A #free short story… I’ll be telling it here, and it can also now be downloaded from Amazon.
© Copyright Jane Lark; Publishing rights owned by Harper Impulse; Harper Collins UK
Capturing the Earl’s Love
A Historical Romance story
“Rowena—” Meredith began as she took her seat again, but her former friend just lifted her hand.
“I am not listening to you apologise, Meredith. He is my brother, and I love him dearly. I am too angry to speak to you. He deserves far more than to be trapped by—”
“I did not plan what I did, Rowena,” Meredith whispered. “It was not like that.”
Rowena leaned across the table, and with a vicious pitch, ignoring the footmen, accused, “Then how was it? He had no interest in you. You know he did not. I suppose you only became my friend so you might get close enough to him for this…”
“No! It is not like that! I fell in love with him after we became friends, but I have loved him for weeks… I know he does not like me, but my father had agreed a marriage with his business partner. Perrigrew is old, and bitter, and I did not—”
“Wish to marry him? And so you thought you’d force my brother’s hand. I will shop with you today, Meredith,” – Rowena stood up, dropping her napkin on the tablecloth – “but do not expect me to speak to you. I have no wish to be your friend anymore. Rupert warned me about you months ago. He said you only used my friendship. I wish I had listened.”
She walked away.
Meredith stood, a blush burning her cheeks as tears stung her eyes. “That is not true, Rowena! It is not true!”
The footmen, who stood at the edge of the room, looked away.
Meredith left her breakfast untouched, and returned to her chamber, to hide. The bridge Lord Morton had crossed last night stood between her and them again today, with a raging river of uncertainty and violent emotion flowing beneath it.
While Meredith was shopping with Rowena, and her cousin Ellen, they met Lord Kendrick on Bond Street, and he insisted on treating them to tea and cake at Gunter’s. Meredith was surprised to see Rowena smile warmly at him. But then he seemed to be doing his utmost to please her, and he was very solicitous and charming as he fussed over them all, his eyes frequently on Rowena. It was Rowena he offered his arm to, too, as they walked in and out of the shop.
Meredith was relieved by his presence. The tension which had begun at breakfast had persisted all day, and despite Lady Eleanor chatting merrily and questioning them both, trying to break the silence between them, Rowena had not conceded. Yet the trip to Gunter’s was only a brief reprieve. Once they returned home, Rowena immediately retired to her room and so, therefore, did Meredith. She was too unsure of everything to wander about the house alone.
It was there, Lord Morton – Rupert, she had to remember to call him that – found her later, as a maid was helping her prepare for the evening.
They were going out to the Foley’s ball. He’d sent word through her maid earlier, but Meredith was not dressed yet. She was standing in her underwear when he knocked on the door between their rooms, and he did not then wait for her response.
She jumped as he opened it immediately, and then he was in her room, as he had been last night, although this time he wore evening dress. Her heart thumped. She remembered very clearly how he had looked without it. His body had beautiful, muscular contours. They’d caught the candlelight as he’d made love to her, his skin shimmering.
His eyes lowered, looking at her stocking-clad toes, then his gaze skimmed up her body, until he looked into her eyes. He seemed to hesitate before speaking.
“Meredith, my mother wishes to meet you.”
Meredith’s mouth opened, but she did not know what to say. Lady Stanforth had not wished to see her yesterday. Rupert had told his cousin, his mother was too angry to face “the upstart” he’d wed. Meredith had overheard them speaking. She also knew Lady Stanforth was very ill, and rarely left her rooms. So, it meant they would not speak, unless his mother asked to speak to her.
If she tried to be nice, his mother would only respond as Rowena had done, though.
A blush crept up her neck as Meredith let the air slip out of her lungs. She could hardly refuse the meeting, and she had brought this on herself.
She wondered if the hostility between herself, him and his family would ever ease?
“Very well, be ready in a half-hour and I shall introduce you before dinner.” The words were blunt and sharp, though not disparaging, and not judgemental — just not warm.
Meredith thought of how Lord Kendrick had spoken to Rowena this afternoon, and longed for the same for herself. If only Rupert would treat her with the same concern and politeness.
Capturing The Earl’s 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’
The Lost Love of Soldier
The prequel to The Illicit Love of a Courtesan
is available to pre-order
Go to the index
- 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
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
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback