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
Rupert watched Miss Divine walk away. She’d been busy ingratiating herself into Ellen’s family he saw, while Rowena had been accosted by Kendrick again. Anger raced through Rupert’s blood. “Is that wise?” he asked Ellen, looking back at her.
He saw she realised he was speaking about Kendrick, and her expression changed as she ceased smiling and gave him an understanding look.
“I know you expressed your concerns to Edward, Rupert, and I fully understand, but Rowena is a grown woman. She is intelligent and sensible. She will not be fooled by any man. Kendrick will do her no harm. He is well respected about his estates. I do not think him a bad man. His offer was simply ill-judged.”
“Ill-judged—” Rupert was about to declare just how ill when Edward appeared, with a glass in either hand.
“They are dancing, I’m afraid.” Ellen spoke.
“Ah, and I am left bearing the orgeat.”
“I will take one. I’m thirsty, and I shall find a thirsty person for the other, and leave you two to talk.” Edward and his wife shared a smile and a certain look. A look which implied Ellen was giving Rupert a little of Edward’s precious time and company, from the bounds of their perfect life. The look made Rupert feel pitied, and as if he was being given charity…
Rupert’s hands slid into his pockets. He did not like feeling needy, but he had longed for his cousin’s company. He felt as if he was seeking charity, or was like a child looking for attention.
He’d enjoyed his time with Edward this morning, though. They had laughed, breathless and energised after they’d sparred, and Rupert had felt better than he had in an age. Then, as they walked back to Edward’s, Rupert had shared the tale of Kendrick’s earlier visit.
It had been good to have someone to speak to. He’d not had anyone who he trusted with personal concerns since Edward had married Ellen over a year ago. He shared nothing with his mother; she was too ill to bear his burdens too, and Edward’s brother, Robert, who was more often in town, was not the sort of man who cared for another’s troubles. Robert was a fast-living rake. He’d have no interest in Rupert’s concerns about Rowena or his mother.
It had therefore been a great relief to pass his responsibility for Rowena on to Ellen. Now at least he might focus a little more time on himself.
“I think Rowena’s young friend has a fancy for you, Rupert.”
Bitterness surged through Rupert, as he looked at the dancers. He did not see Miss Divine. He did see Rowena.
Kendrick was walking a circle with her in the midst of a country dance and he was speaking hurriedly, while she obviously listened warily.
“Ellen said Miss Divine seemed extremely disappointed this afternoon when Ellen arrived with Rowena in your barouche.”
Rupert gave his cousin a sidelong glance.
“Miss Divine has seemed equally low in spirits tonight. She’s been glancing about the room every other moment since we arrived, and I’ve heard her mention your name to Rowena at least twice.” Edward laughed.
Rupert did not. He sighed. Lord, it was the last thing he needed; Miss Divine dropping her handkerchief in his direction, in the hope he would, metaphorically, pick it up and begin courting her. She obviously had mistaken his offer to waltz with her.
“She is looking at you now,” Edward teased.
Rupert looked back at the dancers and caught the gleam of auburn curls. She was indeed looking at him. He met the vivid blue gaze he’d only noticed for the first time last night. There was some thought going on behind her eyes. She looked as if, had she stood in front of him, she would speak.
Sensation stirred low in his stomach. He might not find her stunningly pretty, but he did find her physically attractive. An unwanted image slipped through his mind, of that hair spread across a white sheet. He turned away.
Edward laughed again.
Rupert narrowed his eyes. “What she’s probably interested in is my title. The girl’s a schemer. I want nothing to do with her. I’ve tried putting Rowena off her, to no avail. So I endure her presence, but I certainly am not going to encourage it, Ed.”
“Well, that I can see. You bristle about poor Miss Divine, like a hedgehog…” Edward laughed again. “Even last night, when you were waltzing, I could see you loathing it. Yet perhaps a bright, young girl, like that, is exactly what you need, Rupert—”
“Miss Divine? Are you mad?”
“Not at all. You’ve seemed low in spirits every time we’ve seen you lately. Someone, of such a sunny nature, might cheer you up.”
“She is not sunny-natured. She puts her smiles on for effect. Do not tell me you are fooled?”
“I would say her smiles cover her anxiety, and the way she laughs seems to imply the same thing, as if she is hiding her discomfort. She is on the edge of welcome here, and you know it. It must be a hard tightrope to walk.”
Rupert’s eyebrows lifted. They’d had a conversation long ago, when Rupert had first discovered Edward’s affair with Ellen. This conversation reminded Rupert of that. “The girl fancies my title and fortune and that is all. If I ever take a wife, I can assure you it will not be a woman like Miss Divine.”
Edward laughed. “You have a habit of seeing black and white, Rupert, while I see the shades of grey in between one and the other. People have many facets. Not everything is so clear as to be black or white.”
Rupert glowered at his cousin.
“So, tell me what Robert, my disreputable brother, has been up to while I’ve been out of town.” Edward smiled, having obviously deliberately changed the subject. “What rumors are afoot? Who should I be wary of, and who must I avoid because he’s slept with their wife?”
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 REDUCED 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
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