I have it on best authority from servants in the house of a relative of the bride-to-be that our illustrious Hound of the Cavalry, decorated as he is and a newly minted earl, weds a widow today! This is such a loss to our many younger ladies who had hoped for a chance to enchant him!
We understand however that he has made promises to his new wife that they shall be forever just friends. Friends?
Does he not deserve more?
The comfort of a loving wife? The joy of children? The certainty that his line will be continued?
We are astonished that the lady would agree. But then, we’ve also heard that she requested this celibacy herself? What could possibly be her reason? Did she love her first husband so much? Did she promise him abstention? If so, where is her duty and her loyalty to her new husband?
Where is her love for him?
THE LYON’S SHARE by Cerise DeLand
She’d spend every last penny to marry again for security, comfort—or even friendship.
He’d win her wager, possess her, keep her for himself—even if he’d never win her love.
Excerpt, All rights reserved. Copyright Cerise DeLand 2022.
(Their wedding day in London.)
Sydney’s good friend and now his new brother-in-law, Henry, Lord Norbridge, handed him a whisky. “Welcome to the fold. Marlowe women are a unique brood.”
Sidney emptied his glass. Nerves were not a condition in which he usually indulged. “I’m pleased to be among you.”
“Do not say that too loudly.” Henry considered the three men younger than he who stood to one side of the bishop by the piano. “Our other brothers-in-law will have a thing or two to add to buck you up for the challenge.”
“Come now, Henry. You don’t want to frighten me off. I’ve had enough trouble getting this done.”
Henry clinked glasses with him. “Good job, too. However, I understand from my best source that we are still denying how good this union can be.”
Sidney frowned even as his heart swelled with the sight of his bride who stood across the room talking with her four sisters. “Adriana appears happy and …” Blast it. “Resigned to the match.”
“I hope you have plans to hasten her along. She’s been at this mourning business much too long and I dare say, it grows tedious. She needs to buck up.”
“I do agree.” I’d have her forget about Paul and focus her every thought on me.
Across the room, his new wife threw back her head to laugh at some remark of one of her sisters. Sidney vowed one day he’d make her do that whilst talking to him. She was a glory when happy.
“Give yourself joy in this too, Sidney. You deserve it. Don’t let her cow you into a friendship with no…”
“Benefits? Yes.” He absorbed the delicate beauty of his bride. How tall she was, how elegant, her long fingers and lithe limbs. Her lovely firm breasts. Her troth was his. Her vows. Her honor. But he had yearned for decades for more. Without hope too had he pined. Like a schoolboy. Watching Paul take her hand, help her to mount her horse or a carriage, embracing her in jest or passion.
His gaze swept down her form, her plump breasts spanning a gown of citron green velvet. She shifted to speak with one of her nieces and one long leg pulled the fabric taut to accentuate her limb. He wanted to run his hands up her leg, her arms, each inch of her. And how long could he wait to have her like that?
Forever, man. You vowed.
He put down his glass on a footman’s tray. “I have plans to draw her to me. But I have promised myself and Dove-Lyon, if she never wishes it, I will not pressure her.”
“A damn lonely way to live your life, my friend. You are Middlethorpe now. You have responsibilities.”
“That I know.”
His gaze locked on Henry’s. “Never worry about that.”
“But I do. It is not natural what you promise. And I know how you truly regard my sister-in-law.”
He went to dust. “You will never say.”
“No, never. I would not break your trust. But damn it, Sidney, I like you as you are. I don’t want to see you turn bitter because you sold yourself into a bad bargain.”
“I fought one war, Henry. I can fight this one, too.”
“Can you?” His friend shook his head, weary. “It’s one thing to fight a foe with sabers and pistols. This opponent is yourself. Your very nature. Your every des—”
He clamped his hand on Henry’s shoulder. He’d had many women for a night, for the comfort and relief. One lovely French countess he’d kept in Paris last year for a month. “I will be well. I have girded myself with my own forbearance.”
“Which is strong, I do hope.”
Love. “The very stuff of life.” He smiled at his friend. “Forgive me now. I must take her away.” And begin my next campaign. The hardest one of all will be to become her best friend—and remain celibate.
The Lyon’s Share, the story
Adriana, Lady Benton, has many regrets—and one hope. To wed a good man to gain a life to which she is entitled. One free of sorrow, penury and ridicule. Appealing to Mrs. Dove-Lyon, Adriana hopes to attract one man who may appreciate her assets. But never need her love.
Colonel Sidney Wolf, once hailed as the ruthless ‘Hound of the Horse Guards’, vows to end Adriana’s hardships. He’s home from the wars and faces the daunting task of filling his father’s role as the Earl of Middlethorpe. Believing only Adriana will do as his helpmate, he strikes a deal with Dove-Lyon that brings him the one woman he admires. The one woman he tells himself he can live with—and never touch.
But the nearness of his funny, charming, beautiful bride drives him mad. Knowing she will never love other than her first husband, can he keep his hands—and his heart to himself?
And if he doesn’t, can she ever forgive him?
Cerise DeLand is the USA Today Bestselling author of romantic fiction starring sassy ladies and the charming men who adore them!
In KU on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3bc6ri3