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Hooray! Today is the day Richard gets his story!
If you have been following the London Scandals series from the start, you already know that Richard Northcote is a tough hero to love. He's selfish. He's greedy. But after he set the fire that killed his father in Book One, The Wild Lord, Richard also knows he needs to change his life.
Does he do it?
Not at first. This is Richard, after all. But once he meets Miriam Walsh, he realizes that he is going to have to change, deeply and dramatically, to keep her safe.
Here's a short excerpt:
Music spilled out over the verandah of the party. Each summer, Lizzie’s aunt hosted a gala at the shore. There was dancing and punch and a pig roasted on a spit. The punch was liberally spiked, and last year even Mrs. Kent had enjoyed a glass or two. Miriam stood with her family at the edge of the party, scanning the crowds for Lord Northcote. For the second time that day, he hadn’t joined the party. Perhaps he didn’t know he was invited. How lonely for him to be left out of the festivities, especially with his parting from Lizzie.
Miriam sipped a glass of punch. Spotting Lizzie with Spence’s arm over her shoulder between dances, she marched over. “Lizzie, I hate to ask but I must. Where is Lord Northcote staying?”
“At the cabin,” replied Lizzie, a gleam in her eye. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, I was thinking. If he came here for you, and now you two have split, perhaps he doesn’t know that everyone is welcome to the Dance Beneath the Stars. Someone ought to tell him, don’t you think?”
“If you want to tell him, go right ahead, Miriam. I do believe he would appreciate the company.” Lizzie turned to Spence and kissed him. How long before word of her most recent dalliance got back to Arthur?
It wasn’t her affair. Miriam turned away from the sight and hurried away from the party. The boarding house rented out small cottages near the beach. She found the one marked X. Before she could second-guess herself, she gathered her skirts and bounded up the steps. She rapped loudly at the door.
Footfalls on floorboards indicated someone was inside. Her heart leapt into her throat as the rough door opened.
“Hello Miss Walsh.”
Miriam gulped. Lord Northcote had just finished shaving. She recognized the scent of his soap, besides which, the man was naked to the waist, his shirt flung carelessly over a nearby chair. A single candle in a glass dome flickered next to the wash stand.
“Would you like to come in for a glass of wine? As you see, I am not quite ready for the evening’s entertainments.” His dark eyes dared her to wickedness. Lightheaded, Miriam held his gaze. He smirked and turned his back, giving her a full view of the play of his muscles and the indentation of his spine. Richard’s broad shoulders sloped into narrow hips and two tight rounds of buttocks. Miriam exhaled at the thought of grasping them with both hands as he…did ungentlemanly things between her thighs. Miriam had been horrified when Mrs. Kent had explained the mechanics of sexuality to her. Yet the idea of bedding him held a sudden, visceral appeal.
Inside the little cabin, a bottle of wine sat on the table. There was only one glass, with a red ring in the bottom. Lord Richard poured water into the vessel, tossed it and wiped the rim with a rag.
“Yes. Please.” Miriam needed the glass of wine, after the hot flush of desire that left her weak-kneed. She was deeply aware that she had broken every rule by coming here. “May I take it on the porch while you finish your preparations?”
“Of course. I admire your sense of propriety, Miss Walsh.” Richard returned and passed the glass through the door. Their fingertips brushed as she accepted the vessel. Another ripple of desire ran up her arm like a stone thrown into a pond at the light contact. “I was not sure whether I would be invited to the party this evening.”
“You are. I have come to personally ask you to the dance.” Miriam thought her words came out smoothly considering the inner turmoil that made the red liquid in her cup tremble. Weak fingers, in addition to weak lungs.
“Then I shall attend, Miss Walsh, on one condition. You must promise me a waltz.”
Miriam shivered. “Of course.”
She returned outside and held the wine glass unsteadily. Miriam could envision herself promising Lord Northcote anything he asked of her.
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