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Mystery and adventure abounds
A most forbidden attraction! Frederica Bracewell grew up under a cloud of shame. As an illegitimate child, she was treated by her uncle like a servant. It isn't until she encounters the new gamekeeper that shy, innocent Frederica starts to feel like a true lady...
Lord Robert Mountford has been banished by his family. After a debauched existence, he revels in the simplicity of a gamekeeper's lifestyle. Until temptation strikes! Frederica's plain appearance and stuttering speech are a far cry from the ladies of the ton, but she may just be his undoing...and unmasking!
Lord Robert Deveril Mountford propped himself up on his elbow in his bed. He brushed aside Maggie, Lady Caldwell’s waterfall of chestnut curls and kissed her creamy shoulder. “Two weeks from now?”
Dark eyes sparkling, she cast him a dazzling smile. “Evil one. Can’t you fit me in any sooner?”
“Sorry. I’m going out of town for a few days. Hunting.”
“Furred, feathered or female?” She stood up and slipped her chemise over her head and reached for her stays.
He slapped her plump little arse. “Whatever comes along, naturally.” Pleasantly sated, he yawned and stretched,
Maggie sighed. “It is time you settled down, you know.”
Robert tensed. “Not you, too.” He leaned across and laced her stays, then pulled the silky stockings off the blue canopy over the bed and tossed them at her.
She sat to pull them over her shapely feet. “Why not? There are all kinds of nice young things available. Take my niece. She has a reasonable dowry and her family is good quality.”
A sense of foreboding gathered like a snowball rolling downhill, larger and colder with each passing moment. It wasn’t the first time one of his women had tried to inveigle herself or a member of her family into the ducal tribe, but he hadn’t expected it from this one. He had thought he and Maggie were having too much fun to let familial obligations intrude.
He didn’t want a wife cramping his lifestyle, even if the ducal allowance had provided enough for two, which it didn’t.
Dress on, Maggie went to the mirror and patted her unruly curls. “Just look at this mess. Caldwell will never believe I was at Lady Jeffries for tea.” She gathered the scattered pins from the floor and tried to bring some order to her tresses.
Naked, he rose to his feet and stood behind her. Her eyes widened in the glass, the heat of desire returning.
He picked up the hairbrush, all at once disturbingly anxious for her to be gone. “Let me.” With a few firm strokes, he tamed the luxuriant brown mane, twisted it into a neat knot at the back of her head, pinned it and teased out a few curls around her face. “Will that do?”
A lovely lush woman still in her prime and wasted on her old husband, she turned and laughed up at him. “My maid doesn’t arrange it half as well. If you ever need a position as a lady’s maid I will be pleased to provide a recommendation.”
He gazed at her beautiful face, then brushed her lips with his mouth. “Thank you. For everything.”
He liked Maggie. Too bad she had to bring up the subject of marriage. He bent to retrieve her shoes and she sat on the stool. As he put them on her small feet, he caressed her calf one last time. A faint sense of regret washed through him. Too faint.
She sighed, and ran her fingers through his hair.
The clock in the hall struck four.
“Oh, botheration,” she said, jumping to her feet. She took another quick peek in the glass. “I think I will pass muster.” Her trill of laughter rang around the room.
He climbed to his feet with a wry smile. Maggie always maintained such good spirits. She never indulged in tantrums or fits of jealousy about his other women. She’d been the perfect liaison. Until now.
He’d send a token tomorrow, a discrete little diamond pin with a carefully worded message. No fool Maggie. She’d understand.
She reached up and cupped his cheek with her palm. “One of these days some beautiful young thing is going to capture that wicked heart of yours and you’ll be lost to me and all the other naughty ladies of the ton, mark my words.”
Too bad she couldn’t leave well enough alone. He caught her fingers and pressed them to his lips. “What? Be tied to just one woman when there are so many to enjoy?”
“You are a bad man,” she said. “And I adore you.”
She whirled around in a rustle of skirts, a cloud of rose perfume, and sex. She opened the door and dashed down the stairs to her waiting carriage.
Yes, Robert thought, he would miss her a great deal. Now whom did he have waiting in the wings to fill his Tuesday afternoons? A knotty, but interesting problem. The new opera dancer at Convent Garden had thrown him a lure last week. A plump little armful with come-hither eyes. And yet somehow, the thought of the chase didn’t stir his blood.