Here is an extract from my new book, Deceived, which will be published on June 27th. I hope that you enjoy it!
Deceived is the story of the scandalous Princess Isabella Di Cassilis, obliged to marry her old flame Marcus Stockhaven to save herself from the debtor's prison:
It felt quite wrong to be taking Marcus’s signet ring, wrong and too personal when she had wanted nothing more than his name on a piece of paper.
Marcus was watching her. She thought that there was amusement in his eyes. No doubt he found her predicament comical, the scandalous Princess Di Cassilis obliged to marry a debtor…
“Well?” He said.
“Thank you,” Isabella said, finding herself unable to look at him. “And you must take your ring back,” she added hastily, making to draw the gold signet ring from her finger where it had rested for such a short time.
Marcus shook his head, taking her hand and holding the ring in place. “Keep it,” he said. “Until we meet again.”
Isabella felt a pang of disquiet. “Will that happen?”
“But not until we are safely unwed.”
Marcus’s smile deepened. “Of course.”
They stood looking at each other for a moment. Isabella felt strangely at a loss.
“I suppose that I should go?” She said uncertainly.
Marcus’s voice took a mocking edge at her obvious discomfort. “I suppose that you should. It is, however, customary to kiss the bride on the wedding day.”
Isabella’s nerves jumped. She put out a hand to ward him off.
“As you have reminded me, this is a business arrangement, sir, and that was not part of the bargain.”
Marcus smiled at her again. It was a lazy smile, full of intimate challenge. She was not sure whether he was doing this out of revenge or devilry or simply to amuse himself, but his proximity was enough to shatter her composure. She wanted to escape but she could not move.
The gaoler was becoming restive and fidgeting behind them, anxious to get his man back to the cells. Marcus ignored him. He took a single stride forward, caught Isabella’s arm and drew her to him. He bent his head. Then he was kissing her.
The pressure of his lips was no more than a whisper against hers. Even so, it was enough to cast Isabella back into the past, where the memory of his kiss had been locked away along with all the other tumbling images of passion. She had hidden those feelings from herself and from others for so long and now they were stirring, threatening to break out. Any tenderness that there had been between them might be long gone but the attraction still flared as hot as ever. It terrified her.
The sensual heat washed through her, burning her up, scorching her to the tips of her toes. Then it was all over and he had let her go with an abruptness that plunged her back into the empty darkness.
The atmosphere between them was blistering. Marcus’s face was dark and shadowed but in his eyes burned a flame that seared her.
“You should not-” She began.
His expression was hard. “It needed to be done.”
“Time to go,” the gaoler said, from behind them. He fingered the money in his pocket suggestively. “Unless you would prefer to stay a while longer, madam? A cosy cell for the two of you to celebrate wedlock-”
Wedlock. It sounded very final.