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“Excuse me? My footman lover?”

Your. After all, it’s not as if I didn’t offer to pay you for your help, Miss Carter. Now, if you don’t mind.” He picked up the brush. “You’re blocking my light.”

“But I’m not even in your bloody light.”

“Maybe not my bloody light.” He peered at the canvas. Another blob needed fixing. He reached for the royal blue. “Certainly my ordinary one.”

What the hell was that flying past his nose? A splattering pot of water? The jug of hyacinths? Whatever it was she’d minced right up to his masterpiece, grabbed something from the side table. Water spattered into his eye. Dribbles ran like ants down the canvas.

“There. Now, it doesn’t matter a bloody damn about the light.”

So? The ice had fire, the tiger showed its claws. He’d wondered when that was going to be. Actually, now he flicked the water from his eye, the painting was a slight improvement. She was waiting for a reaction. It was time the wind rattled her bones.

“You know, you might be right if I can make some money with this.”

“Oh don’t be ridiculous, that kind of shit never makes any money.”

“And you’d know this, would you?”

“Me?”

He was sorry he couldn’t help it but he couldn’t. “‘You will scream your pleasure and pain and worship me every day of your wretched life, oh wretched maiden,’ Roof,’ please do tell me how to pronounce that by the way, I wasn’t entirely sure and Ruaf sounded like a dog would. ‘Roof glared into the face of the woman who had given him this trouble—’

Her eyes stood out like sparkling granite. “Where did you get that?”

“Where you keep these things you busy yourself on and what I see of them in passing is not important.” He pushed the chair back, crossed to the empty hearth. “I’m done with this.”

“Why are you grasping the bell pull?”

“Why do you think?”

“You’ve often told me I don’t.”

“Then let me put you out of your misery.” The tug he gave was satisfying. “To summon your lover, Miss Carter, since you seem incapable of leaving of your own accord.”

“I’d sooner you didn’t.”

“And why is that? Because he doesn’t know what you’re up to?”

 

 

 

 

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