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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

106849-fc50

 

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

106848-FC50

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

Read Full Post »

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, 67, 8, 9, 101112131415161718 ,1920212223242526, 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, 5455, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 6162, 63, 64, 65,

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Emerald

When Richard had gone the room had a screaming emptiness as Emerald’s thoughts swam. His entire family had joined the game of pin Emerald down, surrounding her in a pack, hemming her in and keeping her talking until he had asked his inappropriate question. Only they had heard it. Of course she had known from the beginning that Richard was a clever and persistent man. She had just never thought that those powers would be used on her one day.

The thought of what he intended to do next distracted her as she ate dinner.

“Is all well, Emma?” The Duke asked. She looked up to face his stare. Perhaps he had spoken to her before. She had not been paying attention to the conversation. “I hear Wroxeter called today?”

“Yes.” What else was there to say, she could not tell him what Richard had said. “With his sisters.”

The Duke nodded, but she could see that he saw through Richard as clearly as she had. She ought to be cautious this evening.

When they reached the Merchants’ home, The Duke remained with her after they had passed the receiving line. Emerald strained to see Richard. She saw his family first. Then she saw him. He was speaking with his brother, who had not called that afternoon. Richard’s gaze turned from his brother to her, as though he had sensed her look without breaking the conversation.

She turned away and faced her cousin.

“Shall we have some refreshments, Emma?”

“Yes, thank you.”

He patted her hand. ‘Do not worry it will not be long before you can dance and enjoy yourself.’

But her grief would not simply end when her period of half-mourning did, the emotion was not bound by time in the way that society dictated.

Every moment she could sense where Richard was in the room but he did not come close, and nor did any of his family. Instead she remained at The Duke’s side as he moved about the room speak with his friends.

As she ate supper she could see Richard seated among his family. While she struggled to converse Richard talked and laughed. Why could her heart not comply with the sensible and disciplined woman her mother had wanted of her?

As people began drifting back into the ballroom Richard’s youngest sister approached. Perhaps Emerald had stared too much. “Miss Martin, will you walk with me? I hoped you would tell me more of India.”

Oh. Emerald’s heart raced,questioning the reason for this tête-à-tête as she glanced at her cousin but she stood without asking The Duke’s permission to leave. She curtsied, “Lady Rosalind.”

The Duke glanced across the room. Richard was still seated and he had his back to them talking to his brothers-in-law.

Rosalind threaded her arm through Emerald’s as though holding on so Emerald could not escape. “Let us promenade about the ballroom?” Once they were in the ballroom where the noise of conversation and music filled the air, Rosalind leant close. “Richard would like to speak with you. He will not come near you in here to protect your reputation but he suggested, if you are willing, that we walk out into the garden and find somewhere for you to talk privately.”

“And his meeting me in private will not affect my reputation…” Emerald’s voice was sharp. It was Richard manipulating again.

His sister smiled. “He promised he means you no harm. He will be careful.”

“Are you aware how many lies your brother tells?”

They continued walking, circulating about the edge of the dancers. “I am aware of the effort he will go to, to hold people back, yes. What you said about the way he lives in India did not surprise us. But I do not think Richard is lying tonight or that he would harm you. If you wish, I will stay with the two of you.”

“No, I will speak to him alone.” She was not afraid of him.

Within minutes they were stepping out through the french-doors on to a terrace illuminated by lanterns that had been hung in the trees. No one else was outside.

Rosalind turned away from the lighted paths and into the darkness. “There is a seat farther along.” She whispered. The farther they walked the more they relied on the intermittent moonlight that reached through the shrubbery.

“Rose,” Richard’s voice reached through the darkness then he stepped from the shadows. “Emerald.” There was a rare sound of vulnerability in his tone. Rosalind released Emerald’s arm and as Emerald’s hand fell Richard caught hold of her fingers then he lifted them to his lips for an instant. She could feel the warmth through the black satin of her evening glove as he kissed them.

“Thank you,” he said to his sister as their hands lowered.

“I will leave you, but I will not go far,” it was said to Emerald, to let her know she had a chaperon.

Richard smiled as Rosalind slipped away.

Emerald glanced backwards, half expecting her cousin to appear. It was tempting fate meeting Richard here.

As though sensing she might pull away he gripped her hand more firmly. “Will you sit with me?” The stone seat was tucked into the yew hedge. She nodded but he was already leading her there.

She pulled her hand from his as they sat.

“I am no threat to you,” he said quietly, in a pitch his sister would not hear. She stared into the eyes that months ago she treasured looking into. “Why did you agree to marry The Duke of Sunderland? You cannot convince me you desire that after what occurred between us at the engagement dinner.”

“I struck you.”

“You know full well I am referring to the kiss that came before the slap.”

“It was a moment madness.”

“Madness or not, it does not convince me you would choose to marry another man. At least wait until your father arrives.”

“He will not come,” the cold penetrated the thin sleeves of her evening gown and a shiver rocked her.

“He will come. He would resign his post rather than leave you alone here after what happened.”

 

Richard

Emerald’s eyes were wide in the darkness, and they said she did not believe him. Her hands clasped in her lap. This was the beleaguered, besieged woman of England, not his vibrant fire filled Emerald from India––her whole body expressed defeat.

“Give him time,” Richard urged. “Do not rush into this marriage. It is not right.”

“How do you know what is right for me?”

I am right for you. The words breathed through him. “I remember what you said on the ship, you wished for more than marriage,  more than than a life of parlour talk. That is all you would have with Sunderland.” I can give you more, you wanted more.

“I would have honesty and safety.”

“Emptiness. What of adventure? What of love? What of your precious happiness? Do you not wish yourself happy anymore?”

Her look sharpened but there was pain in her eyes. No grief.

He twisted sideways, reached and held her hand leaving their joined hands resting in her lap. “Do not do it.”

“I promised my mother.” Her pale eyes were silver in the moonlight.

“That you would spend the rest of your life unhappy? She would not have wanted that. Break this folly off. You do not care for him.”

“It is not as simple as that. My aunt has my purse. The Duke has paid for all I have. I am beholden to him and what would I do without their help?”

She was being honest at least.

He gripped hers fingers tighter. They felt so small and fragile. He remembered the feel of her hand aboard ship, when she’d nearly died. He should have stayed near her in London and kept calling irrespective of gossip, no matter that she’d not wished to speak to him.

“You would ask for your money back,” he answered.

“And if I they cannot return it…”

“Then you may use your father’s name at the docks to gain credit––or mine.”

“You know I cannot do that.” But as she answered her fingers held his in return and warmth pulsed into his blood as she accepted his comfort.

“You should have written to me.”

“You deceived me.” Her fingers slid free of his.

“Emerald,” he found himself whispering harshly, losing patience, he’d never pleaded to anyone but her. “Cease this misunderstanding. If I had told you I would have lied to your mother. I made a promise to her. I did not tell you because it is what she wished.”

“And your mistress?” she threw back.

“I did not have a mistress when I slept with you, I had ended that relationship.”

“The day before and she was waiting in Calcutta without knowledge of your views.” Their conversation had become an exchange of cutting whispers.

“I did not ask to speak with you to argue.” His hand rested against her cheek, touching her as he’d longed to for weeks. “I love you. It has taken me a lifetime to fall for a woman as I have for you. I did not know what I was lacking until this journey. When I knew, why would I not have made the decision to end a relationship with a mistress? What we had on the ship was good, Emerald, I dare you to deny it.”

“It was a lie.”

“My love for you is no lie. Forget all else.”

“Forget you lived a lie in Calcutta. You denied your family and your name. I do not know you. I thought I had begun to, but I did not.”

“And you know Sunderland?”

“He has not pretended to be anything he is not.”

“Nor does he pretend to love you. 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 shivered. “There would be love, he has children. They love me and I them. He is marrying again to give them a mother.”

God the foolish, openhearted––adorable––woman. She was beautiful in spirit as well as face. “Do not sacrifice yourself for his children.” His hand slipped to her arm. “They are not your responsibility. They will have nurses and governesses to love them and a father.”

“But they have no mother.” Tears glittered in her eyes and rolled onto her cheeks before dripping onto her gown.

Now he understood. The night on the ship, when he’d heard her in the day cabin, she’d cried like this. He’d gone to her then and kissed her, he should have only offered comfort and nothing more––not love. She was crying for her own mother again. Her forehead fell onto his shoulder. He held her, embracing her rigidly, every muscle in his body taut, pain hitting him like a punch with a knife blow. He owed her the comfort that she had sought in the beginning. He ought to concede, if to be left alone was what she wanted. Mark and Joseph had been right on the ship, she’d been coerced into his bed.

She did not love him. That was the knowledge that was growing like fermenting bread. His feelings were unrequited.

Even the night he had come to find her here she’d only sought comfort in his kiss, grasping hold of something she knew and understood in her new uncertain world. Perhaps she was right, Sunderland was perfect for her. He was reliable and trustworthy––not the spawn of the devil––a restless, groundless man. She would be safe with Sunderland. Perhaps not loved yet happy to some degree.

He ought to let her go.

He would know the grief that she knew then.

His fingers longed to comb through her hair but it was curled and pinned, he could not disturb it. Instead his palm lay on her back feeling her sobs run through her body. “All will be right,” he whispered. “Your father will come and if you choose Sunderland, so be it, just speak to your father first.”

Richard wouldn’t go back to Calcutta. If she returned there he would not want to be where she was and have to pretend nothing had happened between them. Nor would he remain in London, not when he would have to watch her marry someone else, be it Sunderland or another man. Someone who would be right for her. Richard was not. He would go to another country, another continent. Perhaps America––was that far enough away to forget her? He had already commenced the arrangements here, he could leave. He had informed his man of business about his plans and spoken to Frederick, who was prepared to accept the responsibilities of Earl in Richard’s stead, overseeing everything, and taking a proxy vote in the House of Lords. Richard would bid Frederick wed and bear heirs too. This family did not need sons born by him. He had never planned for children anyway, it was only Emerald that had stirred up such madness of wanting in his head.

“Richard?” Rose must have heard Emerald crying.

“A moment more,” he responded. Rose’s dark eyes took in the scene, seeing Emerald’s distress and Richard’s comfort.

She disappeared back into the darkness.

“Emerald.” He kissed her temple. This would be the last time he touched her. She did not pull away. He straightened and his fingers lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. The moonlight shone on her face revealing her desolation and the tear stains on her cheeks. “Have Rose take you to your aunt. Insist your aunt take you home tonight. Sleep and tomorrow eat. I can see you have not been doing so. When you feel stronger, speak to Sunderland and tell him you want to wait until your father arrives, at least you will want him there when you marry. But your father will give you another choice, to go home.”

He longed to kiss her but he did not. It was what he had done that night on the ship when he should have given her confidence that her pain would end. It would end.

God he hoped it ended. Could a lost-love hurt forever?

He rose, holding her hand. She stood too.

“Rose,” he called into the night air. She reappeared almost instantly. “Emerald is feeling unwell. Please take her back to her aunt and ask that she take Emerald home.” He caught Emerald’s gaze for a moment as he let go of her hand. “Goodbye.”

She turned as Rose took her arm. Rose looked back as they began to walk away. He nodded. Rose smiled. Emerald may not love him but he was not unloved. Even Alicia and Amelia held affection for him, no matter that he’d cut these ties years ago. He would send more letters and gifts, but he would not come back.

He did not follow them back to the ballroom but left via the stables. There was a ship docking tonight.

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

106849-fc50

 

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

106848-FC50

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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