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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, 63
Emerald’s heart pounded as she watched Richard emerge from the midst of the theatre box full of people. “Your Grace.” He bowed to her cousin and then turned to her uncle and aunt with aplomb, “Mr and Mrs Coomb,” before looking to her. “Miss Martin.” His hand lifted and hovered waiting for hers. Her fingers shook as she acquiesced and set her hand on his. He raised her gloved hand to his lips and kissed her fingers while his thumb brushed across her palm and his dark gaze held hers. As soon as he lifted his head she slipped her hand free.
“Miss Martin, you have not met all of my family. This is my elder sister the Countess of Lincoln and the Earl.” The beautiful dark haired Countess who stepped forward had as intimidating a look as Richard. “And my sister the Marchioness of Wells and the Marquis.” Emerald dropped a third curtsey. They smiled at her, all of them.
The scene silently screamed, fraud. Everything the papers had implied was true and she and Richard stood here pretending it was not before her family and his, with a theatre audience watching their farce.
“And my brother, Lord Frederick Farrow.” She performed another curtsey. For the none-to-speak-of family he had described on the ship, there were a number of them, and they were all titled.
His youngest sister stepped forward. “Sit beside me, I saved you a place. We have the best view. Richard said the theatres in Calcutta do not compare.” Emerald knew his sister’s perceived kindness was simply more of Richard’s manipulation.
As Emerald sat, she heard Richard direct her cousin to a chair in the second row of the box. The Duke would not be happy. He had been watching her in the carriage with a look of suspicion. He did not like the way this outing had been planned, he had been maneuvered into this as much as Emerald, except that he suspected her to be apart of the plan and not a pawn in it.
Her aunt and uncle were encouraged to sit with the Marquis and Marchioness of Wells in a third row, with Richard engineering it all. Then he sat behind Emerald. He neither spoke nor touched her but she knew he was there. Her senses screamed his presence as they had done on the ship. She was still attracted to him. Richard Farrow––the cold, distant, secret man from Calcutta. The liar.
Her heart beat steadily as she watched the play––Macbeth. Could there be anything more tragic. Tears hovered in her eyes as they reached the interval. Everyone in the box stood but her and for the first time Richard touched her, his fingers briefly pressing her shoulder before falling away but the instant’s closeness brought a rush of haunting memories; of him holding her hand in a narrow cabin while he read to her while she was ill; of him pressing her back against the wall behind the cabin door to kiss her after others had just left; of his body tangled with hers in crumpled sheets.
She hoped the dark theatre hid her blush as she stood too and looked at The Duke. His expression was somber.
“Rose,” Richard stated, “would you care to walk about the boxes with me and complete some introductions and perhaps you would join us, Your Grace, with Miss Martin.”
It was another subtle orchestration. He was forcing her cousin to accompany him to make this all look harmless. It was not harmless. His intent was not to cease the rumours, his intent was to break her engagement and win her back, she knew it. The Duke’s expression said that he knew it too.
Stupidly relief swelled inside her. She did not really want to marry her cousin. But then what would she do?
Richard stood beside the blond haired Duke. The devil and the angle, right and wrong, good and bad, deceit and security. Her foolish, wicked heart chose deceit. The need to cry swelled in her throat. She loved Richard but she could not love him.
The Duke lifted his arm and she laid her fingers on it. No. She was going to do the right thing and make her father proud. The Duke rested his hand over hers. She looked up and smiled at him, denying the shimmer of tears that she looked through.
Richard lifted his hand and encouraged them to walk ahead. He and his sister followed.
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