We’re less than a week away from the release of The Lady Taken: Part 1 and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve been counting down the days until my historical erotic romance serial officially starts because I just love these characters.
Last week I posted the first chapter of the first part of the serial. Today I’m giving you the rest of chapter 1 and the introduction of Wolf, the mysterious, rugged highwayman who will turn Lady Killane’s world upside down. And if you’d prefer reading the first chapter on your eReader, you can download a free sample today.
“You don’t trust me,” Jonathan said.
That was the first intelligent thing he’d said since leaving Liverpool. “My darling, I don’t trust anyone.”
“It is insulting,” he pushed.
“It is nothing of the kind. Your every need is taken care of. You need only to ask if you require anything in my home. You know this.” And take a full advantage of it too, ordering the servants around as though they were your own.
“If I could just have an account of my own—”
“No. Your father provides your allowance. That should be more than enough spending money.”
“Inconceivable!” He threw his hands up in frustration. “I should leave you, for all the good it’s doing me.”
The moment the words were out of his mouth, his eyes grew large with fear. He knew just as I did that he’d just said the one thing he shouldn’t have.
My stomach flipped as the memory of my own father berating me flooded my vision. I could still feel the spittle strike my face as he screamed at me. What good is a daughter if she can’t fatten my purse? Why aren’t you pleasing your husband the way you should? It is your duty!
I rushed back to Charles in tears that day, begging for him to draft me a bank note or release me some coin. Anything. I told him that I wanted dresses, slippers, jewelry—all the trappings of a countess that I had not yet claimed. He hesitated before cheerfully suggesting that I take advantage of my account at Worth and order as many gowns as I desired. Defeated, I went back to my father the next day, knowing the fate that awaited me. The man slapped me so hard there was no covering my bruised cheek. Charles had taken one look at me that night, hair pulled over my brow to try to hide the mark, and banned my father from our house.
Charles wasn’t the husband women normally dreamed of. He was twenty-four years my senior, balding and afflicted with gout, but he’d taught me so many things about myself that I hardly knew existed. He’d given me my freedom. He’d shown me that steel could run cold under satin.
Now, five years a widow, I stared Jonathan down from my side of the carriage and made my decision. “When we arrive at the Duke of Easingwold’s home, you will greet the duke with all of the grace and kindness you possess. Then you will retreat to your bedroom.”
Jonathan squirmed a little in his seat. “But we always stay together at the duke’s home.”
As unconventional as a shared room might be between husband and wife, this was not a party for the happily married. Normally guests slept with those they brought—at least for the first night. Then partners were swapped and pleasures enjoyed. It was almost unheard of for guests to sleep alone, but Easingwold would just have to find a spare bedroom, because I was not spending another night with Jonathan.
I fluttered my fan a little faster in annoyance. “It is that or remove yourself from this carriage right now. It is your choice, but either way, this understanding between us is over.”
“Lady Killane,” I said sharply. I didn’t take my title lightly—no matter how many people thought I’d misused it gravely since my husband’s death. If he was going to insult me, he would do it with the proper address.
“Lady Killane,” he murmured, his eyes downcast.
“You understood the terms of our arrangement. Either of us can walk away whenever we choose to. That gives me as much freedom as it does you. Just as you wanted.”
He must have seen the comforts of his life with me slipping away like water through his fingers. “But I love you,” he tried.
My hollow laughter rang out. “You’ve never loved me. You share far too many traits with Narcissus to ever care that deeply about anyone else. What I’m giving you, my darling, is a chance to find another protector. Easingwold’s party should give you ample opportunity to do that if you are cunning about it.”
Whether Jonathan could remember how to produce the thought necessary to make a plan and execute it was a matter entirely up for debate.
“I cannot believe…” he started. And then burst into tears.
“Oh, good Lord,” I muttered. “This is undignified, Jonath—”
All of a sudden, the carriage gave a tremendous shake and pitched to the side as it rumbled off the road. I was catapulted off my seat and onto the bench in front of me. The horses screamed, and a shot rang out in the night. The contents of my reticule spilled out, and the book I’d left off a half-hour before shot across the space to hit Jonathan squarely in the side of the head. I dug my nails into the cushion of the opposing bench, clinging for dear life as I was thrown from side to side.
It seemed like an age before the carriage stopped its violent rolling and came to rest at a dramatic tilt. I sucked in a breath, trying to slow my pounding heart. Outside of the curtained window a horse whinnied, and I heard the scuffle of a man’s boots hitting the ground. Then another pair. And another.
Highwaymen. It had to be. I cursed our rotten luck. If only we’d started out a little earlier in the day we might have avoided them, but there had been a delay at the factory in Shipley.
If I lost my life staring down the barrel of a highwayman’s gun, I would be very cross indeed.
All at once, the carriage door swung open and a dark figure filled the door. “Well,” said a man in a voice that sounded like amber whisky poured over freshly chipped ice, “what have we here?”
Thank you for reading this exclusive excerpt of The Lady Taken: Part 1! Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get the most up to date information about release dates, preorders, and giveaways. If you would like to preorder The Lady Taken: Part 1 ahead of its June 30th release date, you can check out Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo.