on September 25th 2017
A Lady’s Maid’s Rules When Revealing a Secret Pregnancy:
1. The maid must approach the father-to-be in safe, comfortable surroundings. Not his bedchamber. 2. If the maid does approach him in his bedchamber, she must not envision hot, sinful nights in his arms…3. In the event such visions do overtake her, she is advised to retreat with haste. 4. If retreat is not possible, then there is only one solution. Prepare for breathless passion and the complete surrender of her heart…
One passionate night in Scotland leaves Emily Michaelson in the family way. Months later, she arrives in London with one goal in mind; secure a future for her unborn babe. She needs a loan, and there’s only one man who has the means and influence to help her. The one man who makes her heart flutter…
Stephen Crawford, heir to the Earl of Durham, is in the midst of a scandal that could destroy him. His solution is simple--marry a woman of influence. Well, it should be simple. Matters are complicated when a fiery young maid shows up on his doorstep—or rather, in his bed—claiming to be pregnant with his child. His memory of their night together is fractured, but one thing is certain, the attraction between them is powerful…and dangerous for them both.
There was no preparing a woman for the task Emily Michelson had looming before her. Indeed, it was likely to be slightly traumatic for both her and Stephen. But alas, it could not be avoided. Though there were several times when she had convinced herself it could be avoided, if only a suitable solution had revealed itself.
It had not.
Now, there was only one clear path and she must take it.
So here she was, shoehorned into the smallest mail coach in existence, on her way to see Stephen. She had made the best of the long and tedious journey from Yorkshire, but the roads were muddied and potholed, causing the conveyance to thrash violently. She was tired, dirty and longed to chase away the chill with a dish of hot tea.
At length, the carriage halted and the driver announced they had arrived in Piccadilly Street. Emily dismounted, brushing off her frayed skirts. Piccadilly was only a ten-minute walk from Durham House in Grosvenor Street and she could use a good walk. She had not stretched her legs since leaving the posting inn at Ilford.
But as her scuffed boots ate up the cobbles, her legs began to ache. With every step, she felt weaker and the nausea caused by the jostling carriage had given way to a dull, gnawing hunger that felt as though it might consume her whole.
She struggled to remember when she’d last eaten. It was yesterday. At one of the taverns in route, she had spent her last sixpence on a bowl of stew and a small pitcher of ale. That had been the last morsel to touch her lips in what felt like days.
Clutching her worn cloth bag to her stomach, she wondered if Stephen had much altered in the months since she had last set eyes on him. He would be healthier, more robust, surely. The last time she had set eyes on him, he had nearly perished.
She remembered those terrifying few days in Scotland so vividly…
Four months ago, Stephen had absconded to Gretna Green with The Duke of Arlington’s sister, Lady Evelyn Alexander. Her friends had discovered the elopement and had quickly given chase with Emily, as Lady Evelyn’s maid, trailing along as chaperone. Once they had stopped the marriage, the party promptly drank themselves into oblivion—all except Emily.
That night, a ruffian had shot Stephen and that night, both Emily and Stephen’s lives had changed forever…
In her mind’s eye, she imagined every detail of her coming meeting with him—his manner, his expressions, the light playing off his Adonis-like features. He would smile at her with those perfectly white teeth, and say something charming, and she would melt.
No, she mustn’t melt. Anything but that.
That was precisely what had gotten her into this predicament in the first place.
No, she must remain firm and under no circumstances must she fall prey to his dazzling green eyes and dashing smile.
Just as she was rounding the corner to Grosvenor Street, rain began falling in earnest. It was all she could do to force each step, willing her legs to carry her, until she was finally standing on the sidewalk in front of Stephen’s townhouse.
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THE CARE & FEEDING OF YOUR CAPTIVE EARL
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