The Fiery Vixen
Fate of the Worthingtons #3
Sometimes one must spark the flame to ignite the hidden passion.
A fiery spinster. An irritating gentleman. One scandalous night filled with indulging in their desires.
Eden Worthington strode through the London ballrooms with the confidence of an independent lady. She didn’t believe in the foolish notion of soul mates, nor did she wish to fall victim to the Marriage Mart. Eden was perfectly content to live her life free from a husband’s demands and help her brother with his detective agency. She refused to allow the attraction of a certain infuriating gentleman to ruin her plans. No matter how much she craved his lips upon hers. However, after an evening spent in decadent sin with the irresistible marquess, Eden was powerless to resist her fate. Could Eden open her heart to the love within her grasp?
Victor Falcone wanted his freedom to be his own man, not one controlled by others. He spent the past few years redeeming for his sins. Now he only wanted to secure himself a bride to ease his loneliness. But first he must finish his final mission to destroy the villain terrorizing England. However, he found himself distracted by a lady who only ever snarled at him. A snarl he wished to kiss away. When Victor gave into the temptation of his desire for Eden, he discovered their hostility was really a hidden passion waiting to be explored. Could he put his arrogance to the side to show Eden how they are soul mates?
A lady who hides behind her snarls. A gentleman who uses his smirks to annoy. Would they forgo their differences to discover an untamed passion filled with undeniable love? Or would they continue to hold contempt for one another?
The Fiery Vixen is the third book in Laura A. Barnes’s Fate of the Worthingtons Series. If you love an enemies to lovers romance filled with swoon worthy scenes, then you’ll love Eden and Victor’s tempestuous courtship.
Enjoy The Fiery Vixen to fall in love with the Fate of the Worthingtons.
The longer Victor Falcone waited for the Duke of Colebourne to acknowledge him, the more his irritation suffocated him. He had waited for over an hour for the duke to declare the reason for his summons. Falcone didn’t have to guess why the duke requested an audience. He held information that would destroy one family’s standing in society. Not just any family, but the family his niece Evelyn had married into. The Worthingtons.
The information he held was vital in bringing Lady Langdale to justice. She was a villainous lady Colebourne had forced him to track for longer than he cared to. The duke had promised Falcone he would clear his debt once they captured the lady. Colebourne wanted her hung for her crimes against the good countrymen of England and every country she had spread her evil around.
Falcone grew weary of living under the duke’s thumb and wished to leave this world behind. He wished to forge his own path, where he no longer spent his time following the duke’s bidding. He had more than fulfilled his agreement with the duke. However, Colebourne thought otherwise.
Falcone cleared his throat, hoping the slight gesture would prompt the duke to state his demands so he could leave.
Colebourne continued to ignore Falcone. He meant to send a message to the marquess on who held the power in their dealings. He didn’t like to display his authority in this manner, but Falcone had pushed his limits on the threat he made.
Colebourne held up the missive he had received yesterday from Barrett Ralston, his niece’s husband. He had manipulated his leverage a few years ago when he forced Ralston to accept Falcone on his team to capture Lady Langdale. However, he now questioned if he should’ve kept Falcone committed to other dealings he was involved in. If Falcone followed through on his threat, then Colebourne would regret helping him keep his secrets.
Colebourne read the letter again.
A word of warning, Your man has information he threatens to expose if you don’t force him to see the errors of his way.
Ralston didn’t need to state who he referred to in the letter. Falcone. The gentleman who sat before him held the power to destroy his niece’s family if he so chose. However, Colebourne still held his mark, allowing him full control over the marquess.
Colebourne glanced up, acknowledging Falcone for the first time. “Thank you for answering my request.”
“You left me with no other choice,” Falcone snarled.
Colebourne folded his hands together. “We all have choices, son. It is how we handle them that shows the depth of our character.”
“I am not your son. Save your wisdom for him. Just state your orders so I can proceed with my day.”
“You are aware of what I request of you. I would like your reassurance about how you will follow through with them.”
Falcone leaned forward. “And if I do not? What then?”
Colebourne leaned back in his chair. “I believe you already know the answer to that, too.”
Falcone scoffed. “I cannot win either way.”
“It depends on how you see yourself as the champion.”
Falcone blew out his breath, hoping it would help ease his irritation. However, it only built on the fury he tried to keep contained. “Enough with your philosophy. You leave me no choice but to remain silent. However, I will state how I no longer trust the Worthingtons. As soon as Dracott and Ravencroft betray them, I will bring them to justice right along with Lady Langdale. The debt I owe you and the destruction you will cause upon me will not matter.”
Colebourne nodded. “Your warning is noted. You shall soon see how mistaken you are about Ravencroft and Dracott. They are victims of Lady Langdale’s depravity and also wish for her demise. You would do well to heed my advice and work alongside them. They hold the knowledge of her organization and how to bring her to justice."
Falcone rose. “I’m never mistaken about a person’s character, and those gentlemen are no different. I will promise you my silence for now.”
Colebourne stood. “That is all I require of you.” He held out his hand for Falcone to shake as a sign of good faith.
Falcone understood Colebourne’s gesture for what it was. He stated his gentleman’s promise to keep Falcone’s secrets and expected him to do the same for his family. He had no other choice but to shake the duke’s hand. Colebourne’s firm grip displayed the most important message of all. Destroy his family and he would destroy everyone associated with him. Family. Friends. Acquaintances.
Colebourne would force Falcone to watch everyone suffer before he destroyed him.
Eden Worthington rocked the baby in her arms, smiling down at the sweet bundle. She loved babies with their intoxicating fragrance of sweet innocence. How they trusted so easily and their ability to adapt to an unfamiliar environment.
Eden struggled to adapt to the environment she was familiar with. It wasn’t because she was unsure of herself or couldn’t handle whatever situation she placed herself in. It was how she detested the underhanded, conniving, mean-spirited individuals she came across who required her to paste on a false smile and pretend she held no knowledge of their crimes. That was her reason for visiting her friend Jacqueline and rocking her newborn all afternoon. It helped to soothe her troubled soul.
Jacqueline placed the discarded toys on the shelf. “What troubles you today, my friend?”
Eden had met Jacqueline Kincaid after her brother Reese married Jacqueline’s cousin Evelyn. When they met, they had both been unmarried ladies. However, after her uncle’s matchmaking machinations, Jacqueline had married Griffen Kincaid, and they now had three children. The latest was an adorable little girl named Violet. Jacqueline had become one of Eden’s dearest friends.
Eden slid her finger into the baby’s grip. “Nothing. Can I not visit a friend and rock her newborn?”
Jacqueline laughed. “You are welcome whenever you please. However, this is your third visit this week. The excuses you state are to avoid your mother’s pressure to get married. However, I believe something else troubles you.”
Eden sighed. “Well, in my defense, the woman is relentless. Can you believe at the Seckington Ball last night she offered my hand to Lord Falcone to partner me in a quadrille?”
Jacqueline hid a smile behind her hand, not wishing to stir her friend’s distress. "The audacity of her. Especially since Lord Falcone is an excellent dancer.”
“He may be an excellent dancer, but he is the most annoying, exasperating gentleman I have ever had the misfortune of knowing.”
“The manner in which you speak of the gentleman, one would wonder if you don’t secretly harbor a tender for the marquess,” Jacqueline teased.
Eden shuddered. “Even if he remained the last gentleman standing, I would never hold an ounce of affection for him.”
Jacqueline took the baby from Eden’s arms and settled her in the cradle. “I think you protest too strongly.”
Eden scoffed. “He is an untrustworthy scoundrel who finds pleasure in tarnishing honorable gentlemen’s character.”
After covering her baby with a light blanket, Jacqueline sat on the window bench. “Who does he slander now?”
When the two ladies met Lord Falcone, Eden had never trusted him. However, Jacqueline had befriended the marquess, until he slandered Kincaid with false accusations involving Kincaid and Falcone’s sister, who had married the Duke of Gostwicke. He had fled like the coward he was after he made his accusation. Which was the opinion Eden still held of the gentleman.
Jacqueline winced. “Before you answer that, I must confess something I should have years ago. However, it wasn’t my story to tell. You need to understand Lord Falcone’s declaration holds some truth behind it. While most is his perception of the circumstances, there is a sliver of facts that hold true.”
Eden pinched her lips. “It doesn’t matter. He should never have spoken over a matter that didn’t involve him.”
“It involved his sister. To defend her only speaks highly of the marquess’s honor.”
Eden didn’t much care for how her friend defended the scoundrel’s honor, even if she made a valid point. In truth, she preferred to hold the most discriminating of opinions about Falcone. Because if she acknowledged any of his finer characteristics, then she must admit to herself how his very presence affected her.
She refused to reflect on how his deep voice sent shivers of unexpected desire through her. How when he held her hand during their dance, her skin still tingled from his touch long after they parted. It left her suffering through a restless night, tossing and turning in bed, dreaming of how his kiss would feel.
Would his kiss be slow and gentle? Or would her senses unravel as they did whenever he was near? Even now, while they talked about Falcone, Eden fantasized about his kisses. As she had stated before, she found the gentleman infuriating.
“But what does it speak of his honor by threatening to expose our family’s secrets for his revenge?” Eden countered.
Jacqueline frowned. “What is his threat?”
“To expose Ravencroft and Dracott’s involvement with Lady Langdale’s thievery ring. He doesn’t trust them and believes they will betray our family in the end,” Eden explained.
Eden trusted sharing this information with Jacqueline since she was family and Kincaid knew about Ravencroft’s and Dracott’s past with Lady Langdale. She only wished she could trust Falcone not to ruin her family.
“There is no need for you to worry,” Jacqueline assured Eden.
“Yes, I must. I need to convince Graham to send Falcone off on another assignment. I still do not understand why the marquess works for him. Graham barely tolerates Falcone.”
“It is best if Falcone stays in London. He holds valuable information on Lady L’s crew. Also, Ralston and I can watch him,” Griffen Kincaid spoke from the doorway.
“But there is no need for him since Ravencroft and Dracott have agreed to help destroy her,” Eden argued.
Kincaid crossed the nursery and kissed Jacqueline. “Trust me, Eden. He is a valuable source we cannot afford to lose.”
“Thank you for your advice, but I will speak with Graham on removing him from the case. It is the best solution for my family.”
Jacqueline exchanged a look with her husband, urging him to tell her something concerning Lord Falcone.
Eden frowned. “What is it?”
“Tell her,” Jacqueline urged. “She has a right to know since she works alongside him.”
Kincaid pinched his lips, debating if he should tell Eden about the nature of Falcone’s loyalty. He strode over to the window to stare outdoors while he decided if he should divulge the secret. He turned back to the ladies, where his wife tilted her head at Eden.
“What I am about to share with you cannot leave this room. It involves too many parties and will affect the dynamics in play,” Kincaid started.
Eden nodded in understanding.
“A certain powerful duke has rescued many men and women from dire consequences. In repayment, he asks for their assistance to do his bidding until they clear their debts away.”
“Are you implying Falcone in a sense works for the duke?” Eden asked.
“Yes,” Kincaid answered.
“What does Colebourne hold on Falcone?” Eden wondered out loud. She would’ve laughed at the looks of shock on Jacqueline’s and Kincaid’s faces if they weren’t discussing how Falcone could destroy her family with his sense of vengeance.
“How?” Kincaid muttered.
Eden quirked her eyebrow. “How do I know about Colebourne collecting people’s debts to help his causes?”
Kincaid scoffed. “That is an elegant way of stating his biddings.”
“I’ve heard rumors over the years within the family, and it appears Rogers, our butler, is indebted to Colebourne too.”
“So then you understand . . .” Kincaid trailed off.
Eden nodded. Nothing more needed to be spoken on the subject. She didn’t know why Kincaid had to repay a debt to Colebourne, nor was it any of her concern.
“Can Colebourne keep Falcone silent?” Eden inquired.
“For the time being, Falcone has promised Colebourne his loyalty. He would be a fool to cross him,” Kincaid added.
"Well, fools have double-crossed for less,” Eden mused.