Another excerpt for my lovely readers! If you want to catch up on other parts of The Duke’s Dilemma please check out my other excerpts. This one is a bit saucy, so I’ve placed it below the break. Nothing too scandalous, that’ll come later, but a little something to whet the palate.
As lovely as it had been to imagine the taste and feel of Miss Grace Claridon, Alexander knew it had to stop. He knew that she was a respectable woman who deserved to be thought of honorably.
He moved towards her, his long steps eating up the distance that had existed between them. Taking her hands in his, he looked her in the eyes and said “I have overstepped the bounds of our agreement and I apologize for my transgression. Could you find it in your heart to forgive me, Miss Claridon?”
Shocked, Grace stammered before granting him forgiveness. “I suppose I can forgive you, Your Grace. As long as you ensure that this will not happen again.” With the duke in close proximity to her, Grace was treated to the woodsy scent, tinged with undertones of sandalwood, that enveloped him. She also spied the smattering of dark hair visible where his shirt was unbuttoned. His hands were large and callused in hers. His nails were neat and clean but his palms told a story of work done for love of land and not for profit. “Yes,” Grace said once more, “I forgive you.”
“Thank you, Miss Claridon.” He slowly raised her hands, giving her every opportunity to pull away, before brushing lips over first one hand and then the other.
Her breath caught as she watched his mouth pass over her hands and in the silence that followed, she could hear her heart pounding in her ears. Regaining her senses, she pulled her hands out of his and raced back to the house without another word.
Alex was left standing alone in the stables, stunned.
“Any care for her appearance?” Grant asked off hand. “It might not be amiss to want someone pleasing to the eye joining you here at Woodmere.” At Alex’s baffled expression, Grant elaborated. “Perhaps you might require extra responsibilities pertaining to yourself.”“Are you implying she warm my bed?”
“Why are you scandalized? It’s a common practice amongst those of your ilk to tup the help.”
“Kit, the governess’ sole focus will be Eliza.” Alex adopted Grant’s nickname in an attempt to mend the conversation. “No matter what ‘those of my ilk’ might do, I should hope by now you know I am not like them.”
“You live like a monk, Alex. Don’t you want something more? Wouldn’t a wife serve much of the same purpose that a governess does at this point?” Grant was not wrong. Isolated at Woodmere, Alex did not interact much with the fairer sex. The estate was run with a reduced staff as the duke had no interest in a social presence. Since the death of his wife in childbirth, Alex had been focused solely on the maintenance of his holdings and the rearing of his child.
“A monk I may be and a monk’s habits I will sustain. You know I have no time to find a wife. And my last experience with wedded bliss was not so wonderful that I’m anxious to head to the church again.”
His Grace, the Duke of Everett
I write to inform you that a most appropriate candidate has been discovered for the position we discussed this month past. As requested previously, I have been stationed at Everett House in Thetford overseeing the construction. This past Tuesday, we received a visitor seeking employment. The butler was a personal acquaintance of the visitor and asked me personally to meet with the young lady in question. Curious, I did so.
At twenty-four she is neither too old nor too young. Her spirit is youthful and energy high. She is pleasing to the eye, though I know that concerns you not. Her father was a squire in the area and was generous and charitable until the day he died. She is well regarded in town and according to gossip, escaping a broken engagement. According to Timmons, who as I mentioned knows her well, the fiancé in question was caught with this good lady’s cousin only a month or so before the wedding.
Having met this woman, I am certain that she meets your qualifications. I encourage you to extend an offer of an interview with Lady Eliza posthaste.
I await your reply.
Ever your servant,