Reckless in Innocence
for my Historical Romance readers ❤
© Jane Lark
Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark, this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
Reckless in Innocence
Read the earlier parts
one , two, three, four,five,six,seven,eight,nine, ten,eleven,twelve, thirteen, fourteen,fifteen,sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty
Turning in her bed for the hundredth time, Elizabeth plumped and then dented the pillow, trying to find the comfort that would help her sleep. But when she lay down again her thoughts still spiralled with images of Marcus; her body imagining his.
She did not understand him, and now she did not understand herself.
Months ago she had known what she had hoped for, but that dream had been shattered. Yet what did he want? Her to give him another single encounter. He had offered her the same brief liaison she had once offered him. She could not bring herself to say yes. Yet as she lay here temptation whispered. But she did not want another heartbreaking moment in which he would touch her and then walk away. She did not want him unless her dream would become real, unless he loved her. He did not.
Elizabeth sat up. She could not lay here all night with these tumultuous thoughts. She threw back the sheets and climbed from the bed, then picked up the candle. She would go downstairs to the library and find a book to read.
The footfalls of her bare feet on the floorboards were a quiet whisper as she hurried through the silent house in her nightgown, the candle held before her cutting a path through the dark. Her fingers slid down the wooden stair rail as she descended, lifting the candle a little higher so some of its light fell into the hall below. There were four doors. One led to the library but she was not sure which.
She gripped her nightgown lifting the hem as she stepped from the bottom stair. The hall’s stone tiles were cold on the soles of her feet. She let her nightgown slip from her fingers and curved her hand about the candle’s flame as it flickered when she walked across the hall having chosen a door.
When she touched the brass door handle the grandfather clock in the hall behind her struck two after midnight, and there was a heavy thud on the door beside the one she stood in front of and the sound of glass shattering.
There was no other sound for a moment and then she heard the click of a cue against a ball, followed by the frustrated growl of a man’s voice, and the clatter of the cue being hurled across the room.
Her hand fell from the door-handle and she took a few steps back.
Marcus had said he would be in the billiard room, but she had expected him to be in bed at this hour. She had not thought for a single moment he would still be about the house.
She backed away a few more paces.
The door handle of the billiard room twisted.
Elizabeth turned and ran towards the stairs. The candle flickered, then guttered out, and the hall sank into blackness.
Marcus shoved open the door of the billiard room. Damn it. He would fetch the brandy from the study, he could find no more port. Why was it that when he wanted to get completely addled, wine would never do the job? He had drunk the whole decanter and drunk himself sober. It had been a bloody foolish idea to come to Larchfield, and even more foolish to bring Elizabeth Derwent. The day after tomorrow would not come fast enough and if he had to drink himself into a stupor to reach it then he would, but the port had not done the job.
Candlelight from the five candlelabrum which burned in the room spread out into the hall, making the shadows of the dark corners deeper, but the centre of it lighter, and for a moment he just stood there, not believing his eyes. In the heart of the light spreading from the open door, stood Elizabeth. She was like a vision, an angel dressed in white. Her blonde hair hung across her shoulder in a single plait, fine wisps escaping the braid to caress her face. It was as if his heart stopped; his breathing certainly did. Time itself would stop to admire Elizabeth’s beauty.
“Elizabeth?” She looked like a rabbit in the sights of a hound, she had clearly stopped her flight and now stood still, as if by standing still he might not notice her. Perhaps she expected him chase and then ravish her if she ran.
“I came for a book. I could not sleep. I was just going back to my room.”
“But you have not got a book.” He looked at her empty hands then back at her face, his gaze a little hazy from the port. Had she been coming to him? She must have been standing behind the door as the decanter struck the wood. “Shall I help you choose one?”
“No. No, I think that I could not absorb myself in the text anyway. If you will excuse me, I will retire.” She stepped back, towards the stairs.
Marcus walked towards her.
“I think I ought to return to my room.” She stepped back again, the candle holder she’d carried sliding from her fingers, then clattering on the floor as Marcus closed the distance further. She turned, clutching up her nightgown to aid her flight and her fingers reached for the newel post so she might flee.
Marcus caught her arm and spun her back, all too aware of her nakedness beneath the thin nightgown which she wore. “I had a need for two things this night. The first was your company, the second was a drink and seeing as you deprived me of the first, I chose the second. But now that you are here, I fancy being a glutton and having both.”
“Let me go, Marcus.”
“I think not. You came down to see what I would do and now you’re in hot water you’re withdrawing.”
“Please. I came to fetch a book. I did not even know that the billiard room was here.”
His gaze held hers, her turquoise eyes were unrecognisable in the shadows which shrouded the hall. “Whatever brought you here, it is to my good fortune. Share a drink with me, Elizabeth, that is all. Come.” He did not even give her the option of refusing but bent and caught up her legs, swinging her into his arms.
Her arms clasped about his shoulders as he carried her across the hall and into the billiard room where his shoes crunched on the broken glass. He did not set her down on the floor, but deposited her on the edge of the billiard table to protect her feet. “Stay there. I am going to fetch a decanter.”
To be continued…
If you cannot wait until next week for more of Jane Lark’s writing there’s plenty to read right now 😀 And if you have read them all already, then there’s another treat out now, you can begin devouring, The Dangerous Love of a Rogue
To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but the actual order is listed below ~ and click like to follow my Facebook Page not to miss anything…
The Marlow Intrigues
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all ~ The paperback would be a lovely stocking filler 😉
The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2
Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5
The Passionate Love of a Rake #3
The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5
The Scandalous Love of a Lord #4
The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5
The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come 🙂
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