The Wild Baron by Catherine CoulterThe Wild Baron by Catherine Coulter

The Wild Baron

byCatherine Coulter

Mass Market Paperback | April 1, 1997

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Catherine Coulter introduces the dashing Carrington brothers with the story of Rohan, a man with a rakish reputation but a heart of pure gold...
Catherine Coulter is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the FBI Thrillers featuring husband and wife team Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock. She is also the author—with J. T. Ellison—of the Brit in the FBI series. She lives in Sausalito, California.
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Title:The Wild BaronFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 6.7 × 4.2 × 1.06 inPublished:April 1, 1997Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0515120448

ISBN - 13:9780515120448

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The Mountvale Townhouse, Cavendish SquareLondon, April 1811ROHAN CARRINGTON, FIFTH BARON MOUNTVALE, BELLOWEDat his brother’s portrait, ‘‘If you did this, George, and if youweren’t already dead, I’d thrash you within an inch of yourbloody life. You little bounder. Were you even capable ofsuch a thing?’’Even as he yelled, Rohan felt a knot swell in his throat.George had been dead nearly a year. No, George couldn’thave done this. George was studious, a scholar with no interestin matters of the flesh. Rohan remembered once, a longtime ago, their father had taken him and George to MadameTrillah’s on Cliver Street. At the sight of a very voluptuousredhead with magnificent breasts, George had blanched andthen run half the way back to Mountvale Townhouse.After that, their father had left George alone. George hadstuck to his maps and his studies. At least so Rohan hadalways believed.‘‘No,’’ Rohan said, his voice low and deep now, his eyesstill on his brother’s portrait, painted when George was eighteen.‘‘I don’t believe this damned letter. It was another youngblood using your name, wasn’t it? Did you really manageto bring yourself to the sticking point and ravish a younglady? Hell, did you even know what ‘ravish’ meant?‘‘What does this man who calls himself her father wantfrom me? Stupid question. Money, of course. Damn you,George—or rather damn the man who did this in yourname.’’George didn’t answer.The last Carrington to ruin a young lady and find himselfshackled as a result had been Rohan’s great-grandfather, thefabulous Luther Morran Carrington. Old Luther would shakehis head, according to Rohan’s grandfather, and mutter thathe’d only tossed up Cora’s skirts one miserable time andhe’d nailed her but good. He’d continued to nail Cora fourteenmore times, eight of his children surviving into adulthood.Rohan pulled the bell cord behind the immaculate mahoganydesk. His secretary, Pulver, must have been standing justoutside the door, his face pressed against the wood, for hewas in the library in but a moment, not a bit out of breath.He looked pale, gaunt, and put-upon, all three of which hedeserved, because, as his friend David Plummy had told him,‘‘It serves you right, slaving like you do for the Wild Baron.Just look at all those uncivilized hours he keeps, and heworks you harder than a dog in all the hours in-between.What’s more, he beds more women than you and I will evereven speak to in our lives and everybody loves him for it,just like they love his mother and his father. He’s a philanderer.It isn’t fair, damn him. As for you, Pulver, you deserveto look like you’re on your last legs.’’Pulver would shake his head mournfully, but the truth ofit was that Pulver enjoyed himself immensely. Working forBaron Mountvale gave him a certain cachet. He’d even beenset upon by several ladies trying to bribe him to get theminto the baron’s bedchamber.Pulver came to a halt in front of the baron, who lookedbilious and whose fair hair was standing on end. He wascurious to know what news had sent his master over theedge. It wasn’t every day that the baron talked to himself.‘‘Pulver, get my solicitor Simington over here. No, wait.’’The baron broke off, staring at the portrait of his mother thathung beside George’s above the mantel. It had been paintedwhen she was twenty-five—nearly his age now. She’d beenglorious when she was young, and she was still incrediblybeautiful at forty-five. In her younger years she had beenwilder than a storm-tossed night, and he’d been told fromhis earliest memories that he was just like her, and like hisproud papa, of course. They’d told him that he’d beenblessed with their wild blood and tempestuous natures.‘‘No,’’ he said, bringing himself back to the problem athand, ‘‘I will see to this myself. It’s strange and I don’tbelieve a word of it. Besides, if there’s no bastard, how canone prove ruination? And there’s no mention at all of a bastard.Surely there would be mention in the bloody letter ifthere was a bastard, don’t you think?‘‘No, I must do it myself. I don’t want to, but I must,dammit. I will be gone for three days, no more.’’‘‘But, my lord,’’ Pulver said, near desperation in his voice,‘‘you must need me to do something. You are agitated. Thereis even a wrinkle in your sleeve. Your cravat is crooked.Your fair locks need a brushing. Your valet would not approve.Perhaps you are not thinking too clearly.’’Rohan waved the letter in Pulver’s face. ‘‘I am thinkingclearly enough to know that I will probably put a bulletthrough this bleater’s brain. The man’s a damned liar—that,or someone else is.’’‘‘Ah,’’ Pulver said. A woman has managed to get hold ofhim. Was she a former mistress he didn’t want to see anymore?She wanted money?‘‘I am a very good negotiator,’’ Pulver said with a modestyhe did not possess, not budging from in front of thebaron. ‘‘I can deal with almost any bleater in London. Giveme a bleater from outside London and I’ll mash him.’’Rohan became aware that his secretary was bearing downon him. ‘‘Negotiator?’’ he repeated, distracted. ‘‘Oh, youmust be thinking about Melinda Corruthers. She was a toughlittle bit of leather, wasn’t she? That was well done of you,Pulver. You convinced her that she was swimming up thewrong creek since I had truly never heard of her before.Well, this isn’t the same. I will handle it myself, I owe it tomy brother. Turn down all invitations for the next week.’’He paused, frowning, looking into his secretary’s gaunt face.‘‘Eat something, man. You look skinnier than you did justyesterday. People already believe I pay you so little that youcan’t even afford a turnip for your dinner. Even my motherthinks I torture you.’’Pulver was left standing where he was, watching the baronleave the library, that piece of foolscap wadded in his hand.It had to do with a woman. A woman and his brother? Surelythat was beyond strange. Which brother? Neither of thebaron’s brothers was the least like him. It was a start. Pulvermentally arranged the few facts already in his possession.Not much, but he was patient. He could begin to imaginethe look of envy on David Plummy’s face when he heardabout this new exploit.Rohan strode into his bedchamber and paced, mutteringabout a straight-as-a-stick younger brother who must havehad wicked friends who had used his name. His valet, Tinker,who didn’t hear the baron’s muttering, even though he tried,packed a valise for him. Tinker wondered why his lordshipwasn’t in a better humor. Surely this trip must involve afemale. Nearly all the baron’s trips did. Everyone knew that.The baron was famous for his trips to his little hideaways.But more than lust and passion seemed involved here. Whatcould it be? Tinker was patient. He would find out soonenough. He wondered if Pulver knew more than he did.Rohan didn’t think of Lily until he was tooling down theReading road at a fine clip, some fifteen miles out of London.He sighed. He’d forgotten to send a message to her to tellher he wouldn’t see her this evening. Ah, there was so muchto be done. Well, he wouldn’t be gone more than three days.T H E W I L D B A R O N 5Who the hell was this Joseph Hawlworth of MulberryHouse, Moreton-in-Marsh, a town that wasn’t far at all fromOxford, where George had lived and pursued his solitaryeducation?Susannah raised her face to the sun. It felt wonderful. It hadrained continuously for two days, making everyone testy, buttoday the sun was shining as if God himself had sent it blazingdown just for her. She gently patted the rich, black dirtaround the base of the rosebush. She moved on to a patchof candytuft, her pride, sent to her by her cousin who hadspoken to one of the gardeners in Chelsea Gardens andlearned that the flowers had come from Persia to Englandjust a few years before. John had managed to spirit a cuttingout of Chelsea Gardens to her the previous fall. Now as shelovingly traced her fingertips over the dark evergreen leavesto the shower of white flowers atop the stem, she rememberedhis note, telling her that the name ‘‘candy’’ had comefrom Candia, the ancient name of Crete. She wondered if shecould ever work that bit into a conversation with her father.Probably not. She wondered if she would ever be able towork that bit into any conversation, with anyone in the environs.Probably not.She jerked out a particularly nasty weed, made certain thatthe soil was well drained and moist, and prayed the sunwould continue shining, for the candytuft thrived with sun.She turned on her heel at the sound of a curricle drawingup in front of the cottage. Her father was supposedly in Scotland,so he’d told her, but she knew he was very likely gamblingaway his shirt with his cronies down in Blaystock. Shesighed and rose. A tradesman? No, it couldn’t be. She hadmade very certain that all the tradesmen had been paid beforeshe allowed her father to leave Mulberry House, complainingbitterly under his breath about what a shrew she had become.Who would come in a curricle? She rounded the side ofthe house to see a magnificent gray snorting and prancing toa stop. The man driving the curricle was speaking to thehorse, a spirited conversation that drew an occasional snortfrom the massive animal, who stood at least seventeen handshigh. When the horse quieted, the man looked about, probablyfor a stable lad.Susannah called out, ‘‘Just a moment and I’ll fetch Jamie.He’ll take care of your horse.’’‘‘Thank you,’’ the man called back.When she returned with Jamie, who had been napping ina mound of fresh hay at the back of the small barn behindthe house, the man was patting the horse’s nose, still speakingto him.‘‘Oh, aye,’’ Jamie said, sprinting forward now. ‘‘Yicks,jest ley yer peepers on that purty boy. I’ll feed him good,Guv, don’t ye worry. Wot’s the name of this beauty?’’‘‘Gulliver.’’‘‘Odd name fer sech a manly beast and that’s what yebe—manly—despite they cut off yer conkers. Gulliver, aye,the name niver come to me ears afore, but who cares? I’lltake ’im now, Guv. All gray ye be, and that lovely whitestar in the middle of yer forehead. Come with me, ye purtyboy.’’Rohan had never heard such an odd rendering of the Englishlanguage. It was both illiterate and intriguing and verynearly sung in a deep baritone. He watched the stable ladlead Gulliver and his curricle toward the back of the house.Gulliver was prancing beside him, shaking his mighty headat the lad’s words, just as he did with Rohan, only it seemedto Rohan that his horse was showing more enthusiasm withthe stable lad, a damned stranger, than he normally did withhis true master, the one who paid for his oats.And Susannah watched him watch his horse. When Jamieand Gulliver were gone around the side of the house, shewas left standing in the drive looking at the man in a veryelegant greatcoat with at least six capes. He took off his hatand ran his fingers through his pale blondish-brown hair. Hewas young, not above twenty-five or twenty-six, and veryhandsome. Too handsome, and probably very well aware ofit. She frowned. He looked familiar, but she couldn’t placehim, not at first.It took her ten more seconds. She sucked in her breathand took a step back. She said, ‘‘You’re George’s brother.You’re the Wild Baron. Goodness, I didn’t realize how alikeyou looked.’’She was so pale he thought she would fall over in a deadfaint.‘‘Oh? You’re entirely wrong. George had black hair anddark brown eyes. We looked nothing alike.’’‘‘I don’t understand,’’ she said slowly. ‘‘Why are you sayingthat? George had eyes nearly as green as yours—he saidhis were the same color as his father’s—and his hair wasjust a bit darker blond than yours.’’Well, damn. His ruse hadn’t paid off.‘‘Very well,’’ Rohan said. ‘‘It was George, then. You didknow him.’’ Perhaps it also meant that she wasn’t part ofthis plan to skinny down his coffers. At least he now knewone thing for certain. It had been George, as fantastic as itseemed to Rohan.‘‘So,’’ Rohan said, not bowing, not offering to take herhand, not doing anything except standing there, looking atthe run-down house, bricks missing from one of the chimneys,and the beautiful gardens that surrounded it. ‘‘Sinceyou guessed who I am, since you described George nearlyto his eyebrows, then you must be the girl my brother supposedlyruined?’’She stared at him. The black smudges of dirt on her facestood out starkly against her pallor. She had become mute.‘‘You’re not, then. Very well. You’re a maid, and a dirtyone at that. You simply saw George when he visited here?You work at this house? For that paltry bugger who wroteme that impertinent letter? If you do work here, you don’tappear to do a very good job. The place looks like it’s readyto fall down and crumble.’’She got hold of herself. ‘‘That’s true enough, but I askyou, how could a maid be responsible for how the houselooks on the outside?’’ That stymied him and she smiled toherself. She realized, of course, that most self-respectingmaids would turn up their noses at her. Her hands were dirty,there was black dirt on her muslin gown and under her fingernails,her hair was straggling about her face.She let him wriggle free from that one finally, saying, ‘‘Inot only work here, I also live here.’’‘‘Then you are not a maid?’’‘‘No, I’m not a maid.’’ She didn’t say anything more. Shewatched him draw a piece of foolscap from his greatcoatpocket. He waved it at her. ‘‘If you live here, then perhapsyou can tell me why this man named Joseph Hawlworthwrote me this insolent letter telling me that George had ruinedyou? It is you who are ruined, is it not?’’

From Our Editors

"New York Times" bestselling author Catherine Coulter presents a special gift to her fans--a paperback original Regency romance full of mystery, magic and passion. The back cover includes an address for readers to write in to the author with comments on this title. Regency romance original