Jade and Caine exchanged a look, then Caine mouthed the words "marriage problems" as his guess as to what the problem could be. Jade nodded before she sat down on the brocade settee and patted the cushion next to her. Caine immediately joined her.

"No matter what he's done, Sara, I'm certain the two of you will be able to work this out to your mutual satisfaction," Caine said.

"My husband and I fought all the time when we were first married," Jade added.

"No, love, we fought before we were married, not after," Caine said.

Jade was about to argue over that ridiculous remark when Sara blurted out, "I haven't come to discuss my marriage. No, I've… why aren't I what you expected?"

Jade smiled. "I worried that you would be… restrained. Many of the ladies in our society tend to be superficial. They go to great lengths to pretend boredom. You, on the other hand, appear to be refreshingly honest in your reactions."

"You must be giving Nathan fits," Caine said before he could think better of it.

"I refuse to talk about Nathan," Sara said. "I've come here to warn you. You must prepare yourselves for the scandal."

Caine leaned forward. "What scandal?"

"I should start at the beginning so that you'll understand," Sara whispered. She folded her hands in her lap. "Do you happen to know about the conditions set down in the contract between Nathan and me?"

They both shook their heads. Sara let out a sigh. "King George, bless his broken mind, was determined to end the feud between the St. James family and the Winchesters. He forced a marriage between Nathan and me and then sweetened the vinegar in that action by setting aside a large fortune in gold and a tract of land that is situated between the two families' country estates. The feud dates back to the early middle ages," she added. "But that isn't important now. The land is actually more coveted than the gold, for it's fertile, and the mountain water that flows directly down the middle of the tract feeds the fields of both estates. Whoever owns the land could effectively ruin the other by withholding the water supply. According to the contract, the treasury goes to Nathan as soon as he collects me for his wife. After I give him an heir, the land will also come to us."

Caine looked incredulous. "How old were you when this contract was signed?"

"I was four years old. My father signed in my stead, of course. Nathan was fourteen years old."

"But that's… preposterous," Caine said. "It can't be at all legal."

"The king decreed it legal and binding. The bishop was with him, and he blessed the marriage."

Sara couldn't look at Caine or Jade. The easy part of her explanation was over, and it was time to get to the heart of the matter. She turned her gaze to her lap. "If I walk away from the contract, Nathan gets everything. And if he were to walk away, then I—or rather, my family—would receive everything. It was a very cunning game the king played with us."

"You and Nathan were his pawns, weren't you?" Caine said.

"Yes, I suppose we were," Sara agreed. "I think the king's motives were pure, though. He seemed obsessed with making everyone get along. I try to remember that he had our best interests at heart."

Caine didn't agree with that evaluation, but he kept his opinion to himself. "I've made you digress," he said. "Please continue with your explanation, Sara. I can see how upsetting this is for you."

She nodded. "Nathan came to get me over three months ago. We sailed away on his ship and only just returned to London. My father was waiting for us."

"What happened then?" Caine asked when she didn't continue.

"My father wanted me to come home with him.''

"And?" he prodded again.

"Caine," Jade interjected, "it's obvious she didn't go home with her father. She's here with us, for heaven's sake. Sara, I'm having trouble understanding why your father would want you to return to his home. You'd be breaking the contract, wouldn't you? Why, Nathan would win it all, and I can't imagine the Winchesters allowing that to happen. Besides, I assume that you and Nathan have been living together as husband and wife. It's too late, isn't it—"

"Sweetheart, let Sara explain," Caine suggested. "Then we'll ask our questions."

"My father has found a way to break the contract and win the gift," Sara said.

"How?" Jade asked.

"He found out something terrible about your father," Sara whispered. She dared a quick look up and saw the alarm that came into Jade's eyes. "Did you know about your father's activities?"

Jade didn't answer her. "This is very difficult," Sara whispered.

Caine wasn't smiling. "Exactly what did your father find out?"

"That the earl of Wakersfield betrayed his country."

Neither husband nor wife said anything for a minute. Caine put his arm around his wife's shoulders in an attempt to comfort her.

"I'm so sorry to have to tell you about your father," Sara whispered. Her anguish was apparent. "But you must try not to condemn him. You can't possibly know the circumstances that led him toward the path he took."

Sara didn't know what else to say. The color had left Jade's face, and she looked as if she was going to be ill. Sara felt the same way.

"It was bound to come out sooner or later," Caine said.

"Then you knew?" Sara asked.

Jade nodded. "Nathan and I have known about our father for a long time." She turned to her husband. "You're wrong, Caine. That secret should never have had to come out." She turned back to Sara. "How did your father find out?"

"Yes, how did he find out?" Caine asked. "That file was locked away in the vault. I was assured that no one would ever find out."

"Nathan believes I found out and wrote the news to my family," Sara said.

"Did you know?" Jade asked.

"That was the very question your brother asked me," Sara said. The sadness in her voice indicated her pain. "I almost lied to Nathan because he was looking at me in such a frightening way."

"Did you know?" Jade asked again. "And if so, Sara, how did you find out?"

She straightened her shoulders. "Yes, I did know about your father, Jade. I can't tell you how I found out, though. It would be disloyal."

"Disloyal?" Jade would have bounded out of her seat if her husband hadn't restrained her. Her face was flushed pink. "Telling your family is what I call disloyal," she cried out. "How could you do such a thing, Sara? How could you?"

Sara didn't even try to defend herself. If her own husband didn't believe her, why should his sister?

She stood up and forced herself to look at Jade. "I felt it was my duty to come here to warn you," she said. Her voice was flat. "I would apologize for my family, but I've decided to disown them, and it wouldn't ease your torment anyway. Thank you for listening to me."

She walked to the foyer. "Where are you going now?" Caine called out. He tried to stand up, but his wife was pulling on his attention by tugging on his hand.

"I must make certain my mother is all right," Sara explained. "And then I'm going home." With that, Sara opened the door and left.

"So much for disowning her family," Jade muttered. "Caine, let her leave. I never want to see her again. Oh, God, we have to find Nathan. He must be terribly upset over this treachery."

Caine gave his wife a good scowl. "I can't believe what I'm hearing," he said. "If you're referring to the scandal about to break, Nathan won't be upset. Jade, the St. James men thrive on disgrace, remember? For God's sake, reason this through. You never used to give a damn what others thought. Why the sudden change?"

"I still don't care what anyone thinks, except you, husband. I was talking about Sara's treachery. She betrayed my brother, and that's why I believe Nathan must be very upset."

"So you've found her guilty, have you?"

That question gave her pause. She started to nod, then shook her head. "Nathan judged her," she said. "Sara told us he believed she betrayed him."

"No," Caine said. "She said he asked her if she knew about his father. Jade, you can't possibly know what he's thinking until you ask him. Your brother's one of the most cynical men I've ever known, but damn it, wife, I expect better from you."

Jade's eyes widened. "Oh, Caine, I did find her guilty, didn't I? I just assumed… and she didn't defend herself."

"Why should she?"

"She did tell us she was going home. For a woman who claims she just disowned her family… you think she's innocent, don't you?"

"I have only formed one conclusion thus far. Sara loves Nathan. All you have to do is look at the woman to know that. Would she have bothered to come to warn us if she didn't care about your brother, my sweet? Now unhand me, please. I'm going after her."

"You're too late, m'lord," Sterns called out from the foyer. "The hack has already left."

"Why didn't you stop her?" Caine asked as he rushed toward the door.

"I was occupied eavesdropping," the butler admitted. "I also didn't know you wanted me to stop her." He turned his gaze to his mistress. "I hope you don't mind that I gave your sister-in-law a few shillings. Lady Sara was without funds and needed to pay the fare to her next destination."

The pounding on the front door stopped the conversation. Before Sterns or Caine could open it the door was flung wide, and Nathan came striding into the foyer. There were few men who could intimidate Sterns, but the marquess of St. James was one of them. The butler immediately got out of the big man's path.

Nathan acknowledged both men with a brisk nod. "Where's my sister?"

"It's good to see you again, too, Nathan," Caine drawled. "What brings you here today? Have you come to see your godchild? Olivia's sleeping, but I'm certain your bellowing will wake her in no time at all."

"I don't have time to be sociable," Nathan replied. "Olivia's all right, isn't she?"

As if in answer to that inquiry the sound of the infant's wailing came floating down the stairwell. Sterns frowned at the marquess before starting up the steps. "I'll see to the babe," he announced. "She'll be wanting me to rock her back to sleep."

Caine nodded agreement. The butler was far more family than servant and had taken over the care of little Olivia. The two got along extremely well, and Caine wasn't certain who was more firmly wrapped around the other's fingers.

Caine turned to give Nathan a proper set-down for disturbing his daughter's sleep, but when he saw the expression on his brother-in-law's face he changed his mind. It was a look Caine had never seen before on Jade's brother's face. Nathan looked afraid.

"Jade's in the drawing room," he told Nathan.

His sister stood up as soon as her brother came into the drawing room. "Oh, Nathan, thank heavens you're here."

Nathan walked over to stand directly in front of his sister. "Sit down," he ordered.

She immediately complied. Nathan clasped his hands behind his back, then said, "Brace yourself. The Winchesters found out all about our father, and it's only a matter of time before you're properly humiliated. Got that?"

As soon as she nodded he turned and tried to leave.

"Wait," Jade called out. "Nathan, I must talk to you."

"I don't have time," her brother called back.

"You always were a man of few words," Caine said. "Why the hurry?"

"I've got to find my wife," Nathan told him in a near bellow. "She's missing."

He was already out the front door before Caine's announcement caught him. "Your lovely wife was just here."

"Sara was here?"

"For God's sake, Nathan, must you roar every time you open your mouth? Come back inside."

The sound of little Olivia wailing again was followed by the loud slam of a door above the stairs. Sterns was obviously sending them a message to keep their voices down.

Nathan walked back into the foyer. "What was my wife doing here?"

"She wanted to talk to us."

"Why did you let her leave, man? Damn it, where did she go?"

Caine motioned his brother-in-law into the drawing room and pulled the doors closed before giving his answer. "Sara came to warn us. She wasn't quite as blunt as you were," he added dryly.

"Did she tell you where she was going?"

Jade hurried over and grabbed hold of Nathan's hand so he couldn't disappear on her. She started to answer his question, then caught herself when Caine shook his head at her.

"We'll tell you where Sara went after you sit down and talk to us," Caine announced. "For once, Nathan, you're going to be civil. Got that?"

"I don't have time for this. I've got to find Sara. Do I have to break your arm to get the information I need?"

"Sara's safe enough," Caine said. Unless wolves really do eat their young, he qualified to himself. He put his arm around Jade's shoulders and led her back to the settee.

He noticed Nathan wasn't following them. "Sit down," he ordered in a much firmer voice. "I've got a couple of questions to ask you, Nathan, and I'm not telling you where Sara went until I get some answers."

Nathan knew it was pointless to argue. Beating his brother-in-law into a bloody pulp wouldn't do him any good either. Caine would just bloody him up, too. Precious time would be wasted, and when the fight was over Caine would still remain stubborn.

It was just one of several reasons Nathan admired his sister's husband.

"Why the hell can't you be more like Colin?" he asked. He sat down and glared at Caine. "Jade, you married the wrong brother. Colin's a damn sight more agreeable."

His sister smiled. "I didn't fall in love with Colin, Nathan."

She looked up at her husband then. "I don't believe I've ever seen Nathan this upset. Have you?"

"All right," Nathan muttered. "Ask me your questions."

"Tell me how the Winchesters found out about your father."