Historical Romance: Regency Romance: A Prize to Be Won (Sweet Regency Historical Romance Short Stories), страница 4
Rebecca sighed, finally accepting her fate. “You are right, My Lord. Please give us a few days to make arrangements to relinquish the estate to you. You are welcome to stay with us until then.”
Henry knew he should feel ecstatic about the fact that the brother sister duo were finally talking sense, but somewhere deep in his heart, he felt sorry for Lady Rebecca. She seemed like an intelligent woman who had been wronged by fate. If what Peter said was true, she’d managed the entire estate single-handedly after the previous Earl’s death. He had heard about the erstwhile Earl of Leicester. He didn’t have a sterling reputation but was very shrewd when it came to matters of business. He had amassed a vast fortune in gambling and he put most of it to good use in his estate. No wonder the people of Leicester loved him and his family!
Henry surveyed the interior of the chamber allotted to him. It has been tastefully done in maroon and beige. In fact, the entire mansion spoke of elegance and sophistication. He had caught a glimpse of what he supposed was the Banqueting Room and was highly impressed by the huge domed ceiling intricately decorated with designs of exotic foliage. Everything from the chandeliers to the upholstery was exquisite…someone had taken great efforts to decorate the place.
Even the large bed in his room was made of the finest wood. Now in private, he could not keep his thoughts from turning to the unrestrained pleasures one might enjoy there! Suddenly, he is reminded of Lady Rebecca and her luscious frame. The woman had impressed him in more ways than one. She was spirited, intelligent, hardworking and, from what he had seen, she cared deeply for her brother. To top it all, she was one of the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. Henry wondered why she’d not already been snared by the any of England’s eligible bachelors. Perhaps it had something to do with her father’s questionable reputation. Yes, that could be the case!
Once again, he felt sorry for her. Her father’s reputation deprived her of a chance at a good husband and now she was being pushed into poverty because of her brother’s foolishness. Henry loved the spark that he saw in her eyes when she’d defended her brother. That woman stirred something deep within his heart. This thought made him a little uncomfortable and he moved towards the balcony off of his chamber to get some fresh air.
As soon as he stepped out, he noticed someone standing on the balcony of the adjacent room. In the darkness, he could only make out a woman’s silhouette. He stood there, mesmerized by the sight, until the dark clouds finally shifted to make way for moonlight. In the faint light, Henry realized that the woman standing mere feet away from him was none other than Lady Rebecca. She was dressed in a flimsy nightgown that did nothing to hide her sinful body from his hungry gaze. He stepped back a little, lest she spot him staring shamelessly at her. He felt himself go hard with need just looking at her. He wondered what would happen if he actually held her in his arms!
Jesus! He had to do something about his growing attraction towards the woman. He’d lost count of the number of women he’d been with in the past, but none of them attracted him in the strange, primal way as she did. The moment she stormed into the study earlier that day, he’d known that she was different from the rest.
Let’s just say I have to go to claim something that’s mine. And who knows, I may meet your future daughter-in-law on the way!…Suddenly his own words rang in his ears and he formed a plan- a plan to make an offer that Lady Rebecca would find very hard to refuse!
Rebecca could not sleep that night. After almost an hour of tossing and turning, she finally got up and decided to go to the balcony for some respite. She still found it hard to face reality. In a matter of two days, everything would be lost. Dear God! Why did this happen to her? What had she done to deserve such a fate? All she had wanted was a good husband and a respectable family. Was that too much to ask for? She sighed and thought that perhaps she would never get answers to her questions.
She felt sorry for Peter, too. Even though he was responsible for the entire fiasco, she still didn’t want to see him suffer. She knew that he felt extremely guilty for what he’d done. .She would never forget the look of distress in her brother’s eyes as he pleaded with Lord Northwall. She would also never forgive the man who was the reason for that distress!
Lord Henry Northwall…he was just as he’d been described by those ladies at the ball. Tall, dark and dangerously handsome, her heart had stopped when she’d looked at him for the first time. But that moment quickly passed and her anger resurfaced when she realized that the man standing in front of her had just threatened her brother with dire consequences. And she practically fumed when she caught him unashamedly scrutinizing her from head to toe. That man had some guts!
Rebecca thought hard to come up with something that may save their estate, but her mind had gone completely numb. Her years of selfless labor were about to go into a stranger’s hands and she could do nothing to stop it.
She had never felt this helpless—not even when her father died. At that time, she had faith that she could help Peter manage their estate. Of course, Peter’s contribution towards running the estate had been negligible and the entire burden had fallen squarely on her shoulders, but she had not crumbled under the pressure. In fact, she had done everything in her power to take the estate to new heights. Whether it was helping the farmers understand new methods of cultivation or giving tips to them to increase their produce, she did it all. She even did some chores that the polite society would consider ‘unladylike!’ All Rebecca ever wanted was to help her estate flourish. And flourish it did!
Mind still reeling, she walked back into her chamber and fell into a dreamless sleep.