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Reckless in Innocence

for my Historical Romance readers <3

© Jane Lark

Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark, this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Reckless in Innocence

Reckless in Innocence

~

Read the earlier parts 

one ,two,three,four,five,six,seven,eight,nineten,eleven,twelvethirteen,fourteen,fifteen,sixteenseventeen,eighteen,nineteen,twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four

~

Marcus

Elizabeth stopped at the edge of the terrace and looked back. One side of her face had a satirical orange glow in the light of the harvest moon, while the other half was in shadow.

“Strangely I find myself not in the least bit tempted by the offer, Marcus.” She turned away then and ran down the steps on to a gravel path which led deeper into the garden.

Marcus did not follow. He wanted her, he knew that now, he wanted her more than he’d wanted any other woman, but he would not offer her what she wanted. He would not ask her to be his wife. He could not. He was incapable of that; panic rose even at the thought.

The darkness absorbed her retreating figure. He turned away and walked back across the terrace to return to the drawing room.

Their guests were seated around a table playing cards while Angela entertained them playing the pianoforte. Jason was on the far side of the room pouring himself a glass of port. Marcus walked over to Angela and sat beside her to turn the pages. He was numb inside. He wanted Elizabeth, and she would not have him in any capacity he was comfortable offering.

“Marcus, dear, did you bring Elizabeth here only to quarrel with her?” Angela glanced at him when he turned a page of her music for her. He did not answer. “Where is she? What have you done with her?”

Marcus straightened his spine and tried to slow his breathing, and stop his heart beating with the pace of a spooked horse racing across open fields. “She’s walking in the grounds.”

Angela’s fingers left the keys and grasped her skirts as she swept from the low stool to stand and look down on him. “You have left her alone in the dark? What is going on?” She moved past him to go to the open French-door. “You surprise me more and more. I did not think you could be cruel. I shall find her if you will not.”

He caught hold of her narrow wrist. “She will not wish to see me. There is no point in my looking.” Nonchalance had swept into his words, it was the instinctive facade of the man he’d shown to the world for years. The man who cared for nothing but hedonism. To any other person in the room it would appear that he did not give one iota for Elizabeth, but Angela knew him too well.

“If you care for her, Marcus,” she breathed on a harsh whisper, “then this is not how you treat her.” She turned sharply to walk away and collided with Jason’s chest.

“I will go.” For the first time in his life Marcus heard a tone of strong disapproval in his brother’s voice.

 

Elizabeth

“Miss Derwent!”

The voice carrying through the darkness, searching for her, belonged to Marcus’s brother.

Elizabeth swallowed her tears, still unsure if she was crying from anger, regret or simply from a broken heart. She’d followed the avenue of cherry trees and reached a fountain, where three nymphs poured water from conch shells into a round pond full of floating lily pads. Moonlight had illuminated the white stone path before her and now it sparkled on the dark water. Her emotions were too strong to be captured in words or claimed by her voice. Her tears had fallen without her even being aware that they did.

“Miss Derwent…”

He was within a distance to see her, but she did not turn around, she held on to the last few moments to regain her composure.

“Are you were feeling unwell? Angela is playing the pianoforte, and the other ladies have requested dancing. Will you join us?”

She wiped her eyes discreetly in the hope he would not see, then turned to face him.

“I’m afraid, Lord Campbell, I have a slight headache and I am not up to dancing. Would Angela forgive me, do you think, if I retired for the evening?”

“Angela does not need to forgive you, she would not have you sit there and endure the evening if you are not well, Miss Derwent. I will gladly pass on your apologies if you wish to retire.”

“And, tomorrow, my Lord… would you be able to drive me to Tunbridge Wells? I believe that from there I may catch the mail coach?”

“You wish to return to London?” There was a note of disappointment and surprise in his voice.

“I think I must, Lord Campbell.”

“Can I not persuade you to remain with us for another day, until we all return?” He hesitated, waiting to see if she would change her mind.

She would not. She needed to leave, she’d made enough of a mull of things.

When she said nothing, he continued. “Very well, Miss Derwent, if that’s what you wish. Have you the fare to return home?”

She had not even thought of the cost. “No. I… Would you loan me the fare? I will have my father repay you when you return to London.”

“It is of no matter. I am happy to pay it.” He lifted his arm. “May I escort you back to the house?”

“No, I would rather walk alone. Thank you.”

“Then goodnight.” He bowed, slightly, then turned and left her alone.

She listened to the fountain again for a few moments and watched the shimmer of moonlight on the water. Then when she was certain Marcus’s brother had gone, she turned onto a path that would take her around to a servants’ entrance. She would slip into the house. She did not wish to be seen. She did not wish to face the embarrassment of seeing Marcus again.

She had shamed herself twice, given her body to man who wished for nothing more than that. She would break the hold he had over her now. She would not be drawn to him again.

~

To be continued…

If you cannot wait until next week for more of Jane Lark’s writing there’s plenty to read right now, and here’s the latest treat, ready to be devoured, The Dangerous Love of a Rogue

 

Dangerous Love of a rogue from Zoe

To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but the actual order is listed below ~ and click like to follow my Facebook Page not to miss anything…

 The Marlow Intrigues

CompleteCollecvtion_Facebook_Advertv5

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all ~ The paperback would be a  lovely stocking filler ;) 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3 

The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5 

The Scandalous Love of a Lord #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come

 


Reckless in Innocence

for my Historical Romance readers <3

© Jane Lark

Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark, this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Reckless in Innocence

Reckless in Innocence

~

Read the earlier parts 

one ,two,three,four,five,six,seven,eight,nineten,eleven,twelvethirteen,fourteen,fifteen,sixteenseventeen,eighteen,nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three

~

Chapter Eight

 

Marcus 

Marcus gripped Elizabeth’s elbow and leaned close to her ear. “Would you like to play cards?” She did not turn from her perusal of a family portrait but jerked her arm free.

“Are you angry with me?” Marcus questioned in response.

She shook her head, but she did not turn to look at him. “I am not angry.”

She was angry. She regretted last night, he knew she did. “You did not come down for breakfast, you have avoided me all day and you did not speak to me or look at me throughout dinner.”

“I was engaged in talking to Lord Fitzherbert.”

“The man is the biggest bore. You cannot have been engaged by his conversation, that is a lie Elizabeth. I thought last night we had established a bond in which we would tell each other the truth.”

“The truth, Marcus? If we are speaking truths, then you must tell me one first. Why did you bring me here?”

He looked hard into her eyes, his body only inches away from hers. He wanted to touch her, but his brother, his sister-in-law and their friends sat directly behind him. The whole day had been like walking on the fragments of glass he’d shattered on the floor last night; she’d given him no opportunity to speak with her alone and something had changed in her manner. She was angry with him, he was certain, despite the fact that she denied it, and if that was the case he could not blame her. If she had had any good feelings left for him, then he’d soiled them.

He’d cursed himself for drinking so much from the moment he’d woken with a throbbing headache, his mind full of memories from his hours in the billiard room. But in daylight, and sober, he knew his behaviour had been appalling. Though he would not deny that he’d wanted it to happen, and deep down he knew he had brought her here to seduce her with his home as much as his body. But now he’d succeeded in his seduction the taste of success was sour. He did not want it to change things between them. Nothing had changed. He would not take her for a wife or a mistress.

So why had he brought her here?

To prove to himself that he could? To prove it to others? To make love to her one last time? To know that she was with him and no one else?

The answer was all of these, yet where did it lead him? Into the same dead-end he had faced in that conservatory at the Phillips’ ball.

He studied her face as she looked past him, to avoid meeting his gaze. She knew his feelings. She did not want to give him a chance to smooth over their interlude yesterday because she knew that really he had nothing to say. But what of her?

Last night she’d participated with passion and emotions as moving as his, but today she was as cold as ice and only God knew her thoughts because she would clearly not share them with him. If she had expressed her anger it would be better than this silence. He deserved her anger but he did not know how to respond to her silence.

“We cannot talk here. Walk with me.” Catching her elbow, Marcus led her to the French-door which opened onto the terrace. Pulling down the handle, he pushed it open, looking back to see his sister-in-law seat herself at the pianoforte and Henry Castleton stand at her side to share a ballad.

Elizabeth walked only two paces from the open door, so that they could still be clearly seen from within the room, then she turned to face him.

Marcus moved to take her hand, then looked toward the well-lit room and dropped his fingers. How could he explain to her how he felt?

“I do not know why I asked you here, Elizabeth. Though I will admit I want you for myself. It is hell to see you stand up with Percy or anyone else, but I did not intend it to be like this.”

“Then what did you intend?”

“I do not know.” He shook his head and lifted his shoulders in an offering of uncertainty.

She sighed deeply.

“You are angry with me.” Marcus asserted, studying her face.

“No, I am angry with myself for being so susceptible to you.” Her reply was a high-pitched whisper as her gaze scanned his face. “I should return to London. I should go.”

“We travel the day after tomorrow.” Marcus felt his brow crease into frown. He had not thought she would leave.

 

Elizabeth

“Marcus, this is foolish…” How to explain love to a man who had probably never loved anyone in his life? She was not angry, she was everything but angry, madly in love, totally horrified, thoroughly foolish – let down and alone. But not angry. Deep down she now knew she could never be wholly angry with him. She wanted to lay her hand against his cheek now and feel his lips turn to kiss her palm.

But he did not love her in return and it hurt too much, to have given all of herself to him only to be rejected again.

“You neither need me, nor want me. I should go.”

“Did I not show you last night how much I need you? Tonight you could come to my room, or I to yours.”

“I will never understand you. You told me plainly, you do not want a wife and you would not choose me as a mistress, so there is only one conclusion I can draw, that this is just a game to you, just entertainment. You warn me against Lord Percy yet you are worse than him. At least he offered me security in return if I favoured him.”

Marcus’s face contorted with a look of disgust as he gripped her forearm. “I am not…” He stopped, and looked at the open French-door, remembering their audience. He let her arm go, then spoke more quietly. “I am not the same as Percy, and swear to me you have not given him any favours.”

“It is none of your business. And you say that you are not like him, but tell me, then, what of London? If we continue this, what happens when we return to town?”

Silence. He had nothing to say. There was no profession of love. No future.

A smile pulled her lips open, the smile of the experienced, worldly woman he’d made her, not the shy innocent Elizabeth he’d first found. “I have no need for a casual lover, Your Grace. Excuse me.”

She turned her back on him and fled into the darkness. She could not return to the room.

Entertainment! She mocked herself in her thoughts. Damn fool woman that I am, she was the entertainment for his boring visit to the country. She was merely a greater sport than hunting.

“A man can change his mind, Elizabeth! If a woman is willing to come to his bed as a mistress, a man can change his mind! I would rather that you were mine than his!”

~

To be continued…

If you cannot wait until next week for more of Jane Lark’s writing there’s plenty to read right now, and here’s the latest treat, ready to be devoured, The Dangerous Love of a Rogue

 

Dangerous Love of a rogue from Zoe

To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but the actual order is listed below ~ and click like to follow my Facebook Page not to miss anything…

 The Marlow Intrigues

CompleteCollecvtion_Facebook_Advertv5

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all ~ The paperback would be a  lovely stocking filler ;) 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3 

The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5 

The Scandalous Love of a Lord #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come

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