Romance: Regency Romance: In Bed With The Duke (A Regency Romance)

BOOK: Romance: Regency Romance: In Bed With The Duke (A Regency Romance)
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Regency Romance

 

In Bed With The Duke

 

 

Emily Teska

 

 

©
Copyright 2016 by Emily Teska - All rights reserved.

 

In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.

 

Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

WARNING:              
This eBook contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language. It may be considered offensive to some readers. This eBook is for sale to adults ONLY

 

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In Bed With The Duke

 

Introduction

 

             
The Duke of Devonshire is a barely acknowledged relative of the Queen; he’s in line for the throne, but his rakish attitude and taste for married women is sure to keep him safely out of favor with Her Royal Majesty. Blessed with an impressive title and a sizeable income, the Duke does what he likes, when he likes and doesn’t have to answer to anyone… especially now that his mother is dead. 

The Napoleonic Wars rage on, and with their husbands away fighting, the Duke has opened his house and given the high-born women of the village his
personal
protection. Charlotte Rutledge is one of the only women who has been able to avoid the Duke’s inappropriate advances, but now that her darling husband has been sent away to the thick of the fighting, she has
nowhere
else to turn. Will she be able to resist his flirtations, and what will happen if she does finally submit to his handsome smile and
irresistible
charm? 

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Chapter 1

I wiped away a fresh bout of tears as I stared out the garden window. George was marching with the garrison today, and I don’t know how I can stand to watch him go. I’m not ready to lose my husband. We had met at a Regimental Ball only two years ago, he had been so handsome with his brass buttons, gold braid and the deep wine red of his dress jacket. The candlelight that had filled the hall had made my pale pink dress glow, and George had come up to me after the first dance and shyly filled in a space on my dance card while my face had burned and my sisters and their friends had twittered behind their fans. Who would have guessed that a visit to my cousin’s country house would have resulted in a marriage proposal? Certainly not me.

 

Another tear dripped over my cheek and fell onto the bodice of my dress. I couldn’t let George see me crying. I’m a soldier’s wife, and because of that my life is uncertain. I know that now. I had been following news of the war as best I was able – Napoleon seemed like the worst kind of scoundrel and I dreaded the thought of George going across the Channel to meet this French demon and his armies on foreign shores. From what I could gather from the newspapers I had been able to catch sight of, it was in the National Interest to be hopeful, but deep down, I was sure that I would never see my darling George again. I wiped away my tears with a square of muslin I had embroidered. I ran my finger lightly over the intricate pattern, George had one embroidered with the same whitework pattern; I had made them as a gift for him last Christmas, at least he would be able to take a remembrance of me with him when he left. No more tears. George would be expecting me to be strong, like all the other women in town.

 

I smoothed my dress and checked my face for redness or other signs of my distress in a small mirror that I carried in my dress pocket. My eyes were a little puffy, but hopefully George wouldn’t notice. I could hear him in the hallway talking to the housekeeper, who was no doubt fussing over his uniform. George and I had been married for two years, but his mother insisted on hiring all of our servants, and the housekeeper had been a loyal member of the Rutledge household since George had been a child. I tried not to let the calculated slight bother me, but it was a daily struggle. Mrs. Baker fought all of my decisions tooth and nail, and I knew that she reported everything back to George’s mother, who wrote me often to chastise me for one slight or another.

 

“Oh, Master George, you do look so proud in your uniform. I will never stop being proud of how you’ve grown up so handsome and tall, and now look at you, off to war in France!” I rolled my eyes, Mrs. Baker never tired of fawning over George. I wish I could say that he hated it, but I knew that wouldn’t be true. George was the baby of the family, and he was used to being taken care of. His older sisters were no better, and I dreaded their visits.

 

“Mrs. Rutledge, there you are. Mr. Rutledge was just about to leave us, and I was worried that you wouldn’t be here to see him off.” My smile was tight, but Mrs. Baker wasn’t looking at me when she spoke. I disliked being spoken to like a child, but I had learned to let most of what she said roll over me like water over rocks in the riverbed. George shooed the older woman away as I approached so that he could fold me into his arms and pull me to his chest. His uniform was crisp and new, and the smell of the polish he used on his buttons was sharp in my nose. I wanted to remember him this way forever. Handsome and brave in defense of King and Country. I tried to hold back my tears, I couldn’t let Mrs. Baker see me crying.

 

“You must write to me, and promise me that you will stay safe?” My voice was muffled in his jacket but he squeezed me tighter and kissed the top of my head tenderly.

 

“You mustn’t fuss, Charlotte. I’m going to war, and Napoleon is on his last legs out there. The garrison will be marching back home before you even realize that I’m gone.” I looked up at him with wide eyes, and wished that I shared his optimism. He gripped my chin lightly between his gloved fingers and kissed me lingeringly on the mouth; how I loved the way his lips felt against mine. Mrs. Baker cleared her throat loudly behind us, and George reluctantly ended the kiss. Propriety be damned!

 

I clutched the lapels of George’s jacket and almost pleaded with him not to go, but I knew such wailing would be useless, George loved the army, and for months all he had been talking about was how much he hoped to be called up to go to France. He smiled down at me while I straightened his cravat and fussed over his buttons. It was hard to be brave. But it was harder still to watch him walk to the door where his friend Mr. Grace waited. He had an impatient look about him, and I imagined he was as eager to get out of England as George was. George didn’t tell me that he loved me, not in front of Mr. Grace, or Mrs. Baker, but I knew he wanted to.  

 

I stood on the stoop and watched them go. Other wives were bidding goodbye to their husbands too, mothers fawned over their sons, and sisters hugged their brothers tightly as they joined George and Mr. Grace in the street. We would be a village of women and children until the men came home from war. The loneliness of it all was crushing, and I could feel the tears pricking at my lashes once more. I closed the door tightly behind me and went to my rooms. With the finality of George’s departure finally sinking in, there was nothing I could do to keep away the tears, and I sobbed into my pillow. For two years I had known true happiness, and now it was all slipping away. With George gone, I had no one – my family was too far away to come and keep me company, and I couldn’t bear to leave the house that I had shared with George. Mrs. Baker was a spy for my vile mother in law, and I couldn’t imagine what she had in store for me now that George would no longer be able to protect me from her vicious barbs and judgements.

 

Mrs. Baker’s rapid knock on my chamber door pulled me from my misery. The housekeeper’s voice was muffled by the wood of the door, but her shrill voice still penetrated the silence of the room.

 

“Mrs. Rutledge, you have a visitor. Mrs. Charles is here to see you.” I hiccoughed slightly, I knew that I looked a fright but I didn’t care. I hauled myself off the bed and opened the door. Mrs. Baker looked me up and down, a n expression of annoyance on her face. “It won’t do to lock yourself away sobbing like a child.” I felt my face redden with embarrassment, and I wiped away my tears hurriedly.

 

“Charlotte! Charlotte come down!” Sophia was awful at waiting, but being around her never failed to lift my spirits. I pushed past Mrs. Baker and went down the stairs to where Sophia was waiting. Sophia had been the first person to befriend me after my marriage to George. She was quick-witted, had a sparkling laugh and was the best pianoforte player I had ever met. She and I had played together many times for balls and social gatherings, and she was the only one who knew how to compliment my voice with her playing.

 

Sophia’s husband had gone away to France months ago, and I had consoled her through the worst of her tears, and I was grateful that she had come to see me. I fell into Sophia’s arms and a fresh bout of tears spilled over my cheeks and onto the soft fabric of her coat. “Charlotte, hush now.” Sophia hugged me tightly as I sniffled, “Come sit with me, I know this is hard, but this is what happens to soldier’s wives. We marry dashing, brave, stupid men who go to war. When this silly thing in France is all over with, they’ll be here annoying us day in and day out and stinking up our parlors with cigar smoke, drinking and playing cards and moaning on about the ‘great old days’ with their odious friends.” I giggled and started to relax. Sophia really did know just what to say.     

 

We went into the parlor and sat on the edge of the sofa, it was hard and uncomfortable, but it had been a wedding present from one of George’s rich uncles and his mother would know in an instant if I even thought about getting rid of it. Sophia reached out and swiped a tear from my cheek.

 

“You’re going to wear yourself out with all of that crying, now stop it at once. You can’t do anything about the war any more than I can, all we can do is pass the time until our men come home.” I nodded and twisted my handkerchief in my hands. I hated feeling out of control, but knowing that I wasn’t alone in my misery was somewhat comforting. “Now, what are you going to do with yourself while George is gone?” I looked up at her blankly, I hadn’t given it much thought. Mother and Father were too far away, and George’s family disliked me enough that I didn’t even want to think of what would happen if I went to stay with them. Sophia gave me a sly look and checked to see if Mrs. Baker was within earshot before speaking in a low voice.

 

“Why don’t you come with me? The Duke of Devonshire has opened his house to any women and children in the village who are alone while their men are away fighting.” I couldn’t help but stare at Sophia.

 

“The Duke? How could you dare stay at that house?” I knew the Duke’s reputation very well, he was a charmer and a charlatan and had been rumored to have sired several children with his servants. His friends were some of the worst kind of men, and they were also some of the most powerful and wealthy men in the country. Sophia shrugged coyly.

 

“I couldn’t refuse a personal invitation from His Grace, and neither should you. I expect you’ll be getting a letter from him soon enough.” Sophia giggled and leaned closer, “I even had a new dress made just in case he plans a ball or a masque.” I was shocked, and I knew that it showed on my face. “Don’t be so high and mighty, Charlotte, you might find that you’ll be happy to have his support. I know I am.”

 

I shook my head vehemently. “No, I’m determined to keep this house running smoothly until my George returns. I won’t take anyone’s charity, even from His Grace.” Sophia shrugged and stood up.

 

“Well, I shan’t keep you from your mourning, Charlotte. I hope you change your mind.” She headed towards the front door, and I heard the latch click as she left the house. I was still in shock. How could Sophia, a married woman, put herself and her reputation at risk by staying at the Duke’s house? It was unthinkable. I would never stoop so low. Never.

 

BOOK: Romance: Regency Romance: In Bed With The Duke (A Regency Romance)
13.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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