Excerpt: A Tale of Two Lovers
Lord Roxbury demands that Lady Julianna retracts the shocking gossip she printed about him in her column, Fashionable Intelligence. They have slipped away from a ball, and find themselves alone in the conservatory, lit only by moonlight…
“What do you want from me?” Julianna asked, exasperated now, and pausing next to a small potted orange tree. Roxbury stopped before her, and folded his arms across his chest.
“I want you, Lady Julianna Somerset, as the Lady of Distinction to apologize publicly, and print a retraction. I want you to tell all of London that you were mistaken.”
In other words, confess to being a liar. Her pride would not allow it.
“My reputation for yours? The damage is already done, why take me down with you?”
“Oh, my Lady Somerset…” He laughed and the sound echoed around the conservatory. She worried that someone might hear them, but then she recalled that they were very much alone, and quite far from the ballroom.
“I am not your lady.”
“No, that you are not.” His comment somehow made it an insult. As if she was not fit company for his harem. Her lips pursed, spinsterish.
“I understand that you are angry,” she said, switching tactics and trying to reason with him. Roxbury laughed, and this time it was a bitter sound.
“Angry does not begin to describe it. What I am experiencing is a potent and seething mixture of outrage, fury, and indignation. For the first time in my life, I have a nearly unquenchable urge to throttle a woman.”
Julianna smiled faintly, keenly aware that no one would hear her scream if he did attack her.
Roxbury carried on, as if he could read her mind: “I love women. If I am going to make a woman scream, it won’t be from violence, but from earth-quaking, soul-shattering, life-altering pleasure.”
She wished to fan herself, but would melt completely before giving him the satisfaction of knowing that his words affected her thusly. Aye, she hoped the moonlight disguised the deep flush of crimson in her cheeks. She did not know that kind of pleasure, and she did not doubt him capable of it.
“Tell them you were mistaken,” he persisted.
He leveled a stare at her, as if daring her to disobey, which, of course, meant that she had to. And given the fact that he’d just made her very hot and definitely bothered by all that talk of pleasure meant that she had to do something to ruin any chance of experiencing it, particularly with him. That was the road to ruin, and she’d traveled it already.
At this moment, she desperately wanted to believe the rumors her column had started. For if they were not true… then she was alone, with a devilishly handsome man who made her warm and her knees weak, and who might, at any moment, either murder her or seduce her.
“You are stubborn, maddening, illogical and infuriating,” Roxbury grumbled, and she saw his hands ball into fists.
“I am a Lady,” she retorted, as she stepped behind a voluminous potted fern.
“Exactly. That’s what I said,” Roxbury said, following her. She gasped. He grinned.
“I do not wish for my readers to think me inconsistent, or that I spread falsehoods.” She backed up, and some large potted plant stopped her progress.
“But you do,” he insisted. “Don’t make me prove it to you, Lady Somerset.”
“Oh you wouldn’t dare.” The words were out of her mouth before she realized he probably would. If he was anything like her, a dare was never resisted.
“Oh?” he murmured, lifting one brow.
Her lips, against her will, parted to whisper “Oh.”
Oh hell and damnation, she was in trouble now.