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Authors: Rebecca Connolly

Secrets of a Spinster

BOOK: Secrets of a Spinster
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S
ecrets

of a

S
pinster

 

by

R
ebecca
C
onnolly

Also by

R
ebecca
C
onnolly

 

A
n
A
rrangement of
S
orts

M
arried to the
M
arquess

 

C
oming
S
oon

T
he
D
angers of
D
oing
G
ood

 

Also
from

P
hase
P
ublishing

 

by

E
mily
D
aniels

D
evlin's
D
aughter

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped” book.

 

Text copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Connolly

Cover art copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Connolly

Cover art by Tugboat Design

http://www.tugboatdesign.net

 

All rights reserved. Published by Phase Publishing, LLC. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.
 

Phase Publishing, LLC first paperback edition

June 2016

 

ISBN 
978-1-943048-08-3

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016940389  

Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file.

A
cknowledgements

 

To my beautiful, talented, and incredibly brave Aunt Laurie, who has always supported and loved me, understood me on a very special level, and inspires me on a daily basis. For your courage and your faith, for your ability to find joy even in the darkest times, and for the light and laughter you bring to the family. I am honored and beyond blessed to know you, and to have you in my life forever.

 
And to Cadbury’s Royal Dark Mini Eggs, as a massive apology for my ignorance to the existence of such a radiant gift. You are addictive, guilt-inducing, and divine. And I adore you without shame.

 
Thanks and cheers to Chris Bailey and Phase Publishing for all of the craziness they patiently endure in working with me and keeping things running smoothly. Deborah Bradseth with Tugboat Design for an exquisite cover that makes everything perfect.

 
Whitney Hinckley for enduring the stress that is editing of my stuff and still liking me in spite of it. The A-Team for indulging in my whimsy and obsessive behaviors and plying me with Snickers when I get hangry.

 
Thanks to the family for all your support and excitement. You’re my favorite.

 
And finally, thanks and chocolate kisses to my Musketeers. You know I’d be lost without you, and all of the cheesecake in the world couldn’t make up for it. Well, maybe some cheesecake. Let’s be real.

I
ndex

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty One

Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Three

Chapter Twenty Four

Epilogue

C
hapter
O
ne

L
ondon, 1819

T
here was something to be said for being a spinster.

It allowed one to escape from tiresome wretches and fawning fools, as nobody universally declared a spinster was of the smallest bit of interest to anybody. One could listen to all manner of conversations without anyone thinking anything of it at all, which made for delightful gossip, should anyone have cared to ask.

Party invitations were few and far between, which was usually quite a relief as very few parties were actually worth attending. Balls were opportunities to secretly snicker at those who couldn’t dance, and to observe the attempts of nearly every person from sixteen to forty-five to gain the affections of a member of the opposite sex. Nobody called, nobody wrote, and one could move about quite freely without the merest sniff of a scandal. It was quite liberating.

Unless, of course, one had the desire for attention or parties or dancing or visitors.

Then it could be quite lonely.

But those moments were exceptionally rare for Mary Hamilton. She rather enjoyed the quiet and being left to her own devices. And really, she was so well thought of that she received a good many more invitations than your average spinster, though not enough for her to consider herself popular.

Take this evening for example. Here she stood, aimlessly lingering along the western wall of the very fine ballroom in the home of Lord and Lady Carteret, whom she had only met possibly once in her entire life.  She had very nearly declined their invitation, but her sister had been driving her so completely mad the whole of the winter that an early spring soiree was a welcome distraction, and she accepted, against her better judgment.

The melee of the dance was a welcome reprieve from the plaintive whining of home.

Mary sighed a little to herself as she took her thoughts away from her sister and attempted to appear interested in what was going on around her. She would have to give a full report when she returned, and experience had taught her that the particulars were important. She began cataloguing various details; Lord Frampton’s ill-fitting waistcoat, Miss Dawes’ shocking neckline, Mr. Peter Tolley’s inebriation, Lord Devereaux’s evading of debutantes, Lady Greversham’s unnecessary walking stick intentionally interfering with the servants’ duties… All in all, it seemed a very typical London party.

And yet, for the strangest reason, Mary found herself wishing she might dance this time. It was completely inexplicable, as she was really not very good at it, but it had been a very long time.

Alas, she was a spinster, she reminded herself, and quite profoundly so. Dancing could not be anticipated.

“No one to dance with you, Miss Hamilton?” came a low voice near her.

She turned with a quick smile to the cheerful and dreadfully handsome Earl of Beverton. “Not today, my lord,” she replied with a curtsey. “But I have learned not to expect it.”

His smile turned a trifle sad. “Well, the day is not over yet, and my wife is not dancing in her condition, so perhaps you would favor me with this one?”

She quirked a brow up at him. “Do you pity me, my lord?”

He immediately shook his head, dark eyes twinkling. “Never, my dear Miss Hamilton. I simply cannot tolerate fools and simpletons. As you are neither, a dance with you would be rather enjoyable, I think. So will you?”

“Only if you don’t mind trodden toes,” she said with a hint of apology.

“I don’t.”

She smiled and placed her hand in his open one. “Then I shall, with pleasure.”

He nodded and led her out to the floor, where other couples were beginning to take their place. The music struck up and as Mary began the movements, she could not resist the urge to smile. She had not expected the earl to ask her to dance, but she was not surprised. The earl and his wife had somehow become friends of hers after they’d met last summer, and now she was always being looked after.

“I am surprised to see you here tonight, my lord,” Mary commented when she was near him again. “Weren’t you in the country this winter?”

“For most of it, yes. But when the weather cleared, Moira desired a bit more, shall we say, entertainment. She is anxious to do as much as she can before her time comes.” He looked rather exasperated about it, even if he was smiling still.

Mary laughed and spun with the other ladies. “Is that why you’ve come tonight? To entertain your wife?”

“Partly. But I also had no idea who Lord and Lady Carteret were, and I couldn’t exactly refuse an invitation if I didn’t know whether or not I should.”

Mary nodded. “Very wise, my lord.” They shared a brief grin.

 “I thought Geoff would be here this evening,” the earl remarked as the dance took him around her.

She shrugged as she placed her hands in his for the next movement. “I assume he’s not in London yet. He often gets distracted on his way in.”

The earl laughed once. “That does tend to happen when Duncan is around. But then, we all know how Geoff hates London. I really have no idea why he still comes.”

“Nor do I, but if he didn’t, I would have no visitors at all, so it suits me just as well.”

He gave her a teasing look. “Now, Miss Hamilton, are you fishing for company?”

“Not at all, my lord,” she replied with a smile. “My sister and I are quite cozy in our house. It’s a pleasure to be able to hear oneself think.”

That seemed to surprise him. “I think the silence would be a bit deafening.”

“I don’t mind.” And she didn’t. Not really.

Well, not all the time.

The earl hummed a little. “Well, perhaps I will let Moira come around, just to entertain you.”

Mary looked up at him with concern. “Should she do that? Isn’t she very near her time?”

He snorted softly. “Yes, but she won’t rest any more than she thinks she needs. It’s driving me mad. At least if she is with you, I’ll know she’s not doing anything reckless.”

BOOK: Secrets of a Spinster
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