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The Truth

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, 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

 

Richard

“Are your possessions ready to go ashore, sir?”

“They are. You may have them moved.” Richard faced his quartermaster, meeting Mark’s gaze. “Also you may remove yourself from the ship. You are relieved of your service.”

Mark’s skin, which was tan from their weeks at sea, turned white, and his mouth opened to speak but no words came out.

“Did you think there would be no reprisal?” The anger inside Richard glowed like ash at the bottom of a hearth. He did not think his fury would ever be extinguished, his loss and remorse would certainly never cease hurting him and so if this was cruelly vindictive he did not care. “You should have remembered it is not Joseph who owns this ship. However, I am not dismissing you. It will serve as punishment enough to tie you to the land for a few months.” Mark’s colour returned as Richard continued. “You know, I take it, that if you had not intervened, Miss Martin would be my wife.

“Send someone to hire a carriage and have my own and Miss Martin’s luggage removed to the dock then report to my shipping office. You will work there as a clerk for now.”

“Sir.” Mark bowed saying nothing. At least he still had the common sense not to risk raising Richard’s anger any farther.

“Go then,” Richard barked with a look that told Mark to run before his sentence of administration worsened.

Mark bowed again then turned away.

Richard turned too, to face the cabin doors. Emerald was in her cabin. In minutes they would be ashore. His heart hit like a fist into his ribs.

He glanced about the other ships in the dock. Their masts rocked as they swayed on the water. This had been his life for years. The sea. Trade. But now he was going back to a world he had run from so many years ago he could hardly remember it. He had been away too long to even imagine the scene of his return and he had not even tried because he had not wanted to think of it. That had been easy enough with Emerald and her mother distracting his thoughts. They had kept his focus on other things than himself. But now…

He was not a man who suffered with fear, it was the reason he had come this far; he would take any risk because he was not afraid of fate or failure. Yet today, the rate of his heartbeat and the clasping feeling in his stomach and his chest shouted fear. It had been creeping up on him in the last few hours. Whispering as he had tried to sleep and then gripping about his throat today.

In his mind’s eye he saw Emerald talking to the others and not looking at him.

Last night the knowledge that he had lost her had merged with memories from the past becoming tangled up like rope. “You are not worthy!” “You will never match up!” “No one shall respect you!” His rational mind had been fighting those words since he had woken and his emotions had mingled with them and applied the words to Emerald.

But he was worthy of her. He was. And he was going to sit her in that damned carriage in a moment and talk sense into her. He must make her believe that he loved her. She had to marry him, he could not live with any other conclusion.

The crewmen walked past carrying his  possessions in trunks. He had no idea how long he would be in England.

“There’s a swanky carriage on the dock, Mr Farrow, sir. Cap’ain’s gone down to speak to some posh looking ‘ouse-servant. Lilly-livered looking ‘e is. Said ‘e was after y’ur ship, Sir. Mr Bishop told ‘im ‘e’d found it.”

Richard turned and looked at the sailor. “Thank you, Smith.” He was not interested in their gossip. Joseph could handle whoever it was… But.

But damn.

A thought slipped through Richard’s mind. Swanky…

He turned to look. His hands gripping the rail as suspicion lanced through his chest.

Bloody hell. No.

The glossy black carriage that stood a few feet away from the bottom of the gangplank had a mahogany and satin wood motif etched into the panel of the door depicting a gilded coat of arms – and the carriage driver had been looking for Richard’s ship…

The dock was a crush of men who were busy unloading or loading but Richard saw Joseph speaking to a man in grey livery who stood with a stiff back. It was one of those servants who thought themselves important because they were attached to such a grand man. Richard would guess that grand man was inside the carriage too. The conclusion was obvious.

Richard strode across the deck to reach the gangplank, setting men out of his way with a firm hand on their shoulders. His gloved hand slid over the rope as he walked down. “Mr Swallow!” he shouted when he neared the dock. “Mr Swallow!”

Joseph looked back as Richard stepped on to the cobble. He knew from the look in Joseph’s eyes that his guess was right.

“Miss Martin’s, relatives are here,” Joseph said as Richard got closer to him.

Damn it. For God sake. For years fate had been on his side but now it seemed to have turned against him. It is because I am back here. The evil in his head whispered. He ignored the thought and looked at the servant, fighting the urge to throw his fist at someone.

“Since receiving your letter and that from Mrs Martin, they have been awaiting the ship’s arrival.” Joseph continued to explain. “They were notified when we reached London last night and have come today knowing we would dock.”

Richard did not bother speaking with the servant, he strode past him to the carriage and opened the door. Warm air swept out,  with the scent of idle luxury that recalled memories of Richard’s boyhood. There were hot bricks on the floor under the occupants feet, and the impeccably dressed man on one side held a stick with a silver top that contained lavender. The Duke of Sunderland. He appeared to be around Richard’s age.

On the other side of the carriage  was an older man and a woman of lesser rank by the look of their clothes.

“Your Grace,” Richard stated, letting go of the door and bowing slightly. If he wished to win Emerald back now he must do so through her family, they were now the damned gatekeepers and she was meant to marry this duke. But he had not expected the Duke to be young. Nor expected the sudden kick of jealousy as the man got up and then climbed out of the carriage. “I am Mr Farrow, owner of the shipping company. It was I who wrote to you of Miss Martin’s situation. It is good of you to come in person.”

The Duke offered his hand to Richard. He had a strong handshake, he was blonde haired, blue eyed and square jawed and Richard had an instant dislike of them. He did not want to let Emerald ride off with this man.

He wished he had not sent those damned letters.

“It is the least I could do in the circumstances.”

Richard had deemed the Duke a pompous ass in his mind, but probably unjustly, the man had come to the dock to meet Emerald.

“I have brought Miss Martin’s uncle with me,” the Duke said, “her mother’s brother, Mr Coomb and his wife.” Mr Coomb and his wife were currently climbing out of the carriage.

“I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr Coomb, Mrs Coomb,” Richard bowed his head to them. “Miss Martin’s luggage is yet to be unloaded but she is ready to disembark.” What else was he to say. Go away.

“Splendid.” The Duke said. “Well then, that is excellent. Would someone fetch her, or should we come on board? She can come with us now and her luggage be sent on. The burden is off your shoulders, Mr Farrow.”

Richard did not want the burden taken from him, the idea of it shuddered through him. Nor did he like passing her off to strangers. They did not know her and she would not know them. He had imagined taking her to the mans’ house and being asked to stay and he had intended to accept that offer for a few days until she was settled… To just let her go….

Then there was the new fear that she would see something in this man that she had not seen in him. The fear that had been pressing about his neck on the deck was now strangling him with a firm hold. He was losing her forever. But he had no choice. Any complaint may bring about her ruin. He should have no interest. He should want her gone. She ought to be nothing but a passenger to him. “I shall fetch her.” Richard bowed again, more deeply, though it cut at his pride, but he did it for Emerald’s sake. He did it because he would need to win her back through the Duke. Some how… There must be a way. He did it because Emerald was more important to him than anything else.

When he turned back towards the ship he caught Joseph’s gaze and saw the look that recognised Richard’s unusual submissive approach,and the reason for it.

Richard’s strides were long and quick as he clasped at the ropes on either side and climbed the gangplank, wanting as long as he could get with Emerald.

Numerous men amongst the crew had stopped what they were doing and were looking at him. His bowing on the dock had screamed to them what had been going on. Now the whole ship knew his interest was fixed in Emerald’s direction. The only people who did not know were her family.

He did not bother barking at the men, but focused his mind on the minutes he would have with Emerald.

Richard stood before her cabin obviously about to send the men in to collect her luggage. Richard lifted a hand to tell him to wait. “The Duke of Sunderland is here to collect Miss Martin. Please to talk to his servant to find out the address for her luggage. They will have it sent on later.”

Richard knocked on the cabin, his mind screaming. You have lost her! You will never see her again! Never!

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last book in the Marlow Intrigues series out in May and available to preorder

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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The Truth

© Jane Lark Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark,

this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17,18 ,19,20,21,22,23,24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31

 

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Emerald

As she slid between the sheets, Emerald’s heart thumped hard within her chest. ‘I love you. I have done so for weeks. I shall give you space and time. I will not speak yet. But I will do so when the time is right… Will you listen to me then?’

He’d said he loved her. He’d kissed her. Richard Farrow. Richard Farrow! Her friends in India would be suffering hysteria if they knew. No one succeeded in becoming close to him. No one really knew him. And he had declared his love for her .

A thousand butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she rolled over and turned her back on her mother’s empty bunk. He’d promised to speak! He was going to offer marriage! She could go home to Calcutta!

Her friends would be green with envy.

‘We can travel. I can show you places, give you the enlightenment and knowledge you long for.’

Her heart beat echoed in her ears. She could have everything she wished for. She need not marry her distant cousin, the stranger, in England. She would be married to a man who loved her. She would be envied in Calcutta. Richard had treated her with respect, and he admired her intellect. In her mind she imaged her marriage. She would learn his business and make herself his equal. She need not submit to him  as she would have been forced to submit to her unknown cousin in her English marriage.

A smile parted her lips as sleep claimed her.

***

Once Emerald had dressed in the morning, Mr Bishop knocked on the cabin door and invited her to join the men to break her fast. “…The consensus of opinion, Miss, is that you should not be left alone.”

She accepted and wrapped one of her mother’s shawls about her shoulders. She’d found it out this morning, seeking the comfort of her mother’s smell.

Her hand lay on Mr Bishop’s arm to walk across the deck, while Rita walked behind them.

When Mr Bishop opened the door of the day cabin, she was greeted by the sight of Mr Swallow and Richard leaning over the charts that were spread out on the table.

She walked across the room, to look at the charts, as Richard straightened and turned. He smiled at her and the look in his eyes was endearing. I love you, he’d said last night.

She glanced at the door where they’d sat together. It was still unlocked, she had hidden the key again but left it open.

Her gaze turned back to him, and she smiled too, then looked at Mr Swallow who’d also straightened. She and Richard had a secret to hide from him – from everyone.

“Good morning, Mr Swallow,” she said as Richard came forward. Then she turned and offered her hand to Richard.

“Miss Martin.” He held her hand and bowed over it.

Tremors skimmed up her arm. Last night he had kissed her mouth and her tongue had danced with his.

When he let go of her hand, she could sense her blush. Her gaze focused on Mr Swallow. “Where are we currently?”

Mr Swallow pointed at their position on the map as Richard walked away. She was intensely aware of Richard, her body hummed in recognition of his proximity as the maps were rolled up and put aside. Then all through breakfast she kept glancing at him, but he showed not one single sign of any deeper attachment. She could have dreamt last night. But she had not.

The men rallied about her for the rest of the day, watching over her, speaking to her constantly, taking it in turns to entertain her on the deck, or in the day cabin, playing cards or chess, conversing or perambulating about the rails with her. Though, she refused to speak to Dr Steel, she had not forgiven him for his lies. But Richard, in everyone else’s presence, he kept his distance, showing no sign of attachment and treating her as the others did. She longed for the night to come. To discover what would happen next.

When she slipped through door into the day cabin after dark, Richard was there, looking at the charts, his evening coat and waistcoat removed, his hands leaning on the table as an oil lamp swung from a hook above him.

“You were waiting for me…”

“No. I am looking at the charts.” But despite his denial he opened his arms to receive her as she ran across the room to him.

He kissed her for a long time, and then his head bowed and his breath was hot and heavy against her neck as his hands gripped her waist with the strength of iron bars, holding her away.

When his head lifted, his eyes shone with a strange brightness. “You should go to bed, Emma. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

She went to him again the next night.

The following day after they’d eaten breakfast, Mr Swallow walked ahead of them with Rita, out on to the deck. Emerald stopped and grasped Richard’s coat sleeve, to stop him, then pulled him behind the door and rose on to her toes and pressed her lips against his. She was tired of his stone like denial in the daytime, it had become annoying. Insulting.

His fingers had clasped her nape and he kissed her hard for an instant, brushing his tongue into her mouth before pulling away with a smile. Then he straightened his coat and turned away holding out his hand, bidding her exit first.

Pride swelled in her chest, denying all her grief as she walked past him, letting her skirt brush his legs. But then she caught Rita’s gaze, there was judgement in Rita’s eyes. But Emerald need not explain herself to her maid.

She went Richard in the day cabin again that night, and during the next day he found two opportunities to pull her about corners out of sight and kiss her briefly.

But on the sixth day of their trysting, she admitted a truth to herself – she was in love. With Richard Farrow! The silent, dark, secretive man she’d often watched from a distance in Calcutta and called cold, and hated. He was not cold but kind, and caring. Respectful. Dependable. He was two men. The business man who walked among his crew in the day and the one who kissed her and whispered words of love to her.

But she was his secret now, and he was hers. She knew the second man, the fire and warmth within him that he never showed to others.

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama, like Victoria and Poldark.

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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 

Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3 

The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5 

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 and, yes, there are more to come  :-) 

CompleteCollecvtion_Facebook_Advertv5

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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