Authors: Elena Greene
Tags: #regency sexy erotic
Lady Em’s Indiscretion
Lady Em’s Indiscretion
by Elena Greene
Copyright 2011 Elena Greene
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“How can you even think of sharing a
Lady Emmeline Sandhurst could only stare at
her friend Georgiana as they strolled across the lawn toward the
lake. How shockingly outspoken Georgie had become since her
marriage! Perhaps it was a mistake, breaking her journey here at
Westhaven Park. Certainly it was a mistake to have accepted
Georgie’s invitation for a ramble about the grounds after
dinner—but how could she have avoided it?
“As well lie down with a dead cod-fish!”
Em stifled a giggle, but an anxious knot
formed in her stomach. One ought not to laugh at the man one
planned to marry. “I see no need to think about such things before
it is time,” she said in a quelling tone.
“You had better think about it, before you
She willed herself to ignore the tightening
knot. “Hush! I will not have you making game of him. He is a very
“A man who needs his mother’s permission to
pay his addresses to you! You should send them your regrets.”
“Not after I’ve accepted her invitation to
Lamford Castle. That would be rude.”
“Better to be rude than shackle yourself to
such a man. Tell me. Do you feel for him what you felt for
Surprise caused Em to stumble. No one spoke
to her about Mark Allendale, Viscount Denby, anymore. Least of all
Georgie, who knew how many nights Em had cried herself to sleep
after breaking off their engagement two years ago.
“Why do you speak of Denby?” she asked
uneasily, as they descended the steps leading down to the lawn.
Georgie gave her a searching look. “You were
so much in love. You cannot pretend you feel the same way about
Em paused for a moment to take in the
Westhavens’ justly famous grounds: the shimmering sweep of the
ornamental lake, the surrounding lawns and stands of trees in
luxuriant summer foliage. A warm breeze ruffled the surface of the
lake. It came to meet her, fluttering her bonnet strings and the
folds of her sprigged cotton gown.
But no clever replies came to her, only a
sudden sharp sense of melancholy.
“Lamford is a good man,” she said at length.
“It is an eligible match. He is an earl. I am an earl’s daughter.
He owns a handsome estate in Somerset, and—”
“When did such considerations ever matter to
you? You are heiress to a large enough fortune that you may marry
as you please!”
“I please to marry Lord Lamford.”
“Who finds you passable and thinks your
wealth a useful addition to the Lamford fortunes.”
merely passable,” Em
replied. She was short, her figure was unremarkable and her hair an
undistinguished soft brown. “And making an equal match with regard
to fortune is no bad thing. With Lamford I shall have all I desire:
a home of my own and children.”
“But surely you wish for more than that from
It was easy for Georgie to say that, with an
adoring husband and beautiful child. But such fairy tale endings
were not for everyone.
Em sought more to say to Lamford’s credit.
“He does not care about the scandal I caused two years ago. He even
says he is willing to overlook any . . . indiscretions I might have
committed with Denby.”
Indiscretions . . .
What a word for how they had taken advantage
of the license allowed engaged couples!
What a word for the wild kisses in his
curricle, how Mark had pulled her close, the way he’d taught her
that shocking play of tongues. How he’d stroked her breast, causing
her to blush and tremble at his touch.
What a word for the time they’d strolled
under the willow by the stream and he’d pulled her against it and
kissed her, screened from view only by the drooping branches of the
tree. How he’d pressed her up against the trunk, teased her breasts
free of her bodice, how he’d kissed them, then fallen to his knees
and lifted her skirts and kissed her
there . . .
What a word for the time they’d slipped away
to the conservatory at Sandhurst and locked the door, to make love
among the potted orange trees. How tenderly he had caressed her,
preparing her for her first time, then brought her sweet pain and
more pleasure than she’d ever imagined.
She lifted her chin. Indiscretions,
A knowing smile hovered on Georgie’s lips.
“And you do not miss those . . .
Swept up in passion, she’d thought she and
Mark were merely anticipating their vows. She’d thought him as mad
with love as she. She knew better now. It was his plan to secure
her in spite of her brother’s disapproval. Fortunately, her woman’s
courses had come the very morning William had revealed Mark’s
treachery. It had made her decision simpler, though not less
painful. Dear Will! Ever since their parents’ untimely death, he’d
tried to be a father as well as an older brother to her. She had
him to thank for saving her in the end.
“I think you
still think of
Denby,” Georgie said pointedly.
“It does not matter. There can be nothing
more between us.”
Not after that final, stormy scene, after
Mark had practically broken down the doors at Sandhurst and come
close to blows with her brother. William had wanted to shield her,
but in the end, she’d delivered the rejection in person. The memory
of Mark’s distraught face had haunted her for months
The look of a fortune-hunter as the prize
slipped from his hands, she reminded herself.
“I am sorry, dearest,” Georgie said. “I
don’t wish to give you pain. But I wonder if there is a chance you
were mistaken. Perhaps you should have asked Denby about that
“There was no need to ask. The evidence was
too damning. Besides, William warned me that Denby would have some
glib explanation. Pray, let us not talk of this any more. I would
rather have a pleasant evening together. I don’t—”
She broke off as a footman approached.
Georgie conferred briefly with him in a low voice, then said,
“Little Rob will not go to sleep. Nurse can usually manage him, but
tonight of all nights, he decides to fuss! I must go, but you may
as well continue your stroll. I shall rejoin you in a bit. Why
don’t you wait for me at the folly? Just take the path through
those trees and you will see it.”
Georgie waved toward a stand of trees
growing on a point on the lake and then hurried back to the house
after the footman.
Em was glad to be alone. She needed some
peace before speaking to Georgie again. She hated being at outs
with her friend. Georgie must have meant well; it was unlike her to
inflict needless pain. Yet she’d thrown Em right into a morass of
doubt. What if she was compounding one mistake with another, more
What if she and William had been wrong about
Mark? But they
been wrong. That was the devil of
She must put him out of her mind again and
enjoy the evening, she thought as she strode across the
short-cropped turf, studded with daisies. She had been looking
forward to exploring the folly. Georgie said it had begun its life
as an ornamental temple, a mere empty shell, but she and her new
husband had extended the design to create an elegant room behind
the classical facade.
Yet thoughts of Mark kept intruding. Denby
Hall was close by, not thirty miles away. Perhaps he, too, was
strolling out of doors and watching the same slanting golden light
paint the landscape in shadows and bursts of vivid color. But no,
at this season he’d be at some fashionable resort, perhaps
Brighton. Looking for a new heiress to pursue, no doubt.
“Damn you, Mark!” she muttered as she passed
under the shade of the first tree.
Her heart skipped a beat when she heard a
“Too late, Em. You already sent me to
perdition, two years ago.”
Em halted. That voice, deep and compelling,
took her back those two years in a heartbeat. Then she saw him,
straightening from the tree against which he’d been leaning. He
wore a blue coat she remembered well. As he came toward her, the
sunlight through the trees brought a chestnut gleam to his dark,
waving hair. His eyes, a rich brown in a face of bold, classical
proportions, bored into her.
Her knees threatened to buckle beneath her.
And then he was there, his arms holding her steady, pulling her
against him in a fierce embrace. In a moment of unreasoning joy,
she surrendered, caught by the warmth of his body pressed against
hers, the scent of him, bay and sandalwood and horses, familiar as
if it had not been two years since he’d held her so.
She sought words to ask why he was here,
now. But before she could find any, he bent down and claimed her
mouth in an urgent kiss. Her lips parted in surprise and he tasted
her like a starving man. Their tongues met and sparred. Heat spread
through her inside her as her breasts crushed against his hard
chest and an even harder ridge pressed against her belly,
triggering wanton memories. She moaned, and heard an echo in a
rumbling sound deep within him.
Dear Heaven, what was she doing? She broke
off the kiss and tried to pull out of his arms. “Damn you! Let me
* * *
Mark held Emmeline close. God, he might
never let her go again. She was angry but she had already betrayed
herself, by yielding to his embrace, returning his kiss with a
hunger like his own. Anger was far better than indifference.
would have been a death-knell for his hopes.
“Let me go!” She tried once more to pull
away, but he scooped her off her feet and cradled her in his arms,
inhaling her elusive violent scent.
“Hush, sweetheart. I won’t hurt you.”
But she continued to struggle. “What are you
doing? You should leave. The Westhavens don’t want you here!”
“Ninny!” he said softly. “Who do you think
warned me of your revolting plan to marry Lamford?”
She gasped. “Georgie . . . That must have
been why she . . . Oh, how
she? What lies have you
“No lies. Let me explain. It’s time we had
matters out in the open.”
“No, I would rather have Georgie explain,
thank you very much! Let me go.”
“I can’t do that. I promise you I won’t hurt
you. All I ask is one night to convince you not to make the worst
mistake of your life.”
“A whole night! You are mad.”
“Trust me. I won’t do anything you don’t
wish. But we
talk. Georgie will tell your great aunt
you retired early. Tomorrow morning, if you—if you still wish to
continue to Somerset, your maid will escort you back to the house.
Georgie tells me your maid may be trusted to be discreet. No one
else will know a thing.”
She stopped struggling, perhaps realizing it
was useless. He felt something—a subtle tremor—run through her
body. The awakening of stifled passions, or so he hoped. But her
voice was flinty as she said, “What if I am not willing to give you