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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

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Richard

“Mark!” Richard snapped at his quartermaster to get on his way and gather his items from his lodgings. Richard had just announced to him that he was to board The Rose for departure on the next tide and Mark was fussing with the paperwork on his desk rather than simply leaving.

“Yes, my Lord,” Mr Bishop, bowed, grovelling like a deckhand. “I am grateful for you letting me return to the ship.”

“Cease scraping, Mark, and go,” Richard answered, in no mood to be pandered to. “I have forgiven you and we will forget what happened. You still have your job and your place on The Rose.” Richard’s loss of Emerald would be a cross they both carried. But she would be safe now her father had arrived and happy again. And he would leave Calcutta and get as far away from her as possible before she went home. If she went home? She may yet marry Sunderland.

A pain cut through Richard’s chest as he turned to his man of business. Once he was far away from her he hoped the pain would ease. “Mr Pepper, if you need an urgent answer to anything speak to my brother.”

“My Lord,”

Richard had ceased running, he had not tried to hide from the title. He had told the office this morning of his coming into it. But now he was enduring this my lording.

His fingers lifted and slipped through his hair, they trembled. He shook out his hand a little as it fell and the door closed behind Mark. It would not be long before the ship sailed, all his items were all ready aboard, Mark would have to be quick.

Richard nodded to the two clerks left in the room. “Mr Smith. Mr Ramsden. Good day.” Both men bowed and my lorded. It was quite likely to drive Richard mad. On the ship he would insist no one used the title. He looked at his business man again. “Thank you, Mr Pepper, good-day.”

“Goodbye, my Lord.” Mr Pepper bent in a deep bow too. Richard turned to the door and left.

The noise of the busy dock at the end of the narrow street struck him as he walked down the outside steps from the first floor office. The putrid scents of the soiled Thames filled the air too.  The wind was coming up the estuary. The ship would have to tack into the wind as soon as the steam boats let her go.

As Richard walked across the uneven cobble he began to feel more human at least, it was being near the water. His hand slipped through his hair again. He had left his hat aboard the ship when he had come to fetch Mark.

An odd memory of riding across his land in Shropshire came to mind. The feeling of solid turf beneath the beating hooves of the horse. He had  been used to shifting seas for years. Strange that the solid ground of this this country kept failing him while the sea felt a steady and surer place.

Richard could see the dock ahead, through the carts and people that cluttered the narrow street, and he could see the sails of the ship that awaited him. As it had always done, the sight of his ship made him draw comfort from the things he had achieved in life.  But when Richard died and Fred inherited it, Richard did not doubt his brother would sell it all off. It was valueless in reality without a son to pass it to. But he had done one thing this morning to increase its value, he had changed his will this morning and left more to Rose and he had left her with an allowance now. He had informed her in a letter that would be given to her once he had gone, and told her in that letter that if she wished to live independently from a man he had given her an income to enable it. There was no need for her to marry unless she wanted to.

The dock was awash with people loading and unloading the ships. It was always like this when the tide neared its height.

A hired carriage hollered out angrily, trying to clear a path for his horses. It was foolish to bring a bloody carriage down to the dock at this hour. No doubt it was some gentleman traveler with no clue how things were done.

Richard looked up at the deck of The Rose. He hoped to feel entirely normal when he stood on the poop deck and watched the ship towed out.

Yet the thought that he would never feel normal again, without Emerald, whispered through his head.

His heart beat heavily.

The carriage stopped near his ship.

But good God, there would be the memories of her, in his cabin, her slim pliant body undulating beneath him in his bed. Her sharp wit and pointed looks piercing him with unfettered challenge in the day cabin. The sight of her watching the sea, her skirt blowing against the outline of her legs.

The sea lapped at the ship and the sound welcomed him as he reached the gangplank.

“Farrow! Farrow!”

Richard looked back, seeking out the voice that had shouted him, his hand on the guide rope beside the planking that lead to the deck.

The Governor of Calcutta, Emerald’s father, was stepping out from the carriage.

Richard let go of the rope and turned around, facing the carriage, a heavy stone like sensation sliding through his blood. It was the strangest thing to see Charles not as a business colleague, but as Emerald’s father, the man who meant so much to the woman who meant so much to Richard.

“Charles,” Richard stated walking forward as Charles turned back to the carriage.

Some of Richard’s crew passed him, carrying crates and barrels on to the ship. Richard walked between them.

Charles was holding a feminine hand, that then became a slender arm and a slim foot reached from beneath a lifted skirt and stepped down.

Richard’s heart pounded and he stopped. If they wished to travel back on his ship he could not allow it. He could not stand to be that close to her for months when internally she would be ripping him apart. He could not allow it.

“Charles, with respect, I am sorry, if––,” Richard began, but he got no further as Emerald rushed at him, and then her arms were about his neck and her kiss pressed to his cheek.

Through instinct his arms wrapped about her middle, but then he let her go, unsure what this was. His voice was husky with trapped, confused emotion, when he said her name. “Emerald?”

She pulled back and smiled at him.

His fingers cupped her nape and then he pressed a kiss to her cheek, unable to prevent himself. The smell of her. The feel of her.

But they were providing entertainment for half his crew watching them from the deck, and they had an equal audience on the dock. He held her shoulders and broke the embrace.

“You cannot go,” she cast at him, in a hurried concerned tone, her pale eyes glimmering with tears. “I love you. I want to marry you. You cannot go!”

He shook his head, his fingers cupping her cheek. Such tragedy was expressed in her pitch and her eyes. But this was how it had been before––dramatic emotions and then bitter regret. “Today perhaps, Emerald, but tomorrow… It is all built on lies, remember?”

“I was wrong, Richard. I was wrong. You were right. I care about nothing other than that you love me.”

Richard glanced at the deck of the ship. Her voice had carried. When he looked down Mark was by the gangplank, he must have told someone at his lodging to bring his trunk. He nodded, informing Richard silently to ignore the crew, and then he looked up with an invisible command that sent the men back to work.

“You won’t go, will you?” Emerald said more quietly.

He sighed. If he stayed tomorrow she would regret her outburst. “Sweetheart,” he answered in a low voice. “I love you to distraction, you know that, but England is not for me and you need a man you choose, not one you fell for only because you were isolated on a ship with him and in need of comfort.”

Emerald moved and hugged him fiercely again. His hands hovered behind her back, not holding her because he feared he would not have the strength to let her go again.

 

Emerald

Oh Lord, she had pushed him away so thoroughly he did not even believe her. She let him go and instead braced his smooth shaven cheeks and looked into his dark eyes. “Richard Farrow, I love you. If you dare go, I will never forgive you. We will fetch our things, we will come too.” She looked back at her father, urging him to agree.

“Emerald, darling.” Richard drew her gaze back to him. “The tide goes out in an hour, there is not time, and if you think I wish to be trapped on a ship with you for months when I cannot be with you, I do not.”

“You can be with me. You cannot go today, you cannot go without us, you will have to sail tomorrow, and we shall marry before you leave.”

His mouth opened as though he would speak but he did not respond.

“Farrow?” Her father moved forward, prompting Richard for response.

Her hands fell away from Richard and oh a wicked thought came to her mind. She turned around, looking at her father. So what if this trapped him, he loved her. “Papa,” she spoke quietly as she walked towards him, meeting his gaze and then taking hold of her father’s hands. “You must make him have me. We slept together on the ship. You must insist he has me.”

Behind her Richard coughed, or rather chocked, he had heard.

Her father’s skin flushed with a rush of blood, anger flaring in his eyes as his gaze turned to Richard and his hands pulled from hers. He stepped towards Richard. “Then there is no discussion, Farrow, is there? You will hold the ship until tomorrow and we shall travel with you and you will marry Emma before we sail. You had better get about obtaining a licence.” Her father looked at the bottom of the gangplank. “Mr Bishop, The Rose is not sailing today, you had better tell Mr Swallow and the crew. You will sail tomorrow instead.”

Emerald looked at Richard. He nodded his confirmation at Mr Bishop.

Emerald ran to hug him again.

His hands stroked across her back briefly as he leaned to her ear. “Was that wise, sweetheart? I hardly think your father is going to like me now.”

She pulled away. “Oh he does. He does. And now we are going to visit your family and announce this. You are not leaving without telling Rose.”

His eyebrows lifted. “And what of your cousin the Duke?”

“He will know tomorrow along with the rest of London when the announcement appears in the papers,” her father interjected. “But right now I concur with my daughter, you may introduce me to your family, Farrow.”

Emerald smiled, clasping Richard’s hand to pull him towards the waiting carraige

Follow the blog by email on the righthand index and join me for the conclusion next week! 

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series

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The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3

The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel #5.5

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) 😉

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6 

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback

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Go to the index

For

  • 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

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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 123456789101112131415161718 ,192021222324252627282930313233,34,35,363738394041424344454647484950515253545556575859606162636465, 66

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Chapter Nineteen

 

Emerald

“I shall take you to the ladies’ retiring room, to freshen up,” Rose whispered as they left Richard.

Emerald sat in a chair staring at her reflection while a maid repositioned the slipped pins in her hair. Rose remained beside her and when the maid moved away she asked quietly, ‘Did Richard cause your distress?’

‘No.’  He had not upset her, everything had suddenly simply overwhelmed her, everything she missed. His reassurance and comfort had uncorked the pain she had tried to bottle up inside.

Emerald sighed.

Richard had said her father would come and if he believed it, she did, despite his earlier lies.

When they left the room, Rose wrapped her arm about Emerald’s. “He means no harm. He does not relate to people easily,” she said quietly as they walked along the upper landing. “He has not been close to us.” Then she stopped, half turning and looking Emerald in the eyes. “He will not thank me for saying this, but I think I should. Richard was not born the heir. He and my father never got along. Richard was wild in nature, he liked exploration. He would not sit in a school room. He always absconded. My parents hated him. They called him a devil child. He was forever fighting with my eldest brother whom they adored and so he was punished, beaten, made to sit in a chair for hours and tied to it if he would not stay. When he was twelve, scarlet fever struck my family. Three of my brothers and sisters were taken by it, including my eldest brother. Richard became heir then.

“They made him fit my eldest brother’s mould. He was locked away with tutors and beaten more frequently if he did not listen and learn. He was never sent to school or college for fear he would rebel. I am too young to remember it but Amelia is older than Richard, she remembers it all. Once she saw him held down and being beaten. He is not bad, Miss Martin. He was just full of life and they tried to crush him. They did not succeed.

“My mother mourned my eldest brother’s loss for years and my father told Richard he would rather the line ended than pass to him. The day he became twenty-one there was a ball arranged, he did not even stay for it, he had his freedom. He took nothing from Papa but found a position in the East India Company and simply left.

“He is not cold, as he seems, Miss Martin, he does not hold people at a distance because it is his choice. Others have pushed him away. Their lack of love has made him hold people at an arm’s length. Even since he has returned he retired to the country to be alone, until your engagement ball. It has become a way of life for him.

“I wish him happy, Miss Martin. We all do. We think you can make him happy, you draw him out, and I think he would make you happy.”

Emerald did not know what to say.

Rose gripped her elbow. “I should not have spoken. You are in no state to hear it. Forgive me. Let me take you back to your aunt. But please do not think ill of Richard. He is not what he seems.”

***

Rose’s words rang in Emerald’s ears as she sat across from The Duke in the carriage. He is not what he seems. No. Richard had lied to her and pretended to everyone that he had no family. But he had been kind tonight. The carriage rocked gently over the cobbles as it travelled in a swift pace, reminding her of the sway of the sea.

“It was very inconvenient of you to feel unwell,” her aunt complained, Emerald turned to look out through the window, catching glimpses of the houses in the gas light.

“Emma was feeling unwell,” her cousin stated, “it was not a choice.” The Duke had insisted that they all accompany Emerald.

Richard’s words passed through Emerald’s thoughts. ‘That is what you are choosing, a lifetime in a loveless match. You cannot imagine it. You have only known love. You are not happy now. You will be unhappy for the rest of your life.’

She could not do it. She could not marry The Duke.

As they rode through the streets, in silence now, she thought of the words, how she would tell him, and the children would need to be told too. She could not allow this to continue. It was wrong.

The coach drew to a halt in front of The Duke’s townhouse.

Her cousin, stepped down first, followed by her uncle, who turned to take her aunt’s hand. When Emerald descended, The Duke offered his hand palm upwards. She accepted the offer of help and his fingers closed around hers. He did not let go but walked her on into the house.

She would do as Richard had said and sleep before she told The Duke. She was too tired to face any arguments tonight.

“May I speak with you a moment before you retire.” But perhaps it would not be her choice.

“I have a headache, your Grace.”

“Just for a moment,” he asserted. “We will speak in the library?”

Her aunt and uncle looked back as they walked in to the hall. The Duke waved a hand, encouraging them silently to walk on and leave Emerald with him.

A footman moved to open the doors of the library. The Duke walked Emerald through the double doors that were shut in their wake.

She pulled her hand free from his and stepped backwards a couple of paces.  “Your Grace?” They may be engaged but they still ought not to be in a room alone, she looked towards the closed doors.

“I have something important to ask you, Emma, and I am sure you would prefer no one hear this conversation. Sit down.” He pointed at a winged armchair near the hearth. She walked to it and then sat in a rigid position, her hands in her lap, uncertain of what would come next.

He had not sat down but his hands slid behind his back and clasped. “I hope that our privacy will encourage your honesty. What is between you and Wroxeter? You spoke with him tonight did you not? He was not in the ballroom during your absence.”

The sense of a blush warmed her skin. She opened her mouth but could not speak.

“Did something happen on his ship? Were you physical with him? If you were, I would know it?”

“I––.”

“Did he seduce you?”

Not as The Duke was portraying it.

“If there is something between you it cannot go on when we are wed.”

She was certain that the colour in her skin must be growing stronger by the second.

“I will marry you, even if that is the case. My situation is unchanged, I want a wife. You are suitable and I like you. But I will not be made a fool of. I cannot have been the only person who noticed you both gone. If we are to see this through you must end whatever this is with Wroxeter and send him away.”

Like was not enough! “He said my father is coming.” She took a breath and stood, she was tired but she not a coward and his anger was understandable but now was the moment to do as he had asked and speak honestly. “I cannot marry you.”

He looked struck as his lips parted and his eyes widened.

“I am sorry,” she continued.

His expression turned from shock to anger, and then both emotions were secured behind a mask of indifference. “As you will, Emma. I am not sorry as you have proven yourself to be a deceitful woman.”

Had she deceived him? 

Someone struck the library door. “You have a visitor, Your Grace,” a voice called through the wood.

“At this hour?” The Duke turned away. “Enter!”

“Who is it, Wallis?” he said as the door opened.

“It is the Governor of Calcutta, Your Grace.”

“Father!” Emerald rise, clasping the skirt of her evening dress as she did so, lifting the hem away from her feet so she could hurry across the room and out into the hall.

He stood there, in that giant room full of cold marble and stone. Her arms lifted as she neared him and then she was holding him, warm and flesh and real in her arms. “Papa.” Her arms clasped tightly about his neck as tears of joy moistened the collar of his coat. “Mama is dead.”

“I know, sweetheart.” His hand rested on back. “I received your letter and your mother’s along with Farrow’s.”

She loosened her hold and stepped back, all though her hands remained at his shoulders. “How did you get here so quickly? Should it not have taken longer.”

“By steamer, child, and across Egypt. Then I picked up one of Farrow’s ships.” His hand braced her cheek as his eyes swept across her face, looking her over, looking for signs of how she had faired. His thumb wiped away the tears on her cheek.

“I did not think you would come,” she breathed, biting her lip to stop more tears.

“Why on earth not? Of course I would come. I left Calcutta within hours of receiving word.” She held him again and he held her.

“Mr Martin.”

Emerald let her father go, there was a need for introductions she clasped her father’s hand unwilling to let go of him entirely. “Papa, you must meet my Cousin, and Mama’s cousin, The Duke of Sunderland.”

“Your Grace,” Her father said, bowing slightly. “Would you mind if I stay here this evening? I have only just arrived and have had no chance to seek accommodation.”

“Of course,” The Duke answered, all though his colour was high. He looked at Emerald, his blue eyes speaking of his disapproval, but it was not voiced. “I shall leave you in the company of your Father, Emma, goodnight. Goodnight, Mr Martin.”

Her father bowed once more. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

“Thank you,” Emerald lowered in a deep curtsey. Then as he walked away she looked at the footman. “Please have someone prepare a room for my father.” She smiled at her father. “We shall speak in the library until it is ready.”

“You are engaged to him…” her father said as they walked across the hall once the Duke was out of earshot. “I came in on Farrow’s ship and saw Mr Bishop at the dock, he told me the announcement was made a week or so ago.”

“Mr Bishop, is he not on The Rose?” Surely it was not The Rose that had come into dock.

“No, Farrow has grounded him here in London for some misdemeanour. But, tell me Emma, is that true, are you to marry the Duke of Sunderland? Farrow’s quartermaster seemed very concerned. He did not think it a good thing. He believed you to have been very upset when he last saw you.”

“It was a long time ago that I last saw Mr Bishop, but the engagement was real. I did not know what to do, without anyone to turn to here. But I have ended the arrangement this evening. I thought it would make you happy to know I had made a good match, but I realised tonight I could not accept a marriage without affection.”

As they stood in the library alone, he held her hands in his and looked at her face with the affection he had always expressed for her. “What makes me happy, child, is your happiness. I would not have sacrificed you to a loveless match and nor would your mother. She brought you here in the hope you would find affection, she would not have forced your hand no matter how much she wished you married to a peer.”

“Oh father, I have longed for you so often.” She would go home. She could go home.

To be continued…

 

 

 

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

106849-fc50
The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3

The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7 shortlisted for the UK’s

Historical Romantic Fiction Novel of 2017

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback

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 ‘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

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