I am revising this story some. Some of the changes are subtle and some are a bit more drastic. I hope anyone that has already read this approves. So far the first chapter has had the greatest change.

Sweet Emotion

Chapter 1

Gavin Hightower, the fourth son of the detestable Duke of Marlbourgh, was not the most sought after man in England. He was, however, one of the most magnificent men in the upper crust. Nevertheless, in the eyes of the ton, he was nothing more that one of the many second, third, and fourth sons that panted around the first sons waiting for crumbs. He was, in their eyes, nothing more than a blue blood servant. Gavin made it clear very early that he served no one, including the King. Gavin's bad humor was renowned in London and the surrounding area, the one thing he inherited from his hateful father.

Gavin asked for nothing from Adain Hightower and gave nothing. He had left home when he was seventeen and returned only after he had made his own fortune. Gavin's profession had made him very wealthy, which in some respect, he owed to his father. After years of dodging his father's temper and hand, Gavin was hardened to life and most of its sentimental gushing. He had gotten the reputation of cleaning up society's sullied little problems. All of his unpleasant life was locked away in his head, filling his dreams with faces, places, and acts, leaving him to wander about restlessly at night instead of sleeping. The house staff said he was haunted by the devil. In Gavin's eyes, his father was the devil.

"Mr. Gladstone, we have a bit of a problem." Gavin said as he sat on the corner of a crate laying his sword down beside him.

"There ain't no problems, Milord." Gladstone swallowed hard knowing that the man sitting before him was as dangerous as they came, and wouldn't think twice about ending his life.

"Oh Yes there is a problem, you have been exhorting money from a client of mine and that doesn't set well with me."

"I…I…I didn't know that she was a client."

"Tis a shame that I can't find a reason to spare you tonight." Gavin said reaching into the pocket of his greatcoat and retrieving a knife. He slowly approached Gladstone with every intention of ending his life. Gavin stopped dead in his tracks when he heard a noise that sounded like a sob. He inched his way around the warehouse his ears picking up the slight sound of a shoe sliding across the floor. He plunged his hand into the shadows behind a stack of crates and grabbed the intruder. What he pulled from the darkness caused him to lay out a long line of curses. A girl of not more that twelve, clothes were clean but too small.

"Pappa," the girl cried and tried to gain her freedom from the devil holding her.

Gavin drug the girl over to her father and released her, watching as the child entwined her arms around her fathers neck.

"Margie, what are you doing here?" Gladstone said unable to embrace his daughter due to the fact that his hands were tied behind his back.

"I saw you when you were taken away and I followed."

"That was a stupid thing to do girl, now go home!" Gavin wrapped his fingers around her upper arm and shoved her towards the door to the warehouse.

"Not without my father," she cried and rushed back to envelop her father in a vice like grip.

Gavin encircled her waist and forcibly wrenched her from her father, she immediately started screaming the rafters down. This was not how he had planned this; leave it to a female to ruin even the best-laid plans. Gavin set her down on her feet and clamped his hand down on her mouth muffling the cries, leaning forward he whispered in the father ear that he get her to shut up or else. It was an idle threat because no matter how much of a bastard he was he would not harm the child. It did, however, serve the purpose getting Gladstone to settle the girl. Gavin felt a tremble of fear pass through her, and knew that he could not kill Gladstone now.

With a flick of his wrist he cut through the rope. "I suggest you take leave of London, Gladstone because you will not get this chance again. Next time there will not be a soul in Heaven or Earth that will spare your life." Gavin pushed the girl into her father's arms and watched them leave.

Gavin gathered his sword and made his way to his apartment on Pall Mall. It was past midnight when his foot touched the first step to his apartment and as usual Wilkinson was waiting for him.

"My Lord," Wilkinson said as Gavin entered the house and followed him into the study. He poured him a glass of brandy and asked if there was anything else. When there was no answer he retreated from the room.

Gavin stripped down to his shirtsleeves, tossing the discarded clothing on a nearby chair before picking up the glass of spirits. He stared into the amber liquid as if it has some magical powers to explain his curious actions tonight. Gladstone did not realize how truly fortunate he was to have had an angel there to save him from the Reapers scythe.

Tomorrow he would need to go to Lady Anne and explain why Gladstone wasn't dead. He also had to go to see his mother, he dreaded that more that Lady Anne. His father's home was a place that he avoided whenever possible, but he went whenever his mother needed him. Her missive had been a bit cryptic but she said she needed him to do her a favor so he would go and do everything in his power not to kill the dog that was named as his father.

"Gavin, please." . Gavin stood like a statue his arms crossed over his chest. His mother who was the only person in the world knew how to get him to do anything she wanted. "Mother, why do you bother about him? He regards you no better than the pearl-handle flint father gave him for his eighteenth birthday." "He is my son. Just as you are and just as your contentment is essential to me, so is his. That is what it means to be a parent. You will comprehend this one day."

Gavin shook his head before he spoke. "I will never blacken this earth with any offspring with his bloodline." Gavin recoiled as she reached up to touch his cheek. He looked down at his mother sorrow surge into her striking blue eyes and his contemptuous heart softened to her.

"I'm genuinely regretful for the suffering of your life, Gavin. With every part of my heart, I wish that I had done things differently."

"What would you have done? He is your husband. By all laws he may do whatever he wishes."

"I will not say that I should not have married him because that would mean I would not have you."

"Would that be the most terrible occasion in the world?" he asked curiously.

"Your life has been laborious, but you are a man now; an astonishing, strong, handsome man that I am very proud of. I count on you for everything. "

"I will do this for you, Mother, and only you."

Gavin rode for nearly eight hours, most of the journey he had brooded over the situation with Gladstone. Lady Anne had not been happy that the man, or son of a dog as she'd called him, was still alive but Gavin had been able to convince her that Gladstone would be no trouble and if he was nothing would stop him from finishing the job for her. He had waived his fee and given her a bit of compensation that she needed to sate her because her husband had been out of town for nearly a month.

Gavin dismounted his horse and handed the reins to a waiting stable boy and approached the garish front door of the large manor house. The little he knew about the Christies he had gathered from his mother who apparently did not care for the family much. Lord Christie bought his title with money procured from smuggling, wrecking and other less desirable forms. This matter little to Gavin he was in a less that legal profession himself.

"I'm here to collect a package," Gavin said to the butler as he pulled his black leather riding gloves off.

"A package, Milord?" The servant questioned opening the door wider so Gavin might enter the stately country manor.

"My brother, Lord John Hightower, has a package I'm to take to London for him." His eyes scanned the grand entrance hall; all that he saw was a small pile of travel bags.

"There is no package."

"Is this not the Christie's estate?"

"Aye 'tis, Milord."

"Where is the Lord of the house?" Gavin was losing what little tolerance existed in him. He hated doing this little errand for his brother; it made him feel like John's manservant. Whatever this package was, John could not take the time from his own busy schedule of whores and gambling to pick it up in person. How important could it possibly be? Before the servant had the chance to call for the Lord of the house, a beautiful petite woman swept into the room.

"My Lord," she gushed as she gave him a grand sweeping bow. Gavin knew that as soon as he told her he was not John her attitude would change towards him. It mattered little that he was also titled in his own right, but he was not the eldest son of a Duke.

"I'm Gavin Hightower, my brother was unable to come himself." He noticed her eyes narrow as they slid over him from head to toe. There was the look, the one that said he was not good enough to lick her silk slippers.

"Lady Christie, if you be so kind as to collect what it is that I'm to take to my brother, I will be on my way."

Suddenly, there was a loud commotion and a door burst open. A girl, being chased, flew in the hall, like an alley cat that had been caught off guard; she skidded to a stop directly in front of him. A man, obviously, Lord Christie came from the opposite direction, grabbing her arm, yanking her towards him. The looked that passed over his face was not only familiar, but made Gavin's insides contract. Lord Christies' hand rose to strike the girl. Although Gavin not one to get involved with others problems when Lord Christie's hand rose to strike the girl, jumped in with both feet. Without hesitating, he drew and cocked his flintlock on the man.

"Lord Christie, I suggest that you think twice about your actions, because I will not hesitate to shoot you down in your own home."

Gavin looked down at the girl; discovering she was so much more than that. She possessed a woman's curves, but her eyes held a child like quality of wondering. Her dark russet hair, which nearly reached her bottom, hung free and in somewhat of a wild condition. He looked her over from head to toe; the first word that came to mind was entrancing, and he could not take his eyes from her. Break the spell; break the spell, he barked at himself silently. It took everything he had, but he dragged his eyes up to Lord Christie. "The package, my brothers package, retrieve it and I shall be on my way," he demanded.

"Package? Tis no package, she is what you will be taking back to London. She is to be his wife."

"What?" Gavin's normally controlled emotions were evident in his voice. His brother was a snake, but this, certainly he could not know about this. This had his father's markings all over it.

"Did my father arrange this?"

"Of course, your father came to us a year ago to arrange the marriage between Jayden and John."

There must have been a look of disgust on Gavin's face because Lord Christie continued.

"Tis your family that approached us. Do not think you and your family are so high and mighty."

"My Lord, what I see as moral and what my father and brother sees as moral never match. Can she ride or must I take a carriage?" Gavin clipped as he turned to leave the house.

"She will be fine on a horse."

"I take it these are her bags; a small pile for a young woman."

"She has no need for many things."

"Every woman has a need for things, especially gowns," Gavin muttered. Why did he care anyway? He thought to himself. Jayden pushed her father to the side and ran from the house.

"I'll get her, Milord," a servant said running after Jayden.

Gavin picked up the bags and carried them to the waiting horses. He saw Jayden coming towards him and moved to block her path. She skidded to a stop, her feet coming out from under her. She landed on her bottom and, as Gavin stepped towards her, she shuffled away from him. She looked wild; the errant locks of hair that moved across her face with each breath she took.

Jayden's father marched from the house ready to give her the backside of his hand. The servant came running over putting her self between the two, she gathered Jayden in her arms.

"Milord, please." She don't understand, that's all. I'll explain; she'll be all right." The servant took Jayden by the cheeks and made Jayden look at her. "Won't ya?" As Jayden clung her, the servant looked at Gavin. "Let me talk wif her and she won't be no trouble."

"Lord Christie, obviously Lady Jayden cares for the servant. Can she accompany us to London?"

"Matilda cannot leave me. I have a ball tomorrow I need her." Jayden's sister whined as she marched down from the grand stone steps leading to the front door. She grabbed Matilda's arm and started pulling on her; Jayden pulled her in the other direction.

"I won't go, just give me a minute." Matilda assured them as she eyed Gavin, who moved to her side and squatted next to her.

"Lady Jayden, remember we talked about this last night?" Matilda said, smoothing back her hair. "Yer gonna be wif yer new husband."

Gavin squatted beside Jayden; by God, she was beautiful. Liquid brown eyes the color of warm tea. Her hair was nearly as dark as his but with a warmer hue, more auburn. She was, once again, wrapping him up into her spell, with an oath, he stood.

"My Lord, she ain't gonna get on that horse, she was thrown not long ago and will not go near a horse." Matilda said quietly.

Gavin's nose curled as this situation worsened by the moment. His hands went to his hips; he turned as he laid out a line of curses. "Fine." He looked up at Lord Christie and knew he would get nothing from him. "We shall walk until I find a carriage." Matilda pushed Jayden toward Gavin, but she dug in her heels, not budging. Gavin held out his hand as if he were coaxing a stray animal. "I promise I will not strike you."

Jayden looked up into his fearsome face. He had to be the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes on. Eyes dark and menacing one minute, compassionate the next, but always haunted. He was a man filled with stormy emotions. His long dark hair was the color of a dark chocolate she had once when her family had traveled to Paris. Jayden had liked that very much and she liked his hair equally as well. She wanted to touch it. He had a beard that lined the bone of his jaw, filling his chin and up around his mouth, intensifying the fullness of his lips.

Gavin watched her study him and he squirmed a bit under her intense gaze. Truth be told, he had a hard time keeping his eyes on her face. He wanted to scan her entire body, because the glimpse he had gotten earlier gave him the impression that she was perfect. Her oval face was beautiful; high cheekbones, slightly sun kissed, showing she spent much of her time out of doors. Then again, it was the only place of refuge from an abusive father; something he knew all too well.

Jayden noticed his eyes intensify, as if something had struck him wrong, but she took his hand anyway with her small pale hand in his large dark one, she turned it over, smoothing the palm out to feel his calluses. He worked; he did not sit around on his bum like her loathsome father and brother.

Gavin cleared his throat as his body lurched under her gentle, guarded touch. His reaction was unusual because it was an uncontrolled moment for him. He did nothing in his life that he was not in complete and utter command, including the women in his life.