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A Kiss from the Heart
 

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A Kiss from the Heart


  A KISS FROM THE HEART

  ‘What if Miranda does not come?’ he worried, as he descended the stairs to greet the first of his guests.

  So the Earl was utterly relieved as she entered the hall on the arm of her father.

  Her eyes lit up as she caught his gaze. Beside him he heard his mother’s sigh of displeasure and felt the hiss of her hot breath in his ear.

  “Is this your doing?” she whispered coldly.

  “We could not ask Sir George and not his daughter, Mama. It would not have been correct. Sir George would have felt snubbed as well as Miranda.”

  “We shall speak about this later,” she murmured haughtily, as she went to embrace the beaming Sir George.

  The Earl could not help but notice Miranda’s hurt expression as his mother totally ignored her, preferring to turn her back and show Sir George into the ballroom.

  “Miranda, how lovely you look this evening,” he sighed.

  His eyes met hers and he felt a sudden shiver in his stomach.

  She was looking so beautiful!

  THE BARBARA CARTLAND PINK COLLECTION

  Barbara Cartland was the most prolific bestselling author in the history of the world. She was frequently in the Guinness Book of Records for writing more books in a year than any other living author. In fact her most amazing literary feat was when her publishers asked for more Barbara Cartland romances, she doubled her output from 10 books a year to over 20 books a year, when she was 77.

  She went on writing continuously at this rate for 20 years and wrote her last book at the age of 97, thus completing 400 books between the ages of 77 and 97.

  Her publishers finally could not keep up with this phenomenal output, so at her death she left 160 unpublished manuscripts, something again that no other author has ever achieved.

  Now the exciting news is that these 160 original unpublished Barbara Cartland books are ready for publication and they will be published by Barbaracartland.com exclusively on the internet, as the web is the best possible way to reach so many Barbara Cartland readers around the world.

  The 160 books will be published monthly and will be numbered in sequence.

  The series is called the Pink Collection as a tribute to Barbara Cartland whose favourite colour was pink and it became very much her trademark over the years.

  The Barbara Cartland Pink Collection is published only on the internet. Log on to www.barbaracartland.com to find out how you can purchase the books monthly as they are published, and take out a subscription that will ensure that all subsequent editions are delivered to you by mail order to your home.

  Titles in this series

  These titles are currently available for download. For more information please see the Where to buy page at the end of this book.

  1. The Cross of Love

  2. Love in the Highlands

  3. Love Finds the Way

  4. The Castle of Love

  5. Love is Triumphant

  6. Stars in the Sky

  7. The Ship of Love

  8. A Dangerous Disguise

  9. Love Became Theirs

  10. Love Drives In

  11. Sailing to Love

  12. The Star of Love

  13. Music is the Soul of Love

  14. Love in the East

  15. Theirs to Eternity

  16. A Paradise on Earth

  17. Love Wins in Berlin

  18. In Search of Love

  19. Love Rescues Rosanna

  20. A Heart in Heaven

  21. The House of Happiness

  22. Royalty Defeated by Love

  23. The White Witch

  24. They Sought Love

  25. Love is the Reason for Living

  26. They Found Their Way to Heaven

  27. Learning to Love

  28. Journey to Happiness

  29. A Kiss in the Desert

  30. The Heart of Love

  31. The Richness of Love

  32. For Ever and Ever

  33. An Unexpected Love

  34. Saved by an Angel

  35. Touching the Stars

  36. Seeking Love

  37. Journey to Love

  38. The Importance of Love

  39. Love by the Lake

  40. A Dream Come True

  41. The King without a Heart

  42. The Waters of Love

  43. Danger to the Duke

  44. A Perfect way to Heaven

  45. Follow Your Heart

  46. In Hiding

  THE LATE DAME BARBARA CARTLAND

  Barbara Cartland, who sadly died in May 2000 at the grand age of ninety eight, remains one of the world’s most famous romantic novelists. With worldwide sales of over one billion, her outstanding 723 books have been translated into thirty six different languages, to be enjoyed by readers of romance globally.

  Writing her first book ‘Jigsaw’ at the age of 21, Barbara became an immediate bestseller. Building upon this initial success, she wrote continuously throughout her life, producing bestsellers for an astonishing 76 years. In addition to Barbara Cartland’s legion of fans in the UK and across Europe, her books have always been immensely popular in the USA. In 1976 she achieved the unprecedented feat of having books at numbers 1 & 2 in the prestigious B. Dalton Bookseller bestsellers list.

  Although she is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Romance’, Barbara Cartland also wrote several historical biographies, six autobiographies and numerous theatrical plays as well as books on life, love, health and cookery. Becoming one of Britain's most popular media personalities and dressed in her trademark pink, Barbara spoke on radio and television about social and political issues, as well as making many public appearances.

  In 1991 she became a Dame of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to literature and her work for humanitarian and charitable causes.

  Known for her glamour, style, and vitality Barbara Cartland became a legend in her own lifetime. Best remembered for her wonderful romantic novels and loved by millions of readers worldwide, her books remain treasured for their heroic heroes, plucky heroines and traditional values. But above all, it was Barbara Cartland’s overriding belief in the positive power of love to help, heal and improve the quality of life for everyone that made her truly unique.

  “Love can be so unpredictable and capricious – one moment it’s there in your hand, the next it’s gone – just like a will o’ the wisp. So you have to persevere and one day when you least expect it, true love will be staring you straight in the face!”

  Barbara Cartland

  PROLOGUE

  1867

  Young Lord Robert Templeton gazed out of his nursery window in awe.

  Outside the thick January snow was covering the sculptured box trees in the gardens at Ledbury Hall turning them into giant snowballs, whilst the water in the ornamental fountain was frozen solid. All of which only conspired to lure Robert out to enjoy them.

  “Please Miss Jameson, may I be allowed to go out and play?”

  He pressed his nose up against the cold glass and fogged it with his warm breath.

  “Come away from the window! You must first do your sums, Lord Robert,” Miss Jameson admonished sternly. “And then we shall see.”

  Only a few moments later Mrs. Sturrock, the housekeeper, entered the nursery and the two women began whispering whilst glancing across to make sure the child could not hear.

  “Very well.” Lord Robert heard his governess say tersely to the housekeeper before turning her attentions back to him. “Continue with your eight times table, I will not be long!”

  Waiting until he heard the two women’s voices fading away down the stairs, Lord Robert seized the opportunity gleefully.

  He
slipped down from his desk and grabbed his cap and coat that hung on a peg behind the nursery door.

  Within just a few seconds he had tiptoed down the main staircase, past the footman who was busy polishing the brass lantern in the entrance, and was haring across the field to where his friend, Miranda Whitby, was waiting for him.

  His breath steamed in the cold air as he ran towards the Grange – the large stone house where Miranda lived – that sat just outside of his father, the Earl of Templeton’s, estate.

  Miranda’s father, Sir George Whitby, was the local magistrate and a great friend of the Earl. So it was not surprising that ten-year-old Lord Robert and Sir George’s seven-year-old daughter had become close companions as well. That was after a good many fights where the older boy had teased the young girl mercilessly.

  As Robert approached the house, he could see Miranda waving at him.

  “Why were you so long?” she huffed sulkily. “You said you would be able to come out and play. I have been waiting here for ages!”

  “Miss Jameson refused to let me go. She is such an old – ”

  “Robert!” chided Miranda, her large brown eyes remonstrating with him. “You should not say such things about her.”

  “Well, if you don’t want to play with me, I shall go home!” he pouted.

  The boy was spoilt and immature for his age while Miranda, although younger, was almost as tall as him.

  “Wait!” she called, as he turned his back on her and made for the path back to Ledbury Hall.

  The boy halted for a moment, just long enough to make Miranda feel that he might just change his mind. Pretending to inspect his boots, he now bent down, scooped up some snow and fashioned it into a snowball.

  Turning round, he drew his arm smartly back and flung the snowball at Miranda, hitting her quite squarely on the head.

  She screamed as the powdery bundle exploded onto her woollen hat, covering her eyelashes in icy crystals.

  Robert burst out laughing, pointing and making fun of her discomfort.

  “You beast!” she screamed, as she ran after him, wiping the snow from her face. “I will get you for that!”

  Robert ran towards the Grange’s stables, laughing as he went. He knew that he was too big and fast for her and she would never catch him.

  He was only thinking of Miranda’s toboggan that he knew was kept in a stall at the end of the stable block.

  Still laughing he streaked under the brick arch at the stables entrance and tried not to slip up on the cobbles.

  He could hear Miranda’s shouts as she struggled to keep up with him.

  Out of breath, he reached the stall where he knew he would find the toboggan and smiled to himself as he glimpsed it, hanging from a nail on the wall.

  Reaching up, he pulled it down and bolted out of the stall, dragging it behind him.

  “Can’t catch me!” he shouted, as the out-of-breath figure of Miranda came into view.

  Reaching the field that undulated like an enormous playground slide, he jumped aboard the wooden toboggan and was soon coursing down the first slope.

  Miranda now caught up with him just as he had completed his first descent. She walked sulkily over to where he had stopped, dragging her feet as she went.

  Immediately Robert felt mean for behaving in such a selfish manner. Had not his Mama told him many times that he should always allow girls to go first?

  “Here,” he offered gruffly, handing her the hairy rope attached to the toboggan. “You go next. This slope is too dull for me and after you’ve had your turn, I want to go up to Flodder’s meadow.”

  “You know that is not allowed,” replied Miranda, as she began to pull the toboggan back up the slope again. “We are both forbidden from going up there as it is out of bounds.”

  “Nonsense. One day all of this will be mine and I shall go wherever I wish,” answered Robert in a lofty tone.

  After Miranda had taken her turn on the slope, the two of them trudged on without saying anything with only the sounds of laboured breathing breaking the silence.

  As they approached the boundary of The Grange, Miranda hesitated.

  In front of them now stretched the steep slope of Flodder’s meadow, where the sheep were turned out to graze in summer.

  At the bottom of the field stood a derelict barn upon which had been nailed a notice saying,

  “DANGER – KEEP OUT”.

  Miranda shivered as she regarded it. Not because of the cold, but because to her the barn was a place where ghosts and all manner of nasty things might live.

  “Come on, slowcoach!” called Robert, as he ran up the slope, pulling the toboggan behind him. “Come to the top and watch me!”

  Miranda eyed the barn and weighed up whether she should follow him and risk the displeasure of her father, if he discovered she had disobeyed his orders to stay away from Flodder’s meadow.

  Or whether she should stay behind the fence and be forced to stand near the horrid barn!

  She was still deciding when Robert reached the top of the meadow and began to mount the toboggan.

  “Be careful!” she yelled, but her voice was lost in a sudden gust of icy wind that blew the snow into whirling eddies.

  Her heart was hammering against her ribs as she blew on her gloves and stamped her little feet.

  She knew that Robert was doing wrong and she was hoping the gamekeeper was not about to pop out from behind the hedge, as he was wont to do, and tell her father what he had witnessed.

  “Look at me! Miranda!”

  Robert’s face flushed as he now jumped onto the toboggan and next started his long descent down the steep meadow. He quickly gathered speed and was soon flying down the slope.

  As he did so, the wind sprang up once more, but this time it was stronger. Robert pulled on the rope to guide the toboggan, but it would not respond.

  To his horror he could see that he was heading straight for the derelict barn!

  Try as he might, he could not turn the toboggan. He was on a collision course with the rickety structure.

  “Pull at the rope! Pull at the rope!” cried Miranda, as she stood and watched, feeling utterly helpless.

  “I can’t!” he shrieked with a look of terror on his face.

  With a sickening thud he hurtled into the side of the barn and was immediately showered with snow.

  Miranda thought the snow would never stop falling down on his head and remained rooted to the spot.

  As the final load tumbled over all him, a deathly hush descended.

  “I must get him out!” screamed Miranda firmly as she cast aside her fears and ran over to the mound of snow where her friend was now buried.

  There was no sound as she scrabbled with her bare hands and worked steadily to free him.

  “Robert! Robert! I will save you!” she screeched, clawing great handfuls of snow aside.

  Finally when her arms were aching and she was on the point of exhaustion, she uncovered Robert’s woollen cap. Feeling down through the freezing ice, she discovered a warm head underneath –

  “Hold on! I will free you!” she panted, burrowing like a demon around his head.

  She gasped as his pale face came in to view.

  His lips were turning dark blue and his eyelashes were encrusted with snowflakes.

  “Robert! Robert! Can you hear me?”

  The eyes flickered and Miranda dug ever faster.

  “You must move your arms otherwise I will not be able to pull you out!” she puffed, as she cleared the snow around the boy’s torso.

  Eventually she managed to pull him free.

  The toboggan had been sturdy enough to withstand the impact it had suffered and was lying a few feet away, tipped up on its side and Miranda quickly retrieved it.

  “Curl up on the toboggan and I will drag you back to the stables,” she urged him. She did not notice her soaking gloves or that she had no feeling in her hands.

  Just over half an hour later, she hobbled, panting and exhausted
through the stable block with the toboggan and its sad frozen cargo.

  “Help!” she called feebly before fainting onto the cobbles.

  One of the young grooms came forward and gasped when he saw what lay before him.

  With all the power that his lungs could muster, he hollered for help, whilst furiously rubbing Lord Robert’s frozen frame.

  One of the stable boys next picked up Miranda and carried her towards The Grange. He was no more than six years older than she, but his tough work had given him strength beyond his years.

  The whole stable block became alive with shouts and men running to and fro.

  “Get to the big house and tell his Lordship what has happened,” ordered the Head Groom, as he threw the boy over his shoulder and made for the warmth of the Grange. “Thank heavens Lady Whitby is at home. She will tend to him while I go for the doctor.”

  An hour later Robert opened his eyes to find that he was in a strange bed with the doctor bending over him.

  As he focused he could see his mother standing by his side and Miranda was at the foot of the bed, wrapped in a blanket.

  “There, I told you he would be all right!” exclaimed Miranda, as he tried to sit up in bed.

  “Darling!” cried Robert’s mother. “We were just so worried when Sir George’s groom came to the house and told us there had been an accident.”

  “Mama – ” he began weakly.

  “Hush, darling. We shall not speak of this until you are well again. Sir George has kindly said that you might stay here until you are fit enough to be moved back to the Hall. You are fortunate that your father is in London – he might not have been so lenient over how you disobeyed his wishes and ran away from your tutoring!”

  Robert looked thoroughly ashamed of himself. He sank lower in the bed and pulled the fine cotton covers up to his chin.

  Lady Templeton kissed him and then with a rustle of her full skirts she left the room with the doctor.

  Miranda came forward and stared hard at her sick friend in the bed.

  “My Mama is so angry with you,” she pronounced, pulling the blanket around her. “She says that you are a bad influence – whatever that is.”

 
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