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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, 61, 62
She did not believe him. He could see. She had given up on her father as she had given up on him.
Was that why she was willing to marry her cousin and sacrifice herself?
Richard did not like the way her aunt spoke for her either, it was so at odds to the strong-willed woman who had fought with him over simply being asked to go below decks to avoid the rain.
He had not really come to dispel the rumours. He had come to persuade her against her cousin. But he could hardly do so with her aunt in earshot. Yet clearly, all was not well in this room. Emerald was too cowed. He needed to get her out of here.
“I––I–” Emerald stuttered.
“He will come,” Richard reinforced, feeling a moment of connection with her, that could not be known by the others. Only he and Emerald could remember that last day on the dock in Calcutta as she had said goodbye. Unfortunately she must remember Richard’s impatience to leave too.
He did not speak for the rest of his visit, Rose held Emerald’s attention while Emerald’s aunt grovelled to his mother as they finished their cups of tea.
He had persuaded his mother to join them with the threat of scandal, warning her he would come alone and create more if she did not accompany him. She had blamed him of course. Yet he had seduced Emerald; Emerald would not have crossed a bloody room to strike him had there been no emotional tie between them and now the whole damned ton knew what had occurred on his ship––and that previously she had been innocent. Only an innocent would be foolish enough to declare her anger so publicly. It did not help matters she had picked the celebration of her engagement to do it. But that was his fault too. He’d attended uninvited.
When he took his leave, he bowed to her aunt, and then turned to Emerald and captured her hand, holding it firmly as it trembled while he bowed again. She had lost all the courage she’d displayed on the ship.
A need to protect her swamped him, as it had in the dark cabin when she’d been ill. Yet when his thumb brushed over her knuckles in a caress of comfort she pulled her hand free as her gaze met his and flashed with defiance. His Emerald was still there, expressed in her stubborn refusal to forgive.
When he handed his mother and sister back up into his carriage, his sister smiled. “She is very pretty isn’t she?”
“And engaged,” he answered as he climbed up behind her.
When they reached the Mansion in Mayfair, a house he would never come to think of as his home, he climbed out first and handed his mother down, then Rose. “I am going to White’s,” he declared. His mother threw him a sharp look. She disliked him and everything he did––she always had. His absence had not made her heart grow fonder and he did not care to change it––he did not like her.
Rose––however––hugged him as their mother walked up the steps to the front door that had opened. “She is lovely,” she whispered to his ear, “you like her don’t you? You came to London last night for her.”
His fingers cupping one cheek, he kissed her other. “You have a very good imagination, Rose.”
“Have I?” She lifted her eyebrows and laughed at him. “Go on, go off and do your manly things, we will see you for dinner and be prepared to accompany you to the theatre.”
Richard tapped her beneath the chin before she had time to turn away.
He sighed as he climbed back into the carriage and she ran up the steps. Emerald was younger than Rose and if a man had bedded Rose he would be furious. He had to win Emerald back. The kiss she had returned last night only underscored it. He was not listening to her denials anymore. Let her try to push him away as much as she liked he was not going.
At White’s, Richard faced his next quarry, Sunderland. “Your Grace,” Richard bowed as he interrupted a conversation Emerald’s cousin was having with a group of men. This was walking a fine line.
Sunderland turned, surprise written in his expression. “Wroxeter…” The greeting was not a welcome and he did not make a move to introduce Richard to the others, instead they stared at Richard as though he was a freak.
His father had made him this. His father had disparaged him in front of these people. They did not see him as an equal––they thought him a feral rogue. Well perhaps he was.
“I have just come from calling upon you at your home, Sunderland.” Richard began as Sunderland’s blue eyes weighed Richard up. Sunderland was a striking looking man and he held respect among his peers. He was as Richard imagined his elder brother would have been, if life had given Arthur the chance to become the earl. “In your absence I made an arrangement with your fiancée for this evening, to quell the gossip in the papers. Her chaperone indicated you would be willing…” Richard had known Sunderland would not be at home. Now he was simply tying up the loose ends.
“What arrangement?” Sunderland asked, his voice growing in pitch and depth.
“A theatre excursion, this evening, your family and mine.” Richard watched the other man’s expression. Sunderland understood. He was no imbecile. He knew when a man was stepping on his patch but Richard had no intention of stepping back.
“Very well.” Was Sunderland’s answer, Richard had manoeuvred him too well for the man to refuse. But the narrow path he walked was to ensure that Sunderland knew the rumour was true while every one else began to disbelieve it. He did not wish Emerald’s reputation destroyed, merely her engagement.
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