“Oh please, God, no,” he mumbled as he rushed inside
* * *
“Henry, relax!” he heard Elizabeth say.
“Are you okay, my Lady?” Henry asked, trying to sit up on the dainty couch.
“Yes, you did a very good job,” Elizabeth said, giving the servant a warm reassuring smile as she fussed over him.
As soon as he was close enough, Robert grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her to her feet so that he could look her over. The front of her dress was covered in blood, but he couldn’t see any obvious wounds.
“Where are you hurt?” he demanded. When she didn’t answer him fast enough he shook her and yelled it. He hadn't realized his hands were trembling until he saw her shaking.
“M-my hand hurts, that’s all,” she promised. She showed him the back of her hand. It was already swollen. His eyes moved to her messy hair, a few cuts on her bare shoulder and to where her dress was ripped, exposing too much cle**age for his sanity. He removed his jacket and placed it on her shoulders.
“What happened?” he demanded.
She dropped back to her knees, pushing her arms through the sleeves so she could tend to Henry. “I’m so sorry, Lady Elizabeth. I didn’t know what they was about until it was too late.”
“ Shh , nonsense. You did a fine job, Henry. A fine job. Now you just relax and let us help you.”
He closed his eyes and nodded. Robert could tell the man was in a great deal of pain, but didn't want to distress Elizabeth any further. “Get him some brandy,” he barked out at a footman. He looked back at Elizabeth. “I. Want. A. Name,” he bit out each word evenly.
“Edward Thompson, he’s been after m’lady for a while he has. Tried to take her tonight. She put up a fight, she did,” Henry said proudly, answering him before Elizabeth got a chance.
He knew the bastard. They'd attended school together. He was also a dead man. No one touched his minx and lived. He grabbed a gun from a passing footman and extra shot. “Lord Blackward, would you happen to have a good horse that I could borrow?”
“Robert, what are you doing?” Elizabeth asked.
“I’m going to kill Edward Thompson, of course.”
* * *
“Are you sure this is where he is?” Lord Blackward whispered over his shoulder.
Robert nodded to the older man. “You heard the landlady. He’s here.”
“How do you want to handle this?” Lord Blackward asked. He was practically on top of Robert. He had to shift again and step aside just for some breathing room.
“Have your men block the front and back doors. We’ll go in with a few men and grab him.”
“You weren’t serious about killing him, were you?” Lord Blackward asked, shifting nervously.
Robert double-checked his gun, making sure that it was loaded and ready. “If he tries to flee, I’ll shoot him dead before he can so much as take a step outside. Otherwise, I’m sure Lord Norwood would like to handle the matter personally. The man did try to abduct his daughter after all.”
“Right, right. Let’s go.” Lord Blackward nudged him. Robert led the way into the small rooming house.
“This way, sir,” the landlady said, gesturing for the men to follow her to the second floor.
“Knock on the door,” Robert ordered softly.
A loud whimper was the answer. After a slight pause, Robert opened the door. Holding his candle high along with his pistol, he walked into the room. The smell of fresh vomit and sweat reached his nose, nearly making him gag.
The whimpering continued. He looked at the cot only to find it empty. More light filled the room as men entered behind him, making the room nearly as bright as day.
“Good lord!” Lord Blackward gasped.
Edward Thompson lay on the floor, curled up into a ball with both hands clutching his groin. “She…wouldn’t…stop…..kicking…..” He vomited again. Every man in the room shifted and absently covered his own groin at the announcement.
Robert couldn’t believe his minx had taken this large man out. Worse, he couldn’t believe she was capable of this type of retaliation. Even after all the years of bullshit that he’d put her through, she’d never once went to kick him in the bullocks. Thank God for that!
The man was openly weeping now.
“What should we do?” Lord Blackward asked, shifting anxiously.
“Haul him in. Normally I would say that he’s suffered enough, but if she’s made him into a eunuch he’s going to want to kill her. Better leave this to her father and the magistrate to handle.”
“He’s crying,” Lord Blackward said in disgust.
“I know.” Robert bent over Edward, keeping his back to the rest of the men. “Edward, you tried to kidnap Lady Elizabeth?” he asked with barely restrained fury.
Edward nodded frantically. “I’ll admit it! Please just get a surgeon. I don’t want to lose my balls!”
Robert rolled him over. “This is for Elizabeth,” he whispered before he punched the man squarely in the jaw, breaking it with an audible crack and knocking the man out cold.
“What was that for?” Lord Blackward demanded.
“He was crying,” Robert said with a careless shrug as he headed for the door before he decided to kill the bastard.
* * *
Elizabeth was pacing the foyer when Robert strolled into the house along with her father, Lord Bradford and James. When she spotted them she stopped pacing at once. “Well?”
The men looked her over. She was wearing a long white cotton nightgown and a wrapper. Her father and Lord Bradford looked disapproving. James looked amused. Robert looked hungry, causing her to shift nervously.
“Go to bed, dear. It’s handled,” her father said as he kissed her forehead.
“Please tell me that he’s still alive.”
“He wishes he wasn’t,” James said with a chuckle.
“A little bit of an overkill, wouldn’t you say?” Robert asked. His eyes never left hers as he watched her possessively.
“I-I had to make sure he wasn’t getting back up.”
The rest of the men laughed louder at this while Robert continued to watch her. “Oh, believe me, my dear, he’ll never get up again,” Lord Bradford said.
Her face colored. She wasn’t exactly sure what they were talking about, but she had an idea thanks to that night in the orangery. She had kicked him pretty hard.
“From now on, you do not go anywhere without an extra man to watch you. Now go on up to bed and have Jane fetch you some tea.”
“I sent her to bed hours ago. I’ll just go to bed.” She threw one last look at the men. Obviously the man was alive. That was all she cared about. That and Robert was safe, but she didn’t want to look too deeply into that.
* * *
Robert waited an hour until the rest of the men were relaxed and deep in their card game before he excused himself for the night. He made his way upstairs. After a quick glance around the upstairs hallway, he went to the family quarters.
He already knew which room belonged to Elizabeth. Thanks to all the times he’d snuck into her room to place something gross or dead in her bed he knew the way by heart. He listened at the door before slowly opening it. His ears were met with light snores. Cute little snores, he thought.