Authors: Sharon Louise
Tags: #regency romance, #romantic suspense, #short story, #duke, #nobility, #aristocracy, #murder, #London, #Almack's, #wealthy
“Yes, but who killed the duke?” Lady Goodfield said, staring down at the dead man with distaste.
“Indeed,” Lady Prysden said, standing across from Derrick on the other side of the duke’s body, the color high in her cheeks. “Is it not obvious?” She gazed pointedly at Derrick. “The Duke of Belville’s guilt does not assuage the Viscount Trulington’s own treason. The viscount kills to protect himself.”
“My son was condemned of treason at the duke’s own hand two years ago,” Derrick’s mother said. “The duke alone made the accusations, hours
before my son’s reported death.”
“For what purpose but the truth?” said Lady Prysden, her voice hard.
Lady Trulington turned her gaze to Eliza. “Is it not obvious?”
Eliza gasped. Turned anguished eyes to Derrick.
“All the more reason to kill His Grace,” Lady Prysden said.
Men moved toward Derrick from the fringes of the crowd, all with the look of hardened, seasoned soldiers and led by the footman from the front door, and Derrick understood now the man’s military bearing, he was in the employ of His Majesty and commander of tonight’s plot to capture the duke. “Not the viscount,” the footman cum commander barked out to his men. “The woman.”
Derrick stepped between the men and Eliza. He would defend her with his li—
The soldiers gripped Lady Prysden’s arms.
“Unhand me,” she said, outraged.
“Your ladyship,” the commander said. “We’ve had a watch on His Grace the Duke of Belville all evening. We saw you stab him.”
Lady Prysden drew herself up full height, her auburn hair gleaming in the candlelight. “I am with child,” she said in an imperial tone. “The duke’s heir. I will have my child acknowledged.”
“That’s for the judge to decide,” the commander said and hauled her away.
Derrick kissed his mother’s tear-wet cheek. Pulled her and his sister Anne into a deep hug, then he turned to Lady Goodfield and her daughter.
Lady Goodfield held his gaze, her head high, a bright flicker in her beautiful blue eyes, one that matched the flicker in her daughter’s eyes.
He knew that flicker. He’d felt it in his own heart. Of triumph. Of justice served.
With a bow, Derrick saluted the two women. He held out one forearm to the mother, one to the daughter. “May my family and I escort you ladies home?”
Sixteen months later
Lady Eliza, Vicountess Trulington, stood on the cold quay in the near dawn, the clink of metal on the shifting docks, the water calm—a clear passage, the dockmaster had said of
voyage—her heart soaring, her infant son in her arms, her eyes on the ship
as it made its way to the dock.
Men lined the ship’s bow, men in uniform, some propped by others, but her eyes were on her husband, Derrick flanked by Ellingham and Trevor, Derrick’s gaze fierce on hers.
The terror she’d felt when he’d gone a second time to war had eased when she’d received his letter, the letter arriving three weeks after the Battle of Waterloo, telling her he still lived. But rumors had abounded, of whom had survived, whom had not, some men’s names whispered as both, and it wasn’t until now, holding his gaze, did she let her heart feel joy.
The man who’d saved her from a marriage worse than death.
The man she loved with all her heart.
She raised their swaddled son in the air for Derrick to see.
Derrick stood at the bow of the ship, his eyes devouring his wife, then son. Joy leaped in his heart, cracking through the hardness that had come with battle, his taut, ever-alert senses finding ease. He’d settled his score against the damage the Duke of Belville had done to his family and his nation. Now he’d settled his score against the French.
He strode weary down the gangplank, the ship that had brought him from Calais tossing gently on the water, Ellingham and Trevor coming along behind.
One thought, one thought alone, filled his mind.
As if in a dream, she stood before him on the quay, their babe wrapped in her arms. Tears shimmered in her eyes, the sun bright on his wife and child. “I named him after Papa,” she said, her voice breaking. “I hope you do not mind.”
He kissed her, the memory of her lips that had sustained him in battle now real against his.
She pulled back. “My love—”
Love, he thought. Good God, he was blessed.
“’Tis nothing. ’Twill mend in a month’s time.”
She placed the babe—his
—in the crook of his uninjured arm.
Pride swelled in his heart. Pride. Joy.
He bent his head and brushed his lips over his son’s tiny brow. New life. For him. For Eliza.
A new world for his son. He returned Frederick to Eliza’s arms and wrapped his own around her beloved waist. “Come,” he said. “Let us go home.”
Murder at Almack’s
. I hope you enjoyed Eliza’s and Derrick’s story!
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Books By Sharon Louise
The Spy Date Series:
MURDER AT ALMACK’S
Golden House Press
Copyright © 2013 by Sharon Louise
Cover design copyright © 2014 by Golden House Press
Cover photograph of man and woman copyright © Hot Damn Designs
Cover photograph of ballroom copyright © Dreef/iStockphoto
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be used or reproduced, scanned, transmitted or distributed in any manner, form, or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, whatsoever without written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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