Lazarus Huntington, Baron Caire

Lord Caire is a scholar by day and a rake by night, notorious for the demands he makes on his bed partners.

Hero of Wicked Intentions.

Also appears in Thief of ShadowsLord of DarknessSweetest Scoundrel, and Duke of Sin.

* * *

Winter Makepeace clattered down the stairs, nearly running into a small boy lurking rather suspiciously on one of the turns.

Winter grabbed him by the collar—he’d learned early in his career of teaching young hellions that it was best to catch and then ask. “Why are you not at breakfast with the other boys, Joseph Tinbox?”

Joseph, his freckled face cowled by the jacket Winter held, rolled his eyes up at him. “I was jus’ now goin’ down, Mr. Makepeace.”

“Indeed?” Winter inquired skeptically. He set down the pitcher and made a lightening fast snatch at the object Joseph had been attempting to hide behind his back. “And what plans did you have for this catapult?”

Joseph’s eyes widened in what was a very good imitation of innocence at the forked stick and leather strap dangling before his eyes. “I found it on the stairs, truly I did.”

Winter cocked his eyebrow, staring at the boy.

Joseph’s gaze slid away from his own.

“Joseph,” Winter said quietly. “You know that I do not condone lying in this house. A man’s word is a treasure he holds within himself no matter how poor his outer garments. To squander it recklessly is the mark of not only a fool, but a cheat as well. Now tell me. Is this catapult yours?”

The boy swallowed, his small throat working. “Yes, sir.”

“I am displeased to hear that you’ve been playing with a catapult,” Winter said calmly. “But pleased that you have spoken the truth to me. As punishment for the former, I would like you to sweep out the kitchen hearth and scrub clean the outer tiles around the fireplace.”

“Aw!” Joseph began, but gulped back his groan at a look from Winter. “Yes, sir.”

“Good.” Winter let him go, picked up the pitcher, and gestured for the boy to precede him down the stairs.

They descended in silence, but as they made the bottom step, Joseph hesitated.

“Sir?”

“Yes?” Winter glanced at the Joseph. He was shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“We all make mistakes, Joseph,” Winter said gently. “It is how one acts afterwards that distinguishes the righteous man from the dishonest one.”

Joseph’s brow crinkled as he contemplated that statement. Then it cleared. “Yes, sir.”

The boy walked into the kitchen, his habitual jaunty step nearly restored.

–from Scandalous Desires