FICTIONChildren's Fiction Classic Literature Comic and Graphic Books Drama Fantasy Free General Fiction Historical Fiction Horror Humor Mystery/Crime Poetry Romance
NONFICTIONArt, Music, & Entertainment Biography Business Children/Young Adult Cooking & Food Crafts, Hobbies & Home Education Family/Relationships General Nonfiction Geography Health/Fitness History Humor Language Arts Personal Finance Politics/Government Reference Self Improvement Social Science
Current Events Ethics Feminist Folklore Gender Studies Human Rights Multi-Cultural Philosophy Sociology Women's StudiesSpiritual/Religion Sports Technology/Science Travel True Crime
Reader Rating: Not rated (0 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating: Not rated
Late June, 1825
Wife, wife, wife, wife.
Michael Anstruther-Wetherby swore beneath his breath. That refrain had plagued him for the last twenty-four hours. When he'd driven away from Amelia Cynster's wedding breakfast, it had run to the rhythm of his curricle's wheels; now it was playing to the steady clop of his bay gelding's hooves.
Lips setting, he wheeled Atlas out of the stableyard and set out along the drive circling his home.
If he hadn't gone to Cambridgeshire to attend Amelia's wedding, he'd already be one step closer to being an affianced man. But the wedding had been one event he hadn't even thought of missing; aside from the fact that his sister Honoria, Duchess of St. Ives, had been the hostess, the wedding had been a family gathering and he valued family ties.
Familial links had helped him immeasurably in recent years, first in gaining his position as Member of Parliament for this district, and subsequently in forging his path upward through the ranks, yet that wasn't the wellspring of his appreciation; family had always meant a great deal to him.
Rounding his house, a sturdy, three-storied manor house built of gray stone, his gaze went -- as it always did when he passed this way -- to the monument that stood on the verge halfway between the house and the gates. Set against the dark-leaved shrubs filling the gaps beneath the tall trees, the simple stone had stood for fourteen years; it marked the spot where his family -- his parents and younger brother and sister racing home in a curricle in the teeth of a storm -- had been killed by a falling tree. He and Honoria had witnessed the accident from the schoolroom windows high above.
Perhaps it was simply human nature to value highly something one had lost.
Left shocked, grieving, and adrift, he and Honoria had still had each other, but with him barely nineteen and her sixteen, they'd had to part. They'd never lost touch -- they were, even now, close -- but Honoria had since met Devil Cynster; she now had a family of her own.
Slowing Atlas as he approached the stone, Michael was acutely aware that he did not. His life was full to bursting, his schedule perennially crammed; it was only in moments like this that the lack shone so clearly, and loneliness jabbed.
He paused, studying the stone, then, jaw setting, faced forward and flicked the reins. Atlas picked up his pace; passing through the gates, Michael held him to a steady canter along the narrow lane.
The nightmarish sound of horses screaming slowly faded. Today he was determined to take the first step toward establishing a family of his own.
Wife, wife, wife, wife.
The countryside closed around him, embraced him in its lush green arms, welcomed him into the woods and forests that to him were the essence of home. Sunlight flickered, glimmered through shifting leaves. Birds called and twittered; beyond the rustle of the canopies, there was no other sound to punctuate the clop of Atlas's hooves. Narrow and winding, the lane led nowhere but to the Manor, joining a wider road that led south to Lyndhurst. Not far from that junction, another lane wended east to the village of Bramshaw, and Bramshaw House, his destination.
He'd decided on his course some months ago, but once again government concerns had demanded his attention and he'd let matters slide ... when he'd realized, he'd pulled himself up short, sat down, and laid out a schedule. Despite the distraction of Amelia's wedding, he'd stuck rigidly to his self-imposed timetable and left the wedding breakfast in good time to drive down here. To his necessary destiny.
The Ideal BrideBy: Stephanie Laurens