A Lady’s Daring Affair (Preview)

Chapter One

Lydia didn’t want to stay out for too long. She wanted to get that hat she had been promised would be ordered for her and then she could go home. Luke was waiting for her and Lydia had promised to spend time with him this morning. She didn’t like letting her son down.

Why did she have to forget this order? Mrs Lewis had said it would be available that day and she would need to collect it herself. Lydia had contemplated asking one of the servants to fetch it, but decided against it. It was better that she went herself. After catching one of her maids stealing, Lydia was a little paranoid; she wanted to make sure a hat she had specially ordered actually returned home.

Her mind was in a mess, and maybe the fresh air would help her clear things out. Lydia kept her head down and her gaze averted from people she walked by as she hurried along the pavement. She didn’t want to talk to anyone right now; all she wanted to do was get home as soon as possible.

She shouldn’t have agreed to come back out into Society. Lydia wanted to stay at home or move to where her parents lived so she didn’t have to meet members of the ton again, but her parents told her that it was the best thing for her. It had been a year since Simon died, and Lydia couldn’t hide in the shadows all the time. She had to get back out into the public eye and carry on as her husband would have wanted.

Lydia didn’t want to move on. Not when she knew something was wrong. How could she move on when she knew things were left unfinished?

The hat shop was, thankfully, not far from her house. At least she didn’t have to walk far. Lydia reached the door and had to step back quickly as the door opened and almost hit her in the face.
“Oh, forgive me, my lady.”

Lydia started. She knew that voice. She looked up to see the tall, slim man coming out of the shop, his fair hair smoothed down on his head. He was sporting a trimmed beard from the last time Lydia had seen him, and he was wearing a regular light grey suit, but she recognized him. It had been almost a year, but she wasn’t likely to forget him.

“Constable Parrish.”

Constable Edward Parrish’s expression didn’t give anything away from a moment. But then realization cleared and Lydia knew he recognized her now. His pleasant smile faded away and he gave her a curt nod.

“Lady Blackmore.”

He started to walk away, but Lydia grabbed his arm.

“Constable Parrish, is there anything new? On my husband’s death?”

She watched as the constable stiffened, and his eyes closed with his jaw tightening. He hadn’t changed. He still thought she was irritating. Parrish turned back to her and fixed her with a blank stare.

“Lady Blackmore, we had the inquest last year. You know the outcome of that. Your husband’s death was ruled as an accident. There’s nothing new to be found about that.”

“I know that, but I also know that something’s wrong.” Lydia protested. “Something in my head says that something isn’t right about this.”

Parrish pursed his lips.

“I would say that there isn’t something right in your head, Lady Blackmore, and that’s about as respectful as I can be.”

Lydia bristled. Constable Parrish worked in High Wycombe, coming down to London on occasion. He had been the first on the scene once Lydia’s servants alerted the authorities. And he had taken one look at Simon’s body and said it was an accident. Lydia didn’t like the man, and she hadn’t liked how dismissive he had been.

The man didn’t care about the death of a man in Society. He just rolled his eyes and moved on. Lydia had tried pleading with him to ask the local Justice of the Peace to look further into Simon’s death, but Parrish outright refused. Last time, he had said that Lydia needed to see a doctor if she was seeing something that wasn’t there.

If he started that up again now, Lydia was not going to be ladylike. She glared at the man.
“That’s not how to speak to a lady and a widow, Constable Parrish.” Lydia said sharply. “No matter what your feelings are towards me, you shouldn’t speak to me like that.”

Parrish arched an eyebrow. He looked her up and down, and then he sighed and shrugged his arm out of Lydia’s grip.

“Forgive me, Lady Blackmore, that was unkind. But the fact of the matter is, everyone says it was an accident, and the coroner ruled it as such. Your husband died through no fault of anyone else.”

“But…” Lydia started, but Parrish held up a hand.

“Look, my lady, I understand that you loved your husband and you’re taking his loss badly. I would be the same if my wife died so abruptly. But you need to realize that when a man like Lord Blackmore ends up dead, it’s not always going to be something nefarious. We didn’t find anyone who wanted to kill him. In fact, pretty much everyone said he was a fair man who was the last person you would want to kill. He fell down the stairs and broke his neck. If I were you, I should be thankful that we didn’t come to a ruling of suicide.”

Lydia stared.

“Why would anyone commit suicide by falling down the stairs?” She demanded. “Even if my husband was suicidal, he would never have fallen down the stairs. He could have gone up and down the stairs with his eyes closed.”

“That declaration isn’t enough for any person in law to open up the case again.” Parrish sighed and shook his head. “I think you need to go home, Lady Blackmore. Focus on your son and yourself. That’s all you can do. And accept that your husband died and it was an accident. Good day, my lady.”

“But Constable…”

Lydia watched as Parrish walked away, swinging the hat box in one hand. The man was always so dismissive of people, especially women. There had been a point where he had even thought Lydia had pushed her husband down the stairs. Lydia was surprised that he didn’t say that at the inquest. She would never hurt her husband. She had loved him.

Parrish was incompetent. If he was a decent person, he would have agreed to take one last look at it, just to humour her. If he could do that, then maybe Lydia could accept that whatever was nagging at her would have to be put aside and she needed to focus on her future as a widow. But Parrish wouldn’t even do that, dismissing her yet again.

Her title and wealth meant nothing if her sex was all people saw when she was addressing them. She was a woman, and therefore always hysterical. Lydia had never been hysterical, even when she found her husband dead. Whenever someone called her that, it made her angry. People assumed something of her, and Lydia hated it.

Nobody believed her. That was the worst part of coming back into Society after mourning. Everyone believed that Simon’s death was an accident. A year had gone by – fourteen months, to be exact – so the death was old news now. But to Lydia, it was still fresh, almost like it was a few days since she found Simon sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, his eyes still open and glassy with blood coming from his mouth. He had died in her arms, and Lydia didn’t think she could recover from that.

This might have been easier if Simon had been murdered. Then people would actually take her more seriously. Lydia hated the fact that there was niggling doubt in her gut and nobody would listen to her. They just dismissed her as a grieving widow who needed to focus on grieving and not on something that couldn’t be changed. People thought she was looking for something that wasn’t there.

That wasn’t fair. Lydia deserved better. Luke deserved better. It broke her heart that her son kept coming to her, even now, asking when Father was coming home. Luke was only four, and Lydia had broken it to him that his father was now resting peacefully and wouldn’t be coming home, but Luke kept coming to her and asking if Father had stopped resting peacefully and would he be home soon.

They were both suffering still, and Lydia wanted to stop crying herself to sleep knowing that no one, not even her parents, believed that Simon had been killed. She was sure of it. There was something not right about the position his body was in, or the scream beforehand. Lydia had played it over and over in her head many times, and it just didn’t make sense.

Simon had been murdered, Lydia was sure of it.

“Madam?”

Lydia jumped. A tall, buxom woman in pale green was standing next to her, giving her a pointed look. It was then Lydia realized she was still standing in the middle of the doorway, holding onto the door, and blocking the woman from coming out. Her face getting warm, Lydia stepped aside and bowed her head.

“Forgive me.”

The woman sniffed and left the shop, effectively dismissing her. It was then Lydia realized that she had been holding the door open the whole time she and Parrish spoke, and everyone inside the shop had heard them. Lydia wanted the ground to open up and swallow her.

People heard Parrish effectively call her hysterical and silly.

Lydia didn’t think she could go inside and get her hat anymore. Not after what people had just heard. It was bad enough people were looking at her and whispering because Lydia was holding onto something they believed she shouldn’t without people hearing others call Lydia ridiculous.
Stepping away from the door, Lydia turned and walked away, keeping her head down. There were days when she wished she hadn’t been persuaded to go back into Society.

Christopher Gulliver, Earl of Kimbolton couldn’t take his eyes away from the statuesque beauty in the doorway of the hat shop. It was something he couldn’t stop. The woman immediately drew the eye. She was tall, taller than most women in Society. Her dark hair was done up in a chignon at the base of her neck, making Kimbolton’s gaze move to her swan-like neck. From the cut of her pale yellow dress and the cloth, she had money, and a lot of it. She looked pale, and it had nothing to do with any touches of makeup.

And she was in pain. Kimbolton could see it in her face and the desperation in her voice when she spoke to the man who left the shop. Kimbolton wasn’t close enough to hear what had been said, but the tone was enough. There was something going on between the two of them, and the gentleman didn’t look very happy about it. That man walked away, and the woman’s expression flickered. Kimbolton thought she was about to cry. Instead, once she allowed a buxom woman who had been huffing and talking very loudly for the past half-hour into the street and walked away. If she was coming into the shop, it was as if the woman had decided that whatever she came for wasn’t worth it.

Kimbolton was now curious. He hadn’t expected a boring expedition to the hat shop to turn into something interesting. Or that the interest would be focused on a beautiful, albeit distressed, woman.

“Bolton.”

Kimbolton jumped when he was sharply nudged. He turned and saw Sir Evan Locke glaring at him. It was then Kimbolton remembered why he was here; moral support for his closest friend who had to buy a hat for his wife. He wasn’t here to stare at women.

“Forgive me, Locke.” He cleared his throat and glanced at the hat box in the other man’s hand. “I was elsewhere.”

“I noticed.” Locke grunted. He nodded a farewell to the shop proprietor, Mrs Lewis, and then headed towards the door. “I’m surprised anyone could concentrate with that racket outside.”
“I would hardly call it a racket.” Kimbolton said as he hurried after his friend, heading out into the street. “That sounded like a woman wanting answers.”

Locke snorted.

“Women always want answers to something, even if the explanation has been given. They’re prone to outlandish decisions.”

Kimbolton had to object to that. Women were more level-headed than Locke declared. Then again, Locke wasn’t exactly the best person to talk about women. He didn’t believe in love. He said there was no place for love in his life. Even his marriage wasn’t built on love. Both Locke and his wife Evangeline were wealthy and they had made a beneficial marriage. Kimbolton had no doubt that Lady Evangeline didn’t care for Locke, either, but they had gone into this marriage with their eyes wide open.

He didn’t think he could do that, even though marrying a wealthy woman would certainly help his situation. Being a penniless Earl was harder than people believe. Kimbolton wasn’t considered a prospect anymore. For the most part, he didn’t mind – he didn’t want to be seen because of his money – but it would be nice to have money so there was that option of having a good marriage.

They headed down the street, and Kimbolton noticed the woman in yellow further up the street. She was walking with a long, purposeful stride with her head bent. She didn’t look at anyone as she weaved in and out of people. It was like she was ashamed. Kimbolton had seen women’s emotions go from one to another very quickly, and it looked like this woman was stuck in what could only be described as a whirlwind.

What had happened to make her like that?

“Who was that who made the scene earlier?” He asked as he and Locke began to cross the street.
“That was Lady Lydia Blackmore. She was probably asking for any fresh news on her husband’s death.” Locke shook his head. “That’s all she asks for nowadays.”

“She lost her husband?”

“A little over a year ago. Lord Blackmore was a wealthy financier and landowner. He fell down the stairs in their country estate and broke his neck. His wife’s been going around since she came back into Society declaring that her husband died in suspicious circumstances.”

Now that was interesting. Kimbolton had only recently come into London, so he hadn’t heard any of the rumours. He had heard of the death at the time due to his cousin, who lived nearby, talking about it when that side of his family came to visit. At the time, he had dismissed it as an unfortunate accident. It was very easy to fall down the stairs. So to hear that the widow was sure that something else happened was piquing his interest.

Kimbolton looked around to watch Lady Blackmore, but she had gone, a flash of yellow disappearing around the corner. He and Locke were walking the other way, and Kimbolton had to stop himself from staring after her without bumping into the railings surrounding the park.

“Do you think he did?”

“What?”

“Do you think Lord Blackmore died in suspicious circumstances?”

Locke arched an eyebrow.

“Why? It’s nothing, Bolton. Just a widow getting hysterical.”

“And I’m sure you know all about women getting hysterical.” Bolton said blithely.

“Well, I know for a fact that my wife isn’t hysterical. Which is what makes our marriage bearable.” Locke shook his head. “Look, grieving widows behave in strange ways, and Lady Blackmore is no different. Even after a year, she’s still adamant that her husband was murdered. Nobody believes her, the inquest was an accidental death ruling. I’m surprised she’s even in Society right now with her declarations.”

“It had been a year, Locke. It’s normal for widows to come back after a year of mourning.”

“She’s been back three weeks and all she talks about is her husband’s death. That’s not helping her cause at all.”

“What cause?”

Locke stopped on the pavement to put the hat box on the ground and flex his fingers and adjust his gloves.

“You know what the norms are for widows and widowers coming back into Society after mourning. That they’re not against getting married again. I know that Lady Blackmore has had a lot of attention because of the fortune her husband left her, and I will admit that she’s a beautiful woman, but she won’t stop talking about Lord Blackmore. Either that or she takes her son along with her.”

“I’m sure it’s not as bad as you say.”

Locke frowned.

“Whichever way you look at it, her behaviour is ridiculous.” He bent down and picked up the hat box, swinging it by the string. “She needs to accept that her husband is dead and that getting married again should be beneficial to her.”

“If she’s as wealthy as you say she is, maybe she doesn’t need a husband.” Kimbolton fell into step again beside his friend. “Especially when the husband is more focused on her money and not her.”

“Aren’t we all these days?”

Kimbolton grinned.

“Except you and your wife, of course. No one could accuse you of marrying Evangeline for money.”

Locke didn’t immediately respond. He was still swinging the hat box around by the string it was tied with. Kimbolton wouldn’t be surprised if the hat inside was a little ruffled from its treatment. Hopefully, Lady Evangeline wouldn’t be too upset. She didn’t seem to mind too much what her husband did as long as he didn’t bother her with her charitable activities.

“Maybe you should find yourself a wealthy woman, Bolton.” Locke said as they crossed the road. “That might help you out a little bit. And it would stop you asking me for money. I don’t mind helping you out, but Evangeline’s going to notice if this carries on.”

“I’ll pay you back, Evan. I promise.”

“But when, Christopher?”

“Soon.” Kimbolton glanced over his shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of yellow dress again. “I’ll pay you back soon.”

Chapter Two

Lydia took a sip of her drink and tried to push away the ease of discomfort as she stood at the edge of the room, looking at the group of people who had gathered for dinner. She wished she could go home – eating alone was preferable than being in a room full of people – but her friend, Lady Follett had begged for her to come so they could see each other, and Lydia couldn’t deny Peggy.

Being out in Society had been tough enough the first time. Lydia had felt like she was being eyed up and down like an animal on sale as people passed by. Just like the first time she entered Society. Simon was so much better at this than she was. He looked like he was at home in a crowded room, when the reality was he preferred to be at home with his family.

The two of them had been more alike than Lydia realized when they first met. Her parents had decided towards the end of Lydia’s first Season, after many disastrous suits, that they were going to sort out a marriage. And they had chosen Simon, who was of a similar social station but ten years her senior. Lydia had initially fought it, not wanting to be married off without any say in it. But it had been done, and they had married within a month of the agreement.

The marriage had been for beneficial means, but Lydia and Simon grew to become accustomed to each other. Simon had looked after Lydia and treated her well, and Lydia had come to love him. She knew her husband greatly cared for her as well, and he was loyal, especially when Luke came along. Lydia had loved seeing Simon with his son, seeing how much he adored the little boy. The marriage might not have been what they wanted, but they managed to live together like a family.
Lydia wished they had started out differently and come to marriage on their own, but she was glad to have had a caring husband. Some women weren’t so lucky.

Not having him around made Lydia feel lost. She felt cold. Even surrounded by people who loved her, Lydia struggled. It was having Simon close by, soothing her as Lydia felt the pressure of trying to keep up her appearance of being the perfect host or guest, that made these gatherings bearable. Now he wasn’t here, and Lydia felt it badly.

She wanted Simon back. Just to give her a look or touch her elbow, and Lydia would feel better. Right now, it was taking a lot not to turn around and run out of the door.

“Lydia?”

Lydia jumped and spun around, almost spilling her drink. Peggy Follett was standing behind her, looking at her with raised eyebrows. Lydia swallowed and straightened up, fixing a smile on her friend.

“Peggy. Forgive me, I wasn’t paying attention.”

“I noticed. You were staring into the distance there.” Peggy tilted her head to one side. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.”

Her friend looked like she didn’t believe her, pursing her ruby-red lips. Lydia glanced up at Peggy’s red hair, piled high up on her head. It was a wonder Peggy didn’t keel over. Her hair looked very heavy. Thankfully, Peggy didn’t push her to say anything further. Instead, she turned to the raven-haired man standing beside her.

“This is Christopher Gulliver, Earl of Kimbolton. This is my friend, Lady Lydia Blackmore.”

Lydia turned her gaze to the Earl, and found herself staring into the most brilliant blue eyes she had ever encountered. Whoa, Simon’s eyes had been blue, but more faded. They weren’t as stunning as this. Lydia blinked and pushed that aside. Stop thinking about Simon and be polite. She fixed a smile on her face and dropped a quick curtsy.

“Lord Kimbolton.”

“Lady Blackmore.” Kimbolton bowed, giving her a warm smile, his eyes never leaving hers. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“I’m sure it is.” Lydia murmured.

She was aware of Peggy easing back to join her husband nearby, and wished her friend would come back. Lydia didn’t want to talk to anyone, especially not on her own. But Peggy had been urging her to talk to someone, anyone, that wasn’t her. If she didn’t know better, Lydia would have thought Peggy was trying to matchmake. That was irritating; Lydia didn’t want to be matched with anyone, no matter what anyone thought was best for her.

Although, if she had to be matched with someone, the Earl of Kimbolton would be a good choice. He had to be just over the age of thirty, he was tall – Lydia liked a tall man – with his curly black hair cut short. He was clean-shaven with a square jaw and a nice smile. Very nice smile. The Earl was very nice to look at. A good-looking man.

It was a shame that he was penniless. Lydia might have been out of Society for a year, but she was aware of things that had happened due to lots of gossip. Kimbolton had nothing after his father had gambled it all away. He had a title and he had land, but there was no money to go with it. His clothes were nice enough and fit him well, but they were clearly not of the current fashion. From the way he carried him, Kimbolton didn’t seem to care, or he hadn’t noticed.

Lydia would have been polite and excused herself. But those eyes made her stay. Those eyes drew her in. Lydia tried to stop herself from staring; she shouldn’t be. That was just impolite.

“Kimbolton.” Lydia swallowed. “Isn’t that up in Cambridgeshire?”

“Just so. It’s not far off the main road going north.” Kimbolton tilted his head. “You know of Cambridgeshire?”

“A little bit. I have friends who live there.” Lydia frowned. “Isn’t Kimbolton where Queen Katherine of Aragon passed away? I seem to remember something that she used to live in Kimbolton Castle.”

“That’s right. I see the castle itself from my window.” Kimbolton sipped his drink. “They say she still haunts the staircase to the room where she died.”

“I’ve heard about that.”

This was ridiculous. Of all the things she could discuss with a man she had just met, their first conversation had to be about ghosts? She really needed to get better at talking to people.

“Do you believe in ghosts, Lord Kimbolton?”

Kimbolton pursed his lips in thought.

“Depends on the ghost, I suppose. There are some people who scare me enough that I believe they’ll come back and haunt us in death. Then again, I suppose ghosts will be restless regardless of what they leave behind.”

“I’m sure.” Lydia murmured. “We’re all haunted by something, aren’t we?”

“That we are.”

Why was he looking at her like that? Kimbolton was watching her with a keen interest. Did he really understand what she was saying, or was he just trying to humour her? Lydia wasn’t sure, but it was making her heart skip a few beats. Her mouth felt dry, and she took a hefty sip of her drink. What happened there? No one, not even Simon, made her heart miss a beat or two.

Something wasn’t right, and it was leaving Lydia feeling like she was eighteen again entering Society for the first time. She had made a mess of things then, and now it felt like those days were coming back to haunt her.

“Lady Blackmore?” Kimbolton frowned. “Are you well? You went pale just then.”

“What? Oh.” Lydia pushed her thoughts aside. “I’m fine. Just fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” Lydia gestured at the door. “In fact, I need to…well, I’m sure you understand. If you’ll excuse me?”

“Of course.” Kimbolton bowed. “Don’t take too long. I’m looking forward to another conversation about ghosts.”

Lydia knew that she was blushing fiercely as she left the room, passing her glass to one of the footmen at the door. She needed to find the powder room and splash cold water on her face. Dinner was going to be long if she was going to be in Kimbolton’s presence, especially if he was going to stare at her with those eyes. They were unnerving.

The Earl was an enigmatic man, that much Lydia was sure of. And she wasn’t sure what to make of it.

Lydia Blackmore was even more beautiful up close. Kimbolton had to stop himself from staring. Especially when he saw her eyes. He had seen people with green eyes before, but these were practically sparkling emeralds. Kimbolton didn’t think he could have looked aware. How he kept himself calm when he was looking into those eyes, he had no idea.

Lady Blackmore’s conversation starter was certainly an eyebrow raiser. Ghosts. Not something he would have expected to talk about the moment he met the wealthy widow. But Kimbolton would go along with it. Anything to get Lady Blackmore to relax around him and know that he was actually there to help.

When he had explained his plan to Locke earlier in the day, his friend had looked at him like he was mad. He had said as much, telling Kimbolton that it wouldn’t actually work. He would end up being sent away with a flea in his ear. Kimbolton was sure it would work. He needed money to sort out the rest of his father’s debts, and Lady Blackmore wanted to know the truth about her husband. They could help each other out.

But that would only happen if Kimbolton could put the widow’s mind at rest. If he could help Lady Blackmore figure out what was wrong surrounding her husband’s death, enough for her to move on, then maybe he could have her become his wife. Even with her wealth, she wasn’t stupid; she would need a husband. It would be very beneficial to both of them.

The only issue would be making Lady Blackmore fall in love with him. From what he had garnered from other people when he asked around, she was adamant that if she married again, it would be for love. It would be difficult, but Kimbolton liked a challenge. She was his chance to get back to where his title was supposed to be, and he was going to take that opportunity.

Hopefully, Lady Blackmore wouldn’t figure it out. She was a shrewd woman, from what her friend Margaret Follett said, so Kimbolton knew he would have to tread carefully. Even with her surprising conversation starter, she was able to pick up on things people couldn’t. Kimbolton didn’t want to ruin it by pushing too much on his agenda. Her situation had to be the main focus, and then he could pursue her later. If he was lucky, Lady Blackmore would be agreeable to that.
At least she was beautiful. That would make being in her presence much easier.

When they sat down to dinner, Kimbolton realized that he and Lady Blackmore would be sitting next to each other. From the look on Lady Follett’s face, she had purposefully done it. Kimbolton was aware that Lady Blackmore’s friend was trying to get her interested in another man, but her friend was being stubborn about it. That could work well in his favour if Lady Follett thought he would be a good fit for Lady Blackmore.

He just had to get the woman in question to believe it as well.

The soup was being served as Lady Blackmore entered the dining room. She stopped short when she realized that she would be sitting next to Kimbolton, and from her expression he thought she was going to run back out. But Lady Blackmore lifted her head and squared her shoulders before being seated. She didn’t look at Kimbolton, picking up her spoon and beginning to eat.

It wasn’t easy to maintain a conversation with her initially, seeing as Lady Blackmore seemed determined to focus on her meal, but Kimbolton slowly persisted, initially going back to their conversation about ghosts. Eventually, Lady Blackmore began to open up and talk to him. She had a sweet, lilting voice that Kimbolton found himself wanting to listen to more. There was a nervousness about her that was endearing, but she kept her head up and didn’t look away from him when she spoke.

She was still grieving for her husband, that much was clear, but she was more collected than people believed. Kimbolton had to admire that about her. She was a sweet woman.

It did make him feel a little uncomfortable about using her grief for his own gain, but Kimbolton put it aside. He needed this money, and he couldn’t live as he was for much longer. Being married to a wealthy widow would help him out enormously. The fact she had the looks as well made things more bearable.

If only his pulse wouldn’t skitter whenever their hands accidentally touched, and he wished his mouth didn’t feel so dry when he looked at her. Kimbolton could feel a tightness in his trousers, and he had to try not to squirm in his chair. Now was not the time. He had something to focus on, and it wasn’t where his mind was drifting to.

Once dinner was finished, the ladies got up first and left the room. Kimbolton hovered behind with the men, but he kept looking towards the door. He found himself going over and over in his head what he could say to make his excuses and go find Lady Blackmore without sounding too obvious. This was meant to be subtle, but Kimbolton wasn’t quite good with subtle. He was having to learn as he went along.

Hopefully, he would be able to get into Lady Blackmore’s confidence a little more. If he was lucky, she might be agreeable to see him again. Kimbolton was silently praying that he was able to do that.

About fifteen minutes after the ladies had left the dining room and the men were refilling their brandy glasses, Kimbolton saw a flash of something pass the door. Then Lady Blackmore appeared in the doorway, turned away from him, as one of the footmen helped drape her cloak over her shoulders.

She was already leaving?

Trying not to run out of the room, Kimbolton stepped out into the foyer. Lady Blackmore thanked the footmen and headed towards the door.

“Are you leaving so soon, Lady Blackmore?”

She gasped and spun around, her eyes widening when she saw him. Then she licked her lips, which had the tightening low in Kimbolton’s belly squeeze even more.

“I…” Lady Blackmore swallowed. “I have to get back to my son.”

“Surely his governess is looking after him.”

“I don’t like being away from him for too long.” She bit her lip. “He’s only small once, and I want to make the most of that.”

Kimbolton tried to concentrate, but it wasn’t easy when he wanted to stare at her mouth. That wasn’t helping, even though it was a lovely-looking mouth. He wondered what it would taste like if he…

Stop it!

“I…” Kimbolton crossed the foyer, noting that while Lady Blackmore tugged her cloak closer around her, she didn’t back away. “I take it I can’t entice you with an invitation to meet again at some point in the future?”

“You want to see me?”

She looked rather bewildered at that, as if that thought had never occurred to her.

“I’d like to. You’re a fascinating woman, Lady Blackmore. I want to know more about you, if you’ll permit me.”

He was standing before her now, just out of reach, and Kimbolton was itching to touch her. He wanted to see if her skin was as soft as it looked. Lady Blackmore still looked bewildered, her eyes flickering with something. Did that mean she was considering it? Then a coolness passed over her and the widow squared her shoulders.

“It’s very kind of you to say that you want to know more, Lord Kimbolton, but I’m afraid that I must decline. I’ve got a lot of things on my mind and it would be unfair for you to not have my full attention.”

That was the gentlest way he had even been turned down. Kimbolton would normally accept this and walk away. Not this time.

“Your husband’s still taking up your thoughts, isn’t he?”

Lady Blackmore’s eyes flashed.

“That is none of your concern.” She snapped.

“I understand why, though. I know the circumstances, and I admit it is a little odd. That is one curious state.”

Her jaw tightened. She did look even more beautiful when she was annoyed.

“Why should I discuss my husband’s death with you?”

Kimbolton spread his hands.

“Let’s just say I’ve been good at sorting out a few little problems of my own with my father. His death…it left a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but I got there.”

That was true enough. There had been a lot of questions that needed answering once his father passed away. Kimbolton had struggled finding out more and more secrets about the man who had been in his life. It had been a painful process, but it had been sorted out in the end.

Kimbolton had learned a few things as well.

Hopefully, Lady Blackmore might think this would be useful to her. As it was, she was giving him a very suspicious look.

“And your point is, Lord Kimbolton?”

“Maybe a fresh set of eyes on your predicament might help.”

Her eyes widened, her mouth dropping open. Then she closed her mouth and narrowed her eyes.
“And why would you do that? We only met this evening. I don’t even know you.”

“I said I wanted to spend time with you. What better opportunity?” Kimbolton gave her a slight bow. “I’ll let you leave, Lady Blackmore. Good evening.”

There wasn’t much else he could do right now. Kimbolton wasn’t about to push too much. But if he could give her that glimmer that someone might believe her, that someone would help her with her husband’s death, then maybe she would reach out to him. It wouldn’t be that difficult to find him, and the moment Lady Blackmore said she needed him, Kimbolton would be there.

He just had to wait now. The choice was Lady Blackmore’s now. Kimbolton had to follow her lead, even if it was the slowest dance he had been involved in.

And Kimbolton didn’t like the waiting.


“A Lady’s Daring Affair” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

The enthralling Lydia Blackmore has been suspecting that something is not quite right with her husband’s death for a long time. Something dreadful lied, indeed, beneath his terrible accidental death even though no one was willing to believe her… When a handsome Earl suddenly appears in her life and offers his services, so they can solve this scandalous mystery together, Lydia gives into the temptation, and accepts the stranger’s offer. Will this seductive man, that has been warming his way into her heart, help ease her conscience and move on? Or will she find herself more tangled than ever in a dangerous, but very tantalising, secret affair?

The fiery Christopher Gulliver has unexpectedly inherited a great debt from his father. Unfortunately, his duty to settle it has ultimately left him with nothing… With a sister to assist and an estate to take care of, Christopher is struggling to provide for his family. When fate throws the captivating Lydia into his path, he sees an irresistible opportunity, and so, he plots to gain her affection in the hopes of accomplishing a marriage. However the more he gets closer to her, the more hooked and enraptured he becomes to her magnetic charms. Will he manage to keep himself from falling as well, or will he venture into a far more treacherous situation than he was expecting?

The endeavor of Lydia and Christopher to reveal the truth of Lydia’s husband’s death, begins based on guilty secrets. As Christopher executes his wicked plan and manages to keep his motives hidden, their untamed feelings grow more and more every day… Can Lydia really trust Christopher after all or will she fall victim of a powerful man once again? Will their love endure all this vicious betrayal or will this enticing romance draw them both into a life threatening enigma?

“A Lady’s Daring Affair” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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5 thoughts on “A Lady’s Daring Affair (Preview)”

  1. This is such an interesting story. I feel for Lydia where everyone likes to assume she’s a hysterical woman and not to take her seriously. I want to just stop the police officer and ask him to help her and not just brush her concerns off! It’s a miracle women were able to find life bearable in this society at all.

    Enter Christopher with the stunning blue eyes and the warm and compassionate nature. I know his motives are ulterior but he definitely shows promise!! Can’t wait to read the rest Emily; really nice start to a promising story. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Charmaine. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

  2. Lady lydia is portrayed as the weak little woman whose ideas are either hysteria or unwarranted female tripe. Enter the engaging gentleman who wants to find answers however for his own sake. Will she show him feminine strength or given in to allowing him to run her life.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Anita. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

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