Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on November 7th 2017
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Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke's daughter's bodyguard will be easy―but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion...
Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he's offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington's stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.
Lady Lorraine wants none of her father's high-handed ways, and she'll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard―until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan's protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he's always done―fight for what he wants.
In this scene, Lady Lorraine is trying to escape her bodyguard, Ewan Mostyn, to rendezvous with his cousin and her would-be lover.
Little by little, she climbed down the tree until she had gone far enough that she felt safe in glancing down.
Immediately, she wished she hadn’t.
Standing below the tree, arms crossed and brows creased into a V, was the Viking. With a little squeal, Lorrie began climbing back up the tree, but the dratted giant reached up and grasped her about the waist, hauling her down into the garden beside him.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, his voice so low it was more of a growl.
She pushed against him until he set her on her feet, but he didn’t release her arm.
“You really shouldn’t use such language in the presence of a lady.”
“Ladies do not climb trees.”
“Quite right,” she said. “I will just return to bed then—” She tried to walk away, but he yanked her back. None too gently either.
He’d lit a lamp in the house, and the light spilled from the French doors of the parlor on the first floor and into the garden. She wished she didn’t have such a clear view of his expression. The throbbing vein in his neck seemed to indicate he was furious.
“You want an explanation,” she said with a sigh.
“Would you believe I was sleepwalking?”
“How about midnight gardening?”
He didn’t even bother to respond.
“You won’t mention this to my father, will you?”
“Traitor,” she muttered, knowing he’d heard. “How did you know?” she asked. “Welly’s barking?”
His careful expression revealed nothing. He would have made a good spy. If captured, he would have revealed none of his secrets.
“It’s all your fault, you know,” she said, finally.
His brow arched upward.
“If you would have allowed me to speak to Francis at the garden party—”
“Out of the question,” he interrupted.
“You see!” She pointed a finger at him. “You left me no other choice. I had to see him.”
“Not on my watch.”
Lorrie could have argued further. It was in her nature to argue, but she could not see the point of it. “Fine. If you would release me, I will go to bed.”
“Not yet,” he said.
Lorrie’s heart jumped with anticipation. Perhaps he would want to kiss her first.
But, no! She could not allow that. Even though she really, really wanted to kiss him again. Strange that she could hate him so and still want him to press his lips to hers.
“I want your assurance this will not happen again.”
“I’m sorry. I cannot give it. I will marry Francis, and I will find a way to see him again. You will have to find another way to torture him.”
The look that crossed the Viking’s face actually made Lorrie cringe. His light eyes darkened with anger, and his cheeks reddened. The grip on her arm did not tighten, though, and she could only imagine the amount of control it took to leash that sort of fury.
“That is what you believe of me?” he asked. “That I tortured Francis when we were children.”
Lorrie didn’t particularly want to answer the question—not with him glaring at her so. “What else am I to believe? Francis told me all about it,” she whispered.
“What do you see?” she asked.
He shook his head as though he would not waste the effort it took to answer.
“Are you saying—or rather not saying—that you did not bully and torment Francis when you were children?”
“I did not.” The simple way he said it, the ring of truth in his voice confused her. He gave her no particulars, offered no protests. He humbly denied the charge. He made it hard to argue and, she had to admit, difficult not to believe him.
“Then why did he say you did?”
Lorrie saw her chance and jumped. “Very well, I will. Release me, and I will go and ask him at once.”
The Viking shook his head and pulled her back toward him. Lorrie was growing colder by the moment, and she rather wished she might step a tiny bit closer to the Viking to share his warmth. She still remembered how warm he’d been in the prince’s garden. Tonight he wore only breeches and shirtsleeves, but he did not appear cold in the least.
She supposed she could demand to return inside now, and he would probably allow it, but she wasn’t quite ready to part from him. “Putting aside the matter of whether or not you bullied Francis, why do you hate him? And do not say you don’t. I can tell that you do. Anyone who saw the way you looked at him would know you want to kill him.”
“Why do you love him?” the Viking asked.
Lorrie wasn’t prepared for the question. “I…” But why did she love Francis? He was handsome and charming, but were those reasons to love him? “You cannot do that,” she said, pointing an accusatory finger at him. “You cannot answer a question with a question.”
“Apparently, you cannot answer the question at all.”
Lorrie had the urge to stomp her foot. Instead, she glared at the Viking. “I do love him. He is kind and considerate and respectful. He has never tried to take advantage of me. He loves me.”
And how pathetic did that sound? She loved him because he loved her? Was she so starved for love and affection?
The answer echoed in her mind—yes!
All her life her mother had practically ignored her while her father had lectured her. Her brothers had been away at school or consumed with their own affairs. Welly was the only creature who ever appeared genuinely pleased to see her, who wanted to cuddle and snuggle with her.
“Is it so wrong to want affection?” she asked no one in particular, freeing herself from the Viking’s grip and pacing about a square of the garden. “Is it so wrong to want to be loved and held and kissed and—and ravished?”
“Ravished?” The word came out so low it was barely audible.
Lorrie ceased pacing and glanced at the Viking. She’d forgotten he was there for a moment. But then what did it matter. It was not as though he were a gentleman who would be shocked at her admission. “Just because I am a woman does not mean I don’t have desires. I want to be kissed and touched, like you touched me at the prince’s ball.”
The Viking shook his head as though he would rather she hadn’t mentioned the incident. Well, she had to mention it. She couldn’t seem to forget it. “I know it is sinful to want such things when I’m a maiden, but if you would only allow me to leave the garden, I will go to Francis and persuade him to elope. Then even the church will sanction all my wicked feelings.”
Lorrie did stomp her foot then, and she wished she could lift the rock under her foot and hurl it at his head. “You kiss me then.”