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
Read the earlier parts
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.
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.
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
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
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all ~ The paperback would be a lovely stocking filler ;)
Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5
The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5
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