Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Sample! All excerpts here are rated PG-13 or milder. Today I’m continuing to post from the second book in my House of Pleasure series, Only Marriage Will Do, set in Georgian London.
I’m going to be in and out most of Saturday, (again!)! But I’ll be catching you all up whenever I get near a computer.
Seems to be a little mystery afoot here. Amiable has stepped in to rescue a damsel in distress and to his amazement the damsel–who he’s never seen before–is calling him husband and introducing him as the Earl of Manning (who, if you may recall, is Katarina’s brother from Only Scandal Will Do and a friend of Amiable’s). Amiable is a tad confused, but gamely carries on with the subterfuge. He too is interested in why her suitor claims she is his wife.
“Why would you claim such a thing, man?” he demanded. “Juliet and I were married properly, in a church.” Amiable gritted his teeth, praying she had given the man no particulars before he had arrived.
“And our ceremony was no less proper. There were witnesses and it was performed before a magistrate.”
Amiable’s head swiveled to Juliet, a cooling in his manner. “Why have you not spoken to me of this, my dear?” Give the woman her head. He was now quite interested himself in what had transpired.
“I never married him, Jack. You must believe me.” Beseeching eyes sent a real plea for his confidence in her. “I never spoke my vows to him.”
“You did not need to, cherie, as you well know. Jeanette spoke them for you.” St. Cyr’s face held more than a touch of impatience.
Complete confusion furrowed his brows and he shifted his stance. “Who is Jeanette? If she spoke the vows then you are married to her, my lord. Not Juliet.”
The sneer was back on St. Cyr’s mouth. “Jeanette Valois was the proxy the Marquess of Dalbury sent to France so that his sister and I could be married despite the circumstances. My father became aware of the scandal surrounding Juliet’s family and broke the betrothal. I knew that when the marquess heard of this he would withdraw the proxy and Juliet would be lost to me. So I acted expressly against my father’s wishes and went through with the ceremony with Jeanette standing in for Juliet. It was almost a month later before the marquess rescinded the proxy.”
St. Cyr looked hungrily at Juliet. “I am your true husband, Juliet. I have the prior claim. Even though it was a secret marriage, nevertheless, it is a valid marriage. You belong to me.” He reached his hand forward to take Juliet’s, but met the iron hard grip of Amiable’s instead.
“Allow me to doubt a bit longer, St. Cyr.” The words were spoken softly, but dripped venom. “Why did you not contact my wife before now with the news that the marriage had indeed taken place? It has been,” he peered at Juliet, “something over a year now?” She nodded her head, her face pinched and miserable.
“I would have written but relations between our two countries being what they were mail was uncertain. And I could not send through diplomatic channels and risk a letter being seen by my father.”
The man almost sounded plausible yet something in his bearing made Amiable’s hackles rise. He did not trust St. Cyr in the least.
Good call by Amiable, I’d say.
Hope you enjoyed a little more of Only Marriage Will Do. Stop by SSS tomorrow for more from Only Scandal Will Do. And today be sure to click here to visit more Sweet Samples.