The Lady's Forbidden Love - Wendy Vella Page 0,1

had an inch or two on Kate. In fact, he was a fairly plain-looking fellow until he smiled, and then he looked completely different. He was smiling now as he looked at Daniel’s sister in that sickening way people in the first throes of love often did. Suddenly he was the interloper.

“I have business this way, so if you don’t mind, Bernard, you would be doing me a favor if you could escort Kate home. Perhaps there may even be a helping of custard pudding for you when you arrive?”

“Of course!” The smile grew.

“Goodbye, my favorite brother.” Kate kissed his cheek as her fingers pinched his arm. Daniel returned the gesture by hugging her hard enough to make her ribs creak.

“Sweet dreams, sister. I shall call by in the morning to collect you.”

He watched them walk off, now oblivious to all but each other, then turned and retraced his steps.

The streets were narrow, and not many were about. Most, he was sure, were like him, heading home after a day’s work. Of course, he wasn’t exactly heading home; he was going to the Duck and Goose.

He didn’t see the man until he was directly in front of Daniel, because he’d been hidden in the shadows.

“Good evening.” He kept his words calm as he readied himself for the attack that was surely coming.

“I want you to come with me.”

“I’m not sure why I would?” Daniel balanced his weight onto the balls of his feet.

“You need to come with me.”

He saw the pistol as it came out of the pocket and reacted. Lunging forward, he grabbed the hand holding the weapon. The man grunted as they wrestled, but Daniel had two things in his favor. He was fitter, and he was used to fighting dirty. In seconds he had the man disarmed. Staggering back, his attacker then fled.

“Well.” Daniel exhaled slowly as he tried to catch his breath. “That was unexpected.”

Pocketing the pistol, he took a minute to get his breath back. How odd the man had said Daniel needed come with him somewhere. Perhaps he had feared someone would intervene and stop the robbery.

Shrugging, Daniel began walking once more. Clearly he’d been about to be robbed. Foolish man, he would have been far better to attack from the rear, thereby gaining the element of surprise.

Dismissing the incident, Daniel made for the Duck and Goose. Light spilled from the windows as he walked up the narrow path.

Is she here?

Opening the door, noise bombarded him as he stepped inside. On the bar sat a young man, long hair flopping over his face as he played the fiddle and sang. His voice was soulful, and the music he coaxed from the little instrument was many miles from the screeching he’d had to endure from his niece yesterday.

Daniel let his eyes swing from left to right as he moved through the patrons. Smoke from the fireplace and those puffing on pipes hung in the air. People danced and clapped, others sang, the atmosphere was joyful.

Is she here?

Disappointment arrowed through him as he continued to search but found no sight of Abby. He’d spent a single evening with the woman. A single evening here, not more than two hours, and every minute was etched in his memory. They’d laughed and sung, and for the first time he’d felt a need for more.

That night too, the room had been crowded, but Daniel had squeezed into a space at the rear, and there she’d been, right beside him, smiling. That smile had made something inside him clench.

Abby had a sweet smile and a voice better suited to a ballroom than a tavern but felt no shame in singing as loudly as the other patrons.

He’d learned she had a family she loved, and that her laugh came from the belly. He’d wanted to know more about her, but when he’d gone to the bar to get her a drink, she’d disappeared, and Daniel had returned every single night since in the hopes of seeing her again.

His family would be shocked. He rarely behaved in such an impulsive manner. He was the Dillinger most likely to not inflame an already volatile situation, of which there were plenty in a family the size of his. He could tease his siblings, but that was different. When it came to serious issues or separating squabbling siblings, he was the man called to do so. The calm, rational Dillinger.

He’d been inflamed that night with Abby. Her scent had managed to slip into his head,