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Authors: Viola Morne

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Taming His Scandalous Countess

BOOK: Taming His Scandalous Countess
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Taming His Scandalous Countess

By

Viola
Morne

©2014 by Blushing Books® and Viola
Morne

 

All
rights reserved.

No part
of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from
the publisher.

Published
by Blushing Books®,

a
subsidiary of

ABCD
Graphics and Design

977
Seminole Trail #233

Charlottesville,
VA 22901

 The
trademark Blushing Books®

is
registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Morne, Viola

Taming His Scandalous Countess

eBook ISBN:
978-1-62750-3792

Cover Design by ABCD Graphics

This book is intended for
adults
only
. Spanking and other sexual activities represented in this book are
fantasies only, intended for adults. Nothing in this book should be interpreted
as Blushing Books' or the author's advocating any non-consensual spanking
activity or the spanking of minors.

CHAPTER ONE

 

Larkspur Hall, near Canterbury, Kent,1823

 

 
They forgot to lock the gate.
Isabelle's heart tripped. For two years, she had prowled the perimeters of her
prison. She had traced every brick of the walled garden, examined each
crumbling joint. She had even tried digging under the wall with a tablespoon.
Nothing. For two years. But this morning, when Isabelle grasped the top of the
gate and pulled herself up to peer over it, the gate swung open.

Beyond the gate, the park sloped up
to meet the woods. Isabelle hopped down and looked back at the house. It was
too early for the maid with her hot water and breakfast. A skylark trilled a
greeting high above the trees. Isabelle took a step towards the woods, stopped
and looked around, like an errant child. The early morning sun was warm on her
face as she ran towards the light.

 The sweet scents of the forest
teased her nostrils as Isabelle hurried along the path. She and John had spent
hours playing here as children. His adult self was not so amiable.

"The scandal is too great,
sister. I will take you into my household, but you must live in
seclusion," her brother, chest puffed out like a pigeon, so pompous and
righteous, had said as he had decided her future for her.

She snatched up a branch to slash
at the tall grasses which grew along the verge. John's wife had been even
worse.

"You must count yourself
fortunate your dear brother is so forbearing," said the saintly Cordelia,
lips thinned with disapproval, as she looked Isabelle over. The woman's face
could curdle milk.

Isabelle beheaded a tall weed with
relish.

While Isabelle recovered from the
fever which nearly claimed her life, her rooms in the disused east wing at
Larkspur Hall had seemed a safe haven. Six months on, she had realized the
truth of her situation. They meant to keep her here forever, fed and cared for,
but never to reclaim a position either in her family or society. Isabelle,
numbed by shock and grief, hadn't cared, not at first.

But this morning, her unexpected
freedom gave her hope. If she walked to the village, perhaps she could find
refuge with her old schoolmistress. If she made it to London, her husband's
lawyers would surely assist her. There must be some money left. She'd live on
bread and water if only she could be free.

A squirrel scolded her from a
branch. Isabelle smiled at its spirited defense. Life still had sweetness to
offer, if she could but...a branch cracked on the path ahead. Isabelle stood,
frozen, as a tall man, dark-haired and hatless, strode through the trees. He
stopped dead at the sight of her, staring. Who was he? God, what if he was her
brother's guest? Her stomach clenched. He took a cautious step towards her.
Isabelle bolted. 

"Halt!" His deep-voiced
command almost ended her flight, but she shook off an unwarranted compulsion to
obey him. Isabelle raced back towards the house, her thin soles slipping on the
wet grass. Footsteps thundered behind her but she didn't, she couldn't, falter.
A large hand seized her elbow, and she stumbled to a stop. The stranger swung
her around to face him. Isabelle struggled to free herself, wrenching her arm.
She cried out at the pain. 

His grip gentled immediately.
"I'm sorry. I wanted to make sure you were real."

"Of course I'm real. I just
shouldn't be here. I must go."

"Go? Where have you wandered
from? Fairyland?" His stern features softened.

"Please sir, I must go!"

His fingers tightened again.
"I like to hear you beg." A wicked smile slashed a groove down one
bronzed cheek.

"Your conversation, sir, is
most improper." Isabelle tried again to pull her arm away. This time he
let her go, but once free, she could still feel the imprint of his hand.

"My behavior is even
worse." One hard hand lifted her chin, and then his thumb brushed along
her lips. Isabelle tried to turn her face, but his grip was like iron. His
thumb became more insistent, breaching her lips. She closed her teeth over his
skin.

"Naughty girl," he
murmured.

The stranger pressed her lip down
to free his thumb, and claimed her mouth with his. It was no gentle first kiss,
but held the hot demand of a man's passion. Isabelle's mouth throbbed under the
fierce pressure. A moan escaped her, and his hold tightened. The stranger's
mouth left hers to brush across her jaw and down her neck. His hand closed on
her breast, squeezing to the point of pain. Isabelle cried out, and he pressed
her closer against him, to where his hardness pulsed against her stomach. She
reared back and struck him with all the panicked strength of her arm. Abruptly,
she was free. An ugly patch of red now marred his face, and his eyes glittered.

 "You are offensive, sir. I
live here, under my brother's protection."

 The stranger stepped back.
"You are Hill's sister?"

Isabelle nodded. One shaking hand
clutched the neck of her frock tightly to her throat.

"I thought she was dead."

"Dead to the world perhaps,
but I still breathe. Now, let me pass."

"The scandalous Lady Croucher,
hidden away at the family estate--how deliciously Gothic." His mouth
quirked. "I'd heard you were quite a handful."

Her hand fell to her breast, and he
laughed softly.

"Exactly. How I'd love to have
the taming of you, my angry little kitten."

Isabelle inhaled sharply. His gaze
fixed on her bosom, where her nipples jutted against the thin cloth.

"I repeat, sir, you are
offensive. I must return, else I’ll be missed."

He stood between her and escape.
Isabelle turned to go back to the house, stopped and spun around.

"Are you staying here, at
Larkspur?"

"Your brother wants to sell me
a horse."

For one brief, crazed moment,
Isabelle considered telling the stranger of her plight and asking for his help.
A glance at his face cured her of that idea. His gaze roamed over her
possessively, like she was a filly he was considering for his stable.

"Please don't tell John you
saw me."

The stranger raised a brow.

"It would be awkward for me if
John learned I was out walking, alone with you."

 The stranger sketched a bow, a
mocking smile on his beautiful mouth. She turned and walked back to the house.
A glance over her shoulder confirmed he stared after her. Isabelle slammed the
gate shut behind her.

*
* * * *

Lord Snow stretched out his long
legs towards the meager fire smoldering on the hearth. Lady Isabelle Croucher,
the widow whose husband died under mysterious circumstances, here at her
brother's home. How delicious. Snow smiled with anticipation. So much passion,
so much fire. She'd actually slapped him. Oh, the lady needed taming, not to
mention some well-earned discipline. Perhaps he would begin with his hand. He'd
enjoy seeing her lovely form spread over his lap, his hand warming the luscious
bottom her gown only hinted at.

But how could he gain access to her
undeniably exquisite form? Sir John, the proper brother, denied her very
existence. He bent his mind to a solution, for he meant to have the wench, come
hell or high water.

The earl checked his pocket watch.
Breakfast would be served. He could speak to Sir John then. Snow laughed
softly. He was always open to a little diversion.

*
* * * *

"Lord Snow, good morning. I
trust you slept well?" Lady Hill smiled at him from the foot of the
breakfast parlor table. It was not an improvement. Her dowry must have been
substantial indeed to attract Sir John. The baronet, tucking into eggs and
buttered toast, nodded cordially.

"Tolerably, Lady Hill,
tolerably. I find myself with quite an appetite this morning."

"Do help yourself, my lord. I
fancy my cook has quite a hand with pastry."

Snow accepted a piece of seed cake.
The house was cold, the decoration deplorable, and the company worse, but the
food was almost worth the trip from London. All this for a horse. Sir John,
though a sanctimonious bore, bred the finest horses in Kent.

Sir John looked up from his plate.
"I thought we might visit the stables this morning, my lord. White Star
foaled last night. A little filly, the groom tells me."

"A filly? I am most
interested." Snow reached for a piece of toast. "I understand your
sister is staying with you. I would be pleased to pay my respects."

Sir John's fork clattered on the
plate, and his wife dropped her teacup, which shattered on the floor. Snow
glanced at his host, who sat mute, his mouth opening and closing like a large
and rather stupid fish.

"My sister Lucy was at school
with Isabelle, or rather, Lady Croucher." A small lie, but a useful one.
"Will we see her at dinner tonight?"

Lady Hill wiped her mouth with a
trembling hand. "I fear my sister-in-law is not well."

Her husband finally found his
voice. "Actually, my love, Isabelle is feeling much better today." He
stared at his guest appraisingly. "I'm quite sure she would enjoy a visit
with her old school friend's brother."

Snow sipped his coffee. "That
will be delightful. I look forward to it."

*
* * * *

The key scraped softly in the
well-oiled lock. Isabelle set down her book with a sigh. The one thing her
brother indulged her in was her library. She would prefer to read rather than
endure a visit from her family.

John stood in the open doorway.

Isabelle's heart beat a little
faster. Had the stranger betrayed her? John didn't seem angry, though, merely
uncomfortable.

"I can't stay, Isabelle; I
merely came to tell you that your presence is required at dinner this
evening."

"Why?" She'd learned to
be cynical.

John flushed. "I have a guest,
Earl Snow. Apparently, you are an old schoolfellow of his sister Lucy. He asked
to see you. Though how he knew you were here..."

His suspicious glare made her
stomach drop.

"I'm sure I don't know,
brother. It's not as if I could communicate with him, or anyone else for that
matter."

"No, I suppose not. In any
case, Cordelia will come by later with an, um, appropriate gown."

Isabelle looked down at her drab
brown frock. She spread her hands and met John’s gaze. He flushed even redder,
fingering the key in his hand. John hated to be in the wrong, but she couldn't
help herself. He had refused to listen when she pleaded with him to be
released. Her attempted flight had ended in failure. All that was left to her
was spite.

"So I'm to be trotted out for
public inspection? Greet the earl, choke down a cutlet, and then back to the
dungeon?"

"Hardly a dungeon," John
muttered, but he couldn't meet her eyes.

"Very well, John, I agree to
perform for your illustrious guest. What's more, I vow to be on my best
behavior." Isabelle picked up her book again. "Was there anything
else?" She bent her head and pretended to read.

The only reply was the door
slamming.

Isabelle set her book down and
walked to the window. The view of her secluded garden afforded by the small
window was a pleasant one. But no matter how pretty, it was still a prison. She
knew, at some level, that she deserved to be locked up. What she had done could
not be forgiven. But, oh, it was hard when the sun was shining and the world
beckoned.

So it was the Earl of Snow who had
accosted her in the park. His shocking behavior bespoke a world of privilege
where his desires were the only ones that mattered. Isabelle had not
encountered him during the whirlwind of her first Season. Charlie Croucher has
swept her off her feet, and she’d been married on her eighteenth birthday. What
little she did know of Snow was not good, even before the evidence of his
depravity this morning. He was rumored to be dissolute, even perverse, although
his rank and family connections ensured he was received everywhere. Still, he
hadn't betrayed her. John would have been outraged if he knew Snow had seen her
running around free. And he'd lied to John. Isabelle had never met Lucy
Beaufort. So why had he lied?

*
* * * *

The candles had been lit though it
was scarcely five o'clock. Country hours, his hostess explained complacently.
Snow rarely sat down before seven in town. But he said nothing, merely smiled
at Lady Hill, and dipped his spoon into the broth set before him. His quarry
sighted, he had only to play the game until its inevitable conclusion.

Lady Croucher, in shabby dress with
unbound hair, had been pretty. When gowned in pale gray silk, her auburn hair
curled and dressed, with gems sparkling around her throat, as became her
station, she was a revelation. She sat at her brother's left hand and beside
her, the local vicar. He must be in on the secret. Across from her and beside
Snow was Miss Simpson, Lady Hill’s younger sister. She was a thin girl, not
ill-looking, but a mere candle beside the flame of Lady Croucher's beauty.

BOOK: Taming His Scandalous Countess
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