Three Lovers For Lucy
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by S. K. Yule
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: Lucy Levegne is a woman in a society that still wants to oppress her freedom to make her own decisions. When a plan devised to ensure her independence backfires in the form of three notorious rakes appropriately labeled The Trio of Trouble, she is suddenly facing a different problem that has the potential to ruin her. Kendall, Jeremy and Paul have been friends since they were young, and their carousing, carefree days are starting to bore them until they make a crude bet involving the beautiful Lucy Levegne. What none of them count on is falling in love with her. After the four share a scintillatingly scandalous night together, Lucy is shocked to realize that she's fallen in love. . .with all of them. Unfortunately, she has no choice but to end the liaison to protect her reputation, but her three rogues vow to find a way for them to be together. Will Lucy and her men be separated forever? To My Readers: In Three Lovers For Lucy, I found myself instantly bonding with Lucy. She is a strong woman who knows what she wants in a time when women still suffer oppression. When she finds herself in a precarious, albeit sensual, situation with three men, she is torn between upholding her reputation or surrendering to her feelings. While my three heroes, Paul, Jeremy and Kendall, live in a man's world and can practically do anything they want without ridicule, they never lose compassion for others, even those considered beneath them. When the three fall in love with Lucy, they do everything in their power to protect her from society's condemnation. I was compelled to write this story to show that while love may not conquer all, those who are fortunate enough to be infected--Yes, I do mean infected as I think of love as an incurable but wondrous disease-- by it will go to great lengths to hang on to it. I feel that Three Lovers For Lucy shows that love can humble even those who have been privileged in life. Love is powerful and does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere.
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: February 2012
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [138 KB]
Reading time: 82-115 min.
"I must find a man to marry." Lady Lucy tapped her fingers on the wooden arm of her chair. Her legs were tucked up under her, and her long dress cascaded over the edge of the cushion until it grazed the floor.
"I hate to see you in this situation. It's a shame." Roberta sighed and gazed toward the window opposite them. "This is your home. How can a dead man's prejudice just take it away?"
"Yes," Lucy answered her companion. "I loved my father dearly, as you know, and his intentions were good, but he just wouldn't believe a woman could handle a manor and lands on her own. Now, daddy's caveman beliefs may doom Levegne Manor instead of saving it."
The earl's passing a year earlier had taken the last close family Lucy had, and it was she who had cared for him through his extended illness. For nearly two years she had given up the amusements in town and the company of friends her own age, except for Roberta, a poor clergyman's daughter, as much friend as paid companion. For two years, Lucy's life had consisted of responsibilities and sadness, yet her father had refused to believe women possessed the strength or hard-headedness to conduct business.
As an only child, she'd known she would inherit her father's estate, which was not entailed. But she hadn't been prepared for the stipulations of his will. Or, to be exact, one stipulation in particular. To keep Levegne Manor, she was required to marry by her twenty-sixth birthday, and to turn its management over to her husband.
A year had passed in the quiet mourning society considered proper, and in getting used to her loss. Now, with her twenty-sixth birthday only three months away, custom permitted her to re-enter society.
During her mourning, her sadness had been tainted by sheer anger at the will's stipulation. She understood that her father believed he'd done right by her, that he'd tried to make sure his only daughter would be properly taken care of, but she couldn't help feeling betrayed.
So it always was with men, Lucy had discovered. She was no innocent Victorian miss as her mother had been. She was an enlightened young woman. Yet, greater freedom had not found a man she could trust to stay by her side and tell her the truth. Perhaps there was no such thing.
She could choose not to marry. If so, the Manor would go to her cousin Bernard, and a trust fund would provide for her financial needs. It would be no hardship to live in London, independent and free, but she couldn't turn her back on her home. Levegne Manor had been in her family for centuries. Her ancestors had defended the little stone keep, replaced it with an Elizabethan manor house, and each generation had improved it. This was where her father and mother had married. It was where she'd been born. All her memories were connected with these rooms, the gardens and long lawn with its oak-shaded drive, the meadows and the willows dreaming by the slow, meandering stream that joined the River Avon. She couldn't bear to lose it.
Even worse would be to see it in the wasteful hands of her cousin Bernard, who'd inherited the title and very little else. He'd run through his own money and was now a hanger-on who preyed on others. There was something rat-like about Bernard, with his darting eyes and sniveling. He'd sell the land off piecemeal. A fine, masculine head for business! No. She had no choice. She knew not one man she trusted, let alone loved. Yet she must marry, or lose Levegne Manor.
"An idea has occurred to me," she told Roberta. "Daddy saw me as a protected wife, but not beyond that. If I'm widowed, the law will prevail. Maybe I should find a husband too old to be long for this world. Then, ownership and control would soon pass back to me."
Roberta chewed at her bottom lip. "But, to marry some decrepit old man with one foot in the grave? My lady!"
Roberta never voiced any direct criticism. Lucy wouldn't have minded that, but Roberta was meek to the point of aggravation. Yet, she'd made her own choices. She, too, had never married, and said she never would unless she fell in love. Lately she'd been mooning around even more than usual, but so far, no young man had swept her off her feet. Sometimes she had the look of a small, trapped animal.
"Why not? If he's got a fortune of his own, he won't need mine. And if he's too long in the tooth to do much but shuffle around here and there, what harm can he do? Playing the nurse is nothing new to me, and at the end of it, the manor's safe."
"Oh, you're wicked!" Roberta began giggling.
Encouraged, Lucy added, "All I need to do is find someone who'll last only until the ink dries on the marriage license." More giggles rewarded her and she joined in, but she was serious. Unfolding her legs from under her, she stood and went to the window, the hem of her dressing gown trailing the green-and-cream Persian carpet.
"So. That's settled." She plopped down on the edge of the window seat in a most unladylike fashion. Below lay the gardens she loved to tend during the summer when the flowers were in full bloom. Blossoms still gleamed here and there, but autumn was taking its toll.
She gazed out to her favorite rose bush, now brown and cut back in preparation for winter. She smiled as she pictured its rich magenta blooms. All summer she cut some to arrange and left the others growing to perfume the air, just as her mother had done before her.
Soothed by the thought, Lucy sighed and turned away. "Listen carefully and tell me what you think. I have in mind four possible suitors. All are respectable, wealthy, and older than Moses himself."
"My lady! You can't be serious!"
Lucy turned to meet Roberta's shocked expression. She answered quietly, "I have no choice."
Roberta's shoulders sagged. "As you see best." She'd never been good at arguing.
Lucy wished she would stand up for herself once in awhile. She sighed. "Please inform Mrs. Scott that I need to speak to her. I'll want your help making a guest list. With luck, I'll decide on a husband in two days' time."
"If that's what you want, Lucy." The use of her name didn't go unnoticed. It showed how anxious Roberta was for her.
"No one else must know my true purpose for this party."
As Roberta's soft footfalls faded down the hall, Lucy was struck by another advantage to marrying. It would deflate Lady Beatrice Lane.
Lucy and Beatrice had played together as children, but as men replaced dolls, their friendship withered into scathing rivalry. More than once, one of them had stolen a handsome young man's attentions away from the other. Only weeks ago Beatrice had triumphantly announced her engagement to Viscount Carrington, eldest son of George, Earl Marsden. Lucy had yet to meet him, but he sounded quite the catch. Ever since, Beatrice had flitted from place to place like a proud butterfly, showing off her ring. Yes, the possibility of beating Beatrice to the altar, perhaps with an equally prestigious catch, added to this grim business the spice of a game.
A knock at the door alerted her to Mrs. Scott's arrival. Lucy gave the housekeeper instructions to have the house cleaned from top to bottom, to have the cook work up the menus, and to lay in all provisions and extra help necessary for a weekend party. Though too old-fashioned to offer an opinion, Mrs. Scott seemed pleased. Levegne Manor had not hosted an entertainment on this scale in the three years since Lucy's father fell ill.
"Very well." Lucy smiled. "Please send the maid up with a cup of tea."
When it was brought, Lucy settled into planning an elegant party that would be the talk of the neighborhood for months.
By late afternoon, each detail was meticulously thought out, and seemingly endless lists stared back at her. The next days would be filled with errands, working out the details of the menus with Cook, arranging late chrysanthemums and dried flowers, and last-minute preparations. Every spare moment would be dedicated to her goal.
She stood, stretched her aching back, and went to dress before the dinner bell rang. She had worked up a hearty appetite and ate more than usual. The thinly sliced beef and gravy practically melted in her mouth, and the thick bread, slathered with sweet honey, tasted heavenly. When she retired to her room, her stomach was as full as her head.
Roberta helped her undress and lit a fire before Lucy soaked in a warm bath. As she sat in the hot water and felt the tension drain from her muscles, she'd never been more convinced that the astronomical price she'd paid for the convenience of an indoor bathtub was worth every cent. Not until the water turned lukewarm did she step out and towel off. Simply too tired to worry about wearing anything to bed, she sank under the thick coverlet and fell asleep almost before her head hit the fluffy pillow.