A Christmas Surprise View larger

A Christmas Surprise by Cynthia Moore

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  • Miss Clara Seaford has loved Julian Astor, Viscount Bentley, since she first saw him at a debutante ball. Years later, Julian is forced to marry Clara to pay off a large debt owed to her father.

    A misunderstanding on their wedding night and an extended trip for Julian leads to an awkward beginning.

    When her husband unexpectedly returns for the Christmas holidays, Clara vows to ensure there will be no confusion about the depth of her love for him.

    Rating: Sweet
    Page Count: 64
    Word Count: 16072
    978-1-5092-2323-7 Digital

    Excerpt

    Chapter One

     

    “Excuse me, my lady.” The butler, Warner, stood in the doorway. He walked into the room and bowed. “A special messenger has arrived from London with a note addressed to you.” He held out a tray upon which a folded missive lay.

    A boldly scrawled Viscountess Bentley appeared on the front. Clara reached out and turned over the envelope. It was fastened together with a wax imprint of the Bentley family crest. Her hand shook as she broke the seal and reached inside. The enclosed message was brief.

    Madam, I expect to arrive at Bentley House a few days after you have received this communication. Please make any preparations necessary for my arrival as well as for a five-year-old child who will be residing with us. Until then,

    Lord Bentley

    She sat and stared at the note in silence. Unconsciously, she reached for the turquoise pendant, fastened with a thin, silver chain around her neck. The stone rested on her chest just above the lace trim on her morning gown. The necklace was a wedding present from her husband, Julian, Viscount Bentley. She had faithfully worn it ever since her wedding day. It had become a habit to rub the turquoise between her thumb and forefinger until the heat from her body made the stone warm whenever she felt anxious or lonely. The sudden sound of someone clearing their throat reminded her that the butler was still present.

    “Will there be an answer, my lady?” he inquired.

    She started to reply but then paused to sort out the dazed and jumbled thoughts racing around inside her head before beginning again. “No…No. There will be no reply. Please be certain that the messenger is given food and drink before he begins his return journey.” She saw the look of concern that appeared on Warner’s face before he bowed himself out of the room, closing the door behind him.

    She dropped the note into her lap, looking up to stare out of the window from inside her warm and cozy morning room at the bleak, wintery landscape outside while she continued to rub the pendant with shaking fingers. The note written by her husband brought the unpleasant, embarrassing memories back.

    Christmas was only a fortnight away. It was hard to believe that she had lived here at Bentley House for almost one year. It was even more unbelievable on Christmas Eve of the previous year she arrived here accompanied by her father, Sir Henry Seaford in order to be married to Viscount Bentley. Now, her husband was on his way home. She would see him for the first time since the evening of the day they were married.

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A Christmas Surprise

A Christmas Surprise

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