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Lord Love a Lady 3
Miss Abigail Wright, disillusioned spinster, hides her secret pain behind encouraging smiles and optimistic laughter. Self-pity, she believes, is for the truly wretched. So when her mother insists she attend a house party—uninvited—she determines to simply make the best of it…until an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.
Alex Cross, the "Duke of Ice," has more than earned the nickname given him by the ton. He's given up on happiness but will not reject sensual pleasure. After all, a man has needs.
The week ought to have been pleasantly uneventful for both of them, with nature walks, parlor games, and afternoon teas on the terrace…but for some inferior stitchery on poor Abigail's bodice.
And now the duke is faced with a choice. Should he make this mouse a respectable offer and then abandon her to his country estate? She's rather pathetic and harmless, really. Oughtn't to upset his life whatsoever.
His heart, however, is another matter…
Page Count: 370
Word Count: 95320
Miss Abigail Wright had not planned to attend a house party this summer. She’d not planned on attending any parties ever again. She was fine, thank you, dwelling at her father’s modest home, Raebourne, for as long as she was able.
But plans—her plans anyway—often materialized entirely differently from her intended scenario.
Which might explain why Abigail now sat, frustrated, on the delicate chair at her mother’s bedside. The furniture in her mother’s room was fashioned in the Queen Anne style, including the large canopied bed, desk, and side tables. Her mother liked all things around her to be delicate and feminine.
“But, Mother,” Abigail implored, “I do not want to go to a house party! I have been looking forward to spending the summer with my cousin here, at Raebourne.”
Her mother’s eyes remained closed as she reclined against several carefully arranged pillows. Her left foot was elevated as well—not exactly doctor’s orders; he’d said it was only a bruise and could bear weight any time—but Abigail’s mother insisted she must rest it for several days. And now she was insisting the “girls” needed a more capable chaperone than she herself could provide with her injury—such as it was. Thus, her reasoning for sending them to Raven’s Park.
Which was ridiculous. Both Abigail and her cousin, Penelope, had long since passed the age where they required any chaperone other than each other.
“The arrangements have been made. Your Aunt Emily assured me the Spencers are more than happy for you and Penelope to join the house party.” She sighed heavily. “Please do not be difficult about this, Abigail. After all your father and I have done! All the scandal we’ve put up with. We do not expect arguments at every turn.”
Abigail looked down at her hands and resisted the urge to clench them tightly. At the age of seven-and-twenty, she was quite dependent upon her parents, and they often used the situation to treat her as a child. One mistake! One mistake and her future turned from one of hope and optimism to one of dependency and insecurity. Except she was determined to find some happiness, some joy, despite her circumstances.
“But we were not invited, Mother!” Abigail whispered on an exhale. She knew she was a burden to both of her parents. Their ever-present worry hung over her like a thick, black cloud.
Mr. Bernard Wright, although not a man of great fortune, was a man of property. When the estate was initially established, a life estate was to always be in place for the widow. This ensured security and comfort for Mrs. Wright as long as she lived but left Abigail to fend for herself upon the unfortunate event of her father and mother’s deaths. Both of her parents constantly reminded her that she must set herself up either as a wife to some country gentleman or a companion to an aging relative. Otherwise, she faced abject poverty eventually.
She would not be destitute. She had a few ideas. And, as a last resort, she could find a position as an elderly person’s companion. She could not contemplate marriage. She’d lost that prospect upon her epic failure in society.
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