They tell me I’m the new Baron Bladewell, with land and estates and buckets of money. Only problem is, I’m a cowboy. My cousin Colt Whitehorse and I drift from town to town, taking any odd jobs we find. I ain’t prepared to go to England and be some fancy dude in a suit. But Colt tells me I have to, that folks are depending on me, so I’ll go. London won’t know what hit it.
Jack’s always been reckless, and that temper of his is bound to get him into trouble one day. So, I’ll go to England with him and help him sort things out. It’ll be nice for Jack to belong somewhere. As for me, I’ll keep looking. Maybe one day, I’ll find the woman I’ve been dreaming of, the one I can trust with my heart and soul.
I’m completely fed up, living with a cousin who treats me like a servant – or worse. If I can’t get out of this house, Lord Merden will take me to his bed, no matter how unwilling I am. I don’t want to live in the shadows anymore, depending on people who hurt and betray me. I want a new life, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.
Publisher’s Note: This hot romance contains elements of betrayal, danger, suspense, and explicit scenes including ménage themes.
Lazy T Ranch, near Fort Worth, Texas, 1860
Jack Dunton swung down from the saddle and tied his borrowed horse to the hitching post. The Texas heat wrapped around him like a blanket as he squinted up at the dazzling blue sky. Mending the corral fence had taken most of the afternoon and he was sore and tired. He was also sick of dirt and cow shit and having someone else boss him around. Time for him and Colt to move on.
Texas wasn’t home. But, then, what was? He’d been born in a Kentucky holler he barely remembered. With Granddad gone, back east wasn’t home either. Maybe that was the trouble. He was looking for something he’d never find.
The door to the main house banged shut and Jack, jerked out of his ruminations, glanced up to see a tall, slim man walking towards him. The feller was dressed like a dude, with a long cloth coat and shiny boots, but he held himself like a man who knew his own worth.
When Jack nodded, the stranger held out his hand. Jack shook it reluctantly. He didn’t like people he didn’t know to come looking for him—especially when they knew his name.
“My name is Kit Sinclair. You’re a hard man to find.”
Jack shrugged. He didn’t care what some dude thought of him. The stranger’s voice held a clipped tone that reminded Jack of his granddad. “What do you want, Mr. Sinclair?”
“Is there some place we may speak privately?”
Jack jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “We can head over to the bunkhouse.”
This was a bare wood structure, sparsely furnished with bunk beds, a pot-bellied stove, table and several rickety chairs. Jack kicked a chair towards his guest and Sinclair perched on it awkwardly.
Jack leaned against the bunk and folded his arms over his chest. “So, you’re English.”
“Indeed. I’ve been looking for you for some time, Mr. Dunton.”
“I received a commission from the estate of the late Lord Bladewell.”
“The name don’t ring a bell.”
“I see.” Sinclair pulled out a handkerchief to mop his brow, clearly not used to the brutal Texas heat. “Allow me to explain. Lord Bladewell, whom, I am sorry to say, passed away last year, was your great-uncle, your grandfather’s oldest brother.”
Jack felt a spark of interest. He knew Granddad had come over from England, but he’d always been sparse with the details. “If that don’t beat all. He never said nothing.”
Sinclair smiled. “Apparently your grandfather, Charles Dunton, was the black sheep of the family. I understand that he has passed away as well.”
Jack winced. He still missed Granddad, even after all this time. “Ten years ago.”
“My condolences. My sources have also informed me that his only son, your father, predeceased him.”
“That’s right. Mama and Daddy were killed in a Comanche raid.” Too bad he could barely remember them.
“You were their only child.”
“Yup.” Jack shoved an impatient hand through his hair. “Look, Mr. Sinclair, what in hell is all this about?”
“Lord Bladewell never married. There was another brother, two years older than Charles, Frederick. But he died several years ago, also without issue. In short, you are the only heir to the title. You, Mr. Dunton, are the new Baron Bladewell.”
Jack stared at Sinclair without speaking for several moments. Finally, he shook his head. “Well, I’ll be damned. I had no idea. And you came all this way just to tell me that?”
“I’m afraid you haven’t grasped all the intricacies of the situation. Lord Bladewell was a wealthy man with several estates. It all comes to you now.”
“So, you’re saying I’m rich.”
“Extremely. The title is one of the oldest in England.”
“When can I get it?”
Sinclair looked puzzled.
“The money. If I’m rich, when can I get it?”
“It’s not that simple. You must accompany me to London and have your claim to the estate proved. Only then will you receive your title and estates.”
The door swung open and his cousin walked in, clapping the dust from his wide-brimmed hat.
“What about it, Colt?”
Colt eyed him warily. “What are you talking about, Jack?”
“You feel like a trip to London?”
“Why in tarnation would you want to go there?”
“Because I’m the goddamned new Baron Bladewell.” Jack grinned. “Don’t worry, Colt. You can just call me ‘my lord’.”
Colt’s brow rose. “I can call you a horse’s ass and I often do. Now, quit your funning and tell me what’s going on.”
Kit Sinclair rose from his seat. “Mr. Dunton is telling you the truth. He is now Lord Bladewell.”
“Well, I’ll be jiggered.”
Jack jabbed a finger in his cousin’s direction. “If I have to go to London, you’re coming with me.”
Colt swung his hat, his lips pressed together. “All right, Jack. If you need me to go to London, I’ll go.”
“I have no objection to your friend accompanying us,” Sinclair said, “but I will need a day or two to make arrangements.”
“Colt Whitehorse is my cousin.” Jack paused, his brow furrowed in thought. “Say, why ain’t Colt the new baron? He’s older than me.”
“I’m afraid I have no record of your cousin’s existence.” Sinclair fumbled in his coat, bringing forth a folded sheet of paper. “I did locate a copy of your grandfather’s marriage certificate to a Miss Martha Sayers in Kentucky.”
Jack glanced at the paper.
“I assume Miss Sayers was your grandmother.”
“She was. I never knew her. She died before I was born. Colt and I shared the same grandfather, but we each had a different grandmother.”
“Granddad didn’t marry my grandmother,” Colt said, “she was pure Cherokee and didn’t much hold with that stuff. After she died, Granddad married Jack’s grandmother.”
“Then, Mr. Whitehorse cannot inherit, even if he is also descended from Charles Dunton. An heir to an English title must be legitimate.” Sinclair spread his hands. “The laws regarding inheritance cannot be superseded.”
Jack scowled. “That don’t seem fair.”
“Perhaps, but that is the law. You, Mr. Dunton, are the only legitimate heir. Are you still willing to travel to London and assert your claim to the title?”
Jack looked over at his cousin. “There’s a bunch of estates and such. I have to go there in person.”
Colt nodded. “Why not? We were planning to move on in a few weeks anyways. We’ll have to let the boss know.”
Jack turned to Mr. Sinclair. “Well, there you have it—London bound. I guess we’ll find it pretty different over there.”
“Yes, I imagine so. I don’t believe London society has seen anything like an American cowboy becoming a baron. I predict you’ll find it a very educational experience.”
“Educational? Hell, I just want a good time.” Jack rubbed a finger over his upper lip, considering. “Lots of pretty ladies over there?”
“Very,” Sinclair assured him with a polished smile. “Our ladies are very accomplished.”
“Uh huh. Does that mean they’re good in bed?”
Mr. Sinclair froze. “I don’t know, which is to say, you’ll find out, won’t you?”
Jack grinned. “I purely intend to.”
Colt gripped the bridge of his nose with two fingers and shook his head. “That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”
The new Baron Bladewell started laughing, fit to bust a gut, as Colt would say. Kit Sinclair watched him for a moment and then shrugged, walking away from the bunkhouse. “Heaven help the ladies of London,” he murmured to himself.