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this novel should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
Emerald’s hands shook as she flattened the last of her items in her trunk and then closed the lid and secured the buckle. It seemed so strange to be packing with only Rita’s help. A few months ago she had boarded this ship with her mother. She’d never dreamt she would be leaving it alone.
They had reached London last night while she had been asleep. But the day before they had followed the English coast and in the distance she had seen sandy beeches, white cliffs and green fields. But the sky above was a murky grey and the sea below a dirty cloudy green.
Emerald picked up her white leather gloves. The ends of the fingertips trembled as she struggled to pull the gloves on with her hands shaking so much.
The ship had dropped anchor in the Thames estuary last night and then come in to dock this morning. She had watched from the deck as the ship had been towed into port. London seemed crowded in a way that Calcutta had not. The narrow white and black buildings appeared squeezed against one another and they overhung the streets below, crowding in over the cobbled dock.
Everything was so colourless. Bleak. Lacking life. Even the sounds from the dock seemed sullen. She had only seen England for moments from the ship and yet she was decided she did not like it here. She longed for home. For the warmth and sunshine – and Papa. For security. For things she understood.
She had told Richard that she longed for adventure. She had learned to dislike it now. In days she would be passed over to strangers. Her mother’s family. But strangers to her. Richard was taking her to them. Mr Pritchard had come to the cabin last evening and told her that Richard was to accompany her when she left the ship and that she must pack.
Rita held up Emerald’s cloak. Emerald turned so that Rita could put the cloak over her shoulders, then Emerald began securing the buttons as Rita picked up her own cloak.
Emerald had not spoken to Richard and nor had he tried to speak to her for days. But the thought of the strangers he would be taking her to sent a pang of longing twisting through her stomach – she hated Richard, she did not trust him, but at least she knew him and knew what to expect.
Yes, she had been cured of her childish desire for adventure and laughingly it was the adventurer who had cured her of it.
Mr Bishop had told her to be ready to disembark an hour ago and her hands had been shacking ever since. She was unsure though if the reason for her sudden weakness of character was the thought of the family she did not know or being confined in a carriage with Richard, possibly for days, when they were not speaking and so much had happened before that.
She picked up her bonnet from the bunk on which her mother had died and set the bonnet carefully over her hair.
She hoped Richard would ride a horse beside the carriage and not sit inside it. Surely he would not want to be with her in there? He had been ignoring her existence since she had cut him. He was too proud a man to seek any interest when it was denied.
Would he write to his mistress in Calcutta from London and rescind his decision to discard June now that Emerald had refused him? If he did she hoped that June would refuse him too.
That thought was not out of envy, she declared as she tied the ribbons of her bonnet beside her chin.
She had been telling herself for days now that she had succumbed to an image of Richard that she had crafted in her imagination from the loneliness she had felt on this ship. She had not loved him but loved an image she had made of him. She still loved that image, though. But the real man behind the picture she had painted was the man she had thought she’d known when she had boarded. Cold, hard and uncaring. He was a distant untouchable man, who had hidden the truth from her. Not the warm emotive man she had shared her dreams and a bed with. She wanted to forget those hours. Those hours when she had accepted his comfort. They had been false.
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
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)
Coming soon, the last part in the story, The Tainted Love of a Captain
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
A new dark contemporary erotic thriller