Laurel Collingsworth, seventeen and deeply in love, expects to marry her hero and live in wedded bliss forever after. Instead, with the ink barely dry on the marriage lines, Lord Robert Laningham is called away to Spain and the war. With a heavy heart, she sends her husband off with a kiss and a prayer for his safe return.
Now alone in her new role of Lady Laningham, she faces a series of terrifying events, shadowy intruders, missing jewelry, and mysterious footfalls in the night. Added to her alarms, she must fight her hostile sister-in-law for the reigns of her husband’s establishment.
When Lord Robert Laningham returns, can she convince him danger stalks the halls of the ancient mansion? In his wounded state, will he listen or must she protect her child, her recovering husband, and her household by herself?
Mid-morning drifted into evening, the same, yet not the same with Robert recouping above stairs. Fear for her husband’s health tightened her nerves. More determined than ever to aid in his recovery, she took time with her ablutions before adding a dash of scent to her wrist. “Alice, arrange my hair pulled back with curls falling from the crown. Lord Laningham admires that particular style. I so wish to please him tonight.” She handed a necklace to her maid. “I’ve chosen the pearls to wear. He purchased the set when we stole a few days for ourselves.”
She handed the necklace to her maid and viewed the pearls around her throat. Smiling at her image, she decided her hair appeared well enough, and the dress showed her figure to advantage. Satisfied, she stood.
“You look ever so grand, milady.”
Stepping into the sitting-room before approaching his chamber, she said, “Don’t wait up for me, Alice. I’ll manage.”
Alice nodded. “Very good milady.”
Laurel tapped on the door and entered. Robert sat in his chair, the firelight casting shadows over his gaunt features. He appeared more himself, clean-shaven and in a brocade robe adding a little color to his cheeks.
His eyes lit with admiration, and he held out his hand. “Welcome, Laurel. I would bow to your beauty if I could.”
“Robert, how ridiculous you have become. That’s the next best thing to writing an ode to my eyebrows or some such thing.”
He laughed. “I’m pleased you enjoyed my compliment. Now, let’s eat.”
She couldn’t suppress a grin. “Always directly to the main issue with you, is it—practical and to the point.”
“Exactly so. Admit you wouldn’t wish me any different.”
She nodded in agreement and picked up her napkin. “On with it, then.”
Although Robert had suggested the meal commence, he ate very little. However, he did refill his glass several times. Finally, Laurel had her fill. Seemingly relieved the meal was over he struggled to his feet and called for Joseph.
“Don’t go. I want you to stay a while.”
After his man-servant helped him to bed and departed, Robert patted the bedding beside him. “I want you to lie beside me. I need your warmth next to me, to know I can turn my head and there you are. I want to kiss you goodnight and hold you for a little while. Remove your dress down to your chemise, but leave the jewelry.” He motioned to the bed again.
She didn’t know if such an action was wise or not, but she wished to lay wrapped in his arms again. That would be enough. She stripped to her chemise and crawled in beside him. Rolling over on his good side, he nestled her to his chest and kissed her. The smooth feel of his body against her, the strength in his arms, and the tangy scent of him imparted a sense of safety, warmth, and love. Not many minutes later, a gentle snore rose and fell with each breath he took. After a measure of minutes, she climbed out of his bed, collected her garments, and left his room. Yes, it was enough for now.
About the Author
I am a native of Texas and still live in this great state. I write period romance tangled with suspense. I married my high school sweetheart, years and years ago. We raised four children and have eight grandchildren, and grandchildren are Grand. At the moment, all my children and my grandchildren live within seventy miles of our home, lots of visits. My husband and I still love each other after all these years the stuff romance is made of, Happy Ever After!