Read Ghost of Christmas Past Online

Authors: Rebecca King

Tags: #romance, #romantic suspense, #mystery, #historical fiction, #historical romance, #romantic thriller, #romantic mystery, #historical mystery, #romantic adventure

Ghost of Christmas Past

BOOK: Ghost of Christmas Past
2.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


The Star Elite Series

Book Eight


Rebecca King

UK English

Cover Design by Melody
Simmons from eBookindiecovers

The Ghost
of Christmas Past



© Rebecca
King 2015























heaved an impatient sigh and watched his warm breath fog the cold
air in front of his face. He reluctantly turned his attention back
to the stained glass window in the old church and gritted his teeth
to stop his impatient epithet from escaping. He felt as though he
had been staring at the depiction of the Sermon on the Mount for
weeks. He struggled to contain the urge to get his fob watch out
for the hundredth time and count the minutes before Thea, his
bride-to-be, was due to arrive.

wedding day had been meticulously planned to ensure that everything
ran as smoothly as possible and, so far, everything had gone well.
Rupert and his best man Kieran, had arrived on time to greet the
congregation. When they had left Bainbridge, the bridal carriage
had been waiting to bring his bride-to-be, Thea, to the church. She
had been scheduled to arrive some twenty minutes after him.
Unfortunately, nobody had stopped to consider that there might be
fresh snowfall last night. As a result, there was inevitably now
going to be a short delay in her arrival given that the roads were
now laden with snow which had iced over in the sub-zero
temperatures. It was so cold inside the old Norman church that
Rupert could only hope that the congregation didn’t freeze to death
before she arrived.

Christmas only two short weeks away, the December chill had settled
over the country with a vengeance and been encouraged by heavy
snowfall and hard frosts. Although the church was festooned with
holly and bright red ribbons, the heady scent of pine did little to
settle his nerves and had instead started to make him feel a little
nauseated. Cold had already begun to permeate his bones to the
point that his fingers and toes had gone numb and he was fairly
certain that wouldn’t be able to stop shaking when the time came
for him to have to put the ring on his bride’s finger, but it would
not be because of nerves. He shifted his weight to try to bring
some sense of feeling into his feet and studied the door to the
ante room blankly while he tried to calm his thoughts.

congregation behind him murmured quietly and waited in anticipation
for the social event of the year, but he couldn’t bring himself to
turn and look at them. He drew in a deep breath and began to count
backward from a hundred as he studied altar and tried not to
fidget, much less think about the issue that plagued him. Boredom
pushed it upon him anyway and his thoughts turned toward the one
problem that he least wanted to think about.

Are you alright?” Kieran whispered.

slid him a glance. “Be glad when it is all over,” he growled
fervently. He clenched his fists and fought another growl when
Kieran merely grinned and clapped him on the shoulder.

The snow shouldn’t cause too much of a delay,” his best man
murmured as he took his fob watch out. Even from upside down Rupert
could see that Thea was ten minutes late. “Besides, it is
fashionable for the bride to be a few minutes late.”

We are all going to get frostbite if she doesn’t get a move
on,” he grumbled without any hint of anger. He slid Kieran a rueful
look and fought the urge to smile.

wasn’t the idea of marriage that made him uncomfortable. It was the
heavy weight of guilt over the events of last night that gnawed
away at his conscience. He was certain that any moment now
lightening was going to strike him down for being a

A dark
scowl settled over his brow as he tried to remember exactly what
had happened last night, but failed miserably. The more he tried to
remember, the more confused he became until now, he wasn’t sure
what to think.

he had severed all contact with his ex-mistress, Barbara, several
weeks ago, he was fairly certain that he had spent last night in
her arms. However, the beautiful, refined features of his fiancée
lingered in his dim and distant memories, only he couldn’t quite
make out if it was wishful thinking or really his fiancée, Thea,
who had climbed into bed with him sometime in the early hours of
the morning.

the headache that continued to pound behind his eyes, and the
presence of the vicar before him, Rupert felt his wayward body
respond as the memory of last night’s frolics began to settle into
more solidity. In all of the time that he had been with Barbara,
she had never moved him as powerfully as she had last night; and he
had never, ever, gotten so carried away that he had forgotten to
take steps to prevent a child. He closed his eyes and sent a prayer
heavenward. The consequences of that particular folly would haunt
him forever, especially if he had created a child with his mistress
during their last night together. His new wife would never forgive
him, and Barbara would have her talons in him forever.

Barbara built the passion deliberately in an attempt to persuade
him to keep her in his life in spite of his new bride? He wouldn’t
put it past her but, in all honesty, no matter how dedicated a
lover Barbara had been last night, he was in love with his fiancée,
Thea, and from this morning onward no other woman was going to
occupy his bed but her. He shook his head, took a deep breath and
tried desperately to recall last night’s events

midnight, having imbibed far more than was wise on the night before
his wedding, he had finally made his way to bed. His best man,
Kieran, had practically ordered him to do so, but had been almost
as unsteady on his feet as Rupert himself. Somehow, together, they
must have made their way to their respective rooms though because
he could distinctly remember that he had fallen onto the bed and
tugged his boots off while he had been flat on his back. He could
clearly recall the heavy thumping noise the boots had made as they
had hit the floor.

At some
point he must have fallen asleep because he had woken up sometime
later to find himself no longer alone. His alcoholic slumber had
been broken by the response of his wayward body to the small hands
that had been sliding down his chest. The feel of the softly
rounded curves pressed flush to his side had been a temptation he
had found impossible to ignore. In spite of his dozy state, he had
reached out for her and drawn her beneath him with an urgency that
he had never felt before. He knew it wasn’t a dream, but who the
hell had it been? He could distinctly recall that it had been dark
within the bedroom. The fire had long since died down to embers,
and it had created insufficient light to penetrate the dark shadows
within the room. Throughout it all, the woman he had made love to
had been buried beneath the covers, and him, and he couldn’t quite
remember whether he had looked at her or spoken to her.

Are you alright?” Kieran whispered. His soft whisper broke
into Rupert’s determined contemplation and made him jump. Rather
than answer, Rupert nodded and continued to probe his memory for
more details of just what had happened last night.

He knew
that the woman’s hair had been long because the long tresses had
curled around his wrist as he had slid his hand into her hair to
hold her head still for his kisses. Now that he came to think about
it more closely, the feminine curves against him had felt a little
different though. He frowned at the altar and tried to remember the
body he had made love to last night in a bit more detail. Barbara
had long, fairly straight dark hair, was short in stature and could
only be described as buxom. As a widow twice removed, she had more
than enough experience to know how to pleasure a man. However, last
night, the hands that had explored the dips and hollows of his
chest had been hesitant. They had continued to roam over his chest
until desire had forced him to grab them and hold them still while
he removed the shirt and breeches he hadn’t bothered to take off
when he went to bed.

He had
been unable to see her in the darkness, but his body had known
exactly where she was. Now that he came to think about it, he was
fairly certain that the legs that had wrapped around him had been
longer than Barbara’s, and the body that had driven him so wild
with desire had been firmer and more willowy than his redoubtable
ex-mistress. What happened after he had settled over her could only
be described as sensual, to say the least. Now that he was able to
consider the details with more clarity, he could confidently
declare that the woman he had made love to last night had not been
Barbara. Last night, the dip of his lover’s waist had been
narrower, and her breasts had been more of a perfect handful rather
than overly large. In addition to that, the grasping hands that had
swept over his back had been searching and loving, rather than the
slack pawing Barbara usually did.

Immediately, his thoughts turned toward his last known
altercation with his ex-mistress. She had declared that she would
do whatever it took to stop Rupert finding happiness with his wife;
that he could go ahead with the wedding but Thea would never own
him. He had ushered her out of the door mid-flow, but had been
stunned at the utter arrogance of the woman. She had clearly felt
confident of her position in his life to feel that she could call
at his ancestral home, uninvited and unannounced, and issue
warnings the way that she did. Although his fury had eventually
cooled, her words still rang in his ears and he found it difficult
to discount them as idle threats from a spurned lover. Had she left
the area when he had thrown her out of the house? Or had she
remained nearby and crept into the house once everyone had gone to
bed? As far as he knew he didn’t have any other old lovers in the
area who felt confident enough to break into his house and climb
into his bed, and there was certainly nobody else in the house last
night whom he had even the remotest interest in.

he just couldn’t see that Thea would do such a thing. Why would his
future wife even think about approaching his bed before they were
married, especially given that they would share the marriage bed
tonight? Couldn’t she have waited one more night? He was a little
perplexed at that thought; amused, but at the same time puzzled.
Although his logic warned him that Thea was a lady and would never
contemplate wandering into any man’s bed in the middle of the
night, deep in his heart he wanted it to have been her. Now that he
thought through the love making a bit more carefully; and it had
been love making not sex, things had been different when he had
first slid into her. She had gasped and lain perfectly still
beneath him rather than give him orders as Barbara usually did. Had
there been a barrier to bar his entrance? In all conscience he
couldn’t remember, but he could distinctly recall that after his
initial intrusion he had stopped long enough to coax her to accept
the reins of passion and ride with them all the way to

wished now that the passion hadn’t raged so fiercely because he
couldn’t recall anything other than a tide of pleasure so strong
that he had been unable to assuage the hunger that had left them
both gasping and wanting more. The strength of her release had
brought his down upon him with a swiftness that had left him
reeling and it should have been enough; but it wasn’t. He would
usually have stopped and fallen asleep but, for whatever reason,
last night seemed to have been beyond his control in so many ways.
Their bodies had barely cooled before the undeniable passion had
surged again, and it had been nearly dawn before he had gathered
her into his arms and fallen asleep with her tucked protectively
against his side.

BOOK: Ghost of Christmas Past
2.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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