Read When Harry Met Molly Online

Authors: Kieran Kramer

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #Regency, #General

When Harry Met Molly

BOOK: When Harry Met Molly
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Praise for
When Harry Met Molly

“A delectable debut…I simply adored it!”

—Julia Quinn,
New York Times
bestselling author of
What Happens in London

“At once frothy and heartfelt,
When Harry Met Molly
satisfies! This book is better than dessert!”

—Celeste Bradley,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Rogue in My Arms

“Kieran Kramer pens a delightful regency confection…a wonderfully bright debut.”

—Julia London,
New York Times
bestselling author of
A Courtesan’s Scandal

“A delicious romp that will keep you laughing. A fun heroine and a sexy hero make this a delightful read.”

—Sabrina Jeffries,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Truth About Lord Stoneville

“I couldn’t put it down…a charming delight!”

—Lynsay Sands,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Hellion and the Highlander

“A wickedly witty treat…an exquisite debut!”

—Kathryn Caskie,
USA Today
bestselling author of
The Most Wicked of Sins


When Harry Met Molly
  is a delightful, page-turning read! New author Kieran Kramer will capture both your imagination and your heart.”

—Cathy Maxwell,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Marriage Ring

To my wonderful husband Chuck

Contents

Prologue                    

Chapter 1                    

Chapter 2                    

Chapter 3                    

Chapter 4                    

Chapter 5                    

Chapter 6                    

Chapter 7                    

Chapter 8                    

Chapter 9                    

Chapter 10                    

Chapter 11                    

Chapter 12                    

Chapter 13                    

Chapter 14                    

Chapter 15                    

Chapter 16                    

Chapter 17                    

Chapter 18                    

Chapter 19                    

Chapter 20                    

Chapter 21                    

Chapter 22                    

Chapter 23                    

Chapter 24                    

Chapter 25                    

Chapter 26                    

Chapter 27                    

Chapter 28                    

Chapter 29                    

Chapter 30                    

Chapter 31                    

Chapter 32                    

Chapter 33                    

Chapter 34                    

Chapter 35                    

Chapter 36                    

Chapter 37                    

Chapter 38                    

Chapter 39                    

Chapter 40                    

Chapter 41                    

Chapter 42                    

Chapter 43                    

Chapter 44                    

Chapter 45                    

Chapter 46                    

Chapter 47                    

Epilogue                    

Prologue

1808

Thirteen-year-old Lady Mary “Molly” Fairbanks, daughter of the widowed Earl of Sutton, seethed with emotion on a daily basis, whether she was cleaning her teeth, breaking the shell on her morning egg, or riding her favorite mare. She was sure no one else felt quite as deeply as she did—about anything. Which was why she must vent her passions to all the company at the Duke of Mallan’s annual Christmas ball.

If she didn’t, she would
die
.

At the very least, her
soul
would.

The tradition went back well over a hundred years. She wouldn’t be the first child to present a riddle, joke, or poem to the adults before they withdrew to the ballroom. But she would be the first to recite an original verse signifying her deep, fervent love for Roderick, the duke’s eldest son.

She’d called him Robert in the poem. A little subtlety was required; otherwise, she feared he’d have to break off his engagement with her sister Penelope right then and there at the ball, and that wouldn’t be proper.

He should wait until after the ball was
over
. Molly hoped she could stay awake that late, in case he felt the need to ride over to her father’s neighboring mansion and propose after midnight, which would be Christmas Day.

Penelope wouldn’t care anyway. She’d been kissing Roderick’s younger brother Harry in the arbor. All that would go into the poem as well. Because a woman in love
must
speak the truth, mustn’t she?

Although, of course, in Molly’s poem Penelope had become Persephone and Harry, Barry. No one would ever know of their perfidy.

Except Molly. And through gorgeous verse, Roderick would guess that she and he were meant to be together—that is, after she grew a little taller and started and finished her four years at Miss Monroe’s Academy for Young Ladies in London, where, according to Penelope, the girls had chocolate and brioche every morning and were encouraged to buy fine lace and new bonnets whenever the mood struck them.

Molly couldn’t
wait
to go to London!

It was time. The company was clapping for a little boy who’d just told a silly riddle. Molly wiped her hands on her new white muslin gown with the bottle-green sash and scalloped hem and stared at the company gathered before her, imagining them in their underthings so she wouldn’t be nervous.

Then she drew a deep breath and began to recite the poem she was sure would change her life forever, and for the better:

A LOVE RECTANGLE OF TRAGIC PROPORTIONS
Robert, Robert, wherefore are thou, Robert?
While Persephone’s in the arbor,
Bestowing kisses on young Barry,
You clutch the golden ring
She’s to wear when you marry.
Persephone, Persephone, why does thou wound
Robert so?
Barry is but the moon
While Robert is the sun.
Can’t you see Robert is all
And Barry is, um, none?
Barry, oh, Barry, why not find your own true love?
My sister isn’t yours
She belongs to another,
But if you steal her away,
Perhaps
I’ll
marry your brother!

There.

Molly folded her paper up and noticed that silence reigned in the ballroom. She knew she was a good poet, but really, was she
that
good?

She looked up at Roderick and saw that his was mouth hanging open. As was Penelope’s. And Harry’s.

Indeed, everyone’s mouths were hanging open.

She swallowed a happy lump in her throat.

Love had lent her verse…wings.

She blinked several times. Still, no one spoke. Yet no one clapped, either.

Roderick looked at Harry. His lips became a thin line. “You slimy bastard,” he said quietly.

Harry backed up a step. “Roderick—”

Penelope stared at Molly. “How could you?” she choked out. And then her face turned beet red and she began to cry—loud, gusty sobs.

Roderick jumped over the tabletop. “I’ll kill you!” he roared at Harry, his fists clenched, eyes wild. And then he leaped on Harry and began pounding him.

Harry socked him in the jaw.

There were cries from all the women. The duchess fainted in a heap on the floor. Immediately, a footman picked her up and began to carry her from the ballroom.

The duchess lifted her head. “Boys,” she said weakly. “No incidents, please. Especially not at Christmas.”

Molly clutched her throat. What was happening? Why—why—?

“Roderick! Harry!” shouted the duke. “Stop this instant!”

But they didn’t stop. They careened around the head table, wrestling, punching, kicking.

“Roderick!” Molly yelled, her heart racing. “My love!”

But she couldn’t get to him. The room filled with noise: talking, shouting, crying, screaming, the sounds of breaking glass. Crowds of adults and children alike surged toward the fight.

Molly squeezed through and saw Harry lying on his back on the floor, surrounded by smashed china and broken goblets. Roderick swayed unsteadily on his feet. Both of them breathed hard and loud, their chests heaving.

Lord Sutton stood from the head table. “Lady Mary!”

Oh, no.
Mary
. When Papa used her formal name, Molly knew she was in trouble. He pointed to the door leading to the ducal grand hallway. “Go—to—your—room!”

“But I don’t live here, Papa!” Molly cried.

Lord Sutton’s face was white. “I don’t care. Go to any room. Any room but this one!”

Molly’s eyes flooded with tears. She blinked them away and began to walk slowly backward.

But then Harry stood up and grabbed Roderick’s shoulders. He pushed him back, parting the crowd with the force of his shoves, until Roderick’s body slammed against a wall.

Molly didn’t even feel her feet hit the floor as she rushed across the room. She jumped on Harry’s back, locked her legs around his waist, and pulled on his hair until his eyes were looking straight into hers, albeit upside down.

“You beast!” Molly screamed, and tugged harder on his hair. “Leave him alone!”

Harry staggered to the left, gave one mighty heave of his torso, and Molly fell to the ground.

Ouch. That hurt. That
really
hurt. But Molly had no time to nurse her wounds. Roderick came out from behind Harry, pulled back his fist, and delivered a blow to Harry’s nose.

Molly heard the crunch. Blood spurted everywhere.

Harry leaned forward, grasping his nose. “I never—” he gasped, then looked slowly up at Roderick. “I never meant to hurt you,” he said.

There was silence all around.

“Nooooo,” Penelope was moaning, cowering in a corner with several of her good friends. “Roderick, please. Stop.” She wrung her hands, tears trickling down each cheek. “I love you.”

“Do you?” Roderick barked at her. “Do you
really
?”

Penelope nodded. “Yes,” she said, her voice trembling. “Ever so much.”

Roderick’s fists unclenched. He gazed with disgust—and something close to pity—at his younger brother.

And he spared no glance for Molly as he stalked to Penelope’s side. Penelope threw her arms around him and hugged him hard. His embrace was more restrained, but Molly could see by the look of pure joy in Penelope’s eyes that he’d forgiven her.

Molly’s heart sank. Everyone forgave Penelope. She was perfect, after all.

“You shall join the army, Harry,” the duke said, his voice tired and…and sad. “And while you’re in it, you shall think on the meaning of loyalty. Of duty to one’s family.”

Harry’s eyes narrowed. “I know all about duty, Father. You won’t let me forget it.”

Molly cringed at his bitter tone.

“You have
more
to learn,” his father reprimanded him. “It will take you several years. And when you do learn what you must, you may rejoin the family with my blessing. Until then, you are
not
welcome here.”

“Not even on Christmas?” Harry’s face blanched beneath the blood smeared across his cheeks. He looked first at his father, then his brother.

“I’m afraid so, my son.” His father sighed. “Your presence here tomorrow would simply extend everyone’s misery, would it not?”

Harry picked up a goblet of wine, drained it, and set it down on the head table. “To your happiness,” he said to Roderick and Penelope, neither of whom said a word.

Harry then looked at Molly. “And
you,
you little nosy-body, may our paths never cross again.”

“They shan’t any time soon,” Lord Sutton said. “The events of today have convinced me that my daughter requires a firmer hand than I can provide her here at home or at Miss Monroe’s Academy in London. She shall be sent away. The day after tomorrow. To Yorkshire.”

Away? Not to London but to…to Yorkshire?

And the day after Christmas?

“No!” Molly cried. “How could you send me to Yorkshire? It’s cold and windy and—”

“It’s for the best.” Lord Sutton’s tone was steely. Several people beside him nodded.

Molly’s eyes spouted tears. “But—but why so soon after Christmas?”

Lord Sutton said nothing, merely drew his brows together.

And then the worst of it dawned on her. “Oh, no,” she said, trembling. “I can’t miss the wedding, Papa. It’s a mere two weeks away, and I’m to stand next to Penelope and hold her flowers.”

She loved Penelope. Yes, Molly did, even though she wanted to marry Roderick, too!

It was all so confusing. At that moment, she loved and hated her family all at once, and she needed someone to hug her and tell her everything would be all right.

Mama,
her heart cried.
Help me!

But Mama had long since gone to heaven.

Nevertheless, Molly waited. She waited for Mama or the angels or
somebody
to make things seem less horrible. But Penelope didn’t step in and tell Papa to let her stay. No one did. Not even Roderick—and she’d written the poem for him.

The wretch.

The crowd was silent again. Harry turned to leave, his hand gripping his nose.

“Go,” Lord Sutton told Molly. Then he looked toward Cousin Augusta. “See that she’s taken home immediately and put to bed.”

“Of course,” Cousin Augusta said, and pushed her glasses up her nose. “No presents for you tomorrow, missy. This Christmas incident shall never be forgotten, not as long as I draw breath.”

Cousin Augusta was a mean old bat. And just yesterday, she’d wandered about the house looking for her glasses when they’d been right on her nose!

Molly fell in line with Harry.

“I hate you,” she whispered to him.

“The feeling is mutual,” he said quite cheerily.

And with those parting words, the two young troublemakers walked away from the people they loved best, both of their futures gravely altered by a single act of passion, both of them believing they were alone and destined to be alone—

Forever.

BOOK: When Harry Met Molly
2.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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