Authors: Gayle Eden
Tags: #love, #sex, #historical, #regency, #series romance, #gayle eden, #eve asbury, #the coachmans daughter, #saving juliette, #lisette
Copyright © 2012 Gayle Eden
All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means mechanical, electronic,
photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written
consent of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form
of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and
without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent
The right of Gayle Eden to be identified as
the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First e-Edition 2012
All characters in this publication are purely
fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is
Published for Air Castle Books by Smashwords.
“Why didn’t he just give up?” Lady Lisette
Wimberly glared at the tall, dark, male, standing with two of her
brothers. It was her birthday ball, hosted by her parents the Duke
and Duchess of Wimberly in their London townhouse. If it were not
for him—Elisha Roulle, Viscount Marston, it would have been a
wonderfully exciting evening.
But, no. Here he was—again. Hadn’t he taken
the hint when her Mama had invited him to Wimberly manor and she’d
ran away from, ignored, tried everything on earth—to give him a
disgust of her?
This was her Mama’s doing. For a woman known
for her unconventional life, her eccentricities, her insistence on
bringing her children up with choice and more freedoms than most
enjoyed—it did not make sense that the duchess had gotten it into
her head that a bore like Marston would do for Lisette.
Honestly! Lisette ground her back teeth. She
could not even enjoy the fact that her brothers, Aiden and James,
were here in their dashing uniforms, having just joined the
military. Or, that the heir and former rakehell, her brother,
Demetrius (Deme) Willingham, 4th Marquis of Fielding, had just
rocked society on its heels by purposing to their Coachman’s
daughter, Haven Mulhern.
It would be such a delicious night, if she
did not have to preoccupy herself with dodging that hard-faced
Haven and her father, Patrick, a celebrated
whip, had beforehand lived in well-appointed apartments over the
carriage house at Wimberly. Since everyone discovered the affair
between herself and Deme though, she was staying in the guest room
here in London. At her father’s ducal estates, coach races were
held and Patrick never failed to win the prize. He was also friend
to the duke. They played chess and cards together regularly.
Lisette was happy that Haven would be her sister in law. She could
still not believe anyone had reformed her rakehell brother. Those
two had been at each other’s throats as long as she could
She loved Deme, but he had let some past
demons turn him into a right mess these past eight years. However,
there was no denying he had changed since this relationship with
Haven. It was obvious the two were in love. He was talking of
making the estate Rose Hill, in the north as their home.
With Haven and Deme’s future set, and her
brothers all going off, getting on with life—nothing was ever going
to be the same. It did seem everyone was getting what they
wanted—but her. For some reason, Lisette was the only one her mama
and papa seemed determined to force into their own “ideal
She had told Haven just this week, “I envy
you. I always thought I would have an adventures life. We were
raised with every reason to believe we did not have to conform.
Look who my parents are? I do not really understand why I am the
one expected to have a conventional match? I would much rather have
a dashing lover and live a grand adventure.”
She had described the Viscount whilst at
Wimberly as being sinister looking. In truth, he was tall, six feet
and four, with dark, craggy features, an arrogant nose and silver
eyes. His hair was black and worn layered to his nape. It had been
her observation, before her mama had it into her head they would
suit, that Marston was a prig. He rarely condescended to speak to
anyone. He was always remote in a ballroom, seeming to look down
his nose at everyone.
Even if her Mama was not in the equation, it
made no sense that Marston would want her. Similar males, who were
not as high in the instep and lofty as Marston, drew the line at
tying themselves to the wild Wimberly clan. Her parents were a
shocking pair, having been married, then divorced, and ended up
together again. Only she and Deme were from the first marriage.
The Wimberly’s were a mix of half siblings,
aside from the whole ones. A set of twin girls still in school were
born of her mother with her lover. The duke fathered a lad, who
lived with a Countess and her husband up north. There were also
James, Aiden, and Jude (called little John.) James and Aiden being
the two elder, now in the ball room in uniform. Jude would soon go
to Cambridge, to study law. They were younger sons setting out to
make their mark in the world—Demetrious would eventually be the
Jude, (little John) was taller than them all.
James had dark hair, and handsome green eyes, and Aiden wheat and
brown hair, eyes of aqua blue. Little John had curly blond hair
that he kept cut short. Deme—was all grace and aristocratic bones,
with green eyes and lush black curls. The Wimberly’s were energetic
and high-spirited. Their past and present was riddled with
scandalous doings—and they did not mind a whit. Her Mama kept a
menagerie of pets, rooster, rabbits, various breeds of dogs and
cats, peacocks, and two parrots. Their households were not at all
formal. It was nothing for her to shoot, hunt, fish, and romp and
compete at anything with her brothers. Haven had been in that too,
since she had been schooled and trained with Lisette at her
(It was all the more irrational that a man
Elisha Roulle would want her.)
According to her father, he came from a very
old and long line, known for such traits. It was most of society's
summation that they held themselves above everyone else.
Drat it all. She did not want to settle down
to some staid and stuffy life! She had spent half her childhood in
a sickbed, confined to her rooms. Every day she had listened to her
siblings outside, vowing if she recovered that, she would live life
to the fullest.
Her parents had lived theirs. Her brothers
were. Why then, was she to be punished and stuck with someone like
She’d avoided him at Wimberly, ignored him at
the theater—, except to mutter something shocking—like her spying
on one of the grooms bathing, or attending scandalous salons here,
going to parties where the fast set gathered—(which, by the way,
her parents also did)—he had greeted her only a few hours ago in
the receiving line with… “I shall have to keep you by my side, fair
Lisette. Else someone might carry you off, so tempting are you in
that lovely gown.”
Lisette had jerked her hand away and glared
at him. “It is more like I may run off, Marston.”
He chuckled. “From me. Nonsense. I’m your
“Bugger you are.” She had pushed him aside
and went stomping up the line, to her father.
Fat lot of good that did.
He would not give up. She would never
understand why. She was an heiress. But he was rich. Her father was
titled. Nevertheless, the Marston’s were not the sort to pick their
brides from any family like the wild Wimberly’s.
It was obvious they were opposites in every
way. If he was set on her for some other reason, then it was a
mystery, since he was not exactly an effusive speaker. He would
rather, it seemed, either make those outrageous statements, or
simply look at her with those silver gray eyes—making her
cross—because he seemed to be mocking her annoyance with him.
Lisette sighed and jerked her eyes from his
broad back, and went in search of champagne. Perhaps she would get
disgustingly foxed and he would be so appalled!
Since most of the ton was there, he would
hopefully go do his bride hunting, somewhere else.
* * * *
Elisha Roulle Viscount Marston absently
listened to Lady Lisette brothers and friends talking, scarcely
able to hear anything over the music and crowds in the
He found himself having to regroup. A
familiar exercise, since he had finagled that invite from the
duchess down to Wimberly. To say his success at winning Lady
Lisette was a disaster, was putting it mildly. After nearly two
months, he feared the duchess herself would bend to her daughter’s
choice, and withdraw her support for a match between them.
He must not give any ground. Lisette was not
just any society deb. He knew it before speaking to the duchess. He
certainly witnessed it in the country, and every time he was around
He turned to search for her in the crowds.
Though she was petite and lithe, Lisette looked stunning tonight,
with her long deep-blond hair tumbling in curls over a high crown
of diamonds. She wore a gown of flowing pearl silk, with gossamer,
aqua silk skirted over it. It draped over one shoulder, held by a
pearl and diamond broach in a Greek style that suited her.
Elisha visually found her, over by the tables
and watched her pick up not one, but two glasses of champagne, and
He sighed and mentally shook his head.
Marston had been told that Lisette spent
years confined to bed for her health and she had been making up for
it ever since. Full of spirit, she was friends with Lady Juliette,
another unconventional Lady whom the Marquis of Wolford had wed.
They were neighbors in the country also. According to her brothers,
Lisette found little in common with London’s gently bred ladies,
given her unconventional upbringing.
Elisha had seen some of that at the estate.
She could ride like the very devil, play tennis, billiards, shoot,
do archery—anything that her brothers did. And, she did it with
enthusiasm. She dressed in trousers, shirt, and boots. She wore her
hair in a braid or down when at her leisure at Wimberly. In London,
she transformed effortlessly into the beautiful heiress. Yet, there
was never a doubt that she was a Wimberly, through and through.
The first time he had laid eyes on her was at
a salon that no young unwed woman would be seen attending. She
however, was enjoying herself thoroughly that night and perfectly
at ease among trysting lovers, decadent rakes, and such like.
Before approaching Lisette again, he
flickered his gaze to a seated group that included the Marquis of
Wolford, his wife, and parents. Also, Lisette’s mother and father.
He had known the Wimberly’s only through gossip and rumor, and
through their shocking lifestyle. What he had seen at Wimberly
added a bit more to that impression. Yes, the duchess was peculiar
and somewhat eccentric. She was a still striking woman, who
obviously had great affection for her children. the duke, robust,
tall, hair now snow white, worn long and tied back, had the
personality of a country squire, rather than a duke. At Wimberly,
he mostly dressed in linen shirts and well-worn trousers and boots.
He was a vigorous man, but a lamb with his offspring.
Marston had known of, and seen, the heir,
Demetrious, for many years in town. Years before he made himself
known to the rest. To say he and the rakehell had gotten to know
each other would be pushing it because he had not cared for the man
before. Nevertheless, he had joined the family during this time
when Deme was falling in love with Haven Mulhern—and he had watched
him get on the road to a new life. He knew about the duel where
Deme had killed a man. He believed, given words Deme had spoken to
him, perhaps those ghosts were gone now.
Just an hour ago, a scene had taken place in
the ballroom that everyone had been let in on but, Deme—Haven’s
showing up in her trousers, and the shocking marriage proposal. He
had been the one to drag Deme out of a tavern last eve, after a bit
of trouble between the Marquis, and his desired lady.
Her father, the coachman, was still in the
ballroom. Shocking stuff in itself—since he was in essence, still
the coachman. However, Patrick Mulhern looked like he fit as well
as anyone present. He was handsome for his age, and over six foot
tall, most obviously a great friend to the Wimberlys.
Elisha’s ancestors would roll over in their
graves should they be witness to Elisha’s choice of bride. She
would be. That thought only made him smile grimly. Everything
Lisette was, made him want her for himself, all the more.
Striding toward her when she picked up
another glass, he knew perfectly well what she thought of him—aside
from what she muttered under her breath. He had overheard the
words, bore and prig, cold and sinister, an arrogant bastard. She
had a long list. He could have told her she was not the only one.
He was perfectly aware of the Marston’s rep. it was not born from
what society assumed.