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A Well Pleasured Lady by Christina Dodd - Romance>Historical Regency
Prim, plain, desperately virtuous Lady Mary Fairchild stared at the seductive gentleman and wondered -- did he remember the elements of the night they met? Surely not. In the ten years since, she had abandoned her youthful impetuousness and transformed herself into a housekeeper -- disguising her beauty beneath a servant's dour clothing determined to conquer the passions of the past.
But Sebastian Durant, Viscount Whitfield, did recognize her as a Fairchild, one of his family's bitter enemies. When he demanded her help recovering a stolen diary, she dared not refuse him. When he proposed they masquerade as a betrothed couple, loyalty forced her to agree. And when the restraint between them shattered and pleasure became an obs+M50ession, Mary had to trust a powerful man who could send her to the gallows ... or love her through eternity.
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Lifting one finger, Lady Valery said, 'Listen."
Mary heard the clomp of boots across the wooden floor, the deep resonance of a man's voice. Lord Whitfield had arrived, and Lady Valery sighed in a manner that could only be relief. Mary' s premonition of disaster deepened.
The library door flew open and a large man, still wearing his hat and muffler, stepped into the door way. "My dearest godmother!" His black cape formed wings as he flung his arms wide, and when Lady Valery rushed to him, he enfolded her like a great bat capturing its prey.
Rising to her feet, Mary averted her eyes. Lady Valery greeted Lord Whitfield with all the abandon of a mother greeting her long-lost son. Surely she wouldn't want Mary observing such a tender reunion.
"Step back?" Lord Whitfield commanded Lady Valery.
His incisive tones brought a tingle to Mary's already jangled nerves. Had she heard his voice before?
'Let me look at you," he said. "Ah, I see no signs of this old age you claim which has brought a dearth of elegance and wit in London."
'Flatterer." Lady Valery laughed, a light chime of joy. "It's what I like about you. Come and warm yourself."
"Gladly. 'Tis a damn cold exile you've chosen for yourself, my lady."
Mary gestured to Tremayne, and he entered and assisted Lord Whitfield out of his outer garments.
She still hadn't looked at Lord Whitfield. She couldn't. Not yet.
One of the maids whisked in and handed Mary a new pot of steaming tea. "Supper in an hour," Jill whispered.
Everything was proceeding on schedule. Every thing in Valery House was the same. Everything, and nothing.
"Tell Cook to proceed," she said to the wide-eyed maid, and the girl bobbed a curtsy before she carried the cooling tea out of the room. Tremayne shut the door behind her, leaving Mary alone with Lady Valery and Lord Whitfield.
Hoping to blend with the shadows, Mary stepped behind the tea tray. Moving with a clock's oiled precision, she set out the teacups--three, for she conceded she must do as Lady Valery required--and lifted the teapot to pour. She'd performed the safe, nameless role of housekeeper for so long, it was like a second skin to her, and she slipped into it effortlessly, feeling a sense of relief as that personage called Lady Guinevere Fairchild made way for Mary Rottenson.
Lord Whitfield had moved toward her, but she kept her eyes cast down as befitting the housekeeper. He moved closer, insistently, demanding by his presence that she receive him. He blocked the light of the candles and the warmth of the fire, but she pretended to be brave and held out the full cup for him to take.
His hands reached out and grasped the saucer- and she recognized the scar that slashed four fingers on the right hand.
It was him. It was him.
The hot pool of liquid never wavered as she gave up the cup. After all, Mary had spent the last ten years training herself to be the perfect housekeeper, and she refused to let the sight of a man's hands overset her--not even the man who could identify her as a murderess.
A Well Pleasured LadyBy: Christina Dodd