A Lord’s Desperate Love
A Historical Romance Story
None of the inns remembered a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman staying on her own or even passing through. How could anyone forget the vibrancy Violet carried with her?
Perhaps she had not stayed here.
Perhaps she had not come this far at all and left the post-chaise further back.
Geoff was sitting at the table in the private parlour he’d hired to dine. He rested one elbow on the table and his hand gripped his forehead. He needed to think. If she was not staying in an inn, perhaps she’d rented a property here. Perhaps she’d been planning this for ages and their affair had only ever been a finite thing. Maybe she had just forgotten to mention that fact to him.
Tomorrow he would check with rental agents.
Leaning back in his seat again, he lifted his ale and then sipped from it. Damn the woman.
“Your meal, my Lord.”
He’d not heard the maid enter. A sign of how distracted his thoughts were, no doubt. The inn’s staff probably thought him mad.
He ate the meal, but the food tasted like ashes. He felt as though his body was frozen in time. He was only waiting out the hours until his search could start again.
When he went to his room, he undressed to sleep, but sleep only came in fitful patches. His eyes were open at sunrise, and he got up and dressed, then walked the quiet, empty streets of Bath until it was a suitable hour to start calling on the property agents.
He crossed the Pulteney Bridge and walked back into the city at nine, heading for the Pump Room first. Yesterday he’d checked for Violet’s name in the register, today he was here to ask the master of ceremonies for a list of all the letting agents in the city.
He left the Pump Room with the list gripped in his fisted hand. Today was a new day. He was going to find her. If he could not believe that, then what the hell was he doing here?
It was just like yesterday, though, when he’d walked about the inns, every agent he went to denied knowledge of a lone blonde woman.
When the bells of the Abbey chimed at four past midday, he still had no lead. No one remembered a vibrant blonde, with blue eyes.
Geoff remembered her. Her company was all-consuming. How the hell could she have simply vanished? But what if she had come here to meet a man and she was not alone at all. Had she simply moved on from him?
The pain of that thought bit at his heart.
He’d had a conversation with Robert in a coffee-house in London a couple of weeks ago, when Robert had been searching for the woman he was now married to. Robert’s agitation then had been palpable, and Geoff remembered watching his friend with no understanding… now… God… now he knew how Robert had felt then.
If Geoff had just opened his mouth a month ago and spoken the words he should have said, I love you, then he would not have had to bear this anguish. He should have offered for her. But she’d always made it clear to her men that her interest was only in a bed and nothing more. He hadn’t found the courage to try her, to see if that had changed. Fear had gripped his chest with a cold hard sense of steel each time he’d thought of speaking. If she’d wanted nothing more, then she’d have withdrawn from him and left him with nothing at all.
Yet when he’d taken her to bed her gaze had held his, her eyes glowing with something far more than a physical connection. No other woman had looked at him like that. Surely her views had changed.
Her words on the very first night he’d slept with her almost two years ago came into his mind. “You understand, Sparks, this is just what it is, I shan’t expect commitment or any such nonsense, I do not want you falling at my feet one day.” He could hear her laugh as she’d said it, as she’d stripped off his shirt.
Her hooks had slipped into him that night, he’d felt the barbs even then. They’d kept pulling him back to her bed. He’d just been one of her hoard of casual lovers then. But he’d enjoyed her company, and admittedly her sex. Then this summer he had tired of that role, and he’d stopped playing the game her way. Instead he’d asked her to dance and invited her out. It had won him the sole occupancy of her bed. The pleasure of that knowledge warmed his blood even now. He’d liked having her lean on his shoulder, and grip his hand possessively. He’d liked her.
Then his likes had turned to more, his deeper feelings gathering as a storm. He should have spoken. That was his error.
He would now… When he found her… If I find her… He’d tell her what he felt. He’d offer her marriage and pray she’d accept.
But if he found her with another man, what then? Then he’d walk away with a crushed heart, that was what. Even now he could feel it waiting to break in his chest. Like it was porcelain, and any jolt would shatter it.
She’d rip it out of his bloody chest if she took another man now. He was in love with Violet Rimes, the bloody Merry Widow, of all the people to fall for.
The last agent on his list was in Queen Street. He walked beneath the arch from Trim St, into the narrow cobbled back street which ran parallel to Milsom Street.
The agent’s was the fifth door up. His name was engraved on the front door.
“Mr Harrison?” Geoff spoke as he entered.
A short, thin man rose from his position behind a desk. Another man sat at a smaller desk in the corner.
“May I help you…?”
“Lord Sparks… I am seeking –”
“Property, my Lord.” The man immediately turned to gather some papers.
“No, no, not property, I am looking for a lady who may have rented a place locally in the last couple of days. Lad…” He nearly said her name, but instinct suddenly warned him not to. If she was running from him, would she use her name? “A lady with striking blue eyes, the colour of a summer sky, and blonde hair like gold. I believe she was alone.” He hoped she was alone.
The man looked at Geoff with wide eyes which then turned sly and suggestive. The man had seen her. Thank God! “Did she rent from you?”
“And who is it who asks? I should not divulge –”
“I am her brother…” An utter lie, but he’d do anything to find her. “She is in need of protection and I am worried for her?”
“And she is running from you, so she cannot wish for yours, my Lord,” The man’s voice rang with condescension and disbelief, but as he spoke he held out a hand.
Geoff understood and reached for money, withdrawing a note from the roll clipped in his pocket.
The man took it, looking down with a grin. Then he looked back up at Geoff. “Mrs Mayer took a property in a village a little out of Bath, in Lacock.”
Mayer? Geoff’s heart pounded. Was it her? It was the only lead he’d had, he had to follow it.
“Which street, what number?”
The man just smiled. “It was organised by another agent. His office isn’t open for two days, he’s gone away.”
Tiredness washed over Geoff, he was sick of facing dead ends. This was like navigating a bloody maze. It was a game of chance.
When he left, he walked out into a white mist. Fog. The cooler air of night had fallen and it felt cold and bleak. Autumn had turned to winter. He couldn’t even go tonight now, not in this. He’d have to leave in the morning.
Today Jane’s contemporary story ‘I Found You’ is available to download in the UK for just 99p here
A Lord’s Desperate Love 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