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Trumbull left his brothers house without a backward glance. The past month had sent his life into a spiral and he was not able to right himself. In the space of a season his brother had gone from recluse to fiancé, and he'd gone from rake to guardian of three girls. He leaned back into the seat of his barouche as it rolled away from the seat of the Roxleigh dukedom.
He lifted his feet and placed them on the opposite seat, his long legs stretching across the carriage easily. He crossed his arms over his chest, and lowered his chin, letting his heavy lids close. The rocking of the carriage lulled him and he slumbered heavily, determined to sleep the majority of the trip back to London.
When he felt the gentle sweep at his ankle his foot twitched and he snorted, pressing his face further into the plush interior. When it skimmed the fabric over his knee, he kicked and moved his boot to the floor, pulling at his trousers to stop the tingling sensation that spread through his leg. Half asleep, he stomped his foot on the floor to rouse his sleeping limb and arrest the incessant tingling. That was when he felt it against his shoulder and his eyes opened slightly, searching the depths of the shadowy carriage from below the safety of his eyelashes for the person it was attached to.
He reached up quickly, grasping the hand in his own, and pulled it across his body dragging the figure with it.
The girl slipped to the floor by his knee with a tiny squeak and a sound thud as he sat up and pulled his other foot to the floor. His eyes adjusted slowly to the thickness of dark as he stared intently to where the sound had come. Without taking his eyes from where the intruder should be he banged a closed fist against the roof.
"Gardner," he belted. The carriage ground to a halt. He heard the coachman jump down and the door opened swiftly as he backed out of the carriage.
"Light," he commanded. Gardner took the lantern from the forward bracket and handed it to him. Trumbull reached through the open door casting the flickering yellow light throughout the cabin, bathing a small huddled bundle on the floor.
"Please Milord, I beg yer pardon," the tiny mouse-like voice came up to him as he held her wrist, her arm stretched out above her head. He held the lantern lower trying to see who was piled on the floor of his carriage, but she ducked and turned her head away.
"Please Milord," she repeated quietly.
"Turn your face to me or I will drag you from this carriage and leave you at the side of the road," he said cleanly.