A Lord’s Desperate Love
A Historical Romance Story
The noise of a carriage arriving permeated the windows. Violet crossed the room to look. It was just someone travelling to the inn further along the street. Her heart thumped, and a tight spasm gripped it. But it was entirely foolish of her heart to crave Geoff. It was Geoff she was here avoiding. Then why did she desperately hope he’d find her – and at the same time feel fear tingle through her nerves at the idea.
What would he do if he found her? Would he wish to take the child? He’d have the right to insist if he did.
Her heartbeat pounding, she turned to look about the small parlour. She could have rented a much bigger property, but this one was less conspicuous, although it stood in the middle of the village high street.
She caught sight of herself in the mirror. The blacks she’d purchased in Bath before coming here did not suit her. The non-colour made her look sickly. Yet they were another element of her new disguise, just like the house. She was smothering the exuberance everyone knew her for. It would be misplaced here.
It felt like snuffing out a candle.
The child tumbled over within her stomach, it was barely a movement, more like a sensation. But she knew it was the child. Her palm settled there, cradling the infant.
The first time the baby had moved was during the journey here; she hadn’t understood the odd shifting sensation then and it had concerned her, but the physician here had said it was the child moving. In the few days since, her bump had become too pronounced to hide.
Her fingers parted and stroked across it. It was a sign. The child knew it was wanted. She did not care that she’d given everything up, or that she must smother herself. I would do it a dozen times more for you.
When anyone had asked, she’d said, “I was regrettably recently widowed.” It was a bare-faced lie. “I have come here to make a new life for myself and the child.” But not one of her new neighbours had questioned her further on her past.
Her hand stroked across her stomach again. It did nearly all day while she sat here, alone. The time she loved most though, was night, when she lay down and the child tumbled over and over, as if it had been waiting all day to stretch out. It was a strange beautiful feeling.
Her gaze lifted and met her own in the mirror. She would be happy here. I will make myself be happy. She turned away and crossed the room, then rang a little bell by the door.
The maid arrived in moments. “Yes Ma’am.”
“May I have tea please, Janet.” The maid turned away to fetch it.
Watching the maid sent another spasm of home-sickness tumbling through Violet’s nerves – she missed her familiar servants even more than her home. But she needed anonymity. If they’d come with her, they would have wished to write home, and she could not have asked them not to. No, her old life, that of the merry widow, was cast aside, and soon it would be auctioned off, or given away. She could not live it anymore.
Jane came to mind as all the people Violet lacked crept into her head; a picture of Jane laughing in London. They’d met in Bath. It was the place Violet had run to first, she’d not been able to think of anywhere else to go. But she couldn’t have stayed there. Too many people knew her there. An agent had told her about this property, well away from the city, in Lacock. A place where she could run and hide.
She hadn’t out run her memories though.
The child shifted in her stomach, the movement was barely recognisable through the thin muslin of her dress, but even so she stroked her stomach.
She missed Geoff most.
Geoff pulled on his morning coat and then his greatcoat.
His heart was hammering a rhythm in his chest. It had been for three days now.
Thank God for his lucky guess. It might have taken days to stop at every toll booth about London, but the first direction he’d gone in had hit success. He’d tried the Bath road because Violet had gone there last year. Jubilance had ripped through his middle. It had crashed into him – relief and hope – as the man at the toll gate remembered a lady travelling alone in a carriage with the Rimes coat of arms emblazoned on the door.
Thank God too, that she had taken her deceased husband’s coach.
The man at the next toll gate had remembered her too, and the next. It had been like following a trail she’d left deliberately, as nervous energy kept his heart beating constantly. He’d tracked her for a day until he’d reached the inn where she’d deserted her carriage. He’d spent a night there. Then in the morning paid the staff to tell him where she’d hired a post-chaise, and with more bribery and a little added coercion, he’d persuaded the livery to tell him where they’d taken her to.
He’d arrived yesterday, and spent the night in the Fox Inn, though it had not been comfortable. His clothing was now crumpled because he’d slept in it – restlessly.
His stomach growled. Damn, he’d forgotten to eat again last night. His fingers ran through his hair. He needed to gather his thoughts. He’d eat and drink some coffee, clear his head, then start searching the inns here.
Violet sifted through the ribbons and lace of a pedlar’s stall in the market, although she had no intent to buy anything. She must keep her blacks for a good long time to continue her ruse. People must think her husband had only recently passed.
As her fingers turned over the pretty coloured silks and delicate lace, her mind searched for sad feelings. Did she mourn the loss of all her pretty things? She could not find any regret. She was a new person now. What was important was the child, not frippery. She was glad she’d left it all behind.
Her fingers pressed over her stomach. It had become a habit in the last week. She moved to the next stall and looked at the gloves.
This was a welcome novelty. She’d never had opportunity to look about a market. Such a trivial thing would not have drawn her attention in London. She was enjoying it, and all the noise and bustle and chatter about her. The problem was though that if she had ever gone to a market in London, it would have been with Geoff, and so, yet again, his absence felt like an empty space. He’d be beside her, touching her arm as she sifted through items. Smiling at her when she looked up, and making some merry comment. He was so very capable of making her laugh.
Surely the longing inside her should be subsiding, not growing. It felt like a physical pain today. She missed him terribly. But she could never have him and the child, and she wanted his child, their child, most.
A decision spun through her head. She would buy fruit from another stall and go home, then sit and read. Perhaps fiction would fill her mind with something else. Perhaps she would take up painting. Perhaps that would free her from this emptiness. Sewing would never do, that had been her friend Jane’s skill, not her own.
When she selected some apples, her maid placed them in the skirt of her pinafore to take them home.
What was Geoff doing now? How had he taken the news that she’d gone? He would be unhappy. That she knew.
She paid the man and turned to go back to what was now her home. But it did not feel like home. Sadness swept over her, in a wave of regret and guilt. But how could she feel guilty for saving her child?
She’d thought she’d loved her first husband. They had been friends and he’d been very dear to her… It had not been love. Not as this was.
She loved Geoffrey.
The love for her husband had only been a warm feeling of attachment or endearment.
This love was overwhelming.
She sighed. It mattered not. What mattered was the child.
Once more she touched her stomach.
This is the story of two of the characters from the 2nd book in the Marlow Intrigues Series ~ The Passionate Love of a Rake.
The true story of a courtesan, who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, which I’ve been telling every Sunday, will continue alongside this.
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories.
Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark