Published by Wendy LaCapra on October 17th 2017
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Infamous for his pedigree of madness and murder, the reclusive Duke of Ashbey believes he cannot feel until a mysterious woman unlocks a world of sensation in a single, shattering moment of connection. Ash casts a desperate bid for more.
Recent widow Alicia Stone has long been reviled as the chief impediment to a love affair that captured the nation’s imagination. Publicly, she settled for respectability’s cold comfort, but, secretly, she longs to experience what she never found with her famous husband—uninhibited passion.
When Ashbey proposes a discreet three-night assignation, Alicia shocks herself by accepting. But will their explosive union cost them both far more than they bargained?
Lady Stone stirred, releasing him from his thoughts. He planted a kiss on her shoulder. Even her skin was sweet.
“Mmmm,” she responded.
Carefully, he brushed the hair from her face. “Good morning, Lady Stone.”
Dream’s mist cleared from her eyes. “Alicia,” she whispered. And then, she smiled.
An unfamiliar feeling entered his heart—light and heady, as if he were galloping free.
“Alicia.” He tested the name. The consonants spilled over tongue like water. Alicia.
Now he understood why she had, at first, refused to call him Ash. The gift of her name was more intimate a gesture than anything they’d yet shared.
He’d pleasured Lady Stone. He could remain thankful, even devoted to Lady Stone from afar. But Alicia? Alicia was someone he must gather up close and protect.
A discordant note clanged in his soul.
The best way he could protect Alicia was to let her go.
“Good morning, Ash.”
He gathered her into his arms and held tight.
“Ah, Ash,” she sighed.
How could a single sigh transport him from despair to—what was that word? Was there a word for feeling all would be right with the world?
She pulled away. Her lids swept down as her cheeks pinked. “I require a bit of privacy.”
He set her free. Reluctantly.
She glanced back half way across the room, her shy, sweet smile more dangerous than a primed pistol. Then, she disappeared into the adjoining chamber, but not before nervously adjusting her shift.
Why was she nervous? She was utterly perfect. She’d always be utterly perfect. At least, to him. He settled back into the pillows, propping his head on his arm.
The child of a madman, even a madman with a ducal title, was bound to be lonely. His father had never harmed him, but he thought it wise to act as everyone else in the household and keep out of his father’s way.
Alone in his chambers, he’d taken comfort in sounds of human activity—cleaning, brushing, polishing…the clank of dishes, the swish of a gardener’s scythe. But this was the sound he had longed for—the sound of someone for whom he cared, going about a trivial occupation. Life, shared.
His chest pierced—the price he’d have to pay for the return of his feeling. But his three stolen days were not over.
She emerged with another, private smile.
Not in the least.