Authors: Wendy Vella
Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #Regency, #Society, #England, #The Ton, #Rakes, #Debut, #Disastrous, #Past, #Desperate, #Danger, #Childhood Friend, #Past Sins, #Amends, #Challenge, #Past Ghosts, #Emotional, #19th Century, #Beguiling, #Beauty, #Bachelor, #Adult, #Regrets, #Friendship, #Relationship
TEMPTING MISS ALLENDER
By Wendy Vella
Seven years after her disastrous debut, Miss Patience Allender has reluctantly
returned to society to chaperone her sister. No longer the meek, mild Miss, she will never again allow a man to humiliate her.
However, Patience’s resolve is severely tested when she comes face-to-face, with the very man who shattered her heart. Desperate for help when her family is thrust into danger, he is the only one she can turn to
but can she do so and keep her heart whole or will he destroy her once again?
Lord Mathew Belmont is stunned at the changes in his
The once awkward young girl is now
exquisitely beautiful, outspoken and intelligent, and no longer wants anything to do with him. Aware of his past sins, Mathew now
regrets them deeply, and is determined to make amends – if prickly Patience would just let him close enough to try. As passion flares between them, Mathew is faced with the most crucial challenge of his life – putting the ghosts of the past to rest, in order to build his future.
Tempting Miss Allender is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Tempting Miss Allender is published by Wendy Vella
Copyright © 2015 Wendy Vella
Mum & Dad
Thank you for being the best parents
a daughter could ever wish for
I love you with all my heart
today and forever more.
“Are you all right, Patience?”
Patience Allender looked at her sister, who was about to take the first step that led down to the Haverstock ballroom.
“It is fair to say that Mrs. Toots’ beef is not sitting as it should, and my stomach is decidedly unsettled.”
“Well, that would certainly make a statement,” Lucy giggled. “You emptying your stomach all over the guests below.”
“Your sense of humor needs adjustment,” Patience whispered, forcing a polite smile onto her face.
“It’s my first appearance, yet you are far more nervous than I.”
Patience looked around the guests below, her eyes searching but seeing no one familiar. “It has been seven years since I last entered society, Lucy. As you know, it was not a spectacular success, but an abject failure, and thus I left London early.”
“You are turning blue, Patience. For the love of God, inhale!”
She did, hauling in a large breath of perfumed air before exhaling once more. “I will be fine, Lucy. We are here for you, not I. I shall find a quiet corner and watch to ensure no one causes you any trouble.”
Lucy’s sigh was loud. “Not everyone is bent on hurting me, Patience. Can you not trust that you have taught me how to look after myself?”
“You I trust, but them I do not.” Patience nodded to where the guests were milling.
“I shall be cautious, I promise. Now will you please try to relax?”
“Perhaps I should have worn a cap,” Patience said, running her eyes over her beautiful sister to ensure herself everything was perfect. Sisters they might be, but there was nothing to suggest their connection in either appearance or personality. Where Patience was dark with green eyes and lacking in inches, Lucy was blonde with big, soft brown eyes beneath gently arched brows. She appeared delicate and almost fragile, her elegant body dressed in pale lemon satin with matching slippers. She had no doubt that Lucy would be a sensation before the night’s end.
“Because it would have made me look more matronly.”
This time Lucy tsked. “Don’t be a goose. You are far too young and pretty for a cap, even if you do act matronly sometimes.”
Patience managed to control her nerves before they reached the last step, and when she stepped onto the floor, she was composed. Around them guests milled and chatted in small groups. Some women wore pearls in their hair, others feathers or jewels. Dresses ranged from light colors for the younger ladies to darker hues for the older. A few were casting discreet glances at the Allender sisters, trying to work out who they were.
“Dear Lord, imagine him being the first person we see.”
Patience followed her sister’s eyes and felt her heart leap inside her chest as she saw who had attracted Lucy’s attention.
“Mathew!” Lucy hurried forward, unaware that Patience had not followed. In fact, Patience’s slippers appeared to have suddenly glued themselves firmly to the floor.
She watched as Mathew took Lucy’s hands, his smile genuine as he bent to kiss her cheek.
No, no, no! Patience pressed a fist to her chest. She’d thought she was over this, that the years had rid her of the horrid emotion that he produced inside her whenever he was near. Yet here she stood, pulse fluttering, head spinning, as she drank in the sight of the man who had shredded her heart into tiny pieces seven long years ago.
Dragging her eyes from the reunion, she concentrated on the lady wearing pink to her left. It wasn’t a soft color, but hard and bright on the eyes and offered the perfect jolt to her stunned senses.
Never again let any man make a fool of you, especially not him
. Remembering the promise she had made that night long ago while she lay crying in her bed, she drew back her shoulders and once again looked at her sister and Lord Belmont. Finding a cool smile, Patience then made her way forward, determined that when she greeted him he would only see her composure.
“Here she is, Mathew.”
Drawing alongside Lucy, Patience sank into a curtsey before rising to take the hand Lord Belmont held out to her.
Patience noted the small fan of lines at the corners of his eyes that had not been there when last they’d met. The color of mint leaves, his irises were ringed with black and fringed with thick lashes. His eyes had always intrigued her; in his youth they had mirrored his every thought. His height topped hers by almost a head, he had hair the color of roasted chestnuts and a face that had always made her pause. With high, slashing cheekbones, a long, aristocratic nose and a strong, blunt chin, it was unmistakably the face of a nobleman and with age it had become more so. She also noted a hardness that had not been in him before, as if the soft edges had been honed off, and what was left was even more compelling. Damn the man, how had his looks improved with time when she had had hope they had waned?
He was smiling as he looked down at her, his mouth lifting at the corners, and while it was nothing like the smile the younger Lord Belmont had often used, there was no doubt that he was genuinely pleased to see her.
“Good evening, Lord Belmont.”
The smile dimmed and his eyes narrowed at her cool tone. She watched dark brows lower as his gaze skimmed her face.
“You have changed a great deal since last we met. Let me compliment you on how well you look, Patience.”
His voice was deep and steady, and had once made her shiver, but no longer. Patience Joanne Allender shivered for no man. “Thank you,” seemed the safest reply.
He was wearing a black jacket, white shirt and black trousers with black shoes. His waistcoat was black with a pale grey stripe, and she instantly condemned herself for taking note of every detail, right down to the small emerald and gold pin he wore through his necktie.
“It has been many years since we last met. Tell me how your family fares.”
“Our father passed away five years ago, and Mother the year following, Mathew,” Lucy said when Patience remained silent.
She felt his eyes on her face briefly and did not inhale until they moved on to Lucy.
“I had not realized. Please allow me to offer my condolences for your loss. Mother did not tell me, or I would have attended the funerals.”
His surprise was genuine, so Patience said, “They both passed peacefully, Lord Belmont, and while I did send word to your mother, we understood completely why you did not attend.”
When neither Mathew nor his family had come to either of her parents’ funerals, Patience and her siblings had known that the Belmont family were still dealing with their own loss, and even though she had longed for this man’s support, she had not expected it.
“Thank you for your understating, and let me assure you we would of course have attended had we known. Mother stopped corresponding with everyone after Anthony’s death, and it has taken many years for her to come to terms with the loss of her son.”
“Of course we understand,” Lucy said in a gentle voice.
“You are very gracious to say so.”
His smile had once reached his eyes, but no longer. Like her, this man had suffered, and that kind of suffering changed a person.
“And who is with you here in London? Are you residing with your cousin?”
Patience felt her sister’s reaction to the mention of their cousin, so she tucked Lucy’s hand inside hers and squeezed it gently. Their cousin was not someone they spoke of, and if they were forced to, it was usually through clenched teeth.
“No, we are lodging at the Allender town house in Pimlico,” Patience said. “Our brother Charles is also here in London, as he was desirous to see some of the sights after spending most of his life in Sussex.”
“Of course, Charles,” he said, and she realized he’d forgotten their mother had had a child late in life. “How old is he now?”
“Eleven, my lord.”
They had once known everything about each other, but now this man was almost a stranger to her, and Patience felt sad that time and circumstance had separated them. Yet perhaps that was for the best, as she had once been infatuated with him to the point of silliness, and now they could simply see each other and she would no longer blush a fiery red or stutter like a simpleton.
“It is wonderful to see you again, Mathew…or should I call you my lord?” Lucy said.
“Mathew will do, if you do not mind me calling you Lucy and Patience.”
“Not at all,” Lucy said. “Now please excuse us, as my friend is signaling.”
Relieved that Lucy had presented them with the perfect reason to leave, Patience bobbed a curtsey and added her agreement to her sister’s words, then, with Lucy’s hand still in hers, she walked away.
“You barely spoke two words to your old friend,” Lucy whispered when they had moved away. “Were you not pleased to see Mathew again?”
“Of course I was, but as you know I am nervous, and my voice seems to have deserted me,” Patience lied.
“I’m sure that condition will not last long,” Lucy muttered, which earned her a pinch from Patience.
It was done; she had met Mathew and behaved as she ought to without making a fool of herself, which once she would have done. From this moment forth, she would simply smile or nod her head when she saw him and remain composed. She could do that, would do that, then with luck, when the season drew to a close Lucy would have fallen in love with someone and she could once again run back to the country and hide.