Duke Goes Rogue(4)

By: Eva Devon

She arched a brow. “Ah, but Mr. Jonas, are you not already married?”

His eyes narrowed. “I am. You know it.”

Finally, she could bear his smug insinuations no longer. “Then you wish to adopt me? Will your children be accepting of another sister?”

Poor Mrs. Jonas had been with child every year for the last eight years. The lady looked as exhausted as she must have felt. It only added to Olivia’s disgust that he was looking for a young, fresh woman when his wife could have used his care at home.

“Do not be foolish, girl,” he snapped. He drank the remainder of his wine, crossed to the sideboard and freely poured himself another glass. “You know of the arrangement to which I speak.”

“Do I?” she challenged. She wanted to force him to say something unpleasant, to make him acknowledge the lowness of the bargain he wished to strike.

“You look innocent,” he started, a predatory gleam in his eyes. “You would have the whole village believe you are naught but a sweet young lady. But I know you and your family traveled all over abroad. You’ve spent many years upon a ship, surrounded by sailors with only your mother to care for you. How many times did you slip off? A girl like you? A pretty girl. How many admirers did you have?”

“Oh, several,” she admitted. “But my father was the captain, Mr. Jonas. Surely you understand what that means?”

Mr. Jonas blinked, clearly determined to believe his own salacious and disgusting version of events.

Even if a young sailor had longed to court her or attempt to corner her, her father, as captain, could have thrown the man overboard with no one to ever question him. A captain was a god on his own ship.

The idea that she’d been some sort of roving hussy was absurd. But it was an idea which had obviously given Mr. Jonas many pleasurable hours of contemplation.

The man really was beneath her contempt.

“You should go,” she said firmly.

“You are behind in your payments for the rent,” he purred, clearly taking delight in his power over her. “Perhaps, it is you who should go.”

“If you insist, I will.” She gestured about the room. “Though my things. . .”

“Your things will belong to me.” A smile broadened his face, as if he couldn’t conceal his delight. “You’ll forfeit them until your debts have been paid.”

He took another long drink then closed the distance between them.

She edged towards the table, her hand resting along the wood.

He leaned in, his breath now heavy with alcohol. Clearly, he had heavily imbibed before deciding to visit her and make his proposal.

She squared her shoulders. “If that is as it must be, then that is acceptable. I will find lodgings immediately.”

“Come, my dear,” he soothed. “Surely we can come to a more agreeable arrangement. One in which you can keep your home and your family’s things. If you simply please me, you can stay here in the comfort of your own things and live far better than you do now. Gowns, good food, whatever you like. Just. . . Please me.”

Somehow, she had a feeling that pleasing Mr. Jonas would be a never-ending and impossible task. He seemed a man incapable of contentment.

“No, thank you.”

His gaze narrowed. “You have no room to refuse me.”

“Indeed, I do,” she countered matter-of-factly, crossing quickly to the kitchen table, her eyes tracking his every move. “I will go this very instant since you give me little choice.”

“Just do as any other young woman would do,” he protested, his frustration at her lack of gratitude becoming apparent. “Accept my offer. This needn’t be unpleasant.”

“It already is,” she bit out, slipping her fingers to the knife hiding in the ledge under the table.

“Damn it, girl,” he bit out. “I know you’re a goer. So stop playing the virgin. What do you want to part your legs?”

He lunged for her, clearly ready to grope her person.

Olivia whipped the knife out and very carefully positioned it towards his abdomen, but not so close that if he lost his footing he’d skewer himself.

“It is time for you to depart, Mr. Jonas,” she said with a diabolical joy at finally cornering him.