Mr. Driscoll James Rose, second son of the late Earl of Huntington, brother to the current Earl of Huntington, and part owner of The Rose Room, the most exclusive and popular gaming club in all of London, tossed his pencil down on his desk in frustration.
Bloody, bloody, hell.
He removed his spectacles and rubbed his eyes with his fists. No matter how hard he tried, of late he could not keep his mind on his work.
The malaise he’d been suffering from the past few weeks was not going away. His intelligent mind knew there was no reason for it. He had no money worries, the ladies considered him handsome, he could pretty much pick and choose whatever woman he wanted, either for an evening or a lifetime, and although not a titled lord himself, he was a member of the nobility through his father and brother. So why the hell did he feel lost? Like he was floating, just getting through each day? Waiting for something to happen?
The excitement of owning, running, and making a success of a gaming club had worn off. Now it was only work. And drudgery at that.
Three years ago, he and his younger brother, Dante, had approached Hunt, the eldest of the Rose brothers with a plan to open a gaming club. Although gambling was illegal, there were several places in London that offered such entertainment. The authorities were willing to look the other way for an owner who was a member of the ton, as well as the recipient of an occasional evening of gratis entertainment for themselves.
The brothers had worked out a plan where Hunt would provide the initial financing of the business and would hold a small interest in the profits. Driscoll and Dante would do the bulk of the work, although Hunt would appear every so often to mix with the clients and observe that his investment was doing well.
Driscoll pushed away from his desk and slumped in his chair, his legs stretched out, his feet crossed at the ankles. Why wasn’t it enough anymore? According to his younger brother, he needed to avail himself of an exclusive mistress to see to his needs. Hunt, on the other hand, who was recently wed and nauseatingly besotted with his new wife thought Driscoll should join him in the chains of matrimony.
The first seemed like too much involvement, and the second was unquestionably too much involvement. He’d heard Dante’s grumbling about the demands his mistresses made. That usually happened a week or two before he gave said mistress a fine piece of jewelry along with her congé and moved onto the next one.
That was much too intricate for Driscoll. Not that he never indulged, he was a man after all with a man’s needs, but the thought of providing a woman with clothing, food, housing, and expensive trinkets for the sole purpose of satisfying his sexual needs left him cold.
And doing the same for a life-long commitment of a wife left him terrified.
“It looks like we need to offer an escort home to Lord Benson again.” Dante entered the office and dropped into a chair and leaned back linking his fingers at the back of his head.
“In his cups?”
“Yes. Absolutely sotted. He can barely make it from table to table. I’m afraid he might decide to bring up all that expensive brandy he’s been drinking onto the gaming floor.”
Driscoll stood. “I need a break from these financial records, anyway. I’ll take care of it.”
Dante plunked his feet on his desk and closed his eyes. “Good. I could use a break.”
Driscoll made his way down the thick-carpeted stairs to the gaming floor. As expected, the room was crowded and the gaming tables full. He nodded to Stephen Welsh, the man running the Hazard game for a nice group of gamblers. As he made his way through the room, moving from table to table, he commented and joked with various members until he spotted Benson.
The man was swaying on his feet while he watched the dice play. Dante had been correct. The man appeared a bit green. Driscoll looked around and waved David Jenkins, one of the security men, over.
“Yes, Mr. Rose.” The dark-haired guard stood almost as tall as Driscoll. He’d been in their employ since they opened and had the ability to handle delicate matters without causing a scene.
“We need to get Benson out of here.” Driscoll nodded in the man’s direction. “Use one of our older carriages in case he casts up his accounts during the ride home.”
“I believe his lordship arrived in his own carriage.”
Leave it to Jenkins to know everything that needed to be known. “Perfect, then. Assist him outside and get him on his way.”
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