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Third Son’s a Charm (The Survivors #1)
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1492657034 (ISBN13: 9781492657033)
Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke’s daughter’s bodyguard will be easy―but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion…
Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he’s offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington’s stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.
Lady Lorraine wants none of her father’s high-handed ways, and she’ll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard―until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan’s protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he’s always done―fight for what he wants.
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Ewan Mostyn, third son of the Earl of Pembroke, prowled the main room of Langley’s gaming hell like a golden-maned lion stalked the savannah. Ewan moved through the ornate room with its red and black damask walls, gilded moldings, and glittering chandeliers as though he owned it. He had a share in the club, so his proprietary air was not wholly without merit. The illusion that he belonged among such opulence and fragility was somewhat less warranted.
As his feet sank into the scarlet rugs, his gaze passed over the club’s dealers, men who straightened at his mere glance. Then he nodded to the courtesans—bold women whose eyes dipped, nevertheless, when they met his. Finally, he studied the patrons. Even these wealthy, powerful men studiously avoided garnering his attention.
Unless they were idiots, like the two men Ewan approached now.
Charles Langley had politely ordered the anemic son of the Duke of Suffolk out of the club. The pup’s debts were mounting, and his frequent bouts of inebriation were becoming tiresome. But since the lad had not taken his leave, he had become Ewan’s problem.
Ewan did not like problems.
“She’s mine for the night,” Suffolk’s son said loudly, poking another man in the chest and hauling a painted tart to his side.
The other man was somewhat older than the duke’s son and rather more sober. “And I told you, sir, that I have already paid for the lady’s charms. Kindly unhand her and scamper home to your father.”
Ewan planted his long, muscled legs beside the two gentlemen and crossed his arms over his chest. The older man widened his eyes until his eyebrows all but reached his graying sandy brown hair. “Sir,” he said with a quick bow. “I-I-I’m terribly sorry for the disruption. Lord Pincoch and I were having a slight disagreement.”
Ewan looked past the older gentleman and fixed his eyes on the duke’s son. All around them, conversation ceased or dimmed to mere whispers.
“Get out,” Ewan said. He was a man of few words, which meant those he spoke now carried even more weight.
Pincoch was too deep in his cups to realize the danger he faced. “I’ll leave when I damn well please, and no half-wit with more brawn than brains will give me orders.”
Ewan felt a muscle in his jaw tense. Not personal, he told himself. But it was too late. The old fury bubbled inside him, and he struggled to contain it. His face betrayed none of the struggle, which must have been why the pup swaggered forward, pulling the tart with him.
Ewan took quick stock of the situation. The lad’s friends stood behind him, uncertain what to do. The older man had his allies as well. And the tart was gasping for breath beneath Pincoch’s tight hold. Ewan’s course of action was clear, though Langley would undoubtedly complain about the damage later. Hell would freeze over before Ewan allowed a man to call him a half-wit and walk away in one piece.
With a speed that belied his size, Ewan grasped Pincoch’s free hand and wrenched it behind his back. Pincoch immediately released the whore, who sank to her knees and gulped in a breath. Pincoch screeched for help, and that was the signal for his friends, similarly inebriated, to jump into the fray. The four men charged Ewan, who rammed Pincoch up against a gilded mirror with one hand and tossed a man back by the throat with another.
The older man grabbed the woman and pulled her under a green baize table, where several other patrons had taken refuge. Those still out in the open regretted their decision when one of Pincoch’s friends heaved a chair at Ewan. It crashed into his back, and he growled with annoyance. Still holding the lad in place, he turned to see another chair sailing toward him. Ewan reached up, caught the furnishing in midair, and thrust it back. It crashed into a faro table, overturning table, chairs, and chips.
Bereft of chairs, Pincoch’s friends manned a frontal assault. Ewan finally released Pincoch, and when the boy sank to the ground, Ewan shoved a booted foot against his chest to hold him in place. Both hands free now, he threw a punch with his right and slammed one of his attackers back with his left. Something crashed, but Ewan didn’t have time to note what it was before the next man hurtled into him. He struck Ewan in the jaw, and the offense landed the man a blow to the breadbasket and an elbow to the throat. When he was on the ground, wheezing for air, another man took advantage of the lull to dance before Ewan.
Ewan almost rolled his eyes. This one thought he was Gentleman Jackson or another renowned pugilist. If there was somewhere Ewan felt at home, it was in the boxing ring. This man danced more than he fought, and while he did his fancy footwork, Ewan slammed a left hook into his jaw.