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The Kiss by Sophia Nash - Romance>Historical Other
He had once been her cherished childhood companion, and then the man she lusted for in secret, but Georgiana Wilde hasn't seen recently widowed Quinn Fortesque since the day he married another woman and shattered her heart. Then fate intervenes and brings the man she dreams about each night back to her ....
Returning to the estate on family business, Quinn would like nothing more than to turn the land over to Georgiana and leave the memories of his former life behind. But then the brooding marquis finds himself under the spell of the beauty he once left behind. With her barely concealed passions, Georgiana melts his coolly guarded heart. Suddenly his well-ordered world is in danger of crashing down. And it all began with just one kiss ....
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Twelve months later ...
"Thank goodness you're returned, Quinn," the dowager marchioness said, rushing toward the thirteenth Marquis of Ellesmere. "I'd despaired of ever seeing you again. Why, my daughters and I were certain those pagan tribesmen would kill you off and then where would we all be?"
Quinn Fortesque resisted the urge to tell his aunt that if he were dead he probably wouldn't care a whit. He also knew any attempt to educate her on the civility of the Portuguese was futile. Instead, he slowly rose from the mandarinstyle desk lodged in the library of Ellesmere House, Number Sixteen Portman Square, in the most important city in the world, and ruthlessly held in check his pagan desire to cut short the false welcome. "I hope I find you in good health, madam? And my cousins?"
"Henrietta and Margaret are well enough, but I fear my nerves will never recover." She sighed as if onstage and coyly offered her hand to him.
He took care to brush his lips on her fingers instead of kissing the air above as he was sure so many other gentlemen did. It brought a blush to the former beauty, just as he had known it would. Those who had had exquisite form only to watch it depart on aged feet were the ladies who appreciated attention more so than those who had never had any beauty to begin with. He offered this kiss, this laurel branch of peace, to the woman who hadn't spared him a thought until the moment of her son's death.
Lady Ellesmere sighed and sank into the low-slung Egyptian settee near the massive fireplace.
Quinn's aunt and uncle had always had a penchant for surrounding themselves with the most exotic, and most expensive furnishings. Upon his arrival two hours prior, Quinn had taken in the Italian silk draperies, the Chineseinfluenced wall hangings, and the Grecian-themed carpeting. Why, the mansion was a veritable model for harmonious international diplomacy ... among furniture merchants. Well, the Fortesque fortune could withstand the outrageous expense, and it was no doubt due to the machinations of the family's triumvirate comprised of a ham-handed solicitor, a stoic banker and a deceptively polite London steward.
His aunt tittered to break his prolonged silence. "Margaret and Hen are scouring the shops on Bond Street in preparation for the little season. If we'd known your ship was to arrive today, you can be sure they would've been here to greet you. We've so much to discuss." The marchioness withdrew an exquisitely embroidered handkerchief from her pocket and pressed the square of fine linen to her dry eyes. "To think the last time we were all together we were so blissfully happy and didn't even know it."
He raised one brow a fraction of an inch. Blissfully happy was not exactly the way he would have described his sentiments all those years ago when he had been lectured, whipped, and packed off to school on the back of his uncle's dogcart one cold, dark morning before the cock crowed. "I'm sorry you've been forced to suffer so, madam," he said quietly.
"Oh, you alwaysâwell, for the most part at leastâbehaved properly. Not that you shouldn't have, you understand. Nephews are always supposed to have impeccable manners."
Especially nephews who were penniless orphans.
"And I must thank you again for not getting yourself killed. I only wish you had come sooner to see to the marauder who has the audacity to call herselfâ"
"Madam, perhaps you didn't hear there was a minor problem of the colonies declaring war just after our diplomatic corps finished regrouping following the French withdrawal."
"Yes, yes, but you must remove that horrid gel from Penrose. I insist upon it. Why, she is running it to rack and ruin. The...
The KissBy: Sophia Nash