Sin by Sharon Page Read Free Book Online

Book: Sin by Sharon Page Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sharon Page
Tags: Fiction, Erótica
her painting in progress—it didn’t matter if it smeared.
    She knew her face must be beet-red but she had no choice but to walk over on shaky legs and take the letter. As she took it, she gagged.
    “Pooh, scent! It stinks of the stuff.” She sneezed. Her eyes watered. She stretched her arm out straight to keep the offensive thing away. Eyed it warily. Who would send a letter drenched in perfume? The return address was Compton Street, on the fringes of Mayfair. Instinct warned that this wasn’t the sort of letter she could allow anyone else to see.
    “Thank you, Mrs. Cobb.” She began to swing the door shut.
    “Is it trouble, mum?”
    “No.” She closed the door firmly. Guilt stabbed. Mrs. Cobb might like gossip, but she was truly concerned.
    Venetia strode back to her desk and tore open the envelope with the end of her paintbrush.
    Her gaze riveted to one word in fussy, lavish handwriting. Rodesson .
    Scanning the words… your father revealed…can no longer paint…his talented daughter…
    Her stomach tightened. Nausea roiled in her belly. She reached the last line. One thousand pounds to preserve your secret .
    And the loopy, flowing signature, almost impossible to decipher. Lydia Harcourt .
    “Lyd, what the bloody hell are you about?”
    With three silk gowns draped over her arm, Lydia gasped in shock. A gown slid from her grasp to pool on the floor. The voice came from behind her, from the doorway of her bedchamber. A voice she hadn’t heard for years…
    She trod on the skirts as she turned, to see Tom lounging in the doorway, dressed like a dapper dandy. She gulped. The second to last time she had seen her half-brother he had been wearing his butcher’s apron and it had been splattered with fresh, bright red blood. The last time he’d demanded money…
    She was suddenly conscious she wore only a corset and a shift and her large brown nipples were obvious beneath the flimsy lawn.
    “Haven’t you a good word for yer own flesh and blood, Lyd? After so many long years?”
    “I thought you were in Italy.”
    “Missed the home shores, lass. And missed me family.”
    Run out of blunt, no doubt. Though most men fled to Italy because they could live in decadence there without money.
    “I’ve nothing.” She laid the dresses on her bed, as smoothly as she could. Her traveling trunk was already half-filled. “I can’t spot you a thing this time.”
    He laughed. “Sweetheart, I could pawn the contents of your drawing room and buy a villa fit for a king.”
    And where did that leave her? “The house was rented furnished, Tom.” And she had a mere month to vacate it.
    “I’ve been in London for a while. And the tables have been bloody fickle—”
    “I won’t give you money for gambling.”
    “I’m worried about you. Blackmail’s a rum business, Lyd. A bloody dangerous one.”
    She jerked up. Her peach satin snagged on the trunk hinge and tore. How did he know?
    “I was playing whist at The Sin Room and overheard the very foxed Duke of Montberry.”
    Montberry! Oh, how annoying that man was. She’d thought he would at least use some discretion. That was the problem with dealing with aging men. Montberry might have been a military genius but in the years since Waterloo he was quickly losing his wits. What a fool to get drunk at Mother Maggie’s horrid brothel and spill secrets.
    Tom grinned. He was a strikingly handsome man. Why hadn’t he found himself a post pandering to an Italian countess and left her alone? But she owed him her very life and she couldn’t deny him what he wanted.
    “I’ve looked after myself my entire life, Tom. I’ve nothing to fear.” Nothing to fear but age. She was almost forty. It had been so easy when she’d been young—eighteen. Lord Craven had believed she was fifteen. Of course she hadn’t been a virgin, but she’d put on the act for Craven. A sponge, a bit of blood, some sobbing and tears.
    And what other choice did she have? What future was there for

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