The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter

The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone Read Free Book Online

Book: The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jillian Stone
Tags: Fiction, paranormal historical romance
wary”—Potter had flashed a warning look—“not all of these byways are safe to use.” The flickering wick behind vellum paper barely illuminated his face. “Some of these larger alcoves are new, relatively speaking, dug within the last fifty years. Nowadays Red-shirt anarchists and the like hold meetings in these spaces . . . store arms and explosives—so take care. By now there could be miles of underground fortifications that are mined and booby-trapped.”
    Exeter mulled over Potter’s warning as the carriage slowed outside 21 Shaftesbury Court. It seemed myriad worries filled his head this afternoon. The trip, the tunnels—and Mia for another. He had left his ward in excellent hands, yet he could not help but worry. The tic in his jaw muscle signaled his underlying concern. Would Mia and Esmeralda talk? And if they did—what, or more specifically, who would they discuss? Mia was curious right now and looking for answers, as were they all. He tried shoving the troubled thoughts into a dark corner of his mind with no success.
    Jersey leaned forward and pressed the door latch. “I’ll collect the ladies if you wish.” His bodyguard exited first, and Exeter joined him on the sidewalk. “Would you see the ladies home in the carriage? I intend to speak with Mrs. Parker on a private matter—pop in at Thomas Cook, check on our travel arrangements. I’ll hire a cab outside Drake’s. I shan’t be far behind.”
    Inside the brothel, Exeter checked his pocket watch. Not yet four in the afternoon, well before peak hours, and business appeared to be brisk. Exeter glanced at two attractive females sitting in the parlor. They looked for all the world like well-bred young women—not the doxies they actually were. Part of the appeal, and Esmeralda’s secret to success, was appearances. Mrs. Parker’s looked to be more of a quality boardinghouse than bawdy house. No doubt it was even more titillating that way.
    “Jason, this is a pleasant surprise.” He turned toward the familiar voice. The Madame approached, looking lovely, but also a bit flushed, and no doubt curious.
    “Esmeralda.” He nodded formally, quickly shifting his attention to the young women who stepped up beside her. His gaze landed on America. “I gather you have made arrangements to close up shop temporarily?”
    “Yes, I’ve written up a notice and posted it on the door.” A glow radiated from Phaeton’s darling paramour. “The paperhangers just finished the nursery.”
    He’d seen the small room she referred to as a nursery in the flat, and it was no bigger than a pantry closet. Still, her smile was infectious. “Fairies and gnomes?” he asked.
    America shook her head. “Butterflies and honeybees . . . in a meadow . . . with rainbows.”
    “Lovely picture—the babe at play in Elysian Fields.” He broadened his smile, before turning to the madame of the house. There had been little or no contact between him and Esmeralda in months. Not since his battle of wills with Mia had begun—how could he have possibly taken an evening off with Mia’s episodic, involuntary shifts on the rise?
    Exeter made eye contact briefly with Mia. “Jersey will see you home.” He nodded to their imposing bodyguard, who gently steered the young women toward the exit. Mia paused at the door, suspicion written all over her face. “You aren’t coming with us?”
    He shook his head. “I shall follow along after I finish here.” He quickly signaled Jersey with his eyes, who took Mia by the arm and escorted her out the door.
    “Your ward is lovely, Jason.”
    He turned back to study her expression, which had not changed, much. The hint of color that had blushed her cheeks earlier had faded, leaving her a bit pale, though the curious expression remained—eyes full of questions, not knowing where to begin.
    “Might we go somewhere private, where we can talk?”
    “My apartment?”
    He shouldn’t have hesitated with his answer. During his brief moment of

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