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Lord Love a Lady Book 2
It’s not fair. Titled rakes can practically get away with murder, but one tiny little misstep and a debutante is sent away to the country. Which is where Lady Natalie Spencer is stuck after jilting her betrothed. Frustrated with her banishment, she’s finished being a good girl and ready to be a little naughty. Luckily she has brothers, one of whom has brought home his delightfully gorgeous friend.
After recently inheriting an earldom, Garrett Castleton is determined to turn over a new leaf and shed the roguish lifestyle he adopted years ago. His friend’s sister, no matter how enticing, is out-of-bounds. He has a run-down estate to manage and tenants to save from destitution.
Can love find a compromise between the two, or will their stubbornness get them into even more trouble?
Page Count: 346
Word Count: 87222
“You don’t play fair, my lady.”
She chuckled, and they continued around the path. Natalie chided him for not bringing any fish back from the afternoon’s expedition. He insisted he’d caught dozens of them, huge beasts too great in size to be carried back to the cook’s kitchens. He feigned outrage at her refusal to believe him. They further surprised each other by finding other topics that interested them both, and before they knew it, the manor came back into view. The windows glowed, and piano music drifted out into the night. Natalie stopped and let out a wistful sigh.
“You are very lucky, you know.” She sounded serious again.
Garrett thought he’d misheard her for a moment. “Pardon?”
“I said you are really quite lucky.”
He had not misheard. “How is that?”
“If you were a woman and you acted with such disregard toward society”—she slanted him a sideways and disapproving glance—“as you have, there would be no second chances for you. A lady could never act as a rake and be forgiven.” She slipped his jacket off and handed it back to him. He looked down at the jacket, not sure what she expected him to do with it.
“Take it. I am fine now. I will enter through the back, and you may use the front door. It is best nobody knows we spent so much time together, alone.”
He took the jacket, not bothering to slip it back on. He just stood there dumbfounded, watching her. “Why would a lady wish to play the part of a rake?” he couldn’t help asking. Was she referring to herself?
The girlish sparkle disappeared from her eyes, and a bleak longing replaced it.
“Throughout my engagement, over the course of an entire year, my fiancé bestowed only two kisses upon me.” She touched her cheek. “One here.” And then she touched her lips. “And once here. And yet, when I caught him looking at the woman who is now his duchess, he beheld her with…hunger! I am certain he kissed her more than twice. And with an open mouth, no less.” Perhaps she felt safe telling him all this because of the darkness. Perhaps she was restless because of her recent broken engagement. Whatever the reason, an intensity of emotion emanated from her.
And then she stepped forward and put her hand on Garrett’s chest. She licked her lips and surprised him by admitting, “I have seen you watch me with a similar expression. You may kiss me, if you wish.” Her eyes were bold as they gazed up at him.
Garrett’s heart beat rapidly. What on earth was she saying? Both her hands were on his shoulders now. Of course, he wanted to kiss her. His body roared with hunger. Hell, he’d imagined sharing much more than kisses with her on more than one occasion. And suddenly, she was not so unattainable after all.
But at what cost? She was a young noblewoman set aside to marry a duke. Perhaps not Monfort, but her parents had high hopes for an exceptional match. Garrett ignored the pull of desire coursing through him and continued to hold his jacket between them. He did not trust this. He did not trust her.