Posted as a gift of my time and thoughts to the readers of my books, thank you for the lovely messages of appreciation,
© Jane Lark Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark,
this novel should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 ,19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33,34,35,36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60
Anger seared through her blood as Emerald crossed the room, ignoring The Duke’s guests, her heart pounding. Richard’s gaze turned to her when she was feet away. She saw the muscles in his jaw stiffen. The people about him followed his gaze as she walked the last few steps, her hand lifting.
She slapped him hard across the cheek. “You liar!” Her hand balled into a fist at her side as his fingers touched his reddening cheek. “You are the Earl of Wroxeter and you did not say!”
His eyes had become darker and his look was now cold. “I am,” was all he said.
“My dear, you are making a scene.” The words were said in a low voice near her ear, The Duke had come to her, to calm her childish outburst down. His fingers cupped her elbow to turn her away as she became aware of whispers passing like a wave about the room behind her.
“You were not invited, Wroxeter,” The Duke challenged.
Richard bowed slightly. “Your Grace, I have just returned to London. I came to join my family. I recall you agreeing to my calling upon Miss Martin. I did not think there would be an issue.”
She was not waiting here listening to Richard weave more lies about her. Everyone was played with and fooled in Calcutta, why had she thought it was different for her. She lifted her arm away from The Duke’s grip and turned.
She wanted to run upstairs but she did not. She set a false firm smile on her lips and walked over to her aunt, denying the stares of those about the room. Once she was there she glanced back. The Duke was still beside Richard. They looked like an angel and the devil. The Duke’s blonde hair and pale skin stood out against Richard’s deep brown hair and darker skin.
One of the Duke’s friends approached her, and then more of his friends gathered about like moths drawn to a flame, seeking ways to discover the cause of her argument with the man across the room. After a few moments speaking with The Duke, Richard walked out.
The gossip about the Earl of Wroxeter increased when he had gone. The Duke and his guests were fascinated by the prodigal son they’d carved into myth––the fraud––and now they knew that she knew him they all wanted her to tell them tales from India. She shared none.
Richard waited on the pavement at the corner of the street, the tip of the walking cane he held tapping against his boot impatiently as he looked at the house. Rosalind had gone in and if she was doing what he had asked at any moment she would come out and come out with Emerald in her company.
If the stupid woman did not refuse. But he had told Rosalind not to mention his presence. He needed a moment to speak with Emerald and he did not think she would agree to it if he had called there. He was also certain her cousin, and betrothed, The Duke, would turn him away if he called at the door.
At last the door opened and two women came out, in their bonnets and cloaks
It was them.
He moved forward instinctively. Rose glanced his way, but Emerald did not notice, her gaze was on the gate of the garden enclosed in its iron railings at the centre of the square. Her hand lifted as she neared it, holding out the key to open the lock.
His steps quickened. “Emerald.” He called as she pushed the gate open. Her head turned sharply as he walked the last few steps to join Emerald and his sister.
‘Rosalind wait here and keep a look out,” Richard said, taking the key out of Emerald’s shaking hand before she had chance to recover from her shock and rebuke him. “Take the key and lock us in.”
“No, Richard,” Emerald shook her head, her eyes casting him as guilty as they had done on the ship, with her quick judgements. Yet last night she had grasped his neck and kissed him.
“We need to talk.” He held her arm and led her into the garden.
“May we cease this nonsense now?” he opened.
“We may not,” she answered. “Why did you not tell me?”
“I did not tell you because I did not know. My father died the same week as your mother. I was not the Earl of Wroxeter until I came home.” His hold on her arm kept her walking farther into the garden amongst the high shrubs that would hide them from the view of onlookers peering from the windows about the square.
“You were a lord,” she cut back sharply as though that were a sin.
“A lord’s son.”
“A lord’s son still bears the title, my lord, my lord. Did you forget it in Calcutta? I have never heard you called Lord Farrow. Everyone thinks you a self made gentleman there.”
“It is what I am,” he answered on a growl, the thread of his patience shortening.
“It is not,” she responded. “Do you enjoy living out your lies?”
“I am the owner of a trade and shipping company. I am a man. I have established offices and suppliers throughout the world. Are you calling those things a lie?”
“Did your father’s influence help, is that your strength? Is that how you undercut and exclude people so easily in India?”
She was in a caustic mood. It prodded the coals of his anger like a poker. “The people I trade with care for the best price not the details of my birth. I pay them well.”
“And lie to them, as you lied to me.” She pulled her arm free. “I do not wish to speak to you. Do not seek me out again.”
“So you said to me moths ago and then I return to be asked why I had not come…”
A sudden radiant––empty––smile parted her lips. A smile she had clearly become remarkably good at faking. Her eyes bore no echo of it. “I am sorry for that. But now, good day.”
This was not the vibrant beauty Richard had fallen for. She was bitter, angry and hollow in the middle. She had wilted since he’d last seen her. Emerald needed sun. She needed India. She needed to go back to Calcutta.
Let her rail now he would not be deterred, what had happened first yesterday evening had expressed the truth.
The smile still on her lips, she dropped a deep mocking curtsy. “My Lord,” she chimed. Then she left him there, like her damned fool.
He was her fool. He’d let no other woman, play him like this. She’d caught him in her siren’s snare. He did not even wish to break free. He wanted her.
To be continued…
The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama
The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series
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) 😉
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback
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