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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 LarkReckless in Innocence

Reckless in Innocence

(an early Jane Lark story that is not at all associated with the Marlow Intrigues)

~ Read the earlier parts listed in the index 

~

Elizabeth

Elizabeth had dressed for dinner, as usual, yet the night was not usual. It was not usual at all. She could not stop her hands from shaking. She had struggled with the buttons of her dress, and broken a saucer when earlier a housemaid had brought up some tea. Her fear was fast descending into terror. She had chosen this. It was her own reckless folly that had led her here. If only she had never made that foolish proposition to Marcus. She had grown up a dozen years in the last six months. Yet she could not regret having known and loved Marcus, it was her fault, her choice, which had made it turn sour. Yet it was remembering the hours he’d favoured her, which kept her going now. She would escape this and then she would think only of the child she carried.

She looked out the window.

It was very dark.

Would Lord Percy come? He’d not returned since he’d called two nights ago. There was no knowing when he would come back, and that was as much torture as wondering what he would do when he did – and she that was what he wished – to fuel her fear.

She crossed to the window seat and sat again. She’d spent hours sitting here. It was worse in the dark, there was nothing to see, just the image of herself reflected back. Her fingers touched the shining onyx window pane. Where was Marcus? Did he still think of her at all?

 

Marcus

Marcus rested his shoulder against the lamp-post across the road from the solicitors’ office and watched his brother walking along the street. Jason had volunteered to break in. He had been inside Coulport’s office and had seen Coulport draw out Percy’s file. He knew the inside of the building, the room and drawer to go to. There was no question that it should be Marcus who was left to watch for passers-by, but the lack of action was excruciating.

Jason looked across his shoulder and lifted a hand. Marcus acknowledged his signal in a like fashion, then Jason climbed across the railing and disappeared below pavement level to reach the cellar window.

Marcus looked left and right, searching each end of the street, then he looked at the windows of the buildings either side of the solicitors’ office. No movement.

He was no saint but theft had never amused him, even at the age which school boys saw it as a game to play, to break into a master’s office for a dare or a jest. Elizabeth would have seen the humour in this, if she could see him now, a shifty looking character hiding in the shadows of the street. She would think him mad. His blood warmed just to think of her, of her smile, the sparkle in her blue eyes. He would think of her laughing until he found her. He could not think of anything else.

Jason had disappeared from sight.

Furtively Marcus looked up and down the street once more. Jason would be prizing open the cellar window, he’d had a knife concealed in his pocket like a damned ruffian. Marcus wanted to laugh, his nervous tension leaking out. He licked his lips as he glanced up and down the street again. The properties were mostly businesses, but there were a couple of houses with light behind the curtains. His heart thumped. Somewhere about there would be a night watchman wandering through the streets.

It seemed as though it was an age before Marcus finally saw a light move within a room at the front of the property. It was Jason. Marcus looked about again. No movement. If anyone saw the light then it would give Jason away. If he was caught, then Marcus would step forward. He would not let Jason take the blame alone. How would that sound in the ballrooms of the ton, or the tables at White’s? The Duke of Tay and his brother caught breaking into a solicitors’ office.

Marcus’s heart thumped even harder. The need for action reared inside him again. He wished he’d volunteered to go in, it would be better to be hunting for any information than to be standing here impotent. If anyone did come along he could do little but distract them and hope Jason had chance to get away.

Elizabeth

At the sound of a coach drawing to a halt outside, Elizabeth rose to her feet. Her heart raced as she tried to see through the darkness. There were lights on the coach and in the glow she could make out a man climbing from within. Lord Percy. Her pulse thumped more heavily. Elizabeth heard Lord Percy dismiss the driver of the hired carriage. He intended to stay then. She felt sick suddenly, her senses were alerted to every sound beyond normality as she heard the welcome of the doorman, and footsteps on the stairs. She did not move. There was nothing she could do; nowhere to run.

The door handle rattled, and then a key slid into the lock. She had forgotten that she’d locked it.

The door swung back and Lord Percy strolled in. “Elizabeth, why did you lock me out?” He lifted off his hat and set it aside.

Her heart thumped too hard, leaving her dizzy, making even that simple question impossible to answer.

He removed his coat and threw it onto a chair near the door.

Her fingers gripped together at her waist. “I was about to retire.”

He walked further into the room and smiled, throwing her a devilish, provocative glance. He looked in his cups, it was an appearance she was used to in her father.

“Convenient,” he joked. “Is that perfect timing on my part, or perhaps it would have been better if you had already been in bed, waiting for me and warming it up.” He turned away to seek out a drink, as the heat of a blush burned in Elizabeth’s skin. But she was reminded of Marcus, of that night in the billiard room, when he had been drinking too. She had been concerned then, her concern had been nothing to now. Marcus had always been tender and kind in the only way he knew how. Even when he’d discovered her parents’ plan to tie him down he would not have hurt her physically.

When Percy turned back, a drink in his hand, Elizabeth lifted her chin, claiming all her courage. “I have changed my mind.” Her voice would only reach a shallow whisper, as fear tightened her throat and trapped the words there. She said it again, louder, “I have changed my mind. I cannot be your mistress. I am sorry, but I am not happy here. I cannot…” Her heart thumped as she spoke, but just to say it, to voice her decision, sent an overwhelming rush of relief through her blood. She knew where she would go. She would go to Marcus, swallow her pride and make him believe her.

Lord Percy’s eyebrows lifted in surprise and then he actually laughed. “Is this a joke? Do you think that I would let you go? Do you think you have a choice?” He laughed again, a mocking callous sound. “You have no choice, you are mine now, for as long as I want you.”

It had taken years to stand up to her father. She would not be a victim again. She would not allow this to happen. Her chin tilted even higher.

A mocking light burned in Lord Percy’s eyes as he leaned towards her slightly. “If you try to defy me, do not think that I will let the child live.” The scent of alcohol carried on his breath, and the memory of her father’s anger washed over her. It was at this point, half drunk, but still capable, that her father had been at his worst.

Lord Percy smiled as he pulled away. It was a mask. There was no pleasure in it, or even amusement “If you expect me to keep Tay’s child you had better do as I wish.” His fingers touched her hair, then pulled a pin loose. A single tress fell to her bare shoulder, brushing her skin above her bodice. She wanted to run. She looked at the door, judging how quickly she could reach it verses the likelihood of his grabbing her before she opened it, and then she thought of the thug of a doorman below.

“That is better already,” he purred.

She would not bow to him, she would not give in – but if she played his game, if she chose to play, a better moment for escape would come.

“Very pretty, very pretty indeed.”

His fingers touched her neck. Elizabeth shivered with revulsion. A bitter flavour filled her throat. But when his hand slid lower and tightly cupped her breast, she could not help the instinctive reaction which made her jerk away.

Instantly his hand swung out. The back of his fingers caught Elizabeth’s cheek sharply. The blow stung, yet the indignity of it hurt her more. “You will learn not to deny me,” he charged, “you will welcome my touch, do you understand. You will smile and moan with pleasure for me.” There was madness in his eyes when he spoke. Do not think that I will let the child live. He’d meant it.

Her revulsion turned back to fear as his hand cupped her breast again, testing her. She held her ground, biting her tongue against the scream which flooded her throat. He did no more; proving only that he could, that he had cowed her. But he had not. He had not! She was merely biding her time and planning how to escape.

His hand fell away as a smirk played on his lips. “Go and get undressed, Elizabeth,” he ordered in a quiet threatening tone.

Her heart slammed against her ribs. Her fingers were shaking as she turned, her thoughts racing through possibilities as she entered the bedchamber without looking back. He did not follow. She shut the door. He did not doubt that she would obey. He thought his threats had persuaded her. That at least would work in her favour; this may be her only chance to get away.

She leaned against the closed door, praying he would not come in until he’d given her the time to change. If she stood beside the door, if she could find something heavy enough to knock him out, or at least daze him, when he came in she would have a moment, not long, but a second perhaps in which she would have the element of surprise and could hit him. It would give her a chance to get away. She did not think of the bully downstairs, she would have to cope with him when she faced him. But this would only work once, and only if she caught Percy by surprise. Perhaps she could catch the doorman by surprise too if she ran down the stairs.

She moved away from the door. She needed to find something heavy enough to hit him with. She opened the drawers, searching for something, but trying to be as quiet as she could, to make it sound as though she was merely preparing for bed. She had to hurry, though. There was so little time. He would come in at any moment.

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 do not miss your chance for the great Magical Weddings summer reading box set, containing Jane’s super sexy story The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel “I you love Reckless, you will love the Jealous Love of a Scoundrel :D ” 99c or 99p

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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

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The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all 

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

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Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark


The Duke of WellingtonIt is well known that the night of the 15th of June closed on the Duke of Wellington receiving word while he attended The Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels that Napoleon had attacked on the opposite side of Brussels to the point where Wellington was convinced Napoleon would approach. Wellington had his army ready to defend the road at Mons.

Napoleon attacked on the opposite side in two places, in the area beyond the village of Lingy, where Blucher’s Prussian army were gathered, and at Quatre-Bras, where a farm still stands on the edge of the crossroads.

There was one thing each of the leaders knew – the other would approach on a road, and wanted ownership of the roads. The roads between Brussels and Lingy were straight old Roman roads, perfect for an army to advance on, pulling their cannons and ammunition carts with them. But Wellington had been so convinced that Napoleon would attack on the North of Brussels he did not even have anyone in place to defend the significant crossroads of Quatre-Bras which was 22 miles from Brussels and about half way between Lingy and Mont St Jean where the Battle of Waterloo took place two days later.

Wellington admitted that he had been ‘humbugged‘ when he heard the news  in the coach house of the Duke of Richmond’s residence which had been converted into a ballroom for the night, he immediately withdrew to a room to study the maps and then messages were sent out to rally the British army and send them out onto the road to march towards the battles, miles away.

This is the farm still standing at the crossroads of Quatre-Bras

This is the farm still standing at the crossroads of Quatre-Bras

There was some luck on the Allied forces side, the Prince of Orange’s Dutch forces were closest to Quatre-Bras, and some of his men saw the French cavalry scouting around the undefended crossroads. When the Prince of Orange heard he immediately sent a battalion back to defend it and a message was sent to Wellington to tell him they expected to be attacked there at Dawn, and that each man only had ten rounds of ammunition left.

The first soldiers marched out of Brussels and the surrounding area by moonlight, at two in the morning, while others were gathered but had time to sleep on the streets where they’d been mustered.

Johnny Kincaid of the 95th Rifles records. ‘But we were every instant disturbed by ladies as well as gentlemen; some stumbling over us in the dark, some shaking us out of sleep, to be told the news...’

The streets of Brussels the men would have gathered and marched through

The streets of Brussels the men would have gathered and marched through

Another eye witness, a female who had travelled from England with her family as a spectator recorded how the streets of Brussels filled with soldiers and confusion. ‘Officers looking in vain for their servants, servants running in pursuit of their masters, baggage wagons were loading, trains of artillery harnessing… As the dawn broke the soldiers were seen assembling from all parts of town, in marching order, with their knapsacks on their backs, loaded with three days’s provisions… Numbers were taking leave of their wives and their children , perhaps for the last time… One poor fellow immediately under our windows, turned back again and again to bid his wife farewell, and take his baby once more in his arms; and I saw him hastily brush away a tear with the sleeve of his coat as he gave her back the child for the last time, wrung her hand, and ran off to join his company.

Lieutenant Basil Jackson described the exodus as the men marched out of the city. ‘First came the battalion of the 95th Rifles, dressed in dark green, and with black accoutrements. The 28th Regiment followed, then the 42nd Highlanders, marching so steadily that the sable plumes of their bonnets scarcely quivered.

Wellington reached Quatre Bras around 9.30 am, some of the British army had already arrived, and he saw that they were positioned as effectively as they could be. He rode on then to meet Blucher, the head of the Prussian army, at the Brye windmill near Lingy, Wellington warned Blucher that his position

The ridge where the French cannons were positioned to fire down on the village of Lingy

The ridge where the French cannons were positioned to fire down on the village of Lingy

would be impossible to defend, as Blucher had placed his army in a hollow, giving the French the advantage of a hill to place their cannon on, and they were also positioned along a stream which had a narrow point facing the French, which left the soldiers at the front exposed to attack from more than one side. The two men agreed then that they would come to the others aid, depending on how the day progressed and where Napoleon focused his attack.

He attacked in both places, he sent Marshal Ney, who had arrived hours before, to lead the force attacking Quatre-Bras, and he lead the forces attacking the Prussians at Lingy, taking up a position in a windmill to be able to oversee the battle.

Had Ney attacked early there would have still been only 8,000 in the Allied forces compared to Ney’s 40,000 men, but Ney did not attack until the afternoon, and every hour that passed more soldiers reached the crossroads of Quatre-Bras.

Ney’s men were initially in this farm further along the road, and at the rear of this was a lake, meaning the majority of fighting took place in the mile between this farm and the crossroads. Below are pictures of the field where a lot of the fighting occurred, and the old Roman Road which was surrounded by a wood that meant artillery could hide and just shoot anyone attempting to approach.

The farm the French occupied near the crossroads of Quatre-Bras

The farm the French occupied near the crossroads of Quatre-Bras

The Roman road surrounded by a wood in 1815 where artillery hid and slaughtered anyone attempting to progress along the road.

The Roman road surrounded by a wood in 1815 where artillery hid and slaughtered anyone attempting to progress along the road.

One the first companies to arrive were the 42nd Regiment, the Highlanders, who the night before had been dancing jigs at the Duchess’s ball. They were sent in immediately. They were hidden amid the tall rye crop, which I talked about in a previous post on Waterloo, ‘we strode and groped our way through as fast as we could. By the time we reached the field of clover on the other side we were very much straggled; however, we united in line as fast as time and our speedy advance would permit. The Belgic skirmishers (the men who were positioned ahead of the artillery, in twos, who acted like snipers, trying to bring down officers) retired through our ranks and in an instant we were on their victorious pursuers. Our sudden appearance seemed to paralyse their advance. The singular appearance of our dress, (kilts and tartan bonnets) combined no doubt with our sudden debut, tended to stagger their resolution: we were on them.’

These were fields most of the fighting took place with in in the Battle of Quatre-Bras

These were fields most of the fighting took place with in in the Battle of Quatre-Bras

But what the highlanders had not realised was that the cavalry approaching on their flank, who they thought were the Brunswickers, part of the Allied army, were in fact the French cavalry. When it was realised they hurried into the closest format they could achieve to a square, even trapping some of the French cavalry among them. Who were pulled from their horses (this was the moment I mentioned when I spoke about squares, when the Prince of Orange told the 69th not to form, and they were lost).

The Highlanders were scandalized as they formed a square, when their Batallion commander who had already been injured and was being carried off the field by four men, was attacked. He and the four men carrying him were killed. The Highlanders considered it murder, not war. They attacked the French prisoners after the battle in revenge.

The Battle at Quatre-Bras went on for hours, with Ney continually sending the cavalry into attack. But the day ended with the Allied forces being successful, and Ney pulling back to the farm where he had been that morning. He’d succeeded in stopping Wellington supporting the Prussian army though.

Wellington retired back to the village of Genappe and stayed at an inn for the night, waiting to hear from Lingy. 15,000 men had been lost.

An old farm at the entrance to Lingy, which the Prussians were stationed around

An old farm at the entrance to Lingy, which the Prussians were stationed around

At Lingy the fighting was just as fierce. With Napoleon’s cannon on the hills about the village, it was bombarded. When the French attacked, it is said in records, the bodies in the streets were two or three deep and blood ran about them. And the streets are wide, as you can see in my pictures below. A soldier described their entry to the village ‘When we reached the church our advance was halted by a stream and the enemy, in houses, behind walls, and on rooftops inflicted considerable casualties by musketery, grapeshot and cannon balls.

Another experienced soldier describes the terror of the scene, when he was used to battle, it had shocked even him. ‘A vast number of corpses, both men and horses, were scattered about, horribly mutilated by shells and cannon balls. The scene was different from the valley where almost all the dead preserved a human appearance because cannister, musket balls and bayonets were practially the only instruments of destruction used there…‘ I shan’t write the contrast of the scene he then added about the slope, it is a horrible description of what happens to men and animals hit by cannon fire.

Where the Prussians made their last stand before withdrawing

Where the Prussians made their last stand before withdrawing

The plaque which commemorates the end of this terrible battle

The plaque which commemorates the end of this terrible battle

The battle ended with the Prussians making a last stand at the point where this property stands. Blucher himself at one point came to make another push, and fell from his horse, but his men covered him with a cloak so the French would not recognise and target him, and got him out of there. The Prussians had been fighting over Lingy all afternoon and evening and ground in the village had been lost then won back over and over again, and no help had arrived from Wellington because his troops were trapped at Quatre-Bras trying to keep the crossroads open so that Blucher could use them if needed. It was then the Prussians realised that with the position of the village in the dip, and Wellington’s cannon on the hill, they would never permanently hold the village, it was better to let it go, and so with 16,000 men lost, and 8000 deserters, the Prussians withdrew.

An eyewitness account describes their faces as black from the gunpowder smoke, and layered with dust, while their uniforms were ripped, revealing skin where they had crawled through hedges to get away.

While Blucher recovered from his fall, Gneisenau, his Chief of Staff took over command, and an eyewitness describes the chaos as the army regrouped having fled. ‘I found him in a farmhouse. The village had been abandoned by its inhabitants and every building was crammed with wounded. No light, no drinking water, no rations. We were in a small room where an oil-lamp burned dimly. Wounded men lay moaning on the floor. The General himself was seated on a barrel of pickled cabbage, with only four or five people gathered about him. Scattered troops passed through the village all night long, no-one knew whence they came or where they were going… but morale had not sunk. Every man was looking for his comrades so as to restore order.’

So Napoleon had won one battle at Lingy as the sun rose on the 17th of June 1815, and when the Prussians regrouped, they decided to take a route,away from the main road to avoid Napoleon, and join Wellington. Luckily for them the French did not follow, they saw the 8000 deserters walking on another road, away from the fight, and believed that the Prussians were walking away from the war.

And Wellington had won the battle for the precious crossroads, but now the crossroads led to Napoleon, they were no longer precious. The Allied forces spent their night sleeping on the ground around the crossroads, attending their wounded. Then in the morning Wellington held on, waiting for word from Blucher, waiting to hear if the Prussians had won or lost. The scouts came back with the bad news, and so having loaded the wounded on to carts, Wellington made the decision to withdraw, he would let the crossroads go, and move to defend the road at Mont St Jean where a fork in the road, and the terrain, allowed Wellington the opportunity to fight defensively in his favourite formation and funnel the French into the assault his army planned.

The narrow river at Genappe, which slowed the Anglo-Dutch withdrawal down

The narrow river at Genappe, which slowed the Anglo-Dutch withdrawal down

They spent the day of the 17th, pulling back, and Wellington had 30,000 men and 70 cannons to move a long a single narrow road. The carts full of the wounded were sent first, and then the artillery followed. The cavalry were kept at the rear with the light artillery, the riflemen, who would defend the retreat. It took just as much skill as a battle to manage a withdrawal. The land along the road undulated every 500 yards, and so cannon could be pulled back and fired, and then pulled back again, defending the retreating forces. The worst point was the bridge in the middle of the village of Genappe, which created a bottle neck for the cannon to pass through.

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That night, the night of the 17th of June, a storm hit, that was described like a tropical storm the rain fell so hard, in torrents.

This is very battle based, and yet I had to learn all of this for Paul’s perspective in The Lost Love of a Soldier and it was so moving to walk about the places where things occurred, I wanted to share the details here. Being there gave me an understanding I hadn’t had before.

If you would like to read my fictional story set around the lead up to the Battle of Waterloo, then now is the time to do it, Harper Collins have put on some amazing deals this month to commemorate the battle. In one country the deal only lasts two weeks, though, I have not put the amounts as they are different in different countries, just click on the cover of The Lost Love of a Soldier in the side bar to find out your great cut price deal.

If you would like to see all the pictures and videos of Waterloo 200 which I will share on my Facebook page, click Like on the Jane Lark Facebook link in the right-hand column.

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Look at all the book covers in the side bar to see the fictional stories I write… especially the limited time offer for Magical Weddings, which contains my story, The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel. 

 

 

 

 

 

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