Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire by Sandra Heath Read Free Book Online

Book: Playing with Fire by Sandra Heath Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sandra Heath
Tags: Regency Romance
the museum was very like his own, so a viewing had become of paramount importance because he desperately wanted to be the one to solve the mystery of hieroglyphs. He had to be avenged for the lies of Esmond Fenworth, fifth Earl of Sanderby!
    Sir Julian’s mind turned to Amanda, from whom he had now received a letter written before she left Constantinople, in which she admitted to the intimate correspondence of which Randal had boasted. “Oh, Franklyn, Franklyn, you have been sadly remiss in your daughter’s upbringing,” Sir Julian murmured.
    He leaned wearily back against the brown leather upholstery and gazed at the frozen trees visible above the wall of Hyde Park. The cold seeped through him even though he was well wrapped. Were winters becoming colder? he wondered. Or was it just that he was less able to keep warm? Old age crept closer all the time. He sighed as his thoughts wandered into the past, to days spent in the beautiful countryside around Paddington. Poignant memories swept back, and on impulse he lowered the window glass to call to the coachman. “Lysons, I want to see Paddington again. You know exactly where.”
    “Yes, sir,” Lysons replied, looking back at a curricle that was keeping pace behind.
    Sir Julian forgot the cold as the carriage drove out of London again and back into countryside. After a fork in the lane, Lysons reined in at the familiar gates of the elegant Queen Anne residence that had been empty and neglected since Felice decided to stay with her husband for her son’s sake. Sir Julian regarded the house. When his short lease ended, possession had reverted to the landlord, the Bishop of London. Why had the Church permitted such a prime property to disintegrate? He opened the carriage door and climbed stiffly down. Ozzy jumped out and disappeared through the gates. The cat would come back when called.
    For a moment Sir Julian thought he heard hooves halting along the lane behind, but when he listened there was nothing. Imagination, he thought, shaking his head ruefully. “Wait here,” he said to Lysons.
    “You shouldn’t go in there alone, Sir Julian. You never know who might be there.”
    “Ghosts, Lysons, that’s all.”
    The coachman heard something and looked back along the road. “I’m sure there’s a curricle following us, sir.”
    “Anyone with robbery in mind could have apprehended us long before now. I will not be long. See to the horses.”
    “Very well, sir.” Lysons climbed reluctantly down.
    Sir Julian made his way between the rickety gates and along the overgrown drive to the house. Oh, Felice, if only you’d realized what an insect your precious son would become .
    Pushing open the doors, which hung on broken hinges, he entered to find Ozzy waiting. The smell of damp and decay in the hall told how far the house had sunk from the days of its prime. Sir Julian gazed at the curving staircase, suddenly remembering Felice running down to greet him. How enchanting she had been, with her raven curls and gypsy-dark eyes. He glanced down at Ozzy. “I fear it was a mistake to come back here, my friend.”
    Ozzy trotted at his heels as they returned to the gates, where the tomcat suddenly disappeared into the triangular field formed where the lane had forked. Lysons was anxious to be away from this place, and had already turned the carriage. “I’m sure someone’s watching us, sir,” he said as he helped Sir Julian into the vehicle.
    “We can’t leave until Ozymandias returns.”
    As Lysons resumed his seat on the box, he could cheerfully have strangled all cats. However, Ozzy’s decampment had a purpose. In the other fork of the lane he found the mysterious curricle waiting beneath a tree, its gentleman occupant spying upon Sir Julian’s carriage through a pocket telescope. Amber eyes glinting, Ozzy climbed the tree, then moved along a sturdy branch that overhung the gentleman’s head. A moment later the man began to sneeze. Sir Julian heard. There had been a

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