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Authors: Catherine Coulter

The Prince of Ravenscar

BOOK: The Prince of Ravenscar
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Table of Contents
 
 
REGENCY NOVELS BY CATHERINE COULTER
The Sherbrooke Bride
 
The Hellion Bride
 
The Heiress Bride
 
Mad Jack
 
The Courtship
 
The Scottish Bride
 
Pendragon
 
The Sherbrooke Twins
 
Lyon's Gate
 
Wizard's Daughter
PUTNAM
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
Publishers Since 1838
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA •
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2,
Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell
Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group
Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi–110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books
(South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
Copyright © 2011 by Catherine Coulter
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Published simultaneously in Canada
 
ISBN : 978-1-101-54807-3
 
 
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
 
While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

http://us.penguingroup.com

To my beloved Kaitlyn.
 
You will help many people throughout your life with your skill, your kindness, and your caring.
 
And that is a good thing.
 
Catherine
1
Near Saint Osyth
On the Southern Coast of England
MARCH 1831
 
 
 
T
he night was as black as the Devil's dreams, not even a ghost of a moon, not a single star to pierce through the thick rain clouds.
It was a perfect night.
Julian tethered his sixteen-hand bay gelding, Cannon, to a skinny branch of a lone bent oak tree and made his way carefully down the steep narrow winding path to the hidden cove, a trek he'd made countless times in the years before he'd left England. It was good to be back. He slapped his arms against the cold, the wind off the channel slamming against his thick coat, wheedling in to cozy up to his bones. Down, down he went. When he finally reached the shadowed overhang in the cliff, he lit the lamp and held it up, flashed it three times, a signal he himself had established many years before.
Three answering flashes of light came five minutes later, some fifty yards offshore. Two boats were moving closer now with every passing second. Soon they'd be close enough for him to hear the oars dipping rhythmically through the water. Julian felt his blood pump faster, as it always did with the ever-present threat of excisemen suddenly appearing over the edge of the high cliff, waving guns and yelling. He could only hope the bribes his man Harlan had put into place held, though to his knowledge no one even knew about this small hidden cove.
No matter how you dressed it up, smuggling—
free trading
always sounded high-flying and righteous—was still against the law. And smuggling would continue until those idiots in the government finally did away with the high import duties. Would they ever see reason? Julian hoped it would take the old curmudgeons a while, since he'd enjoyed the midnight hide-and-seek since he was sixteen, when Sergeant Lambert had introduced him to the adventures of smuggling. Teas, brandy, tobacco, China rice, gin—it didn't matter, he did it all. Every time Julian walked down to this beach, he thought of Lambert, who'd died the way he'd lived, all flash and excitement, charging forward, his bayonet fixed, a yell coming from his mouth when a howitzer shot had exploded at his feet. Julian remembered falling to his knees, tears flooding down his face as the mayhem continued around him, searching, tearing at the bloody ground, but there'd been nothing left of Lambert. Julian knew someone had dragged him away from where Lambert had died, because he remembered Wellington buffeting his shoulder, telling him to carry a message to his left flank. It was demmed important, move! And Julian had run faster than he ever had before.
He still wondered how he'd managed to survive Waterloo with only one sword gash, in his left shoulder. Blessedly, his memory of those long hours that became days blurred with the battle blood and screams and death, and with Wellington's voice, yelling orders, always encouraging, even at the end of the day, when exhaustion sapped everyone's will.
His mother had asked him once about Waterloo, but evidently the look on his face had stopped her in her tracks. She simply pulled him against her and said nothing more about it. But she'd been very proud when the Duke of Wellington himself had sent a commendation to the sixteen-year-old Julian.
Until Julian had left England three years ago, every June seventeenth he'd visited Sergeant Lambert's empty grave at his farmhouse near Saint Osyth. Julian was certain Lambert's spirit knew he was using his favorite smuggling cave, and perhaps he occasionally slipped through from the other side to watch Julian bring in his boats.
Is there smuggling in Heaven, Lambert?
Why, he'd asked Lambert on the eve of Waterloo, couldn't men ever be content? Because greed and envy and jealousy were sewn into the very fabric of a man's body, Lambert had said, and spat.
So quickly the future became the present, and the present became a collection of memories, some bringing a smile, others still with the power to smash you with despair. Would he die in the next war, blown apart, as Lambert had died at Waterloo? Witness what was happening in Europe, revolution everywhere, and death and destruction, and always there was hope that something good would come of the violence. He wondered if this was ever true.
“All's well, Captain!”
He smiled and walked down to greet Cockeral, a madman, some whispered—but only out of his hearing.
He stilled. He'd heard something, he knew it. Excisemen? He held up his hand for quiet, and Cockeral and his men fell flat beside the boats.
Someone was there, watching, waiting, Julian knew it. But what? Who?
Time passed. They unloaded the cargo, mostly brandy and tea this time, and stored it in the hidden cave. Julian listened but heard only the wind.
When he fell exhausted into bed an hour before dawn, he knew in his gut his prized hidden caves were no longer a secret.
2
THE PRINCE RETURNS
Ravenscar
Near Saint Austell, Southern Cornwall
APRIL 1831
 
 
 
C
orinne threw her arms around him, hugged him close, and breathed him in. He smelled of a wild wind and a storm-tossed sea. His face was darkly tanned from months spent striding the deck of his ship, and his eyes were alight with pleasure. He looked fit and healthy and splendidly male.
Her son.
She'd thought of him every single day he'd been gone, savored his letters, most arriving each and every week, and she'd worried, but he hadn't wanted her to come to Genoa, where he'd lived. Too dangerous, he'd written.
She stepped back, her hands still clutching his arms. “At last you're home, dearest. Ah, three years, Julian, three whole years—but now you're here safe and sound. Come and sit down, and I will serve you tea, just as you like it, a tiny squirt of lemon, nothing more. Oh, dear, you haven't changed, have you?”
“Not about how I like my tea, no, I haven't.” Julian lightly laid his palm on his mother's soft cheek. She looked not a day older than she had when he'd left her on that miserable stormy Tuesday, only two days after Lily's funeral. Her eyes and hair were nearly as dark as his, but unlike him, her complexion was fair. “You're still as beautiful as when I left you three years ago.”
BOOK: The Prince of Ravenscar
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