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Can she trust him with all her secrets?
Isobel carries baggage from her first marriage. But Nicholas, Marquis
of Cardington, thinks he can cope with them when he proposes marriage
to the beautiful widow he’s loved all his adult life. He hasn’t even
started to uncover her pain. Only on their wedding night does he get
some idea of the terrible secret Isobel has harbored for the last eight
Isobel married Harry after jilting Nick, but now Nick is back and he
won’t take no for an answer. But the blackmailers who drove Harry to
suicide are back, too and their want their pound of flesh.
Isobel must learn to trust Nick with her life and all her secrets or their enemies will destroy them both.
When he heard her quiet, “Come,” he turned the knob and went in.
Isobel was standing by the open window, looking down into the garden.
Her dark gold hair streamed over her shoulders, her loose bed robe
showed her figure, slim but beautifully rounded in all the right
places. He caught his breath, and had to concentrate to hear her words.
“There are people still there,” she said. “Gardeners, at this hour.”
His anticipation rose several degrees. He took his time, steadying
himself, but the sight of her like this intoxicated all his senses.
“It’s quite early, really.” He crossed the room to join her and stood
close but didn’t touch her. They watched the gardeners attending to the
plants in the soft dusk. Some gardening jobs were better done out of
the heat of the day and nurturing tender plants was a constant job.
All that passed through Nick’s mind but his concentration was on
something else. He felt Isobel flinch when he put his arm around her,
careful not to trap her glorious hair. He kept his hold light. She
needed relaxing and softening before he’d go any further. After all,
she was his wife, not a mistress or a passing fancy and he hoped to
spend many years with her. It might take more than one night, though he
hoped not. He ached for her.
“Come with me.” He led her faltering footsteps away from the bed, towards the inner door to the sitting room.
Isobel turned to him, a question in her eyes. “What is this?”
“You ate nothing during the wedding breakfast. I want to see you eat something now.”
He took her to one of the two chairs set before the table and drew it
back for her. “I’m really not hungry,” she protested but she sat down.
“Nevertheless, please try to eat something.”
He lifted the lid of the nearest serving dish and she gasped. “Scotch
collops!” She reached forward and lifted another lid. “Lemon cream!”
Her lovely eyes lifted to his in surprise. “How did you know they were
Smiling, Nick lifted another lid to show her the fresh salad,
delicately sprinkled with her favourite dressing. “I asked.” Just her
smile made the trouble worthwhile. “When we went into the ballroom I
stopped and sent for your maid. She told me what you liked and I sent
to the kitchens for them. I doubt I’m a favourite there, with the
wedding breakfast to arrange and then this.”
She laughed. “I must make sure it’s made up to them. They deserve my
thanks.” She helped herself to some of the meat and salad. “Perhaps I
am a little hungry.”
He poured wine for them both and took a little salad, just enough to
keep her company. Unlike Isobel, he’d partaken of the banquet set
before them earlier and he needed nothing more.
It was pleasant to watch her, knowing with lazy certainty that he could
do it for years to come. He marked it in his mind as their first time,
and decided that intimate suppers would make a delightful addition to
their life together.
She ate, and he was glad. Watching her at the ball, he’d thought her
mood was low, and knew it must be partly from lack of food. Not wholly,
though. There was something else, something he couldn’t work out. It
might be simple nervousness but he sensed more than that in her
troubled demeanour. “Did you enjoy the day?” he said, looking for a way
in, to begin to release the tension pulsing from her.
“Yes. It was perfect.”
She didn’t mean it. He knew by the way she avoided his eyes, and
blinked quickly to get rid of what might be tears. Nick would expect
this from a new bride, untried, young and virginal but he’d married a
widow who must have experienced some of the joys of the marriage bed
before matters went wrong between her and Harry.
Isobel finished her lemon cream and pushed the dish away with a satisfied sigh. “You’re right. I do feel better for that.”
He refilled their glasses. “I thought you would. And I thought it would
give you time to—” he broke off when he saw her look at him innocently
and made him laugh, “—get used to seeing me like this.”
She laughed too. “It’s not too much of a shock.”
“I’m glad you think so.”
They took some time finishing their wine, chatting about the day, until
he put his glass down and stood up, holding out his hand in a gentle
but definite command. “Come, wife. Let’s go to bed.”
Seductive Secrets - the first in the Secrets trilogy
Can she trust him with all her secrets?
From Samhain Publishing