Two Months Later
Bringing his Viscountess to the club was a first.
The written rule of no ladies allowed inside the premises was about to be broken. But he knew his peers wouldn't mind. She was an official member of the prestigious club after all.
Her hand on his warm grasp, he glanced down at her radiant face. Her enthusiasm was also contagious, soft brown eyes assessing, looking around her, ultimately nodding in approval. The Viscount smirked.
Walking to the front steps, he was about to knock when Hennessey opened the heavy double doors for them with a flourish every self-respecting butler had been strictly trained to do upon receiving an important guest in his household. "My lord. Lady Redington." He bowed deeply. "A pleasure to have you here."
"Thank you." She beamed. Her smile was a work of art.
It gave the man paused. Then he cleared his throat. "This way, please." Gesturing to the long hallway to his right.
Hennessey was being traditional, trying to impress their guest. Nicholas pressed his lips to stop from grinning. His face remained impassive. His dark gaze was watchful. More of a habit than anything else.
The manor was equipped with an advanced security system, a bunker, and an underground escape route. Seasoned snipers on guard 24/7. This was the safest place to bring his wife aside from their homes.
"Your Grace, my lords, may I present, Lord and Lady Redington." The butler, an ex drill sergeant, and a faithful servant that he was bowed elaborately as if he was presenting The Queen, a few seconds later, he was followed by two more servants carrying trays of scones and hot pots of tea. Also a first.
The lords usually prefer scotch on the rocks for their afternoon breaks.
Sandringham snorted playfully. Though the marquis was just as surprised as the other three, they kept it to themselves by the way they welcomed Sinclair to their all-male domain.
"There is nothing to fret about, gentlemen. I will not be invading your sacred grounds. I just want to know where to find my husband when I go into labour." She jested with another of her sweet smiles.
Her words made him mentally count the days once more. Huntley noted Redington's uneasiness and smirked. Giving his friend time to breathe, the baron offered Sinclair a tour of the nearby bookcases.
"I commiserate. Your lady had grown sassier by the day." Lucien murmured, settling back to an armchair. Opposite them were the duke and the marquis, raising their tumblers in agreement.
"You don't know the half of it." Nicholas Stafford poured himself a drink. He needed one. The thought of Sinclair writhing in pain when she delivered their first child almost paralyzed him. "Any news?" He asked softly, changing the subject deliberately. Mindful of his lady only a few feet from them still inspecting the manor's massive book collection.
"Yes. There was some progress while you were in the Bahamas." Cerdic answered vaguely. "I was about to call you but you beat me to it."
"Aye. I lost on a bet. This is my payment." He didn't divulge anything else. How and when was censorious and a memory treasured. "So, when are we going to start?"
"In a few days. I have to go to Ireland for a charity event for our hospital." Baron Huntley shared while he guided Sinclair back to Nicholas, grimacing from the thought of what he had to face when he visited the provincial make-shift clinics. "It's important. Toddlers with cancer." He shuddered.
"Let us know if you need reinforcement." Redington offered. The others nodded. Children were one of their Achilles' heels. His lady squeezed his hand reminding him of the main reason she accompanied him to the club. He glanced down. His lips tightened. "Any developments with the search for Sinclair's parents?"
"There was. But we shouldn't get our hopes high yet. We need a DNA test done, Lady Redington." Cerdic announced.
His wife shifted beside him. Draping his arm around her, he pulled her closer to his warmth. He didn't want her distraught. "Of course, Your Grace. Whatever it takes." She shivered in his arms however, she kept her voice steady. He nodded to Cerdic to continue.
"We found a single corpse. From the initial autopsy, it's a male in his late fifties." The Duke added. Though he was blunt, his voice was gentle. "So, there might be a possibility..." He didn't finish, mindful of the Viscountess's delicate condition.
Viscountess Redington sucked in a sharp breath. She trembled, looking up at her husband, she murmured, "Nick?" A sliver of hope reflected in her eyes.
"We will find her. I promise." He raised his gaze to look around them and his peers shook their heads in agreement.
"Yes. Our men are scouring the area as speak." Cerdic was quick to assure her.
"Thank you." She answered sincerely.
"We will take your firstborn as payment," Sandringham said, his face deadly serious while his baby blue eyes shone with laughter from the shock expression on Sinclair's face. He yelped when Mountford smacked the back of his head. Twice. Their guest giggled.
Redington snorted at his friend's antics. "When your time comes..."
"Bite your tongue," Sandringham interrupted. "I still have a promise to fulfil." Everyone sobered, remembering Melody.
Cerdic cleared his throat. "I've contacted The General. He promised to inform The Tzar about our mission. I expect you to be well-behaved when you join them." His words were for the Marquis. If Lucifer was the demon in their underground, the Russian tzar was on another level. The Mafia world leader was rumoured to have a genius wife who could drain anyone's bank account with one click and she was worshipped by her husband willing to tear apart hell, heaven and earth at her whim. Thanked God the new tzarina was a sensible woman with a big heart who kept her husband sane at all times.
"I promised to be on my best behaviour," Sandringham swore. Raising his palm to show a boy scout salute.
The Duke narrowed his sharp gaze. "Do."
"We will take her under our wings when you find her." Sinclair blurted out. Her face was full of determination daring the men to protest.
Knowing it was wise to agree, they agreed, keeping their mouths shut. Taking their collective silence for a sign of surrender, Nicholas Stafford, Viscount Redington stood, arranged his coat, and held out his hand to his Viscountess, urging his wife to do the same, he inclined his head to his friends who followed suit and bowed before the new Viscountess. "Huntly, if you need more help with the outreach program, let us know. Gentlemen, I bid you all a pleasant evening." Because he was looking forward to his ever since he claimed his sweetheart as his.
Sinclair waved and smiled graciously before she allowed Nicholas to escort her out of the manor's library.
A Few Days Later
"Are you sure you want to go?" He asked anxiously. His wife was feeling under the weather since their drive back from London. And moody. He shuddered at the memory of him sleeping on the couch as punishment because he forgot to join her for the afternoon tea.
His mother was more amused than worried because of his overzealous approach to Sinclair's second trimester.
"Don't fret. I'm pregnant not an invalid. Besides, EJ needs our help. They're shorthanded. I will even allow you to use our chartered plane if you are worried that much." She was dressing in front of him and it was causing a pleasant distraction.
"It has been arranged." He admitted. His gaze mapping every inch of her exposed skin. Satisfied when her cheeks flamed from his scrutiny. The sooner they'd get there the better. He wouldn't risk a long drive to Ireland with his wife being jostled around inside the car. "Promise to tell me right away if you are feeling nauseous." He made a mental note to pack up extra jars of pickle and melted white chocolate. His stomach roiled at the weird combination.
She rolled her eyes. "As if I could keep it from you." She tried to pass by him but he was quick to pull her in his arms, making her squeal. "We can't be late," she protested weakly, wrapping her arms around his neck, pressing her smaller frame closer, not leaving an inch between them.
"You are getting sassier, sweet." Murmuring his words on her neck. She moaned. He grinned on her skin knowing she could feel it. "Perhaps punishment is in order later tonight." She shivered. Damn! She was extra sensitive, always horny because of her pregnancy hormones and he was loving it.
"We will see," she teased. "Now, let me go." she pecked his lean cheek.
"Never," He vowed. A demonstration was in order. He kissed her until her lips were swollen and she was clinging in his arms. When raised his head to gaze down at her, he smiled broadly, satisfied at her flustered state. "Later."
"Yup, later." Pulling him down to her once more. He was sure EJ wouldn't mind if they were fashionably late.
"Where are they?" he murmured, scanning the open area filled with make-shift clinics covered by white tents.
It was an almost impossible feat. People had been lining up for free consultation and medicine since dawn. Since the provincial hospital was in a dire need of repair, they occupied the town's plaza.
Baron Huntley had called for help last night since Mountford and Sandringham could not make it due to prior engagement. There was only a few medical personnel who had volunteered. Some were badly needed at the hospital back in London.
Redington and his wife was not an expert on the field but they were more than happy to hand out food and toys to the sick children and monetary assistance to the parents.
He felt Sinclair tugged his arm. "There's EJ and Cerdic." She pointed to their far-right." True enough. His peers looked out of their depth. "Join them. I will be with the kids." She left his side to comfort mostly women holding their kids while waiting for their turn. Confident of their personal security roaming the place, he approached his friends to check the work assigned to him.
"Good, you're here," Huntly murmured while scribbling on a medical sheet before glancing around him. "And your wife has already started." Sinclair had commandeered two nurses to her cause. They were assisting the patients to wheelchairs while their mothers were feeding them. Almost immediately the noise and the air of anxiety lessened. Her soothing voice carried over the crowd. "Damn! Are you sure your wife doesn't have a sister?"
Redington and Cerdic smirked. "Quite sure, big boy. Where do you want me?"
"On the receiving area. Hand this out to the parents and have them fill out the medical forms then give them a number." Huntly placed a box in his hands before attending to his next patient.
Redington took it without saying a word and set up his station near the entrance where he could still keep an eye on his Viscountess. He had been concentrating on his assigned task for quite some time before he took a break. Prodded by instinct, he glanced up looking for his wife. Only to find her trying to lift boxes. Nicholas stifled a savage curse, without saying anything to his two other companions, he went to Sinclair. His face was taut with worry, he hefted the huge object from her hands, making her squeal in surprise, he peered down at her and arched his brow.
She smiled guiltily. "It was not that heavy," she reasoned. Her hand slide on his arm while she looked up at him unflinchingly.
"Yes, it wasn't. For my size." He responded. His diction was precise. "But for my petite wife who is very much pregnant..." And his voice grew darker thinking of the ramifications if she slipped and got injured.
His little minx moved closer to peck his cheek, giving him her best puppy look, and batted her eyelashes. "It's the last one. Come on. I'm hungry."
And just like that, his annoyance vanished. He took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart. He sincerely hoped they will only have boys. "This will not happen again, Sinclair." He admonished.
Raising her soft brown eyes to his, she nodded. "I'm sorry. But really, it was not that heavy." He didn't move an inch. Sensing his mood, she added teasingly. "It will not happen again, sir."
Nicholas snorted. "I will get you for that later. Come one. Let me feed you and our little bean."
She beamed up at him. "Yes. I want some pickles and chocolates." He grimaced at her choice of snack but there was nothing he could do.
With one hand on the small of her back, he led to a picnic table where one of his men had laid out assorted snacks for the volunteers.
They were about to eat when they heard a sudden commotion near the gate. A woman was hysterically calling for her child's name. Concerned, his wife approached the lady with him following closely behind.
"Miss...Ma'am," Sinclair touched the woman's back. "What happened? Maybe my husband and I can help?"
Nicholas took a brief moment to assess the situation. He nodded his head to one of his guards to stay close just in case there was more to it. One couldn't be too cautious since the club had lost their trail to the child trafficking gang they were pursuing a month ago. The leader and his minions had laid low for the time being.
"Yes...I...I lost my daughter. She has long curly black hair and forest green eyes. Please...has anyone seen her?" The woman, who was about his wife's age and stature, he wasn't so sure since he could not see her face clearly, trembled in Sinclair's arms. "I was with her twin inside the clinic and when I turned around she was gone. Help me, please." She turned around and look up at the Viscount, her distinctive hazel eyes widened in shock despite her tears. "Nick?" She whispered.
He was speechless. The lady with his wife was far cry from the blooming beauty from his memory. She was gaunt and she looked like she had not had a decent meal in ages. What happened to her?
Sinclair watched the two of them and she frowned. "Do you know each other?"
"Yes, sweet. We know Olivia." God! After many months of searching for their childhood friend- then something significant registered on his brain. "Daughters?" Fuck!
Olivia paled. "I...I have to go." Panicked, she disengaged from Sinclair's hold. "I need to find Eleanor."
"Please, let us help you." His Viscountess, sensing the dire need to keep her new friend with her, grasped her hand tightly. "We will find her easier if my husband and his friends help us."
Olivia refused to move. "Is he here?" She asked fearfully. He frowned.
"It's only me, Huntley and Cerdic." Nicholas was quick to assure her while he was formulating a plan. He refused to let Olivia out of his sight. From the looks of it, she needed their immediate help, among other things. He owed Lucien a chance to claim his long-lost love. And the Earl's daughters.
Of all the days Mountford had to travel abroad, it had to be today.
"Okay," Olivia released a sigh of relief. "Help me."
"Yes. My wife and I will."
Coming Soon: Complete Me (The Gentlemen's Club)
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