Joined: 10 Apr 2011
|Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:20 am Post subject: Hot Historical Just Released
|Check out my latest, Mastering Lady Macalister at http://www.bookstrand.com/mastering-lady-macalister
Here's an excerpt:
The door to the parlor had barely closed on Finsworth’s sloped shoulders when Ainsley spit out, “I’m not marrying you.”
“I’m not exactly shocked by that, Lady Macalister. I’m sure you still consider me far beneath you, whether I own your precious castle or not.”
Her softly rounded jaw jutted out in that undoubtedly inbred show of pride the Macalisters had perfected. “I never even considered the preposterous suggestion that I marry the new owner to keep Ashcroft, no matter who he happened to turn out to be.”
“Oh? I thought you loved this ancient relic.”
“I love myself more.”
“Than anything. That was never in doubt, Lady Macalister.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Only that you are and always have been a selfish brat.”
“I have not!”
He shrugged. “Have it your way.” He consulted his pocket watch, the cost of which could probably refurbish this entire room in a style that wouldn’t be remiss in London itself. “Now that’s settled, I’ve had a long journey and I’m rather tired. Take as much time as you need to get packed, by the way. I’ll send along whatever you don’t manage to take with you, although Finsworth has obviously sold off everything of value long before this.” He paused to openly run his gaze down her shabby green dress, its long sleeves and high neck not quite managing to hide the precious curves of the body underneath, though she gathered her shawl around her to try. “Everything but you, that is.”
“Finsworth doesn’t own me to sell.”
“I should hope not. If he did, I’d have made a rather more commonplace arrangement than an offer to marry you.”
“Hadn’t you better see to your packing? There don’t appear to be any lady maids left to help you with that.”
His order for her to leave predictably ensured she’d stand her ground. “If I’m such a selfish brat, why do you want to marry me then?”
He laughed, helping himself to the whiskey on the sideboard that Finsworth had unwillingly vacated. It was early for him, but he supposed if an occasion ever called for it, it was this. “Why do you think?”
“Come, come now, Lady Macalister—”
“Stop calling me that!”
“But that’s what you ordered me to call you when you returned from that posh school in London. Don’t you remember? I ran to greet your carriage and held my hand up for you to disembark and said, ‘Welcome home, Ainsley,’ and you handed me your impeccably gloved hand and said to call you Lady Macalister from then on.”
“Oh! I was a child.”
He took a swig of whiskey. “You most certainly were not. You were a child when we climbed trees and roamed the estate before you went off to school. By the time you came back, you were a woman, Lady Macalister.”
“Shut up with that, Dechlan! I mean it!”
He turned his back on her for the first time in their conversation to gaze out to the sea beyond those familiar mammoth windows. It was no more than half-mast at this time of year, the blues almost as dominant as the grays among the waves. He’d come by land this time, from the Irish Sea side, not risking the treacherous eastern coast that the castle guarded.
Just like he and his mother had so many years ago.
“In any event, leaving here was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. If I had stayed, living on the castle grounds, I would have risen no higher than head groom at most, although I understand all the horses have been sold off by now.”
She said nothing.
“Instead, I found there was a whole wide world out there where ingenuity and luck mattered a hell of a lot more than bloodlines.”
“So what are you doing back here then?”
“I never thought I would be,” he murmured, sipping the whiskey. “But I received a letter from Mrs. Gibbons.”
“No. Mrs. Gibbons.” He turned back to her. “Despite what you may think, a person is not defined by their lowly position on your grand estate. Cook. Butler. Stable boy.”
“Fine. Mrs. Gibbons, then. What of it?”
“We’d corresponded over the years. She was always kind to me and I sent her something now and then. She wrote to tell me of her new position in London. I was surprised of course, since she’d been at Ashcroft all her life. But then I know how much that kind of loyalty means to the Macalisters.”
She frowned, and he was pleased that the jibe was not lost on her.
“Anyway, Mrs. Gibbons is the one who told me that Finsworth had mortgaged Ashcroft Castle to the hilt and was shopping it around from Mayfair to White Chapel. The idea of buying it appealed to me.”
“The idea of turning us out, you mean.”
“Not exactly. On the contrary, I was intrigued when I discovered you never did get Winslow, or anybody else for that matter, to marry you.” Still holding the whiskey glass, he wagged one finger at her. “You know that old adage about not buying the cow if you can get the milk for free.”
“Why, you insufferable—”
“If I married you, I’d really be doing you a favor, Lady Macalister. You’re quite an old maid by now.”
“So why would you want to marry such a washed-up old maid? What’s wrong with you?”
He set his glass down. “I didn’t say you were washed up. Just an old maid. On the contrary, you’re as lovely as ever, Lady Macalister.”
That shut her up, and he almost imagined he saw that soft look on her face he remembered so well, so he swiftly clarified the comment to wipe it off her face again.
“Your tits are even bigger than they were seven years ago, but still so nice and high I can safely assume, even without asking you to disrobe, that they’re firm, just the way I like them. And your mouth, as ever”—he pointed a finger at it—“looks just ripe enough to take a man’s c_ck—”
“Stop!” She found her voice finally, and he did. Stop. It was so amusing to see her outrage, the heaving of that lovely bosom, one hand clutched to it as if to slow her heart from bursting with the insult she’d just been dealt. Red stained her cheeks, and her eyes practically watered with her indignation.
“Well, you did invite the observations, Lady Macalister.”
Heart of Stone
To Catch a Pirate