Lazarus & Temperence ~ #1 Maiden Lane
Temperance Dews stood with quiet confidence, a respectable women who lived in the sewer that was St. Giles. Her eyes had widened at the sight of Lazarus, but she made no move to flee. Indeed, finding a strange man in her pathetic sitting room seemed not to frighten her at all.
“I am Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire,” he said.
“I know. What are you doing here?”
He tilted his head, studying her. She knew him, yet did not recoil in horror? Yes, she’d do quite well. “I’ve come to make a proposition to you, Mrs. Dews.”
Still no sign of fear, though she eyed the doorway. “You’ve chosen the wrong woman, my lord. The night is late. Please leave my house.”
No fear and no deference to his rank. An interesting woman indeed.
“My proposition is not, er, illicit in nature,” he drawled. “In fact, it’s quite respectable. Or nearly so.”
She sighed, looked down at her tray, and then back up at him. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
He almost smiled. Tea? When had he last been offered something so very prosaic by a woman? He couldn’t remember.
But he replied gravely enough. “Thank you, no.”
She nodded. “Then if you don’t mind?”
He waved a hand to indicate permission.
She set the tea tray on the wretched little table and sat on the padded footstool to pour herself a cup. He watched her. She was a monochromatic study. Her dress, bodice, hose, and shoes were all flat black. A fichu tucked in at her severe neckline, an apron, and cap—no lace or ruffles—were all white. No color marred her aspect, making the lush red of her full lips all the more startling. She wore the clothes of a nun, yet had the mouth of a sybarite.
The contrast was fascinating—and arousing.
“You’re a Puritan?” he asked.
Her beautiful mouth compressed. “No.”
Could this be Lazarus, Lord Caire?
Long White Hair? Check
Long Black Cloak? Check
Piercing Grey/Blue Eyes? Check
Walking Staff/Cane? Check