You're the Rogue That I Want(4)

By: Samantha Holt


His head jerked up. “Who wants to know?”

She took another step closer and gasped. The firelight cleared the shadows around his features. She was not sure what she expected from an infamous smuggler but it was not this. Where were the pock marks? The scars? The missing teeth?

There were no missing teeth to be sure. Though he kept his mouth in a firm line of disdain—or perhaps annoyance—the quick flash she had seen had revealed a mouth of perfectly healthy teeth. As for scars or pockmarks, his skin was perfect.

His light brown hair was, admittedly, a little too long and his face was unshaven, revealing several days of neglect. There were shadows around his eyes too, and he looked weary. However, that could not take away from that fact he was a handsome man.

He stared at her expectantly. She gulped. “I need your help.”

“And if I do not wish to give it?”

She shook her head. Impossible. He had to help her. He was her only chance. She dragged out the chair opposite and sat. One dark brow rose at the action. Chin lifted, she propped her arms on the table and leaned forward. He smelled of the sea.

“I need your help bringing across something from France. I’m told you are the man for the job.”

“Then you were told wrong.”

“I can pay handsomely.”

“I don’t need coin.”

“Do you not? I thought all smugglers did.”

He leaned forward abruptly. “You need to watch your tongue, miss.” He glanced around. “Not everyone here is a friend.”

She jerked back a little. Handsome he might be, but he was also intimidating. His strong jaw, finished with a slight dip that was just visible under the stubble, was set firmly. His eyes glinted in the firelight though she could not tell their color properly.

She took a breath and cast her gaze over him. It was something she was in the habit of doing. Study everything closely enough and any fear she might have of it left. It had worked with spiders. When one looked closely, one could see they were no more than a few legs and a body pieced together. Those long legs no longer appeared so terrifying once she had seen them under a microscope and appreciated the unique design of the creatures.

It did not seem to quite work with this creature. His slightly creased forehead and the still lifted brow did not lose any of it sternness. His lips, she concluded, were generous for a man’s, but it did not soften his appearance. She pictured him in evening wear and that helped a little, though she could tell he would be ridiculously handsome and likely still no more polite.

“I was told you were the man to help me,” she said, aware of being a little breathless.

“As I said, you were told wrong.”

“Will you not even listen to what I need your help with?”

He leaned back and pushed a hand through his hair before folding his arms across a wide chest. Not as wide as the giant’s for certain but wide enough to tell her he could break her in half with ease. She had to wonder what she had been thinking coming here but she had no choice.

“Miss...”

“Hannah St. John.”

“Miss St. John. I am tired and cold. I have had a long evening. I have no wish to hear tales of damsels in distress. I suggest you find someone who enjoys tales of woe because I, for one, do not.”

“I am no damsel in distress.”

“Really? Could have fooled me.”

“You say you are tired. I have travelled many miles to come to see you. I have been awake for far longer than I should have been. I have not eaten all day and have walked on foot, across unknown countryside, in the dark, to find you. I am not sure how that makes me a damsel or in distress, but it certainly makes me as tired and impatient as you. If you would give me but a moment, I could make my case and leave you to your drink.” She glanced at it in distaste. “No doubt you wish to find the bottom of the bottle.”

Red chuckled, the sound low and oddly appealing. His gaze never leaving hers, he poured another glass full of the liquid and threw it back before refilling his glass.

She pursed her lips. “My father says you should savor Greybeard whiskey.”

“Your father is a smart man. And I would be savoring it quite nicely had I not been interrupted.”