Temperance Dews

The fourth Makepeace Family offspring. She runs the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children in St. Giles along with her brother, Winter Makepeace. She is all that is respectable—on the surface at least.

Heroine of Wicked Intentions.

Also appears in Scandalous Desires, Thief of Shadows, Lord of Darkness,  Dearest Rogue, and Sweetest Scoundrel.

* * *

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.

Interesting.

“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.”

“Ah.” He noted she did not say she was Church of England either. She probably belonged to one of the many obscure nonconformist sects, but then he was interested in her religious beliefs only as they impacted his own mission.

She took a sip of tea. “How do you know my name?”

He shrugged. “Mrs. Dews and her brother are well known for their good deeds.”

“Really?” Her tone was dry. “I was not aware we were so famous beyond the boundaries of St. Giles.”

She might look demure but there were teeth behind the prim expression. And she was quite right–he would never have heard of her had he not spent the last month stalking the shadows of St. Giles. Stalking fruitlessly, which was why he’d followed her home and sat before this miserable fire now.

“How did you get in?” she asked.

“I believe the back door was unlocked.”

“No, it wasn’t.” Her brown eyes met his over her teacup. They were an odd light color, almost golden. “Why are you here, Lord Caire?”

“I wish to hire you, Mrs. Dews,” he said softly.

She stiffened and set her teacup down on the tray. “No.”

“You haven’t heard the task for which I wish to hire you.”

“It’s past midnight, my lord, and I’m not inclined to games even during the day. Please leave or I shall be forced to call my brother.”

He didn’t move. “Not a husband?”

“I’m widowed, as I’m sure you already know.” She turned to look into the fire, presenting a dismissive profile to him.

He stretched his legs in what room there was, his boots nearly in the fire. “You’re quite correct, I do know. I also know that you and your brother have not paid the rent on this property in nearly two months.”

She said nothing, merely sipping her tea.

“I’ll pay handsomely for your time,” he murmured.

She looked at him finally, and he saw a golden flame in those pale brown eyes. “You think all women can be bought?”

–from Wicked Intentions