Taking the Spinster - Samantha Holt

Chapter One

Guy glanced over his shoulder and caught a glimpse of the reporter barreling down the London road with all the subtlety of an express coach. She darted behind a wall and his lips twitched with a grin. If she were not such a pain in the rear, he’d find her amusing, but he couldn’t afford to have her witnessing the clandestine meeting he was due at, or worse still, linking him to The Kidnap Club.

However, this was tantamount of persecution and it was becoming tiresome.

He picked up the pace, taking long strides down the pavement, keeping his attention fixed ahead. The sun lingered behind the buildings, dipping their squared-off tops in amber frosting. Before long, the streets of the city would be swallowed by darkness, but he had a suspicion even that wouldn’t rid himself of her.

He damn well needed to, though. He couldn’t very well have a clandestine meeting with a duchess in the park if this nosy London Chronicle reporter continued to follow him.

Guy allowed himself a smirk. Reporter gave her too much credit. Miss Haversham, he had discovered, was the lady behind the gossip column for the Chronicle.

He could count on one hand the amount of times he’d been featured in that very column but even once or twice was enough, especially when the gossip had been about him and Lady A.


Another woman who had done a fine job of being a pain in the rear.

No, he supposed it was more like a pain in the heart. He blew out a breath. The bloody woman still had some sort of hold over him. Whenever he recalled her name, it twisted in his heart, digging the knife of frustration deeper. He’d been so close...had thought just maybe, this was it—he’d finally found a woman who wanted him. All of him.

But, alas, it was not to be.

The pain had eased perhaps over the past few years but it still damn well hurt, and he didn’t need a woman like Miss Haversham lapping up all the details of his failed engagement, so eager to expose the heartbreak of the Earl of Henleigh to all of England.

Whatever she wanted with him, he did not want to know. As far as he was concerned, gossip columns were the lowest form of journalism and he would give her no tinder for the godawful fire that was her job.

He stilled once more and feigned glancing up at one of the three-story buildings that blocked out the waning sun—a tall, dark silhouette with windows only lit on the second floor. A shadow moved about in one window, and he spied a gentleman clasping a glass and moving toward the fireplace. Golden light flickered and danced. Guy pulled his coat closer at the neck and gave a shiver.

A warm fire and drop of brandy while seated in his favorite armchair would be wholly welcome at present. Far more appealing than scurrying through the streets of London like a damp rat to a secret meeting. It would have been nice to at least have his carriage, but the crest emblazoned on the side wouldn’t help with the whole clandestine nature of it.

Well, he would have that brandy as soon as this was over, he vowed. And as soon as he’d rid himself of Miss Haversham. She currently peeked out from the side of an alleyway.

He exhaled and pinched the bridge of his nose. The woman would not cease. He knew that already. She’d been demanding audiences with him for several months—all of which he’d declined. He had little idea what she wanted with him but given his association and leadership of The Kidnap Club, the less she poked around in his life, the better. Too many women relied on his life remaining a mystery for him to even consider having a conversation with her.

The chances were, of course, she wanted comment on something silly. Like the fact Amelia had married recently.

Why Miss Haversham found amusement in poking about his wounds, he could not say. He didn’t know her nor did he want to. After the Amelia debacle, he had resigned himself to the fact that he and women did not mix, nor would they ever. His duties as an earl be damned, he would stay a bachelor forever and ensure his half-brother was legitimized.

Russell might have a thing or two to say about that but there was not much else that could be done. The man would inherit the title and no doubt he and Rosie would