“It’s Newgate for sodomites, you know, but I got some questions first.”
“Might be easier on you if you hadn’t been caught with a viscount in your bed.”
Solomon Peate rubs a hand across his face. Once before he had been caught, prancing about a molly house, but he had been cheap entertainment then, not the paid companion to a lord. The owner of the flash house who had rented him out had just paid off the Watch to look the other way. He certainly hadn’t been taken up by Bow Street, and the newspapers hadn’t followed him. Drew was going to hate him after this. Not to mention stop paying the bills.
“It wasn’t what you think.”
“No? What was it, then?”
The man stares expectantly, not looking for an answer, but rather, the lack of one. Would that Solomon and Drew had established some sort of lie to cover this eventuality. Surely, this man hadn’t heard the rumors screaming through the ton, of the two men sharing the favors of The Black Goddess. He was only a functionary, after all.
“It was just… he needed a place to sleep. There is only one bed. I could hardly let a viscount sleep on the floor.”
“Mm hmm.” The man made a note in a file, the shifting of his beady eyes leaving Solomon feeling, if only for a moment, less pinned to the wall.
“Newry pay your rent, then?”
This was safe territory. Plenty of men were compensated with room and board. Sadly, in this case, it hadn’t been provided in Drew’s servant’s quarters, where a viscount’s title might have provided some measure of safety. Not that living in Drew’s town house in proximity to his staff would have been at all safe.
“He is my employer. I am his secretary. Part of my remuneration is the upkeep of my rooms.”
“In a building filled with nothing but mistresses to wealthy men.”
“I cannot be held responsible for the life choices of my neighbors.” Whether or not the on-dits had reached Bow Street, his options were running out. “In fact, my location is how he met his true mistress, who lives just across the hall from me. Kali Matai, La Déesse Noire? You might have heard of her.”
“Heard you and Newry are sharing her,” the man states baldly, rolling his eyes, “but I also hear that might be a front. Secretary, you say?”
Another note. “Keep his accounts then?”
“Among other things.”
“It’s the other things that interest me.”
Solomon only just manages not to laugh at the implication; he must be slightly hysterical. None of this was a laughing matter, and suggesting the man would act as voyeur to two catamites was not at all the best idea.
“There are no other things of the type you insinuate. I manage his everyday business affairs. Estate matters and the like.”
“Mm hmm. How many estates does Newry own?”
The interrogator clearly knows, and Solomon hopes he has no specifics in his file, for what Solomon knows of Drew’s business affairs is limited to discussions he has overheard his protector having with other gentlemen, and the monies he spent to keep his companion in cravats.
“Three estates. Four houses, though, if one counts the one here in London. Or rather, three and a half. One burned last year, and is only now being rebuilt.”
Oh, he could tell this little roach of a man that Drew prefers weak tea and almost burnt toast, that he always wears silk shirts and owns one hundred twenty-two watch fobs and thirty-seven snuff boxes. Solomon could easily recall the placement of his birthmark and the exact size of his… thumbs. But the specific nature of the viscountcy’s investments? The cost of the servants’ wages? Problems on his tenant farms? Any of the details a good secretary would know? He hadn’t the least idea.
“Where are his properties?”
“Portslade, Whitney, and Swindon. And the town house on Curzon Street.”
The quill just kept scratching across the foolscap. Such a slight sound to be giving Solomon such a large megrim.
“Primary source of income?”
“Sheep. And mining.” At least those were the investments of which Drew spoke most frequently. “He has started a stud, but it isn’t turning a profit yet.”
For the first time, a lecherous grin crosses the man’s face. “Way I see it, started a stud in his own bedchamber. That’s enough, Peate. I can call you back after I’ve spoken to your… paramour. See how your stories hang together.” His laughter barks like a badly loaded musket. “Hang together. That’s funny.”
“He is not my paramour, and I sincerely doubt anyone will hang a viscount,” Solomon said, unsmiling. A viscount’s paramour, though, was another thing altogether.
“Mm hmm. Best warn you. Don’t much like gentlemen of the back door in Newgate.”
Solomon felt the blood draining from his face. He had thought nothing could be more injurious to body or soul than his former life—servicing any man with a guinea to keep his bed in a flash house—but even an hour or two imprisoned for this particular charge would be far worse. In Newgate, he wasn’t even worth a guinea.
Find out what happens to Solomon Peate in La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess.
Sired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, Kali Matai has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.
When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.