Corey McFadden

Corey McFadden by Deception at Midnight Read Free Book Online

Book: Corey McFadden by Deception at Midnight Read Free Book Online
Authors: Deception at Midnight
startled. Marriage was the last thing on his mind. His world of cards, brandy, and bawds needed no wife to make it perfect. Besides, he was only twenty-one, not nearly old enough for family responsibilities.
    “Not really, Mama, surely there is time enough for that in the distant future? We are in no real hurry, are we?” He nervously flicked a speck of imagined dust from his fine brocaded frock coat. It was peach in color and perfectly matched his cream-colored vest and dark brown satin breeches. He was well aware that he rarely won an argument with dear Mama, despite her love for him.
    “There is always hurry, dear, when it comes to money. I have learned that much in my life. One must never relax until the birds are in hand. We have one more bird to gather in.” She paused until he raised his eyes to hers. John knew himself to be a good son; he could be made to see reason, particularly with the right bait.
    “Your cousin, Maude, my dear, you do realize, do you not, that all of this estate, almost all the money we live on, belongs to her? She is sole heir to her father’s estate and James, as her father’s brother, is merely the caretaker. God only knows why her forebears did not bother to entail it. When Maude marries, it will all revert to her husband’s control. We will be thanked and sent on our way. I hope you harbor no illusions about James’s circumstances, even though he formally adopted you and Amelia. As second son, he has a mere pittance, barely enough to pay your tailor, dear. Although I daresay it would keep him in brandy enough to make him happy.” Claire watched, clearly waiting for the import of her statements to penetrate John’s disinclination to bestir himself about financial details.
    “What would you suggest we do about it, Mama?” he asked, beginning to feel concern. The remark about his tailor pinched. John did love his own appearance. Mama and Mr. Parsons had always had to work at hiding his tailor’s bills in with the household or Maude’s expenses. It was so much easier with Amelia’s necessaries. Maude would have been surprised to know how vast her shabby wardrobe and accessories appeared to be on paper.
    “We can hardly keep her from marrying,” he added thoughtfully, “although, I cannot say she shows any such inclination now.”
    “To the contrary, dear. It is not keeping her from marrying that I have in mind. It is forcing her to it. She would make you an acceptable bride, do you not think? I have noticed you show an appreciation for her physical attributes.” Claire gave him a knowing smile.
    John felt stunned, as if he’d taken a blow to the head. Slowly, a smile creased his fat face. “I have noticed she is ripe for a man.”
    He savored the image that arose in his mind. Once, a year or so ago, when seeking out Maude for some devilment at her expense, he had opened the door to her room, without the usual knock. She had been rising from her bath like Botticelli’s Venus, her breasts small, but perfectly formed, her waist tapered and emphasizing her rounded hips, that lovely, reddish triangle. She had not seen him at first as he stood and gaped, drinking in the sight. She had gasped in horror as she raised her head and caught sight of him, clutching at her towel to hide her luscious charms. He had saluted her with a mocking bow, and signaled his appreciation with a grin of pure lust. He had never forgotten the sight of her nakedness, and though he had tried to intrude on her many times thereafter, her door was always annoyingly locked against him.
    And now his mother offered him the keys to paradise....
    * * * *
    She knew that salacious look. Excellent. Such a good son, her dear John, so like his dear father. But his forehead creased as a frown slowly appeared. He would have to be brought to see it.
    “The devil of it is, Mama, you know she despises me. I doubt we could convince her to do it.”
    “You underestimate your own charms, pet. You’re a very handsome young

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