cannon."
"As I remember, Jared is a very fair shot."
"Yes," Caroline said, conceding the point. She knew that she was not making sense, but she had to make Adam see that Jared was not to blame. She owed that much to her husband because Adam, who had stood between them all their married life, was now his accuser. "Why are you involved in this, Adam? You have nothing to do with ordnance."
"Wellesley wanted the matter investigated. He asked me to come to London and see what I could find out."
"And you found Jared." She could not keep the bitterness from her voice. "You frightened him, Adam, without reason. He knows he did nothing wrong, and he doesn't understand what's happening." For a traitorous moment, Caroline wondered if Jared knew more than he had told her. Then she pushed the thought firmly aside. "If you accuse him, he'll be tainted. The suspicion alone will be enough to ruin him. And he's innocent, you know he is. Don't go to the Master-General."
She was on her knees before Adam, not knowing how she had got there. Her hands were resting on his thighs, and at her last plea she clutched them convulsively and felt Adam's sudden, instinctive recoil. Abashed, Caroline sat back on her heels, her hands clasped loosely before her. "Don't deny me, Adam. Please."
Adam pushed back his chair and strode to the fireplace, as though to put a safe distance between them. Caroline was forced to scramble to her feet, but she sensed it would not be wise to move closer. She had pushed him as far as she dared.
"You would do a great deal for your husband."
"I will do whatever I must."
"I'm sorry," Adam said, "I can do nothing for you."
Caroline knew that tone, and knew it was useless to argue. He had denied her plea without apology or explanation. Adam had spoken to her as he might to any stranger. It was that, as much as the knowledge of her failure, that now roused her to fury. "What do you mean, you can do nothing? You mean you will do nothing. I know what's going on in your head, Adam Durward. This has nothing to do with Jared. It's me you're punishing, isn't it? You're determined to even the score. And you will ruin my husband to do it."
Adam flinched. The memory of her hands on his thighs was a torment. Was she right? Had he fixed on Jared to exact some petty revenge? No, Jared Rawley was guilty. His behavior this afternoon was as good as an admission, and Adam could not let him go unpunished.
Caroline was suddenly before him, her hands beating futilely upon his chest. "How long have you waited for this moment, Adam? How long have you waited to destroy me?"
A quarter-hour since, Caroline would have summoned tears if she'd been able. Now they raced down her cheeks, unbidden, uncontrollable. Adam grasped her wrists and held her off. "Tears, Caroline? That's unworthy of you."
Caroline wrenched her hands away. "How dare you." She was breathing rapidly, her face hot with shame because her body, against all reason, had responded to his touch.
"Give over, Caro." She heard the weariness in his voice. "I cannot protect your husband."
"For God's sake, why not? He is innocent, you know that, and if he is not, he is only weak. What will it serve you? What do you have to gain?"
"You would have me abandon my honor?"
"You would have me abandon mine." She hurled the words at him, a bright empty flourish, knowing she had lost. There was nothing more she could in honor do for Jared, and honor satisfied, she must now take her leave.
Caroline felt empty and dissatisfied and suddenly she knew that it had nothing to do with her husband. The knowledge that Adam had moved some place beyond her dominion brought her close to despair. For the first time she understood what she had been too blind to see at eighteen. In losing Adam, she had lost a part of herself and she would never feel completely whole again. Her tears welled up and spilled down her face in a seemingly ceaseless torrent.
"Why do you cry? For Jared?"
"For us," Caroline burst out, her voice stripped of pride and artifice. "What's happened to us, Adam? Why are you so unforgiving? Why am I so cruel?" The tears would not stop. She heard Adam move, and then suddenly his arms were round her and he pulled her to him, holding her gently, as a friend.
"I don't know, Caro," he said in a soft voice which brought back heartbreaking memories of a time when everything was simpler. "I don't know."
Caroline felt curiously reluctant to leave the safety of his arms. In time her tears passed and she became aware of the warmth of his body, not as comfort but as something more. Disturbed, she pulled away. He held her still, but lightly, and the face bent down to hers showed nothing but concern. "I would not hurt you, Caro," he said, "not for all the world."
Caroline looked into Adam's eyes and knew that he had given her something far more important than her husband's safety. They were bound together, she and Adam, in a way that was beyond understanding. A few moments ago, she had thought that bond irrevocably broken, but now, to her joy, he had reclaimed it. Trembling with happiness and relief, she moved closer into his arms.
Without thinking, Adam drew her to him. It was a moment of reconciliation, no more, but it was a reminder that something enduring stood between them, something he thought he had lost. The knowledge was bittersweet, but to be prized for all that. He might never see her again.
He should let her go. This brief moment of accord should be enough. But it was not. Adam felt his body stir against her own and knew he must be careful. He kissed her gently where the hair feathered away from her temple, then kissed each eyelid, and then, to make it clear that this was not to be taken seriously, kissed the tip of her nose and put her from him.
Even in the candlelight he could tell that her skin was glowing with the first flush of pleasure. He felt a stir of triumph at the knowledge that she had responded to him.
Caroline's eyes widened and in their depths he saw surprise and a kind of wonder. "Adam?" she whispered, and the fragile sound beat like a drum in his head.
Adam's breath caught in his throat. He was conscious of the scent of her hair and skin, the warmth of her breath. There had never been another woman for him. Caro was his sun. Only she could make him whole again. He closed his eyes, blinded by her light, then opened them to drink in her warmth. He was a moth beating out his life against her brilliance. He could not retreat. He would die, but he would possess her. With a great cry of longing he seized her and drew her to him, his mouth seeking her own.
Caroline froze in his arms, paralyzed by shock. This was not the gentle kiss of friendship. Adam had changed the rules. She was being swept away by a force she did not understand, a force that surged within her in response to the touch of his hands and the pressure of his mouth. She wanted to run from the terrifying welter of feelings that coursed through her. And she wanted even more strongly to lose herself in his arms.
She found it suddenly hard to breathe. Her skin burned from his touch. As if compelled by the hunger in his eyes, she moved closer and opened her mouth to his. His kiss deepened and she knew it was her own hunger, raging with a force that would not be denied. She put her arms around him to still the sudden trembling of her treacherous body, astonished by the depths of her longing.
Adam drew back from a heady exploration of her mouth and looked down at her with a longing that was the twin of her own. "Caro," he said, his breathing ragged, "it's not too late."
Late? Of course it was too late. She would die if he left her now. "It is, my love," she said, "oh, it is."
"Dear God in heaven." For a moment Adam stood absolutely still, her face held between his trembling fingers. Then with a groan he pulled her to him, his lips taking her own again, his hands roaming frantically over her body, as if he feared she would melt away if he did not claim every inch of her with his touch.
Any lingering fears Caroline had of the force of his passion were swept away by her own need. Once she had fled from Adam's arms. Fool, why hadn't she known that she had fled from paradise? She had come home at last.
Stumbling and laughing, they found their way to the couch. Adam fumbled with the laces on her bodice, and Caroline drew him to her, cradling his head on the haven of her breasts, feeing a great wave of protectiveness for the man in her arms. If I had a child, she thought, I would hold it thus. But in the next instant his mouth found an aroused nipple and his tongue, warm and skillful, chased all thoughts of children from her head.
When Adam had given her breasts their due, he kissed her wrists and the curves of her elbows and the hollows beneath her arms. Caroline held him close, running her fingers through his thick hair, her mounting excitement mingled with tenderness for the urgency of his need. His mouth found her throat and the space between her breasts and the swell of her belly, but when he would have gone farther, she stopped him, breathless, and pushed him back. "No more, Adam," she said, her hands fumbling with the folds of cloth round his neck. "Not till you remove your cravat."
Adam's eyes gleamed with laughter, and for a moment he looked no older than his twenty-five years. He stripped off the offending cloth while she worked at the buttons of his waistcoat and shirt, and when those too were removed he would have pulled her to him again, but Caroline stayed him. "No, let me look at you. I haven't seen you like this since you were fourteen." She reached up to touch him as she would not have dared to do in the past, tracing the line of his ribs, one by one, brushing her hands over the hard nipples half hidden in the dark hair of his chest, feeling the breadth of his shoulders. "You've grown."
Adam smiled. "I would venture you've grown, too, though you have the advantage of me. I've never seen you thus." The smile vanished suddenly and he grasped her hands and pulled them down to her sides, his eyes filled with an unbearable longing that went beyond desire. "Oh, Caro," he murmured, "you could teach torches to burn bright." As if the intensity of the moment was more than he could endure, he pushed her back against the couch, his mouth and hands eager for her once again. Matching his urgency, Caroline let her own mouth and hands do their work. And when that was no longer enough she lifted her hips so he could pull down her dress while she struggled with the fastening of his breeches. When their clothes lay tangled on the floor, Adam stood above her, feasting on her nakedness with wonder in his eyes. Caroline felt a great pride that this beautiful man, this man so breathtaking in his arousal, should want her so. With something like reverence, Adam leaned over her and ran his hands slowly down the curve of her hips, then parted her legs and traced the sensitive skin on the inner length of her thighs.
The touch of his hands was a flame, and she would be consumed. Caroline seized his hand and helped it find the burning source of her desire. Adam. The name repeated itself over and over in her head. Or perhaps she was saying it aloud, a prayer, an invocation, a demand. It was suddenly more than she could bear. She pushed his hand away and drew him to her, wanting him inside her when she climaxed. This was where she belonged, where she should have been years ago if she had not been young and foolish and afraid of her own desires; if she not allowed herself to be swayed by the wishes of her family; if she had not been dazzled by the life Jared could offer her. As Adam joined his body to hers, Caroline gave a cry of joy, and then she was lost in a dizzying spiral that went on and on and on and mingled with the awareness of his own cresting.
Adam shuddered and groaned and at last was still in her arms. Caroline lay quiet beneath him, savoring the weight of his body and the feel of him inside her. When, slowly and reluctantly, he began to withdraw, she pulled him back, laughing and kissing his face till he was still once more. After that she must have slept, for when she opened her eyes, feeling a drowsy contentment, she saw that he had left the couch.
She sat up suddenly, conscious of her nakedness, feeling frightened and very much alone. She longed for Adam to come back and make her safe in his arms. But when Adam appeared, all he offered was a dressing gown and a candle. "You can wash in the next room," he said gently. "I'll find you a hackney."
It was not quite a dismissal, but it was a reminder that the world was larger than this darkened room. Feeling awkward and curiously bereft, Caroline gathered her clothes and made her way into the room he indicated which contained not only a washstand but a bed. Adam, she thought as she wrung out a cloth and removed as best she could the evidence of their coupling, Adam, why don't you take me to your bed.
But he could not, of course. It was late and she would have to return home.
Or else she would have to leave her husband.
For a moment, Caroline stood irresolute, trembling at the thought, wondering if she dared. But even as she allowed herself to imagine what life with Adam might be like, she knew it was impossible. Adam had no powerful name or family to help him survive a scandal. His career would be destroyed and, whatever he said, Caroline would feel herself responsible. And then there was Jared, who needed her to stand beside him now more than ever. She dressed hastily and pinned up her hair, cursing her husband and his folly and her own folly in choosing as she had four years ago.
When she returned to the sitting room, she found Adam putting coals on the fire. He looked up, his face so filled with longing that she could not resist going to him once more. She could stay forever in his arms. Even now, after their spent passion, she felt desire for him again. She could not bear to leave him. This was the man who should have been her husband.
But he was not. She was bound to Jared, and she could not abandon him. Nor could she stand witness to his ruin. Caroline gave Adam a light kiss and pulled away. It was the hardest thing she had ever had to do. "I must go."
"Of course." Adam found her cloak and set it carefully round her shoulders.
There was so much Caroline wanted to say, and all of it dangerous. She could not talk of what had passed between them and she dared not talk of the future. In the end she fell back on her duty and her honor.. "About Jared," she began. "He'll be all right now, won't he?"
She looked into Adam's eyes and knew her words to be disastrously wrong.
Adam stared down into her lovely face, unwilling to believe the import of her words. This woman, the center of his universe, the core of his being, had given herself to him in freedom and joy and in that act had erased four years of bitterness and regret. And now, at the moment when his thoughts were filled with nothing but her and what had passed between them, she told him it had all been for her husband. She had lied when she came to him, she had made a mockery of what he had offered her. Oh, Caro was a fair witch. What she could not get with her claws she would get with honey.
He saw she was waiting for him to speak, her expression surprised and uncertain. She had doubts of her powers, did she, or did she read the answer in his face? With anger and despair Adam forced himself to meet her eyes. "I do not pay for favors, madam, I pay only in kind. Surely you have no cause for complaint."
"Adam," she said, her voice so broken he was almost taken in.
"It has been a pleasant interlude, Caro. I trust you have enjoyed it as much as I. But as for your husband, he must take his chances." Adam tore his eyes from the devastation on her face. Caro, he knew, did not take kindly to disappointment. He opened the door, breaking the chill silence between them. "There's a hackney waiting outside. I will see you downstairs."
Caroline followed Adam out of the room, sustained only by her pride. Down the two flights of steps and out the front door and up the steps of the waiting hackney while Adam gave the address to the driver. Then Adam withdrew without a look in her direction and the carriage was set abruptly in motion, throwing her back into a corner where she huddled, her cloak drawn tight about her for warmth. She had never felt so cold. Nothing warmed her save the hot tears coursing down her face. What had gone wrong? Could Adam not bear to hear her husband named? Dear God, why not? It had nothing to do with what had passed between them. Surely Adam knew that.
Caroline brushed her tears away, her growing anger heating her body. Adam had treated her like a rutting whore. She had misread him from the start. She had looked into his eyes and seen not his need but the reflection of her own. He had not taken her out of love nor desire nor affirmation of the bond that joined them more closely than any marriage vow. He had broken that bond long ago and she had not had the wit to know it. What he had taken tonight was a paltry revenge, a petty triumph unworthy of the man she had thought he was.
Caroline closed her eyes in weariness, her tears long since spent. It was a hard lesson, but she had learned it well. She would never trust herself to Adam Durward again.