Retribution (Sebastian Trilogy Book 3), страница 1
Sebastian Trilogy~Book Three
By Janey Rosen
Copyright © 2015 by Janey Rosen. All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: August 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my husband for his unending patience and fortitude, without which it would have been impossible for me to dedicate so much time to writing. Also to the many Sebastian fans on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, who have inspired me to continue my creative journey.
I love each of you.
“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”
Table of Contents
The sunlight is streaming through a chink in the curtains, casting shards of gold upon the honey coloured furniture in our bedroom. My head feels muzzy. I’m disorientated, unsure if it’s morning and how I got to bed. Recollections of last night stream back with startling clarity. I remember what Scarlett said to me. Could it be true, or was I so drunk that my imagination ran away with me? Scarlett has many faults, and irritates the hell out of me. But is she a murderer? Could she really have slept with Alan? She intimated that she caused the accident which killed my husband and son, but how? Such dark thoughts, so many questions.
“Ah, you’re awake. Good. How’s your head?” Sebastian enters the bedroom wearing an expression of dour sobriety. Sweeping my legs aside, he perches on the edge of the bed, his features strained and his peppered hair messed up. He’s dressed in faded blue jeans and black t-shirt and he looks sizzling hot, momentarily distracting me from my troubled thoughts. He places a glass of orange juice on the nightstand and regards me with a scowl. “Sit up. Drink. All of it.”
Obediently, I heave my leaden body to a sitting position and slump back against the disordered pile of pillows, grimacing as my temples throb. The juice is ice cold and I drain the glass appreciatively, refreshed and glad to rid my mouth of a stale bitterness. “Did you talk to Scarlett?” My words are but a croak.
Upon a deep sigh, he runs his index finger down my cheek and across my lips, his mood difficult to read. “Yes, of course I talked to her. After you passed out in a drunken stupor, I sat talking with her for a couple of hours.”
Damn it. Scarlett had time to spin her lies and cover her tracks. “Did she tell you what she said to me about the accident?” I ask urgently.
“What is your problem with Scarlett?” His finger trails down my throat, down to the naked valley between my breasts, so distractingly. My nipples elongate and stiffen as his finger brushes lightly over each, my body acting in total discord to my brain.
“Sebastian. Stop it.” I brush his finger away reluctantly but he immediately returns it determinedly to my right nipple, stroking and circling and then pinching it sharply between his thumb and index finger. I try not to react but moan involuntarily, my back arching as he shifts his position, his mouth finding my left nipple. Damn him. “Please. Sebastian, stop. This is important.”
He sucks hard on my sensitive bud, his tongue flicking over the tip, his fingers continuing to pinch and knead. I grasp his head, clutching and tugging at his hair, forcing him to take more of my breast in his hungry mouth. I have an urgent, primal need to reclaim Sebastian as mine and erase the taint of Scarlett’s words.
Pulling back, stronger than me, he releases my tight grip on his hair, a few strands still clutched in my fist. “I only want you. Only you. You’ll always be mine. Stop this jealousy.” His lips find mine and stifle my protestations, his weight pressing on me as I slide back down the bed beneath him. He makes slow passionate love to me and it’s divine—not kinky nor hurried, nor brutal, but an expression of adoration that is true and profound. I am his.
I call my mother, feeling a deep need to hear the comforting and familiar sound of her voice. Distracted by Sebastian this morning, I’ve not been able to have a full discussion with him regarding Scarlett, and last night is weighing heavily on my mind, compounding my melancholia and anxiety.
“Beth, love, it’s been too long. How are you both?” Those few simple words are calming and offer a small taste of home, of simpler, happier times with my parents when the only complication in life was homework, boys, and music.
“Everything’s fine. Wonderful,” I lie, not wishing to worry my mother with the complexities of my life nor to tarnish the high esteem in which she holds Sebastian. It’s not for my mother to carry the heavy burden of guilt, nor the suspicion surrounding her grandson’s death. I simply want to wrap myself tightly in the comforting, maternal embrace that her loving voice offers.
“Will you be home for your birthday?” she asks hopefully.
“No, Mum, I’m really sorry. We’re having a few friends over here. I’ll be home just after my birthday, though, in time for Bella’s so we’ll all be together for her special day.”
“All right, love, I’ll keep your present until I see you. Bella’s okay, I hope?”
“She’s just fine. She met a boy last night—Theo. He’s nineteen and has his own car, so he’s the coolest boy on the planet in Bella’s eyes.”
“That’s good. You tell her that her old grandma sends her love and I’ll see her soon. Oh, and send my love to Sebastian, and you look after him.”
“I will. I love you, Mum. Very much.”
“I love you more.”
“Impossible,” I say, smiling at the ritual that used to be ours alone when Mum tucked me in at night, as a child. How I long to be in my mother’s arms, clutched tight against her breast, her arms an iron fortress impenetrable by evil or harm.
Ruth answers on the first ring. I’ve walked across the lawn to the rear of the house, to afford me some privacy. I recount what I recall of last night’s heated discussion with Scarlett and Ruth listens quietly. When I have finished, she takes a deep breath and considers what I have told her in the measured way that she has.
“Okay, so are you saying that you think Scarlett was seeing Alan and that she was somehow responsible for the accident?” she clarifies.
“I know it sounds farfetched, Ruth, but yes…that’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“And she caused the accident because she wanted you and the children to come to Penmorrow, to give Sebastian the children that neither she, nor Libby, could give him?”
“But…if that’s the case, why would she harm Joe?”
“She couldn’t have known that Joe would be in the car but I really believe she’s dangerous. She seems to think that she can offer Sebastian everything except a family. He’s desperate for an heir, Ruth, that much is true. The whole estate passes to distant relatives in Australia when he dies. It makes sense, don’t you see? She thinks he loves her, and that the only thing missing is children. An heir.”
“Calm down. Let’s look at the facts. At the funeral, didn’t Mike say that Alan had been seeing someone? You told me that Mike mentioned a woman in a four-by-four car. Could that be Scarlett?”
“Of course it could. Sebastian drives a Range Rover. It could be that she used his car to meet with Alan. She takes his car sometimes to go to town.”
“Okay. So, she uses his car, sees Alan and plots the whole thing, but that doesn’t explain the anti-depressants found in his blood stream.”
“Libby was on the same medication. What if Scarlett has those tablets? What if she convinced Alan to take them? He was pretty messed up about us.”
“So, the accident happens, you go to Penmorrow with Bella—it’s not a son, though, is it?”
“I know, but that doesn’t matter. The estate passes to any surviving heir. I think she saw me purely as a means by which Sebastian could have an heir. She’s so obsessed with him. What if she thought that I’d come here, to be some quiet little thing who would provide the heir, while she and Sebastian continue as lovers.”
“Continue? You mean they have had sex? Do you know this, Beth?” Ruth sounds skeptical. I need to convince her that I’m not going mad, that this really is happening.
“She took advantage of him when Libby died. It wasn’t his fault. Ruth, you need to believe me. Something isn’t right here and I’m really scared. I love Sebastian so much and I know he loves me, he really does. It’s her, Ruth. It’s Scarlett. She’s crazy and she’s dangerous. I’m frightened.”
“I want you to come home, Beth.” Ruth’s tone is insistent.
“I can’t,” I say forlornly.
“Why can’t you? I’ll come and get you if necessary but you and Bella must come home. You’ve both been through so much. You don’t need all this, Beth.”
“Because if we come home, then Scarlett has won. She gets Sebastian and I can’t let that happen, he’s the love of my life, I need him.”
“I understand,” Ruth soothes calmly. “But I want to speak to the police inspector who dealt with the accident. I’ll just run her name past him, see if it brings anything up.”
“What if he thinks I’m crazy?”
“He’d be right,” she jokes. “It will put your mind at rest. Leave it with me. Please try not to worry. You’ve been through so much. This could just be grief, you know.”
“Do you think so?”
“Possibly, but let’s get the cops looking into the bitch, see if anything turns up. Love you, my loony best friend.”
“Love you too. Bye.”
“Bye, sweetie.” She ends the call.
Sebastian pulls off his riding boots and pads across the kitchen floor in his socks, pulling me into a tight embrace.
“You smell of horses,” I protest, pinching my nose.
“Hey, I’m a simple country boy,” he purrs.
“Well, country bumpkin, we need to talk.” I’m determined to have this discussion and I’m not going to be distracted by his erection pressing against me through his jodhpurs.
“Talk? Can’t we do something more fun?” He grins impishly and grinds his hips so distractingly, but I will not give in to temptation.
“No. I mean it. We need to talk. You side-tracked me this morning. Please sit.” I indicate to the pew opposite mine.
“Since when were you the Domme?” he quips, grinning at me.
“Scarlett,” I say, and his expression darkens instantaneously.
“Not that again, Elizabeth, give it a rest.” He pulls away from me defensively.
“We have to talk about last night, Sebastian. I want to know what you’re going to do about her.”
He sits wearily on the pew and steeples his hands beneath his chin, avoiding my gaze. “Okay, look, I talked to her last night. You were very drunk and the whole thing escalated. She’s very sorry if she offended you and I have reminded her of her position here. You’ll find her more amenable from now on.”
“Do you have any idea of the terrible things she said to me?” I ask incredulously.
“No and I don’t want to know. I’m sure you both said things you didn’t mean and the main thing is that you both move forward from this. It’s home to you both, so you need to try to get along, is that clear?”
“I want you to fire her,” I state firmly.
His mouth sets in a stubborn line and he runs a hand through his messy black hair. “I will not fire her. You do not tell me what to do. She runs this house and I have no evidence that she’s committed any crime nor any misdemeanour, other than upsetting my very drunk girlfriend who, most likely, was equally offensive to Scarlett.”
“No, Elizabeth. That’s an end to it.”
“She’s done something, Sebastian. Something very bad, I know it.”
“Enough.” He bangs his clenched fist down, hard onto the table; the impact makes me jump. “Scarlett is going to try very hard to get along with you, and I expect you to reciprocate. It starts tonight. She’s going to cook a special dinner for us both by way of appeasement and we will enjoy it and be grateful.”
“Yes, Sebastian. I’ll try,” I say with far more conviction than I feel. I will be vigilant. I don’t trust her and yet it’s so difficult to verbalise my concerns to Sebastian. He’s so controlling, and so loyal to her.
“I need to take you back to the chamber, my girl.” His mood changes to one of seduction but my thoughts remain preoccupied.
She’s baking a cheese soufflé. I can smell the delicious aroma from the Great Hall. Our paths haven’t crossed all day, deliberately on my part and I suspect on hers too.
“Go and help Scarlett bring in the entrée, Elizabeth.” Sebastian cocks an eyebrow, daring me to defy him. Thinking better of it I head to the kitchen compliantly.
“Good evening, Mrs. Dove.” Scarlett wipes her hands on a crisp white apron and smiles demurely as I enter the kitchen.
“Good evening, Scarlett,” I mutter sullenly. “Can I take in the entrée?”
She’s fussing over the soufflé, wiping the ramekins with a paper towel. “You’ll need the oven glove, they are fresh from the oven—boiling hot.”
I place the soufflé on a tray carefully, noting as I do, the skill with which Scarlett cooks. She is an accomplished chef, although not the tidiest and the mess she is creating makes me smile. Not so perfect, are you?
The meal is divine and, much as it pains me to admit it, Scarlett has gone to considerable trouble to produce a feast of cheese soufflé followed by beef wellington. Conversation over dinner is stilted, lacking the easy banter to which we are so accustomed. The only discourse I wish to have is the one topic that is taboo, thus rendering any other dialogue trivial.
“I’ve given Scarlett the rest of the night off, so you will have to see to the dishes.” Sebastian is grinning devilishly.
“Gee, thank you, Sir,” I say, unable to hide the sarcasm from my voice.
As I clear the plates, he smacks my bottom hard. “Off to the kitchen, wench. I’ll have a brandy ready for you upstairs. Be there in thirty minutes.”
The familiar throb emanates from my groin as I wash up the dir
The plates and pans are stacked neatly on the draining rack and all that remains is to wipe down the granite surfaces. The pestle and mortar have been left on the worktop, next to the herb stand. Placing them in the sink to rinse, I notice that Scarlett has crushed something other than herbs and spices. A white powder coats the ceramic dish.
Don’t trust her. Running my finger gingerly along the surface and placing a little of the powder on my tongue, the mildly bitter taste is unfamiliar. I can’t see what she could have crushed. It is curious, and certainly a matter to confront Scarlett with in the morning. Now, though, my sexy man is waiting for me and I don’t wish to keep him waiting, especially with the threat of the chamber still fresh in my mind.
In our bedroom, Sebastian reclines naked against the cushions on the bed, sipping brandy, with the beautiful decadence of a Michelangelo painting. He smiles roguishly and nods toward a brandy balloon on the dresser, inviting me to drink. Clutching the glass, but not daring to move to him lest I break the spell of the moment, I instead lean against the wall adjacent to the closed door, and regard the vision before me. “Sebastian, the last time I drank brandy, I passed out. I was sixteen and we stole it from my friend’s parents’ drink cupboard.”
“I feel sure it wasn’t a fine cognac such as this, Elizabeth. Swill the brandy around the balloon, put your nose over it, like this.” He demonstrates the technique, making me giggle at the vision of him—stark naked—giving me lesson on brandy tasting etiquette.
I swill the glass and watch the brilliant, deep amber liquid as it reflects the light from the chandelier above the bed. “It smells of marshmallows and old wood.”