Love and War
Click on image to enlarge.
by Maggi Andersen
Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
Description: She couldn't accuse him of paying her Spanish coin! Gyles Devereux made it clear he had no wish to marry at all but was constrained by his circumstances. She could not be expected to keep refusing Lord Devereux, she thought crossly. She was only flesh and blood after all. What woman on earth could resist the pleas of a man such as Devereux? Rating: SENSUAL
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: July 2009
17 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [104 KB]
Reading time: 59-83 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
BATH, ENGLAND 1812
The Grand Ballroom of the New Assembly rooms was a total crush. Selena Wakefield and her friend, Elsbeth Millichamp had wandered to a far corner away from the noise in an attempt to make themselves heard.
"Pon rep, Amanda Somersby has all the available men at her feet, all of the time," Elsbeth said crossly, watching as four young blades clustered around the girl with blue ribbons in her hair.
"She's young and very pretty," said Selena, searching the crowd for a familiar face.
"If you admire blue-eyed blondes. I find them insipid."
"Oh, no, Elsbeth, how can you say that?"
"I prefer brunettes myself." Elsbeth put her hand to her light-brown curls twisted at the back into an Indian knot. "Your hair is unusual, Selena."
"It's just a drab brown," Selena replied.
"No, it is not. It's so dark a brown you could almost call it black. And with your green eyes and golden skin you are most unusual."
"Too much time spent in the sun without my bonnet. Fair-skinned blondes are the fashion."
"What does it matter?" Elsbeth said moodily. "At our age we are destined to be old-maids."
Her friend's green eyes twinkled. "You could have married Freddie Goodwin."
Elsbeth frowned. "Freddie was too forthright. He offended my sensibilities. Now I'm four and twenty and don't have a prospect in the world."
"Where is Freddie now?"
"He's working for his father's importing company up in London, the last I heard. Not that I'm in any way interested."
"Of course you are not." Selena laughed.
Elsbeth smoothed the skirts of her white crepe gown. "Dare you to talk, Selena. You refused an earl no less. Lord Devereux, did you not? And on more than one occasion. I wouldn't have. He's devilishly handsome."
Selena gazed off into the distance. "You are being contradictory, Elsbeth, Devereux is a blue-eyed blond."
"It doesn't apply to him." Elsbeth gave a little shiver of delight. "And you've never quite told me why you refused him. I have heard it said he's rolled-up and his estates are entailed."
"I believe so."
"Not a fudge then. But your Papa left you plump in the pocket, so that can't be the reason."
"It wasn't," Selena said vaguely.
"I can see you are not going to tell me. And where is he now?"
"I believe he's just resigned his Commission from the Hussars."
"Not that you are interested," Elsbeth said, her eyes sparkling.
The musicians took their places and everyone moved to the dance floor for a quadrille.
"Here comes Cousin John to ask me to dance. He's such a dear." Elsbeth rose as a stocky man with a bristling moustache approached. "But now I must converse with him for a full half an hour!"
Selena hid her smile as John bowed and gave Elsbeth his arm to lead her onto the floor.
She found herself alone, despite the assembly rooms filled with many visitors to Bath. People milled about chatting when not dancing, playing cards and drinking the waters.
Perhaps I am destined to be an old-maid, she thought. She loved her sister's children, but just being an aunt to someone else's had never been her plan. Gyles Devereux had only wanted her for her inheritance and made no secret of it. She sighed. She hadn't told Elsbeth about the other two men she'd refused. Since her father had died and left her a tidy fortune, offers had rained down like arrows. Her sister was forever matchmaking and no doubt before the month was out another hapless suitor would appear at dinner who bore no resemblance to Gyles.
She gave herself a mental scold. She was not going to pine over an unrequited love. It was hardly a tragedy, and she certainly didn't intend to die an old maid because of it. Was she? Then why did she look for his face in the crowd at every dance and soirée she attended? She sighed. Living with her sister was a mixed blessing. She loved the boisterous, noisy household of three children and their menagerie of spoiled pets, and got on very well with her patient, brother-in-law, Hugh. But she longed for her own establishment and was ready to discover the delights her sister appeared to enjoy behind the bedroom door. Selena's face grew hot at the thought and she hurriedly unfurled her ivory fan and gave her face a brisk cooling as a portly gentleman crossed the room towards her.
His damp hand held hers as they took their places among the dancers on the floor.