Read Sins of a Virgin Online

Authors: Anna Randol

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #General

Sins of a Virgin

Sins of a Virgin

Anna Randol

Dedication

To my husband, who is always my hero,

and my mom, who is always my biggest supporter

Contents

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Epilogue

About the Author

Romances by Anna Randol

Copyright

About the Publisher

Prologue

T
hree glasses of the finest French brandy lingered untouched on the desk. Sir James Glavenstroke tapped his own half-empty glass with nervous fingers. He never should have poured the drinks before they entered the room. That had guaranteed they wouldn’t imbibe. Which was a damned shame. Alcohol would have made the upcoming ordeal easier.

At least for him.

The Trio, they called themselves—La Petit, Cipher, and Wraith. The finest agents he’d ever created. More soldiers owed their lives to them than to Wellington himself.

Pride burned in Glavenstroke’s chest, but he coughed it away. After all, any one of them would gladly slit his throat for the hell he’d damned them into.

Not that they’d be any happier when he kicked them out of it.

Glavenstroke ran a hand through his thinning gray hair, then sipped his brandy. Madeline Valdan, La Petit, watched his fidgeting with far too keen a gaze. The past ten years had transformed Madeline from a breathtaking youth to the most achingly beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He tried to still his nervous motions, but he knew that, in and of itself, would be a sign.

“What are you stewing over, Glavenstroke?” Madeline asked. “You know you can’t hide anything from us.”

No. He’d been unable to do that since he plucked them from their fate on the gallows. In exchange for their lives, they’d agreed to hone their particular skills on behalf of His Majesty’s government. They’d each originally possessed talents that had led him to select them over the other condemned souls in Newgate, but once they’d received formal training, they’d become an unstoppable force. A wickedly sharp dagger used to eviscerate Napoleon and his allies.

But now the war was over.

“Out with it.” As always, the voice of the Cipher, Clayton Campbell, remained perfectly calm, yet drew a shiver up Glavenstroke’s spine.

With a sigh, he removed the bank drafts from the drawer and laid them on the oak desk. “The Foreign Office thanks you for your hard years of service on His Majesty’s behalf.”

“But?” prompted Madeline.

“There is no
but
. You’ve served your country well and are free to resume normal lives. You each have, of course, received full pardons for your past transgressions.”

Madeline and Clayton stared at him. It was a measure of their level of shock that they permitted that much of a reaction.

Ian Maddox, the Wraith and third member of the Trio, was the only one who remained unsurprised. But Glavenstroke knew that stemmed from his low expectations of humanity in general. Unlike the other two, Ian was a product of the mean streets in London’s West End. No level of cruelty or greed surprised him. The government could have ordered their immediate execution and he wouldn’t have batted an eye.

Madeline tucked a strand of chestnut hair behind her ear—the one nervous gesture he’d never been able to break her of. “Why?”

Ian’s powerful frame relaxed in the chair, and rather than diminishing his strength, the pose made him resemble a tiger the moment before it pounced. “What dear Glaves here is too polite to say is that they don’t need us anymore. Now that we’re of no use to them, having us on the payroll is too much of a risk. Can’t afford to let the sweetly docile populace discover they’re employing the hangman’s leftovers.”

Ian was correct as always. In fact, with his ability to gain access to whatever location he desired, it was likely he’d known about this forced retirement before Glavenstroke did.

With an uncomfortable cough, Glavenstroke delivered the final insult—the bank drafts.

“This is the first pension payment?” Clayton’s hand tensed on the slip of paper.

Ian snorted. “Sorry, they can’t have us on the pension records, either.”

Madeline stiffened. “I’ve whored myself on behalf of this country. A foot soldier would have made more than this.”

Glavenstroke took a large swig of his brandy, welcoming the muted burn at the back of his throat. He’d called in every favor owed him to arrange for even this much. But he hadn’t reached his current position by being soft, so he didn’t apologize. After all, without his help, the three of them would’ve been dead a decade ago.

Clayton rested his hand on Madeline’s arm. “With proper investment—”

“And what, another ten or twenty years of waiting? I know you’re a genius with numbers, Clayton, but even you cannot miraculously transform this into anything other than the insult it is.” She rose to her feet, and the other two followed.

“What do you plan to do?” Glavenstroke asked them, despising himself for the weakness the question betrayed.

Ian glanced back over his shoulder, a slight smile quirking the corner of his mouth. “Won’t that thought keep you up at night?”

As the door closed silently behind them, Glavenstroke poured himself another glass of the amber liquid. They’d land on their feet. He’d taught them well.

Hopefully, they’d continue to use their skills to help society, because if any one of them turned—he knocked back the second shot of brandy in a single gulp—heaven help Mother England.

Chapter One

W
hen lightning didn’t strike Madeline Valdan as she strolled through the hallowed doors of White’s, a wicked smile curved her lips. She’d seize her positive omens where she could.

While the footman by the door kept his gaze studiously averted, she slipped the heavy bag of gold sovereigns into his pocket and then rose up on tiptoe so her lips brushed the air inches from his ear. “Thank you, John.” He still didn’t deign to speak to her, but an adorable blush spread above the starched points of his shirt collar.

As she sauntered down the corridor, Madeline couldn’t resist a quick gawk at this bastion of manliness. Marble pillars jutted out from deep, plush carpet to join with the ornate plaster of the ceiling and reflect the rippling patterns cast by the crystal chandeliers. The club reeked of power and entitlement.

And most importantly, money.

Madeline smoothed the flowing lines of her black domino. The silk used to make the cloak had been an extravagant expense, but as she’d learned, presentation was everything.

She strode past the coffee room and straight into the card room. After all, she was offering a gamble—hopefully, a very expensive gamble.

The murmur of masculine voices rumbled through the expansive space, punctuated by an occasional bark of laughter. Faro cards slapped onto tables and dice clacked across tables.

She scanned the room as she’d been trained, noting the number of men and classifying them: those actively gambling, those pretending to gamble, and those watching; those holding a winning hand versus a losing hand. From her brief glance, she also knew which men were dangerous and which posed a threat only to their after-supper pudding.

As Madeline walked to the center of the room, the tables she passed quieted, then burst into jumbled exclamations.

She selected a table directly in the center of the room under an immense glittering chandelier. She couldn’t have asked for a better stage.

She smiled at the nervous young man who had turned to gape at her as she approached. She held out her hand. “Be a dear, Algie?”

Algie’s training as a gentleman didn’t fail her, and he offered his hand without thinking. She grasped it, stepped on his thigh, and then onto the middle of the table.

Madeline now held the attention of the entire group of assembled men.

Two determined footmen arrived at the edge of the table. “Miss, this isn’t that type of establishment. You must leave or we will remove you.”

Madeline threw back the hood of her cloak.

“Madeline . . .”

“Who’s mistress . . .”

“ . . . seen with the Regent himself last . . .”

The voices testified that the last six months had served their purpose. They all knew who she was.

She’d spent every last dime of the paltry government stipend on being seen and heard around London. Dressed to scandalous perfection. Always on the arm of a different man and always on the cusp of something utterly outrageous. Soon the gossip sheets hadn’t been able to write enough about her. Gentlemen lusted after her and ladies despised her.

She opened the front of her domino, revealing her emerald gown. The bodice skimmed her breasts and barely covered her nipples. In fact, when she’d tried it on, a misplaced sneeze had produced quite shocking results. The sleeves were practically nonexistent, and the lack of petticoats molded the skirt to every curve of her hip and leg.

She raised her voice to carry above the noise. “What do you think, gentlemen, shall I leave, or do you want to hear what inspired this dastardly stunt?”

The shouts clamoring for her answer overwhelmed the cries for her ousting, so the flustered servants stepped back a pace.

Madeline trailed a hand slowly down her hip. “I bring you something for sale.” She nodded at offers shouted by several of the bolder gentlemen to share their beds for the night. “Not quite. I’m here to inform you of an auction.”

“What’s being sold?” asked the overdressed and overfed Colonel Willington.

She scanned the room, gauging the reactions. Excellent. Every single one of them strained for her answer. She waited three more heartbeats before answering. “My virginity.”

Disbelief and outrage echoed through the room. Forgotten cards drifted onto tables as fortunes sat neglected in the center. She didn’t even try to speak for several minutes. But when she did, everyone listened. “The bidding book will be at Naughton’s for the next fortnight.” Most of the men here knew of the gambling den firsthand, and those who didn’t wouldn’t be bidding regardless. “At the end of those two weeks, the man with the highest bid wins.”

“What exactly does he win?” a dark-haired fellow asked.

She tapped her cheek. “Hmm . . . my virginity?”

The crowd laughed, but he pressed on. “But what exactly does that entail?”

“That’s simple. One night with me and a chance to succeed where every other man in London has failed.”

A voice that she couldn’t quite match with a face spoke from the corner of the room. “If you’re a virgin, why not marry?”

She’d rather be dragged over broken glass by a herd of gout-ridden turtles. Yet she allowed none of her thoughts to show on her face when she lifted her eyebrow. “Is that an offer?” As she waited for the chuckles to die down, she untied her cloak, dropping it so it pooled at her feet. Eyes once again riveted to the ample amount of bosom she’d arranged for display. “I think you gentlemen know—mistresses have more fun.”

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