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Authors: Constance Hussey

An Inconvenient Wife

BOOK: An Inconvenient Wife
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
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fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, organizations, or
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AN INCONVENIENT WIFE

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Copyright © Constance Hussey, 2012

ISBN# 978-0-938257-37-7

Cover Art ® 2011 by Winterheart Design

Edited by Mary K. Wilson

 

Electronic Publication Date: October 2012

 

This
book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing
without written permission from the publisher, Jupiter Gardens Press, Jupiter
Gardens, LLC., PO Box 191, Grimes, IA 50111

 

For
more information to learn to more about this, or any other author’s work,
please visit http://www.pinkpetalbooks.com/

 

Additional Books By
the Author

 

A Deceitful Widow (writing as part of
the duo: Diana Hussey)

The Angel & St. Clair (writing as
part of the duo: Diana Hussey)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Inconvenient Wife

 

Constance Hussey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Hampshire, England, 1804

 

“No!”

Nicholas Blackwell, Viscount
Westcott, scowled at his closest friend and folded his arms across his chest.

“Why not? I need you;
England needs you. And this child needs you.”

Devlin St. Clair’s look of
weary patience fueled Westcott’s anger and he slammed both hands down on his
desk. “Dammit, Dev. Don’t spout that rubbish at me. You know very well I have a
child right here that needs me and you are perfectly capable of carrying out this
mission alone.”

St. Clair rose, walked
across the room, and braced one hip against the desk. “Perhaps I can, but it
will be far safer and go much faster with your knowledge and contacts,” he said
in a quiet tone at odds with the grim set of his face. “I don’t want Juliette
put to additional risk. Surely you can understand that.” He laid a hand on
Westcott’s arm. “Three weeks, Nick. That’s all I ask. Sarah can come to Lynton
and stay with my mother.”

Westcott stared at the broad
fingers resting so lightly on his arm and thought about the invisible weight
that strong hand carried. A friendship that went back to childhood, a staunch
ally through boyish adventures, a steady presence during the nightmare of
Camille’s death and Sarah’s terrifying illness.

“I will think about it.”
Even so little a concession was difficult to get out. He would think about
it—he was no liar, blast it—but whether he could step out of the safe fortress
he had erected around his daughter was uncertain.

St. Clair’s mouth pulled
back in a wry smile. “That’s all I ask.” His fingers tightened around
Blackwell’s arm before he released him and straightened. “Thank you.” His smile
broadened into genuine humour. “I know the way out.” The earl strolled to the
door and paused. “You might consider that a change of scene may be good for
Sarah.” The door closed behind him with a quiet snick.

Westcott dropped into his
chair and buried his face in his hands. He did
not
want to leave
Westhorp, leave Sarah; step back into the world. It had proven to be a hazardous
place which he wanted no part of. He had obligations
here.

And that gives you the right
to ignore everything else?
Westcott raised his head, stood, and
shoved back his chair with enough force to flip it backwards onto the floor
with a muted thud. A few quick strides to the French doors leading to the
terrace and he stepped out into the chill air. The garden below was a bleak
landscape of leafless trees and shrubs under gray, leaden skies that held the
threat of bad weather. Months yet to go before spring, when he could push
Sarah’s chair along the flagged paths so she could enjoy the flowers—and birds,
butterflies and any other living creature they might stumble upon. For a
moment, the picture of his daughter giggling at the antics of the squirrels
lightened his mood. Sarah enjoyed new experiences. Maybe St. Clair’s suggestion
had some merit.

Westcott clasped his hands
behind his back and began to pace.
Do you keep her too close, as St. Clair
has implied more than once? Are you so caught in your own fear of hurting her
that you are being selfish?
But he couldn’t bear…
and what does she bear,
every day of her life because of your stupidity?

“You are an idiot,
Westcott.” He stopped in mid-stride at the sound of his voice and grimaced. Now
he was talking to himself—and damned unlikely to get a response!

But Portugal? In March? He
hadn’t been there for years, and he
hated
sailing. Even St. Clair was a
better sailor than he was.

Unsettled by the thought of leaving
Westhorp, leaving his daughter, Westcott stomped out of the room. He had to
speak to Sarah before he made a decision.

~* * *~

Sarah was deeply engrossed
in a book when Westcott reached her bedchamber, and he halted at the door to
watch her, something he never tired of doing. Her fair hair, so unlike his deep
brown, was tied up in a blue ribbon and cascaded over her slender shoulders.
She took after Camille in that respect, along with the straight little nose and
rosebud lips. But not her eyes; they were all Blackwell, a changeable hazel
with a curious little fold at the corner of the eyelid that gave her face a
look of innocence. That same hint of naiveté, while more subtle on his adult
face, had often been to his advantage
.

She was sitting in her
wheeled chair today, near the deep-set window that bowed out to allow a view of
the garden and terrace below. A poor substitute for being outdoors as she
preferred; winters were difficult for her.

Every day is difficult for
her
.

Alerted by some small
movement, Sarah looked up and smiled. “Papa!”

“Hello, muffin. How are you
feeling today?” Westcott strolled across the room, bent to place a kiss on her
forehead, and sat on the wide window seat. He picked up her discarded book and
turned it to look at the cover. “What is this you are reading? I don’t remember
seeing it before.”

She giggled and patted his
hand. “Because Uncle Devlin gave it to me just today when he came to visit. It
is a
very
good book and not stuffy at all.”

“And have you been reading
stuffy books?” Westcott put on an expression of astonishment.

Sarah covered her mouth to
hide her grin, but her eyes were bright with laughter. “I try not to, Papa, but
sometimes it cannot be helped. Mr. Sloan does bring the dreariest sermons for
me to read.”

He laughed and tugged at a
wayward curl. “And you are too kind-hearted to put him off.”

“I daresay it is good for
me,” she said with a sigh, and then took the book from his hand and opened it
to one of the drawings. “But I much prefer stories such as this. You cannot
imagine what marvelous adventures Mr. Crusoe had! It looks a wonderful island,
doesn’t it?”

“I am pleased you are
enjoying it.” Westcott put the book aside and tucked her hair behind her ears.
“You look as if you are ready for a rest. Shall I take you back to bed?” He
slipped a hand beneath her legs and gathered her into his arms. “Where is
Nurse, by the way?”

“She went to find her
knitting.” Sarah wrapped her hands around his neck. “Do you suppose the
headhunters are still there? Perhaps we can go there someday, Papa.”

He settled her against the
propped up pillows on the bed and laid a blanket over her legs. “I believe it
somewhat far to travel. Perhaps we can visit an island closer to home.”

“Really? I would like to go
somewhere.”

She leaned back and closed
her eyes, with such a wistful expression on her face his heart ached. She
should be going everywhere she wanted, not tied to this bed and a pushchair. It
might be that Sarah
would
benefit from a change of scene. He could at
least ask her.

Westcott sat on the side of
the bed and took her hands in his. “It isn’t an island, but what say you to
spending a few weeks at Lynton Hall with Uncle Devlin’s mama? He has asked me
to go to Portugal with him and Aunt Juliette to take care of some business.”

Sarah’s eyelids sprang open
and she sat up. “Really, Papa? You’ve never wanted me to go away before.”

“You haven’t been almost
nine years old before and quite grown up,” Westcott said with a smile. “But if
you wish, this time you may go.”

Sarah sighed loudly, flopped
back onto the pillows, and beamed at him. “I do wish to go. When? When will it
be?”

Westcott pulled his brows
together in a mock frown. “You are altogether too pleased to escape me, I
think.”

BOOK: An Inconvenient Wife
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