A Kiss To Remember
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by Rebecca Minto
Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
Description: He would do anything for her? When Daphne Davernay awakened on her birthday to find her father brutally murdered, she lost everything that had ever mattered to her. Cast adrift, she found herself at the mercy of her guardian, the Duke of Cheney. He was a hard, intimidating man? and the only man that had ever inspired her to dream. James didn't know what to make of his ward. She was both maddening and adorable. Society ruled that there could never be anything between the two of them, but his heart longed to keep Daphne all for himself. Even as he fights his own desires, it soon becomes clear that someone else wants Daphne? dead. Excerpt: "No, do not interrupt me. If I slaked both our passions tonight, you would regret it." "I would never regret it," she hissed. "Not tonight," he admitted. "If I did my best by us, you would not have any regrets tonight, but come morning, you would. Your virtue belongs to your future husband." She began to cry again, big, silent tears that slid like diamonds down her cheeks. "James," she moaned. "I cannot marry you, Daphne," he told her quietly. "I always knew that," she sniffed, struggling to find her control once more. "I was not highborn enough to-" "Damn it, titles do not matter here," he snapped. "It has nothing to do with that. What matters is that we must face the reality of who we are." Her breath hitched in her throat. He'd said who, not what. "Who are we?" she breathed. "You are my ward," he growled. "And I am the man your father trusted to protect your honor. There can be no future for us."
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [485 KB]
Reading time: 292-409 min.
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Daphne Davernay awakened to the early morning light slowly, as was her fashion. She languidly stretched her arms wide, arching her back slightly off the down mattress she rested upon, much as a kitten arched her back to the luxury of long strokes from her master's hand, before finally blinking her eyes to the light. She sighed pleasantly, slowly sitting up so she could survey the room that was hers.
Oddly enough, she had not slept in this chamber as many times as she should have liked. When she was but seven years old, her father had sent her to a very proper, and horribly obscure, boarding school where he had paid a great sum of money for the instructors and the rather haughty headmistress to teach her all about being a proper lady and manners and comportment. Daphne had, of course, despised those tedious years and longed with every beat of her rather timid heart for those precious holidays when she was permitted to return to her home, and her wonderful Papa.
Ironically, now that she had long since graduated from Miss Barton's School for Girls, she found herself yearning to see her two best friends in the entire world, Annalise and Chrysanthe. They, too, had hated the school, and although the three of them were quite different in their likes and preferred pastimes, they had forged a strong and rather loyal friendship. She had not seen Annalise in a full six months, when she had begged Papa to take her to London with him on one of his infrequent business trips, and a full year had passed since she had last seen Chrysanthe.
She shook her head, sending wild, wheat-colored curls bouncing around an endearingly heart-shaped face. It seemed she could not be pleased. When she wanted to be home, she was enforced to be far away, and now that she could spend as much time as she liked in the beautiful country estate that had always been home, she wanted nothing more than to go into the city to visit her friends.
On that thought, the door of her bedchamber opened faintly, emitting a petite young girl with vibrant green eyes and rich, dark auburn hair secured in a prim little bun and carefully covered with a cap.
"Oh, missus, you're up then," Darcie whispered, relieved.
Daphne sent her a brilliant smile. "Oh, Darcie, you have been my maid for a full two years now," she chastised lightly. "You should know I rise with the birds."
The young woman scurried in the room, quietly shutting the door behind her. She glanced warily at the lacy pink draperies, which had already been drawn to emit the bright morning light. She frowned, knowing full well she had shut them securely before retiring the night before. 'Twas an oddity of her mistress, that she liked to sleep with the draperies drawn. She shook her head at the peculiarities of the elite.
"I'd be getting more sleep meself if you'd stay abed longer," Darcie murmured, her charming lilt bringing a fond smile to Daphne's lips.
Although the Irish were not particularly liked in England, Daphne adored Darcie. Her voice was so soft and musical, her shock so absolute. She was unspoiled and, like herself, took pleasure in the smaller, more inconsequential things, something that Daphne's father, Baron Davernay, found amusing to the extreme.
"I have no wish to miss any special moments," Daphne told her gently. "I can just tell today will be a marvelous day!"
With a jubilant giggle, Daphne threw back the covers and mock-danced to the window, staring out at the bright green hills, filled with flourishing trees and flowers and, vaguely in the distance, a beautiful lake that sparkled a deep blue in the summer and spring, and turned almost opaque in the cooler months. It was her most cherished place in all of her father's lands.
She turned her head, only to see Darcie warily looking through the ornate armoire, in preparation of dressing her lady. She sighed. Although Darcie was a joy, sometimes she simply refused to be charmed by her mistress, as she insisted on calling her. Daphne struggled so hard not to become annoyed at her desperate insistence of living out their roles, as was proper behavior. She pursed her lips as Darcie carefully removed a rather prim looking gown with a high neckline and rather dull pleats.
"Oh, no, Darcie; I'll need a riding habit," she instructed her in a soft, tremulous voice. "The pink, I believe."
"Yes, m'lady," her maid murmured, lowering her head as she did as she was bid. "Will you be wanting your breakfast first?"
"Heavens, no!" Daphne giggled. "Papa and I are going for an early ride, and we shall pack a picnic for beside the lake. It will be so wonderful."
Daphne twirled herself in a graceful pirouette, humming a favorite tune under her breath. Her dark eyes sparkled with merriment.
"I would think all that riding would be bad for your digestion," Darcie muttered beneath her breath.
Daphne laughed. "Of course not, Darcie! We shall work up quite an appetite. Besides, today is a very special day. We must celebrate every single moment."
Darcie sniffed as she laid out the necessary garments on a stool, then went to preparing a small basin of water for her lady to use to refresh herself. Daphne danced her way there and hurriedly began to sponge herself with lavender water.
It took just under an hour for Darcie to sufficiently prepare her for a morning's jaunt. When she finally descended the long, spiraling staircase that led down to the first level, it was just going on eight o'clock.
She glanced around, shaking her head at the quiet hour. Servants had long since been up, doubtlessly cleaning and cooking and doing all those minute tasks that seemed so silly to her, but needed to be performed nonetheless. She slowly walked into the foyer, for it would not do for Papa to think all those years and all that money he spent on her proper education had been wasted, and glanced around. There was no sign of him, however, and she frowned.
She passed down a hall, and peered into a rather lonely looking parlor, surprised that Papa was not waiting for her. He usually was up long before she was, which was early indeed, poring over all his ledgers and books and files. It seemed like a waste of time to her, but there was little she could do to convince him.
She figured he must have overslept, and thought vaguely of going and waking him up. As important as this day was meant to be, he would hate that he had missed their appointment for the morning picnic, even if he had stayed up nearly all the night poring over all his notes.
She started back down the narrow corridor, deciding that she should awaken him, or at the very least ask his valet to do so, and then noticed the door to his private study was slightly ajar. She shook her head. Papa kept the door firmly locked when he was not inside, and he was the only one with a key.