A #free short story… I’ll be telling it here, and it can also now be preordered on Amazon.
@Copyright Jane Lark; Publishing rights owned by Harper Impulse; Harper Collins UK
Capturing the Earl’s Love
A Historical Romance story
“My Lord, you have a caller.”
Rupert turned to face his butler. “Who, Owens?”
Rupert was not yet dressed. His valet was in the process of knotting his cravat.
“The Earl of Kendrick, sir.”
Owens held out a card. Rupert did not take it.
A frown formed while he tried to keep his chin up. Kendrick? “Did he say what his call is about?”
They were not introduced. Kendrick should not be here. He’d been introduced to Rowena, not Rupert, and people should not speak unless they’d had an introduction.
Rupert sighed; he hadn’t even eaten yet. What on earth was the man calling at this hour for?
“I have asked him to wait in the library, sir.”
“I would rather you’d told him I was not to be disturbed.”
“He said he would not be put off, my Lord. If you are busy, he shall wait.”
Bloody hell. What on earth did Kendrick want? Perhaps he had merely been sidling up to Rowena last night to win Rupert’s vote for some bill in Parliament? Well, if that was Kendrick’s game, Rupert would swiftly put him right.
“Then tell him I will be down in a while.”
Half an hour later, Rupert turned the handle of the library door, then entered. He’d eaten breakfast, holding Kendrick to his word, and making him wait.
Kendrick was sitting in a comfortable chair near the hearth at the far end of the room, scanning a book he must have taken from the shelves, looking thoroughly at ease.
Annoyance itched beneath Rupert’s skin. He’d hoped to make Kendrick feel unwelcome by delaying their meeting.
The man glanced up, set the book on a small satinwood table beside him, and stood.
The impression Rupert had acquired last night was not improved. This man was ageing, and he might be confident in his own skin, and bear a title, but as Rupert had never heard of Kendrick until last night, he could not be anyone of any importance.
“You wished to speak to me…” Rupert opened, bowing slightly and stiffly.
Kendrick also gave the merest bow. “I realise it is unusually early,” he began, “however, I wished to ensure you, and Lady Rowena, would be at home.”
And Lady Rowena?
“Lord Morton, I wish to make an offer for your sister.”
Kendrick could have punched Rupert in the stomach; he would have felt equally winded. “No.” The answer left his lips with an adamant force, without any thought; of course the answer was no.
“Hear me out, Lord Morton. Lady Rowena would be a countess, and I have a considerable fortune.”
“No.” Robert wished for more for her than this old man. He wanted her to be happy, more than happy, loved. Rupert had endured his parents’ cold, bitter home. He would not allow his adored sister to suffer that.
“Do not be so hasty, Morton. You cannot be making the decision with any sense. At least think about this before you answer me.”
“I have no need to think. You were only introduced to her last night. You can have no affection for her, and I do not even know you. I have no intention, therefore, of trusting you to care for my sister, no matter how big your fortune, Kendrick. There is no decision to be made, the answer is no.”
“I saw your sister last night, Morton, and I simply knew she was the right one—”
“The right one? And what was your deceased wife, who I’m advised you have mourned very thoroughly?”
Kendrick stiffened, growing an inch in height as his hands fisted at his sides. “I loved my first wife. It does not mean I cannot love a second time. I have children who need a mother. Some of them are still very young. When I saw your sister across the room last night, I felt what I felt on the occasion I met my first wife. I—”
“I do not care.”
“My Lord Morton, be reasonable. At least give me a chance.”
“There is no chance my sister will have you, and the final say will always be hers. Why waste your time? You may go now.”
“Then let me speak with her, Lord Morton. Let us ask Lady Rowena, and let her have her say…”
Rupert stared at Kendrick. He did not wish Rowena dragged into this, but he was unsure what to do. He could throw the man out, but Kendrick would probably still believe he had a chance, or he could call Rowena down and perhaps her refusal might finally convince Kendrick to forget this ridiculous notion?
“Very well, I will fetch her and she may tell you herself. She has no interest in you.”
“May I speak with her alone?”
“No. You may do so in my company.”
Rupert turned away. He was definitely making a hash of this chaperoning lark. He could not wait to call at Edward’s today. He had not only set aside his uncertainty about Ellen taking on the task, he would plead with his cousin’s wife to do it.
After tapping lightly on the door of Rowena’s bedchamber, he entered at her call.
“Hello, Rupert.” She was sitting at her writing desk. She stood, smiling at him, that blessedly open, happy smile of hers. Her smile had been his joy for as long as he could remember. The sunlight in an otherwise cloudy world.
She was several years younger than him and he’d adored her from the minute she was born.
“You have a caller,” he said gently.
“A suitor, but one I do not think you’ll welcome. Kendrick, who danced with you last night. He’s called to make you an offer.”
Her mouth had fallen open. It closed. Then she said quietly, “Oh.”
“He wishes to speak to you.”
Her eyes opened wider and her skin slightly paled. She looked just as shocked as he’d felt.
“I only met him last evening.”
“He is fifty-eight. He told me.”
Rupert smiled, with closed lips, a gesture intended to comfort her. “Come along, we’ll go down and put him right, and then today I will ask Ellen to become your chaperone. She will make a far better job of it than I, I’m sure. She and her sisters can find you more suitable suitors, Rowena. I’m sorry. I have not helped you at all.”
She moved forward swiftly, and then hugged him fiercely, her arms about his neck, a gesture which caused a sharp pain in his chest. Rowena was the most precious thing he had in his life.
He held her too.
“You have been wonderful, Rupert. You are the best brother.” She did not say he was a good chaperone though.
“Come along,” he reiterated when she drew away.
A Lord’s Desperate Love is the story of two of the secondary characters from the 1st book in
the Marlow Intrigues Series
‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’
NOTE – THIS – AND ALL MY BOOKS – ARE CURRENTLY ON SALE IN THE UK!
- the story of the real courtesan who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
- another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
- the prequel excerpts for book #3 The Scandalous Love of a Duke
Go to the index
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.
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