A Pirate's Mercy
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by Brenda Williamson
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Lady Mercy James takes adventure to new heights when she sets out to prove to her bitter grandmother a man can want her. However, her passionate one-night encounter with a handsome sea captain leaves her aching for love, and pregnant. English lord Ashton Sinclair masquerades as rogue pirate, Captain Sin--a man who only wants a woman to warm his bed, not his heart. Yet after meeting Mercy, his emotions begin to melt the hardness of his resolve. While her beauty stimulates his lust, her generous spirit arouses long buried sentiments of love, which he abandons by returning to the sea. Nevertheless, fate brings them together again. Threatened by the return of his overwhelming fear of commitment, he denies himself the joy of the lady's affections and doesn't appreciate how much he can miss a woman, until he makes a grave error in judgment by trading the love of his life for an island paradise.
eBook Publisher: Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: June 2010
12 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [185 KB]
Reading time: 116-162 min.
Lord Ashton Sinclair had never seen a woman as stunning and desirable as the one standing in demure obscurity behind the Duchess of Hempstead. Nor had he seen any exquisite lady so ripe for the picking.
On close observance of the other men in the room, Ash wondered if they were blind. Why had not one clamored around the beauty, vying for her attention? He dissected all the reasons he shouldn't approach her. By far not a shy man, his feeling of unworthiness kept him at a distance.
In a room teeming with people at the Hempstead's ball, the hours quickly rolled by. His attention never wandered far from the young woman. He witnessed her quiet, polite boredom as she hovered in the shadows of the Duchess.
Occasionally, he changed his position in the room to have a better view. Whenever the Duchess flicked her hand, the woman advanced from the eclipse of the massive column to do her bidding. Her grace and poise had all the earmarks of nobility. The way she held her chin up with confidence pushed him to think of royalty. When she bowed without a curtsy in the subservient manner to some request the Duchess made, he surmised her position to be no more than that of a lady's companion--a dressed up servant girl.
Nonetheless, he stood in awe. His attentive gaze mesmerized by her every move. Then she backed out of sight behind the column. Disappointment pushed him to go after her. He walked around the cluster of people in front of him and began skirting the room. When the girl reappeared, he stopped. She handed the Duchess a crystal glass and lingered with a helpful offering of a lace-edged handkerchief.
A smile tugged the corner of his mouth. Something about the girl made him happy inside--tingly with goose bumps. It became clear why no one approached her. Yet, her being a servant wasn't reason enough to stop him.
Ash refrained from rubbing the taut ache pushing at his trousers. Not even his mistress stirred his blood the way this girl managed. Marguerite was more an outlet for his frustrations. He used her without the slightest qualm for her feelings. However, her motives for being with him were not so much emotional as they were financial, so it made their situation tolerable.
Ash debated his next move. Naturally, no one would take much notice if he walked up and spoke to the girl. But what would he say?
"My darling man, you have been brooding far too long in these dark alcoves." Lady Marguerite Buckram slipped into place alongside him with a heavy sigh.
He, too, took a deep breath. Marguerite possessively looped her arm around his. She restrained his compulsive quest to meet the girl.
"I don't like parties," he answered. "I told you that before you insisted I come."
Marguerite had been sexually accommodating over the years. Even though he saw her rarely, she had stepped up her agenda. She no longer wanted to be a kept woman. Her goal was to marry and have a real title. Only the title his father left was provisional upon which of the Sinclair brothers married first. Instead of which was the eldest. As one of the twin sons of the deceased Earl of Brighton, neither of them could have the title until one of them met with that condition. Until such time, the title remained in abeyance.
"Will you not have one dance with me?"
He glanced at her coiled against him. "Not interested." He wrested his limb free of her grip.
"I have danced with nearly everyone here. My friends will think I came unescorted if you don't spend some time with me." She pouted.
"I told you I would attend. I never said I would participate or socialize." Ash had tired of Marguerite, her possessiveness had been wearing on his every nerve from the moment he stepped foot back in England.
"You never said you wouldn't, either," she hissed under her breath.
A fine spray of saliva misted him, and he wiped a hand over his face, smoothing down his moustache. He continued watching the girl across the room. Twice he thought he made eye contact with her. Both times he decided he was wrong when she turned her head and showed him she merely surveyed the full ballroom.
"Who are you staring at, darling?" Marguerite nudged him from his daydreams.
"No one." He exhaled the breath he held, and took a drink from the almost empty glass in his hand. "I'm tired and unimpressed by the activity of this pompous crowd."
"They're not so bad, my darling. If you weren't away all the time on that silly ship, you'd get to know them better. Come mingle with me and I'll introduce you to the most interesting people."
Out of boredom, he almost nodded. Then the girl across the room, while talking to another young woman, smiled. The radiant glow, the bright twinkling of pleasure in her eyes, made Ash's heart flutter excitedly. He had to meet her.
"Did you hear the news of Lady Meadows and Lord Carlton?" Marguerite squeezed his arm, jarring him from his reveries. "They're to be married, and they've only been together half the length of time we have."
Ash felt the room close in on him. An awful vision entered his head--his name and Marguerite's, written in blood, on a holy parchment, binding his soul to hers for all eternity. He shivered at the alarming notion chilling his veins. For an instant, he thought he felt a hand on his face, caressing warmth back into his skin. He looked around, but Marguerite was the only one close. Then he thought of his dead sister, Emma. Any time he suffered an attack of anxiety, he thought of her. She was with him in spirit, and he was never more grateful than now.
It became clear--Ash needed to be free of Marguerite. He had to sever their relationship permanently. There needed to be a very public, extremely scandalous event, so there would be no going back to her.
"Did you hear me, Ashton? I said Lady..."
"I heard you." He ran his hand over his head, trying to think of how best to get away from her. "So the fool is not smart enough to avoid matrimony." He chuckled, initiating an imminent quarrel.
"Why do you do that?" Marguerite expelled an exasperated breath.
"Do what?" He goaded her with his indifference, drinking the remains of his wine.
"Make marriage sound so horrible. Other than a piece of paper, and a ring on my finger, we are just like married people, you know." She let go of his arm, and it made him feel one step closer to freedom.
"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is only one reason you're in my bed." He looked for a servant to get another drink.
"Because you love me?" Marguerite's words struck a nerve.
He laughed at the outrageous thought. "Fucking you is a testament of my physical requirements, not emotional ones."
"You're so crude, sometimes. I don't know why I stay with you." She grunted with disapproval and disappointment.
Ash saw Marguerite's dilemma. He did sympathize. She was an untitled woman without means, and she desperately sought a man of substance and station. He, on the other hand, had no title, but he had money, and he strived only to have her in his bed as a matter of convenience.
"Please consider what I suggest. If you are dead set against marriage, I may have to look elsewhere," she threatened.
"Marguerite, I am not only dead set against getting married, I abhor the fact any man chains himself to one woman when he can have the pleasure of dozens," he said callously, hoping to fuel the argument.
"A scandalous rake, you are." Her lips pursed in aggravation. "Just remember my warning, Ashton Sinclair."
"I accept the compliment and your courteous finish to our liaison." He gave her a bow of his head, and motioned the nearby servant he spotted with a tray of filled glasses to come forward.
He switched his empty glass for a full one.
"Ashton, darling, you know very well I have no wish to end our affair." She purred a different tune. "You know I adore you ever so much, it will be a long while before I give you up."
She stroked the lapel of his jacket as if she were petting a dog. Little did she understand the seriousness of his wish to be rid of her.
"But you desire marriage, a title, and the prestige of your husband's name." He patted her hand and pulled it from his chest. "I can't give you any of that."
"You can give it all to me, Ashton. You just refuse to see that. Once we're married, you will inherit your father's title."
"I don't want the title. My brother does, and I've told him it's his whenever he finds the right woman to marry." He gulped down the glass of wine and set the stemware on the table behind him. It seemed impossible to drown out Marguerite's voice by the glassful and he looked around for the nearest exit.
"Darling, while just as handsome as you, your brother Weldon does not impress upon me to be the type interested in the ladies. Maybe he's... Well, could it be possible he has a proclivity toward..." She leaned closer and whispered, "A different gender?"
"Don't start any rumors, Marguerite. I'm warning you. If I hear one sliver of anything you're suggesting, your little secret might escape my safe keeping."
Ash flexed his fingers to relax from the tense way Marguerite upset him. He and his brother were close. When they were younger, he fought Weldon's battles, protecting his shy twin from anything hurtful. Even in adulthood, he always felt a need to defend him. Ash knew for a fact Weldon wasn't sexually interested in men. He was just conservative, and gentlemanly to faultless extremes. His affairs were discreet, and always with once married ladies looking to keep their private lives from public view. It was why Ash felt his brother deserved their father's title.
As much as Ash did have a good time portraying a rapscallion, he didn't have it in him to dismiss the willing Marguerite from his easy clutches. He knew he had to make it more her wish than his--just to give her a reputable satisfaction for her friends. He didn't love her, but he did owe her to that extent.
His gaze caught the young girl's across the room again. This time there wasn't a doubt in his mind she was staring directly at him, her attraction as steadfast as her gaze bore into him. He felt more than ready to meet her. Then a wicked, yet wonderful plan reared in his inebriated mind. He'd rid himself of Marguerite, while at the same time indulging in the intimate charms of the servant girl.
The twofold result would be for him to ravish the young lady with his lust, and conveniently have Marguerite catch him doing so. She'd be mortified, of course, and vindictive. With her pride in shambles, she'd have to tell everyone of his inexcusable behavior. However, their affair would be over.
The real victim would be the girl. Although, given her poor future as a servant, he'd make amends with some very lavish gifts, giving her reason to forget the soon to be indecent event.
The ballroom stayed abuzz with chattering females and boisterous men. They had to be loud in order to hear themselves over the music. When Ash saw his brother approach, he saw his opportunity to at least, temporarily, free himself from Marguerite's clutches. He suspected his brother enjoyed Marguerite's attention.
"Lady Buckram." Weldon presented himself in a low bow to Marguerite. "May I have the pleasure of a dance?"
Ash took Marguerite's fingers instantly from his arm and put them in Weldon's hand. "She's all yours," he exclaimed, without waiting for Marguerite to say yea or nay on her own.
His opportunity had come. Weldon would keep Marguerite occupied for the dance just long enough for him to meet the lovely angel. Then, with perfect timing, when Marguerite sought him out, he would have the servant girl in a compromising position.
Ash navigated the room, walked around the column of marble, and found the girl gone. He searched the sea of young ladies in disbelief. How had he lost sight of her in such a short span of time?
"Looking for me?" a soft voice whispered from behind him.
At first, he thought of Emma. Plagued by her death, he often imagined seeing his sister in a ghostly form. Surprisingly, it comforted instead of concerned him. He missed her immensely, and appreciated how his mind handled his grief in a constructive manner. Emma always consoled and directed his life in the most suitable way.
Ash rotated slowly. He dismissed the idea the servant girl would seek him out. Instead, his mind conjured up the image of an unmarriageable lady on the hunt for a prospective husband. He readied himself for the sight of her with her oversized mother hovering behind.
The appearance of the girl took his breath away. His heart beat rapidly, unusually excited. Very real and extremely close, the girl's beauty transcended his initial appraisal. No amount of face paint could cover the details of her features. Her slim and perfect nose, the heart shaped lips, the delicate slope of her jaw. He managed to keep his mouth shut, even though his jaw dropped. After all his observances, he thought he was prepared to talk to her. Yet, there he stood, speechless, gazing down into her magnificent blue eyes.