Read Love's Patient Fury (The Deverell Series Book 3) Online

Authors: Susan Ward

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Love's Patient Fury (The Deverell Series Book 3)

BOOK: Love's Patient Fury (The Deverell Series Book 3)
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Love’s Patient Fury

 

The Deverell Series

~Book 3~

 

Susan Ward

 

Copyright © 2014 Susan Ward

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1503100154

ISBN-13: 978-1503100152

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

DEDICATION

For my daughter, Tasia, so you will remember you are always in my heart. Happy birthday baby girl. I wish I could be with you this day. You are my girl of brilliant extremes and I love you for it.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

EXCERPTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

“Beware the fury of a patient man.”

~~Publiluis Syrus

 

CHAPTER ONE

Varian Deverell had not seen Rhea Merrick in over a decade. The time had touched her hardly at all. As the carriage rolled to a stop on the rosy sandstone gravel in front of the cottage of Bramble Hill, Rhea was a stunning vision of stylish brown curls and chocolate eyes, and her tiny form was turned out in effortless elegance in a day gown of emerald silk. She stilled in her wild garden of flowers, and her beautiful face lifted to note the arrival of the carriage. She was still youthful in glow and still one of the most beautiful women Varian had ever seen, even dusted with hummus from head to toe.

Climbing from the carriage, Varian stood drinking in the picture Rhea made. Rhea didn’t move, but that beautiful smile flashed at once and her soft brown eyes now danced with delight.

Rhea couldn’t speak through the sudden tightening of her throat.
Varian Deverell,
she thought in dizzying wonder, doing a quick examination of him, still unable to believe he was actually here.  He was even more handsome than he had been at twenty-eight, the features of his face sun bronzed and tempered by age into the full glory of their earlier promise. His great black eyes were as mysterious as she remembered. Instead of growing softer with age, less fit as too many fine men of their class were prone to do, his towering form was even more powerfully built, the wealth of strength and sinewy muscle evident through his expertly tailored garments. The haunting wash of grief was gone from him, and though it was a discreet presence in his eyes, a lingering smile and happiness shone there. The years had been good to him. He had been a handsome man a decade ago, but oh now he was magnificent and at the height of his looks.

Where on earth has he been?
Rhea had missed him, her dear friend, and the last link that remained on this earth to Ann. He had been a gloomy shell of himself the last time she had seen him. She pushed those tragic memories from her mind, instead focusing on the pleasure that came from seeing him again, and seeing him looking so well. What had accomplished this miracle? What brought him here when those old rumors, cruel and unjust, had made him vow to her never to return to England? Ten years had passed. She had never expected to see him again. Varian Deverell.

Realizing in sudden embarrassment she had been standing there silent and staring at him far too long, Rhea began to laugh. Varian felt the tension uncoil in his body. Rhea sounded like Merry when she laughed, joy filled and effervescent. It was as reassuring she welcomed him here as any words could ever be. He only waited a breath for the welcoming words as well.

“Varian Deverell. Oh my,” she exclaimed, tears now mingling with her rush of excitement and pleasure. She was out of her garden in a graceful flurry and into his arms for an embrace before he had managed five steps toward her. She took him against her in an exuberant hug, improper, yet always given to those she cared for. “Oh my. You are a superb surprise. It’s been too long. Ten years. Have you come home to England to stay at last? I have missed you.”

Varian was overwhelmed by her greeting. Their last meeting had not been a pleasant one. Grief had made him harsher than he should have been with this woman he cherished. He’d forgotten her generous heart, quick to forgive and loyal in her affections, but he’d never dared hope for this glowing reception. Would she be his one ally in the coming days, the one Merrick to forgive him in all this? Staring into her lovely face, he was stunned he had never put the pieces together. How could he have failed to realize Merry was Rhea’s daughter?

Varian stepped back, holding her hands, a smile hovering at the corners of his lips as he quietly shook his head. “You are a vision, Rhea. You’ve changed not at all. I have missed you, too. It’s been too long and you are right, as you are in all things. How long I stay, however, will have much to do with Lucien and less to do with my desire to visit with you and catch up on the years.”

Smiling up at him, milk chocolate eyes twinkling, she exclaimed affectionately, “The years have changed you for the better, Varian. You are happy, I can tell and that pleases my heart. You, my dear man, are welcome here as long as you wish to stay, Lucien or not. You’re always welcome in any home of mine. You would do well not to forget that again and wait years to visit me.”

Still holding one of her grubby hands covered in hummus, he brought her fingers to his lips before he led her to the carriage. Quietly he said, “You have a generous heart to give me such a welcome after letting so many years pass between us, Rhea.  My happiness has much to do with you. My happiness has much to do with what will infuriate Lucien.”

Rhea began to laugh again.
That
sounded like the Varian of old, worrying about infuriating Lucien. “It does not bode well that you are here but a moment and fully convinced that you will infuriate Lucien.” Rhea pulled her dainty brows into a playful frown. “You and Lucien are too much alike. You always have been, so much alike neither of you can see it. I have always seen it.” She shook her head, still trying to comprehend that he was here, and added on a feigned stern warning, “Do not even think to leave, you dear man, until you tell me everything about what you’ve done these past ten years. I want to know everything.”

Her words brought tension back to Varian. “The reason for my happiness, Rhea, is why I have come to Falmouth. I have brought you something, my dear. I am returning something you’ve lost. But only for a while, because I have brought you my wife. It will delight you to see her and hopefully ease that pain I see in your eyes. My greatest fear is that you will not forgive me, that you will be hurt even more by what I have done, and I will lose our friendship which I have cherished.”

Rhea’s eyes widened at that. She watched as Varian leaned into the carriage, her heart frantically racing inside of her, the thoughts that claimed her entirely crazy, afraid to hope it could be that after too many disappointments, and too fearful to explore the rest of his words, their implications and the reality that, yes, Lucien would be furious if what she were imagining were true. Lucien would be furious even in his relief if what she suspect was the cause of Varian’s return proved true.

Varian’s voice floated out to her. “Little One, you’ve hidden in here long enough. Isn’t it time to say hello to your mother.”

Mother?
Rhea’s heart stopped. There was a long agonizing pause in which there was no response from inside the carriage. Straining on tip toe, desperate to see beyond Varian’s shoulders, she knew, even though she could see nothing because his towering form blocked the entire opening to the carriage. At last, he reached in and carefully lifted a woman from the seat and set her on the ground before Rhea.

The color drained from Rhea’s face. Black curls, blue eyes, smartly dressed in a sapphire traveling gown, as exquisite as ever.
Merry!
Her daughter was back, after a year. She was back in a flash as unpredictably in manner as she had left them. Merry was back and she had brought with her Varian Deverell.

It was too much to take in all at once, and frantically Rhea’s gaze darted to Varian, trying to bring into focus her wayward spinning thoughts. A fragment of his words broke free in her memory.
I have brought you my wife
. Stomach churning and heart pounding, she took note of Varian’s large tanned fingers intimately clasping Merry’s waist and how calmly her daughter stood beside to him, allowing his touch. Even in Rhea’s bliss, fear mixed with the vision of what Lucien’s reaction would be to
this
marriage.  Lucien had never been fond of Varian. This turn of events would catapult him into fury.

Praying she had misunderstood, she went quickly forward to take Merry’s hand, her shaking fingers brushing against the wide wedding band of blue sapphires. It was a Deverell heirloom she recognized at once, the dowager Duchess of Windmere’s own wedding band which she had worn until her death. Any doubt she had heard Varian incorrectly was lost. She closed her fingers tightly around her daughter’s cool flesh. Varian’s wife.

Struggling to subdue her worries, Rhea fought to smile and wanted only her joy to surface. There was time enough later to explore Merry’s disappearance and how she had come to be married to Varian Deverell. How
she
would manage Lucien. And Lucien, in rage, was not a force easily managed. She wanted to savor Merry’s homecoming. Her daughter was back. Merry was alive and home at long last and of all things, married. Married to Varian Deverell.

“Merry,” Rhea cried, tears running down her cheeks as she fiercely hugged her and lavished kisses across her tense face. “My dear daughter, welcome home.”

Rhea had them each by an arm and gracefully propelled them into the house with her customary air of charming gayety.  She had spared not even a glance in greeting to Camden, who followed silently behind them, and Varian had never seen her falter once in her social graces. Her voice was a never ending stream of cheerful chatter. The smile on her face gave the appearance of being plastered there by the time they entered the spacious west drawing room, and her velvety brown eyes made repeated frantic sweeps over her daughter’s taut, silent figure. Each sweep made her eyes grow a little more anxious.

What is wrong with my girl
, Rhea wondered nervously. Her daughter had said not a word since alighting from the carriage. She looked as lovely as ever, though a trifle haggard, but she did not behave like Merry. Her calmness was unnerving. For all that she moved, Merry was little more than a tragic statue.

Rhea released her hold on Varian, and went about sending one footman to locate the Duke of Dorset and another to fetch refreshments. She pulled Merry down closely beside her on a sofa, and Varian settled in a chair across from them.

Taking in a deep, laughing breath, Rhea did a playful little sigh and then exclaimed, “Will you listen to me rattle on, my dear. Your return has quite scrambled my wits. I have given you not a moment to get in a single word. You must tell me everything.” With a shaking hand she pushed a wayward curl from Merry’s face. Her troubled gaze strayed once to Varian in questioning consternation and then with a loving pat on Merry’s cheek, she quickly added, “No, we should wait for your father.”

It was Philip and Kate who joined them in the drawing room first. They were very much like Merry, all their gestures curving and exaggerated in their exuberance of youth. Kate stood hopping up and down, the bun of her golden curls on her head bobbing like a duck in a pond. Philip crossed the room in three running strides.

Varian watched, praying this went better than Merry’s greeting with her mother. Philip scooped his sister up from Rhea’s side, lifted her in air with a twirl and crushed her against his chest. They were a close knit family, uninhibited in their demonstrations of affection and unabashedly displayed it in society that considered it gauche. It made Varian more apprehensive about how this would all set with Lucien after the initial excitement over Merry’s return diminished.

“Nestling, you have taken your latest adventure too far. How could you run off and worry us all so?” Philip admonished above an enormous grin.  “If I weren’t so relieved to see you, I would beat you now for what you’ve put us all through.”

BOOK: Love's Patient Fury (The Deverell Series Book 3)
3.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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