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As she slid between the sheets, Emerald’s heart thumped hard within her chest. ‘I love you. I have done so for weeks. I shall give you space and time. I will not speak yet. But I will do so when the time is right… Will you listen to me then?’
He’d said he loved her. He’d kissed her. Richard Farrow. Richard Farrow! Her friends in India would be suffering hysteria if they knew. No one succeeded in becoming close to him. No one really knew him. And he had declared his love for her .
A thousand butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she rolled over and turned her back on her mother’s empty bunk. He’d promised to speak! He was going to offer marriage! She could go home to Calcutta!
Her friends would be green with envy.
‘We can travel. I can show you places, give you the enlightenment and knowledge you long for.’
Her heart beat echoed in her ears. She could have everything she wished for. She need not marry her distant cousin, the stranger, in England. She would be married to a man who loved her. She would be envied in Calcutta. Richard had treated her with respect, and he admired her intellect. In her mind she imaged her marriage. She would learn his business and make herself his equal. She need not submit to him as she would have been forced to submit to her unknown cousin in her English marriage.
A smile parted her lips as sleep claimed her.
Once Emerald had dressed in the morning, Mr Bishop knocked on the cabin door and invited her to join the men to break her fast. “…The consensus of opinion, Miss, is that you should not be left alone.”
She accepted and wrapped one of her mother’s shawls about her shoulders. She’d found it out this morning, seeking the comfort of her mother’s smell.
Her hand lay on Mr Bishop’s arm to walk across the deck, while Rita walked behind them.
When Mr Bishop opened the door of the day cabin, she was greeted by the sight of Mr Swallow and Richard leaning over the charts that were spread out on the table.
She walked across the room, to look at the charts, as Richard straightened and turned. He smiled at her and the look in his eyes was endearing. I love you, he’d said last night.
She glanced at the door where they’d sat together. It was still unlocked, she had hidden the key again but left it open.
Her gaze turned back to him, and she smiled too, then looked at Mr Swallow who’d also straightened. She and Richard had a secret to hide from him – from everyone.
“Good morning, Mr Swallow,” she said as Richard came forward. Then she turned and offered her hand to Richard.
“Miss Martin.” He held her hand and bowed over it.
Tremors skimmed up her arm. Last night he had kissed her mouth and her tongue had danced with his.
When he let go of her hand, she could sense her blush. Her gaze focused on Mr Swallow. “Where are we currently?”
Mr Swallow pointed at their position on the map as Richard walked away. She was intensely aware of Richard, her body hummed in recognition of his proximity as the maps were rolled up and put aside. Then all through breakfast she kept glancing at him, but he showed not one single sign of any deeper attachment. She could have dreamt last night. But she had not.
The men rallied about her for the rest of the day, watching over her, speaking to her constantly, taking it in turns to entertain her on the deck, or in the day cabin, playing cards or chess, conversing or perambulating about the rails with her. Though, she refused to speak to Dr Steel, she had not forgiven him for his lies. But Richard, in everyone else’s presence, he kept his distance, showing no sign of attachment and treating her as the others did. She longed for the night to come. To discover what would happen next.
When she slipped through door into the day cabin after dark, Richard was there, looking at the charts, his evening coat and waistcoat removed, his hands leaning on the table as an oil lamp swung from a hook above him.
“You were waiting for me…”
“No. I am looking at the charts.” But despite his denial he opened his arms to receive her as she ran across the room to him.
He kissed her for a long time, and then his head bowed and his breath was hot and heavy against her neck as his hands gripped her waist with the strength of iron bars, holding her away.
When his head lifted, his eyes shone with a strange brightness. “You should go to bed, Emma. Goodnight.”
She went to him again the next night.
The following day after they’d eaten breakfast, Mr Swallow walked ahead of them with Rita, out on to the deck. Emerald stopped and grasped Richard’s coat sleeve, to stop him, then pulled him behind the door and rose on to her toes and pressed her lips against his. She was tired of his stone like denial in the daytime, it had become annoying. Insulting.
His fingers had clasped her nape and he kissed her hard for an instant, brushing his tongue into her mouth before pulling away with a smile. Then he straightened his coat and turned away holding out his hand, bidding her exit first.
Pride swelled in her chest, denying all her grief as she walked past him, letting her skirt brush his legs. But then she caught Rita’s gaze, there was judgement in Rita’s eyes. But Emerald need not explain herself to her maid.
She went Richard in the day cabin again that night, and during the next day he found two opportunities to pull her about corners out of sight and kiss her briefly.
But on the sixth day of their trysting, she admitted a truth to herself – she was in love. With Richard Farrow! The silent, dark, secretive man she’d often watched from a distance in Calcutta and called cold, and hated. He was not cold but kind, and caring. Respectful. Dependable. He was two men. The business man who walked among his crew in the day and the one who kissed her and whispered words of love to her.
But she was his secret now, and he was hers. She knew the second man, the fire and warmth within him that he never showed to others.
To be continued…
The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama, like Victoria and Poldark.
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all
Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5
The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5
The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4
The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75 now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉
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