The Runner's Enticement (Men of Circumstance Book 2)

By: Addie Jo Ryleigh

Chapter 1


May 1817

Nathaniel Frederickson yanked up the collar of his coat, but not before another icy drop slipped past and rolled down the back of his neck. Hell. To think, he’d once enjoyed this. Even reveled in it. He must have been mad. Or maybe he was past his prime. Perhaps he needed a new direction for his life.

Furthermore, when had rain become so wet? Never before had it seemed to soak through his coat and directly into his skin, causing him to shiver in his boots. And the wind. Had it ever held such a bitter chill before tonight? This might be England but surely there were colder places in the world. If he leaned any closer to the tree in an attempt to block the gusts, he’d have bark branded on his arse.

Though none of that had kept him from tracking his prey through half of England, one agonizingly slow step at a time. Thankfully, there would be a small boon for his efforts. As soon as he had the target in custody, he could retreat to Frenton Hall and thaw his frozen limbs.

Being the bastard brother of a duke had a few benefits—and after the trials of this trip, he planned to exploit each one. His innards heated a degree at the mere thought of warmth.

Nate huddled against the cold a few minutes longer. To no avail. The man wasn’t going to show. He probably had more sense than Nate at the moment and was holed up someplace dry.

About to bail on the mission and retrieve his horse, Nate sidled back to the tree when his quarry straggled out of the night and made his way down the sidewalk. Even from a hundred paces away, there was no mistaking Jarvis—The Viper—was on the prowl. It was imperative for Nate and his men to take him into custody tonight. If not, there would be no telling who his next victim would be.

More to the point, Nate hadn’t caught his death by standing in the rain the last three hours to come away empty-handed. No matter how deadly The Viper’s strike, Nate was quicker.

With visual confirmation impossible, Nate had to trust his men hadn’t abandoned their posts and were prepared to act once he sounded the signal. He’d need every one of them if he wanted to bring Jarvis in.

Keeping in the shadows, Nate studied Jarvis’ uneven gait, courtesy of a fellow Runner’s lucky shot. The outlaw’s injury might have slowed his walk, but it hadn’t kept him from killing three more families. Too bad the wound hadn’t festered and done in the son of a bitch.

As Jarvis neared the gambling hell, Nate’s muscles tightened. This was it. The night they finally stopped the madman.

Nate did a quick scan of the area. Maybe the cursed rain would work in his favor. On a normal night there would be countless men and a few prostitutes lingering outside the establishment, any one of whom could hinder his capture of The Viper. No need to add to the ample bodies littering the man’s wake.

A couple more steps and it would be time to sound the alarm. Nate reached for his pistol. As much as his finger itched to take the man out himself, he refused to assume the duties of judge and executioner. Jarvis would hang for his crimes soon enough.

His body tensed as he struggled to hold off on giving the signal. He needed to wait for the precise moment. When there would be no room for The Viper to maneuver. Just two more paces. All Nate needed. The rain created a thin curtain but he kept his eyes pinned on his quarry.

Finally! He was right where Nate needed him.

Nate’s sharp whistle pierced the storm as he sprang from the cover of the tree.

“Jarvis! Don’t move.”

With a flick of his jacket, The Viper exposed the pistol shoved into his waistband. He would only need a second to draw the weapon.

“Don’t. You have five of my best men surrounding you,” Nate yelled over the storm as he took a calculated step closer. “You have nowhere to go.”

He felt the presence of his men, approaching from all sides. Good to know they were loyal enough to stay put through the rain.

All but Grant, who stepped out of the gaming hell behind Jarvis, gun pulled. He’d somehow managed to win the prime lookout spot. Lucky sod.

“You think you’ve won, Frederickson? No one beats The Viper.”

Nate couldn’t contain his laugh. Cocky as ever. Even staring down the barrel of Nate’s gun, the man refused to admit he was done for.

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