Authors: Micah Persell
Tags: #Romance, #wild and wanton
This edition published by Crimson Romance
an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
Blue Ash, Ohio 45242
Copyright © 2013 by Micah Persell ISBN 10: 1-4405-6707-7
ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-6707-0
eISBN 10: 1-4405-6708-5
eISBN 13: 978-1-44056708-7
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, organizations, events, or locales in this novel are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used fictitiously. The resemblance of any character to actual persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.
Cover art © 123rf.com
For Laci, on the occasion of marriage to her very own Fred —
You two are further proof that every great love deserves a second chance
Frederick looked at his pocket watch for the fifth time in as many minutes.
She is late
, he thought while slipping the warm metal back into the front pocket of his waistcoat. She was never late.
His foot jiggled a little against the leg of the bench, and he tried to focus on anything other than how slowly Father Time was passing. The bench was hidden behind a hedge of shrubberies that were dotted with delicate pink flowers; the same distracting shade as Anne’s perfect, mouthwatering nipples.
With a jerk of his head, he forced himself to look elsewhere. The traitorous shrubberies were offering no distraction except the one he needed to avoid. If he continued to remember what her body looked like bare, he would not be able to sit still any longer. Already, his breeches were painfully tight and cutting off the circulation he would need very soon.
If only she would arrive.
His fingers traveled with a mind of their own to his watch yet again, but he was saved from the mortifying action of checking the hour for the
time by the snap of a twig nearby.
His hair fell into his eyes as he unerringly swiveled to face the sound and was greeted by his favourite sight in the world.
The word was a breathless plea, and the next moment, he was launching forward, nearly sprinting toward her.
She had yet to look at him; her face was downturned to check the path as she placed her feet carefully over the terrain. He caught the sight of one shapely ankle and picked up his speed. He did not slow once he reached her, but used his momentum to swing her up into his arms and around in a circle while he pressed his lips against hers.
As soon as their skin touched, something unwound within his chest, and he could breathe once again. He was never easy apart from her.
Her lips trembled beneath his, and his knees grew weak. She was always so responsive, his Anne. He deepened the kiss, thrusting his tongue within her mouth, as he made his way back to the bench he had just vacated.
He fell to the seat with no amount of grace, eager only to cradle her even closer. He settled her within his lap and could not prevent a husky groan when the warm curve of her bottom ground against his hard shaft.
He threaded his fingers into her hair, knowing he was ruining her meticulous style of the day, but caring little. He would help her return it to some semblance of normal after. He rotated them slightly, tucking her head against his shoulder while continuing to explore her mouth with his tongue.
When her arm tightened around his neck and her tongue slid against his, he was nearly undone. His hand fell from her hair to blindly grope for the hem of her gown. Incoherent words fell from his lips in between desperate kisses as he slipped his hand between cloth and warm woman. His fingers trailed past her knee, and he clutched her even closer so that her breasts were flattened against his chest. He groaned anew, the choice between the treasure at the apex of her thighs and the treasure concealed within her bodice pulling him in opposite directions. He cursed the fact that he had only two hands, one of which was supporting her back. He pressed on toward his ultimate prize with the hand that now caressed the soft skin of her inner thigh.
“Oh, how I love you,” he murmured against her lips.
That was when he tasted salt. It was so at odds with her usual sweet taste that he pulled back in alarm.
Tears tracked down her cheeks, the sight of which landed like a blow to his heart. He cupped her face with the hand that had been beneath her skirt and brushed a tear aside with his thumb. “Anne?” he whispered hoarsely. “Darling, what is wrong?”
She pushed against his chest with more strength than he had imagined she possessed and scrambled away from him and to the other side of the bench.
A cool breeze blew by and chilled the parts of him that had been warmed by her flesh, but it was not even close to the dreadful chill that edged into his gut. “Anne?” He had to fist his hands in his lap to keep from reaching for her.
She huddled into herself and covered her mouth with a shaky hand. Her words carried through the barrier as clear as a death knell: “I am here to end our engagement.”
Surely he had misheard. “What?”
A ragged sob sounded from behind her hand. “Please do not make me repeat it!”
That was the moment he knew for certain his life would never be the same. “End our engagement?” He launched himself to his feet and towered over her. “Surely you cannot be serious!”
Please do not be serious
, a part of him pleaded desperately.
“I am so sorry.”
Now her eyes met his. He realized it was the first time they had done so since he’d first spotted her walking toward him. They were flooded with tears and darker than they had ever been. He noticed half-moons of shadow beneath each eye. “No,” he said again, more firmly this time.
She shook her head, and he poured through his mind to try to find something he could say that would prove this enterprise of hers would never work. He sat beside her quickly and grabbed one of her hands. Her fingers were ice-cold within his palm. “Anne, no,” he said. “Even now you could be carrying my child.” Memories of their first time together, of the greatest moment of his life, filtered through his mind. The scent of her skin; the feel of her tight, warm centre; the breathless cries he had captured and savored with his kisses. That had been only last week. She would
to stay betrothed to him for a while until she knew for certain that she was not with child. And he would do everything within his power in the meantime to ensure that she
She pulled her hand from his grasp, and with it, his mind from his thoughts. “My courses started this morning,” she said in a dead voice.
Utter defeat rose up within his throat, and choked him. He worried for several moments that he would disgrace himself with tears. “Anne,” he began, his voice cracking on her name. “Do not do this.”
“Lady Russell says — ”
.” The name was a growl erupting from his chest.
Another sob shook her small frame, and he immediately felt like a complete heel. “Forgive me, love,” he whispered quickly, reaching for her once again.
She jumped to her feet and dashed a tear from her cheek violently. “I cannot abide any more of this. It is over. I am sorry.” She broke into a run, the wind thrusting her skirt behind her in billows of white.
He rose to his own feet unsteadily and reached out to brace himself on a nearby tree. “Anne!” he called after her. “We can find a way!”
She never slowed.
He stood staring off into the direction she had fled long after any glimpse of her had faded into air, hoping every moment that she would return — that they could work this out. That she would still be his.
When the sun dipped below the horizon, and he shook from more than just the chill of his shattered heart, he once again reached into his waistcoat pocket and withdrew his pocket watch. His initial wish had been granted; hours had flown by as mere minutes. He knew the rest of his life would not pass so quickly without the one thing that had made it sail.
Eight Years Later
Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed. This was the page at which the favourite volume always opened:
“ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH HALL.
“Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester, by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, November 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791.”
Precisely such had the paragraph originally stood from the printer’s hands; but Sir Walter had improved it by adding, for the information of himself and his family, these words, after the date of Mary’s birth — “Married, December 16, 1810, Charles, son and heir of Charles Musgrove, Esq. of Uppercross, in the county of Somerset,” and by inserting most accurately the day of the month on which he had lost his wife. Sir Walter did not care for many people, but he had cared for Lady Elliot. The day she was lost was one of the few days of his past that remained fixed in his mind as a devastating one.
Then followed the history and rise of the ancient and respectable family, in the usual terms; how it had been first settled in Cheshire; how mentioned in Dugdale, serving the office of high sheriff, representing a borough in three successive parliaments, exertions of loyalty, and dignity of baronet, in the first year of Charles II, with all the Marys and Elizabeths they had married; forming altogether two handsome duodecimo pages, and concluding with the arms and motto: “Principal seat, Kellynch Hall, in the county of Somerset,” and Sir Walter’s handwriting again in this finale:
“Heir presumptive, William Walter Elliot, Esq., great grandson of the second Sir Walter.”
Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth; nature had gifted him with a marvelous build, full, black hair, and eyes the colour of a cresting wave. Women had naturally noticed him when he was young, and, at fifty-four, he was still a very fine man who turned many a lady’s head. He was never in want for company, and gifted his body to most who expressed a desire for it. It was, after all, his duty to allow as many as possible to partake of the perfection of form so many other men lacked. Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society. He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion.