Desmond frowned, obviously caught off guard. “What bike?”
“My motorcycle,” she stated, watching him carefully now. Travis could feel the tension radiating from her now.
Desmond shook his head. “You have no such thing.”
“Really, I do.” She strode across the room. “I’ll meet you at home.” Pausing at the door, she turned back to Travis. “I’ll be in touch.”
“I’m certain I’ll enjoy the experience,” he taunted her, to remind her of the few stolen moments they’d had in the kitchen.
Amusement gleamed in her green eyes before she pushed through the kitchen door and, he knew, strode to the garage.
“Henry, make certain the garage door is open for her,” he ordered the butler as he hovered silently on the other side of the room. “And make certain Miss Harrington has access to the house whenever she wishes.”
“Very good, sir.” Henry nodded stiffly and followed her.
Travis turned back to Desmond. He was watching the door with a sense of bemusement, as though the woman that had stepped through it were a stranger rather than the niece he had once been rumored to love.
“She’s not the woman you lost six years ago,” Travis reminded him quietly. “Try to turn her into that woman and you’ll make an enemy of her.”
Her uncle turned back to him slowly. “If I allow you to have your way, she’ll remain one step above a criminal,” he said hollowly. “Or slip those final inches and be lost to us forever.”
“Lord Harrington, I didn’t return to destroy Lilly’s life, I returned to save it,” Travis informed him.
Desmond grunted rudely. “Your past actions do not speak of your desire to save her. Training in demolitions and explosives. Military and martial arts training in Asia for eighteen months while conducting so-called ventures into pirate-held territories. And that doesn’t count the dozens of near arrests, near fatal crashes, and God only knows how much weapons fire she’s faced while she’s played your whore.” By the time he finished his face was bloodred, his blue eyes snapping with rage, and his accent more clipped than usual.
Travis tilted his head and watched curiously. It had been a while since he’d seen such a blue-blooded tantrum.
“Perhaps I should remind of you the reason why she was learning how to fight, how to kill, and how to protect herself,” Travis stated calmly when the other man had finished. “Because you and your polite, well-heeled English society, your blue-blooded aristocracy, allowed her to nearly be murdered. You accepted her death, gave her a nice tear-filled burial, and went about your lives without once questioning the results you were given, despite the inconsistencies. Get your head out of your ass, Desmond. She’s a big girl, she’s been a big girl for a long time, and she’s damned sure more woman than your prissy little English boys can handle. You can accept it, and help me protect her, or you can continue to stand in my way and bury her for real next time.” Travis turned on his heel and headed into the living area of the house. “Let me know what you decide. Before it’s too late.”
He didn’t turn back to the other man as he delivered his parting shot. Nik opened the door that led into the short hallway and then into the house that was as pristine, just as fucking modern and icy cold, as the reception room.
As cold as Travis’s fucking life had become.
Lilly parked her cycle at the curved cement and stone steps that led up to the mansion her family had taken for the spring and summer months. She had beat her uncle home. No surprise there.
The low heels of her boots were silent as she climbed the stairs, and the lack of sound seemed odd. Shoes made noise. Even sneakers made a slight noise when walking. But hers didn’t, and it wasn’t the shoes. It was her.
It was the way she walked, the way she moved. She could move silently, or if she thought about it, as she made herself do now, she could allow the slight click of the heels.
Had Travis trained her how to walk with such stealth as well?
The door opened, and the butler stood aside as Lilly stepped into the warm, golden wood tones of the entryway.
Shedding her leather jacket, she handed it to the butler, then lifted her head as her mother walked into the foyer. She carried some papers she had been reviewing, probably her latest financial statements. Her mother had come into her first marriage independently wealthy and she was amazingly adroit at managing her own finances.
Lady Angelica Harrington. She was also a distant cousin as well as a confidante and friend to the Queen. She moved in circles so influential it boggled the mind. Her social life was her career—the parties, teas, luncheons, and charity events.
Her son, Lilly’s brother, Jared James Harrington, was a solicitor with a law firm that the Queen often relied upon. He had been introduced to his wife by the Queen and had married with her blessing. He had become just as cold and unemotional as her mother sometimes seemed to be.
“Oh my God! What on earth are you wearing?” Lady Harrington’s tone wasn’t scandalized, it was purely horrified.
“Leather,” Lilly answered gently, wishing she could find a way to take that fear from her mother’s eyes. “Did you think that because you didn’t inform me about my past, it wouldn’t come back to haunt you? Or me?”
She pulled her gloves from her hands and slapped them on the shiny, dark cherry bureau that sat in the foyer as she held her mother’s gaze.
Angelica lifted her hand slowly to her throat, her pale blue gaze flickering with indecision as she watched her daughter now. She wasn’t quite certain how to handle this version of Lilly.
Her poor mother, Lilly thought. She likely had dreamed of having her daughter back, but Lilly doubted she had imagined the woman who had returned. Even Lilly didn’t know the woman who had returned.