"No doubt you would have. Win didn't seem to be enjoying it, however."


"Why is Harrow here?" Kev asked fiercely.

"I can answer that one," Leo said, leaning a shoulder against the wall with casual ease. " Harrow wants to become better acquainted with the Hathaways. Because he and my sister are… close."

Kev abruptly felt a sickening weight in his stomach, as if he'd swallowed a handful of river stones. "What do you mean?" he asked, even though he knew. No man could be exposed to Win and not fall in love with her.

" Harrow is a widower," Leo said. "A decent enough fellow. More attached to his clinic and patients than anything else. But he's a sophisticated man, widely traveled, and wealthy as the devil. And he's a collector of beautiful objects. A connoisseur of fine things."

Neither of the other men missed the implication. Win would indeed be an exquisite addition to a collection of fine things.

It was difficult to ask the next question, but Kev forced himself to. "Does Win care for him?"

"I don't believe Win knows how much of what she feels for him is gratitude, and how much is true affection." Leo gave Kev a pointed glance. "And there are still a few unresolved questions she has to answer for herself."

"I'll talk to her."

"I wouldn't, if I were you. Not until she cools a bit. She's rather incensed with you."

-- Advertisement --

"Why?" Kev asked, wondering if she had confided to her brother about the events of the previous night.

"Why?" Leo's mouth twisted. "There's such a dazzling array of choices, I find myself in a quandary about which one to start with. Putting the subject of this morning aside, what about the fact that you never wrote to her?"

"I did," Kev said indignantly.

"One letter," Leo allowed. "The farm report. She showed it to me, actually. How could one forget the soaring prose you wrote about fertilizing the field near the east gate? I'll tell you, the part about sheep dung nearly brought a tear to my eye, it was so sentimental and-'"

"What did she expect me to write about?" Kev demanded.

"Don't bother to explain, my lord," Cam interceded as Leo opened his mouth. "It's not the way of the Rom to put our private thoughts on paper."

"It's not the way of the Rom to run an estate and manage crews of workmen and tenant farmers, either," Leo replied. "But he's done that, hasn't he?" Leo smiled sardonically at Kev's sullen expression. "In all likelihood, Merripen, you'd make a far better lord of the manor than I will. Look at you…… Are you dressed like a Rom? Do you spend your days lounging by the campfire, or are you poring over estate account books? Do you sleep outside on the hard ground, or inside on a nice feather bed? Do you even speak like a Rom anymore? No, you've lost your accent. You sound like-"

"What is your point?" Kev interrupted curtly.

"Only that you've made compromises right and left since you came to this family. You've done whatever you had to, to be close to Win. So don't be a bloody hypocrite and turn all Rom now that you finally have a chance to-" Leo stopped and lifted his eyes heavenward. "Good Lord. This is too much even for me. And I thought I was inured to drama." He gave Rohan a sour look. "You talk to him. I'm going to have my tea."

He went back into the suite, leaving them in the hallway.

"I didn't write about sheep dung," Kev muttered. "It was another kind of fertilizer."

Rohan tried unsuccessfully to smother a grin. "Be that as it may, phral, the word 'fertilizer' should probably be left out of a letter to a lady."

"Don't call me that."

Rohan started down the hallway. "Come with me. There actually is an errand I want you for."

"Not interested."

"It's dangerous," Rohan coaxed. "You might get to hit someone. Maybe even start a brawl. Ah… I knew that would convince you."

One of the qualities Kev found most annoying about Cam Rohan was his persistence in trying to find out about the tattoos. He had pursued the mystery for two years.

Despite the multitude of responsibilities he shouldered, Rohan never missed an opportunity to delve further into the matter. He had searched diligently for his own tribe, asking for information from every passing vardo and going to every Romany camp. But it seemed as if Rohan's tribe had disappeared from the face of the earth, or at least had gone to the other side of it. He would probably never find them-there was no limit to how far a tribe might travel, and no guarantee they would ever return to England.

Rohan had searched marriage records, birth and death records, to find any mention of his mother, Sonya, or himself. Nothing so far. He had also consulted heraldic experts and Irish historians to find out the possible significance of the pooka symbol. All they had been able to do was dredge up the familiar legends of the nightmare horse: that he spoke in a human voice, that he appeared at midnight and called for you to come with him, and you could never refuse. And when you went with him, if you survived the ride, you were changed forever when you returned.

Cam had also not been able to find a meaningful connection between the Rohan and Merripen names, which were common among the Rom. Therefore Rohan's latest approach was to search for Kev's tribe, or anyone who knew about it.

Kev was understandably hostile about this plan, which Rohan revealed to him as they walked to the hotel mews.

-- Advertisement --