A Lady’s Everlasting Desire (Preview)

Chapter One

1809 Oxfordshire countryside, England
The two lifelong friends raced their horses in the bright sunshine of the day. Christopher didn’t consider himself a gentleman when it came to racing, so he would not allow Lucy to win. Besides, he didn’t like to be beaten by a girl; he’d never live it down

“You must have cheated!” she called out as her dappled, grey filly came to a stop next to his larger, dark brown gelding.

“How could I cheat?” he yelled back at her, panting from the exertion of the horse race. “It is impossible to cheat.”

“You did not jump the broken-down wall, I saw you,” Lucy called back as she watched him jump from his horse. “You went over the little beck instead, and that, my friend, is cheating.”

“Actually, I would like to point out that the way I went, was longer,” he insisted, as he went to help her down from her horse. “Therefore, it was not dishonourable in the slightest.”

Lucy slid down from her horse and into his arms from her side-saddle position, continuing to argue her point. What he didn’t expect was the stirring in his manhood as she didn’t let go of him once she was on the ground. “You were meant to jump the wall, to give me an advantage. You behaved like a scoundrel so that you would win.”

She pushed away and out of his arms, running away as she laughed, and he knew that she wanted him to chase her.

“You are nothing but an immature cad,” she called back to him. “You try to belittle me because you are so insecure.”

“Come here, and I will show you what this scoundrel can do to a little chit like you,” he called after her, setting to chase her down.

Lucy couldn’t escape his capture because she’d inadvertently gone in the direction of the river, so she was forced to stop. As it happened, he was glad to capture her. Lately, he’d found himself wanting her to be in his arms more and more. Within seconds, he caught her up, moving in to take hold of her arms as he threatened to push her down the riverbank and into the water. Should he kiss her lips? Should he risk it?

“Unhand me, you buffoon,” she giggled, pushing herself into his body, and instead he hugged her.

“Let’s go sit together for a while,” she said as he let go. She went to sit down on the ground, making a dent in the long grass, and he sat close by her side, looking up at the sky.

“Gentlemen are not meant to be mean to ladies,” she scowled at him.

“I do not see any ladies around here,” he said, snatching her hand and kissing it. He hoped that she too was feeling all the changes in their friendship. Though he didn’t say, he wished that could kiss her while they were alone.

“At eighteen years old, Christopher Harcourt, you should act more mature,” she grumbled.

“And at sixteen years old, you should not be running around as wild as you do,” Christopher answered as he rolled away. Rolling back, he handed her a dandelion. “I am sorry, my Pretty Fairy. Here, for you.”

Lucy accepted the flower, rubbing the soft petals against her cheeks. She’d never objected to Christopher’s nickname of Pretty Fairy. He’d given it to her when she was much younger because she’d loved pretending to be a fairy from the many stories that she read with him and his sister.

“Bah! Why do women always like flowers,” Christopher huffed as he stood up and held his hand back down to help her up. “You coming to dinner tonight?”

Lucy didn’t reply as she accepted his hand. She twirled the flower with one hand, keeping hold of his hand as she looked into his face. Could see him looking at her lips? Should he make his move and kiss her?

“Emily should be back from her errand by now,” he said, letting go of her hand and turning to walk back to the horses. It would be dishonourable if he took advantage of her, and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

As he went to lift her back onto her saddle, his touch lingered on her leg. Yet still, he was a gentleman and soon moved his hand away.

“We will need to ride to my home first. I must leave word with Nanny Alice. If Cousin Peter doesn’t know of my whereabouts, he’ll be cross with her.”

“Your cousin does not sound like a very nice man,” Christopher remarked. “It is a terrible thing that he has taken over your home since your father passed.”

Sitting side saddle, Lucy held onto her dandelion, saying nothing. Christopher was well aware of the tragic turn that had happened in her life. She was struggling to find much happiness from one day to the next, so he and his sister tried to bring her some joy.

“What are you thinking about?” Christopher’s voice cut through her thoughts. “You seem lost in your thoughts.”

“I miss Father,” she replied, caressing the yellow petals of her flower.

“I know you do,” he sympathised. “Which is why you should stay with us for longer and get away from that new Earl who has taken over your home. He is a braggard if you ask me, and I should have words with him.”

“Do not be so harsh on Cousin Peter,” she remarked. “It was not his fault that Father died in a coach accident.”

“Emily and I will cheer you,” he offered, giving her a cheery smile. “Come, let’s get going so you can collect some clothes and stay for at least two days, how about that?”

“I very much like the sound of that, Christopher, thank you,” she replied. If he could have his way, she would live with them at Killington Manor, where she was always welcome. Lucy had lived in their neighbourly estate at Northmore Hall all her life. She had been born there, and he recalled when her mother had died some years ago, in a bed within those very walls.

“Is your father home?” she asked him as they trotted along the trail that would take them to the Northmore Estate.

“No, otherwise I would not invite you to stay,” Christopher replied, drifting off into deep thought.

“Why do you not like your father?” she asked.

“I just do not, and that is the end of it,” Christopher snapped at her in a harsh tone, raising his brows at her as if daring her to ask any more about it.

He moved his horse into a canter because he didn’t wish to talk anymore. They rode along through a wildflower meadow, full of blue and purple cornflowers.

As he rode along in silence, he recalled how Lucy had told him that even the servants treated her differently now. The new Earl of the Northmore Estate had brought with him many of his own servants, in the two weeks he’d been there. Lord Peter Agar was much younger than her father had been, and he was very much a dandy.

Leaving the wildflower meadows behind, they entered fields of livestock, with the sound of cows and sheep filling the air. The smell of dung hit his nose, but it was a smell of the English countryside. He spurred his horse into a gallop, he was keen to get to Killington Manor so that Lucy could join Emily. As their horses arrived at the top of a hill that overlooked Northmore Hall, he stopped and waited for Lucy to catch him up yet again.

“It looks as if you have visitors,” he remarked, looking down at a carriage that was standing on the roadway near the main entrance.

“Pft! We always have visitors,” Lucy replied. “The Earl never spends a moment alone. He is constantly surrounded by grand ladies and fine gentlemen.”

“My poor Pretty Fairy,” he said, lending her a warm smile. “You are so unhappy. I do wish I could change things for you.”

Lucy smiled back at him, “You do plenty for me, Christopher. Even if you are annoying and a big fat cheat,” she reminded him, shaking the reins to race him down to her home.

As they neared the house, they slowed to a canter. Lucy headed towards the stables to hand over her filly. She would ride behind Christopher on his horse when they returned to his home.

Entering her home through the back door, she passed through the kitchen, and he followed in her trail. She led him up the servant’s stairway.

Halfway up the steps, he stopped and pulled on her arm to get her attention. “Why are we entering your home through the back door and using the servant’s stairway?”

Lucy put her fingers to his lips to stop him from speaking, “Sshh,” she hushed him. “My cousin doesn’t like it when we bump into one another, so I try to avoid him by using the servants’ stairways.”

Christopher was taken aback by her reply, “Lucy, this is your childhood home,” he said, shocked at how she sneaked around.

She shook her head at him, taking hold of his hand as she led the way. Again, his crotch stirred at the closeness they shared, but couldn’t help but feel that they were sneaking around as if they didn’t belong there.

“Ah, Miss Lucy!” a voice called out as they reached the top of the stairway.

It was Nanny Alice, who he knew had cared for his friend since she was a baby. She was a kindly old soul, and he hoped she would chastise Lucy for using the servant’s stairway.

“Nanny Alice, it is fortunate I have found you so soon,” Lucy said, still speaking with a hushed voice. “I need you to pack me a few outfits so that I might overnight at Killington Manor. Will you do that for me?”

Alice looked surprised at her charge, and Christopher could see that something was worrying her.

“Do not fret so, Nanny Alice, my sister will take good care of Lucy,” Christopher assured her, in case she thought that she was to be alone with him.

“It is not that, young Lord Christopher,” Nanny Alice replied, her fearful eyes flitting from Lucy to Christopher. “There is something else that’s amiss. You have a visitor, Miss Lucy, and Lord Agar insisted that I find you at once.”

“What?” Lucy looked shocked at the news. “Who would come to see me?”

“Perhaps the young Lord will accompany you into the drawing room, Miss Lucy,” Nanny Alice suggested. “I am quite fearful at what is going on, Miss.”

Lucy turned to Christopher, and he nodded in agreement. “I will stand by your side, and what is more, I shall not allow that man to bully you, do you hear me?”

With that promise, he took hold of Lucy’s hand and squeezed it to show his support. He was coming to terms with the fact that things were much worse for Lucy than she’d let on. She was such a merry little soul, despite everything that had happened in her life. To him, she would always be his Pretty Fairy because she flitted around, always with a little laugh as if nothing could infiltrate her happy world.

Lucy stared at him; her blue-green eyes wide with a panic that he’d never seen in her before. He knew she was worried, and he too was worried for her.

“I am ready, Nanny Alice, lead the way,” Lucy said, putting on a brave face.

Christopher wished he could impart some strength to her because he could feel that she was trembling. Lucy had always been in his life, and he loved her as much as he loved his sister. If Emily were here now, she’d be holding Lucy’s other hand because between them they’d never leave their friend alone. He’d hated to see her so heartbroken because it hurt him too. He would do whatever it took to keep his Pretty Fairy safe, even if it meant standing up to Lord Agar, who he’d taken an instant dislike of.

The man was a dandy, dressed every day as if he was attending an all-day soiree. He’d seen him only once, and that was from a distance. The new Earl was always surrounded by other lords and ladies that pampered to him. When he’d first arrived, the man had swaggered around as if he owned the place. But then Lucy had reminded Christopher that he did, for he’d inherited the earldom.

After that, Lucy refused to talk about what was going on in her childhood home, and Christopher wished now that he’d forced her to talk more.

Entering the drawing room, Lucy cried out in delight.

“Grandmama, this is wonderful!” she called out, and immediately ran towards an older woman who was standing by a window.

The sudden change in Lucy surprised Christopher. She’d gone from a quivering wreck to her usual bouncing Pretty Fairy within seconds. It was good to see that she was her happy self once again and it pleased him.

“Christopher, come and meet the best Grandmama in all the world,” Lucy called over to him.

“I am delighted to meet you, young man,” the older woman greeted, and he could hear by her accent that she was not English.

He took her hand, expecting her to offer her fingertips, but instead, she gave him a firm handshake.

“Come, let us sit and drink some of your English tea, shall we?” the woman said, leading them towards the seating area where he noted Lord Agar was standing.

“Oh, Grandmama, I had no idea you were coming. Cousin Peter said nothing of it,” Lucy remarked, unable to tear herself apart from her visitor.

Christopher watched Lord Agar as he sneered down at the little gathering.

“I was unsure how long it would take your grandmother to get here. Or even if she could actually make the journey” Lord Agar explained, not breaking even a glimmer of a smile on his lightly powdered face. His hair stood tall and with tight curls on the top of his head, and he wore a large, frilled cravat on his neck. Pompous and dandy was all Christopher could think of to describe the man.

“No matter, I’m here now, and most intrigued by the young gentlemen who accompany you, my dear. I am Mrs Adele Stewart, young man. You may call me Mrs Stewart,” she said. “It’s important to know who my granddaughter’s friends are, as well as her enemies,” she added as she glanced at Lord Agar.

“This is Christopher, Grandmama, and he is one of my best friends, along with his sister, Emily,” Lucy spoke for him.

“Don’t you be looking so worried, young Christopher,” Mrs Stewart said in her drawled accent. “Let me assure you that I have not travelled across the ocean to allow my daughter’s daughter to suffer a moment longer. I’m here in Lucy’s best interests; she always has a place in my heart. Does that put your mind at ease, young lord?”

Christopher bowed his head in respect of this visitor. If she had Lucy’s best interests at heart, that was good enough for him.

“I rarely get to see my Grandmama, Christopher,” Lucy told him, and her voice was fused with happiness. “We write to one another every month, and when I was only eight years old, I visited the States with Father. We had such a jolly time there.”

“Yes, I do recall that visit,” Christopher said because he’d pined for her return home again. He’d missed her because she’d been gone all summer long.

“Thank you, Cousin Peter, for arranging this. It is such a delightful surprise,” Lucy said to Lord Agar, who looked surprised at her statement.

“I came here for your sake, my dear, not for your cousin’s,” her grandmother said, again glaring over at Lord Agar with annoyance on her face. “At sixteen years old, you cannot continue to live with an unmarried gentleman, but we will discuss that more later.”

“Oh, Christopher, is this not such a wonderful surprise?” Lucy said, not really listening to the warning words her grandmother had hinted at. She was far too excited at seeing her grandmother, who had travelled all the way from America.

The maids bustled around to pass everyone tea and cake. Whilst Christopher accepted a teacup and a plate of cake, he didn’t touch it because he had noted the words of Mrs Stewart. Though it was wonderful to see Lucy laughing again, and it gladdened his heart to watch her. Finally, he stood up, readying to leave.

“It has been most enchanting to meet you, Mrs Stewart,” he said, his manners impeccable, as he had been taught. “I will bid you all a good day,” he said with a bow, making sure that he ignored Lord Agar. “And I will speak with you later, Lucy.”

“Forgive me if I do not see you to the door, Christopher,” Lucy said. “But I have so much to catch up with my Grandmama.”

With that, Christopher left the drawing room, and the butler of the house showed him out through the main door. Heading towards the stable to collect his horse, he smiled to himself. It was far better going through the front door as a lord should, as opposed to sneaking through the service door at the back.

Chapter Two

“You have no idea how much it pleases me to see you, Grandmama,” Lucy said as she stared adoringly at her grandmother.

Lady Adele looked at her granddaughter with a happy grin. “It cannot have been easy for you, losing your father and then your home.”

As Lucy hugged her grandmother, she could see her cousin watching them from his seat on the sofa.

“Miss Lucy has not lost her home, Lady Stewart,” he retorted, as if he’d been accused of some foul crime.

“Those are kind words, Cousin Peter. But this place no longer feels like my home, not without Father here,” Lucy admitted, letting go of her grandmother’s embrace. “We cannot blame my cousin for what has happened, Grandmama. Father would not want me to do that.”

“Your father should have made better arrangements for you, my dear,” Lady Adele said.

“One supposes he did not expect to leave this life so suddenly,” Lucy sighed, her mind drifting off as a fond image of her father appeared in her head.

“Quite so,” Lord Agar snapped, looking at Lady Adele Stewart with a fire in his eyes.

“It is an awfully long way for you to pay me a visit, Grandmama,” Lucy pointed out, staring back at her grandmother’s tired grey eyes. “You must be awfully tired.”

“Indeed I am, my dear, but we have much to discuss you and I,” Lady Adele replied, as she continued to stroke her granddaughter’s hair. “You are growing to look so very much like your mother.”

“Yes, Father often told me that too,” Lucy said, smiling at the thought of looking like her mother. From what she could remember of her, she had been a beautiful woman.

“Will you show me to my room, my dear?” Lady Adele asked. “You are quite correct about the journey being a long one, and I do believe that I could do with a lie down before dinner.”

“Have the servants prepared a room, Cousin Peter?” Lucy asked.

“Indeed.” Lord Agar bowed his head. “I had them prepare the guest room near to your bedchamber.”

“That means that you must have known my Grandmama was coming?” Lucy questioned, forgetting who she was talking to. “Why did you not tell me?”

“I am not here to act as your servant, young lady!” Lord Agar snapped, showing his offence at Lucy questioning him. “And I will have you stop addressing me by name,” Lord Agar barked at her as she went to stand up. “From here on, you will address me as Lord Agar, do you hear? I will allow for the little error of your ways, given your age, but do not let it happen again.”

“Of course, my Lord,” Lucy said, giving him a little curtsy and hiding her smile as she did so. “Come, Grandmama, let me show you your room so that you can rest awhile,” she added.

“Lord Agar,” Lady Adele confronted him as she stood up. “You may have gained the eminent title of an earl, but you will mind your manners in my presence. Young Lucy is still grieving the loss of her very dear father, and you will allow her leniencies.”

Lady Adele didn’t wait for a reply, but Lucy could see by the look on her cousin’s red face that he was not pleased. Lucy led her aunt to the huge spiralling staircase, but she could see that she was uncomfortable.

“I will not have that man belittling you, my dear. You are the daughter of an English Earl, and it is only through the stupidity of the English laws that he has been handed the title on a plate,” Lady Adele informed her.

“I do not believe that he is all bad, Grandmama,” Lucy tried, hating the thought of any dislike between them. “He has no experience of children in his life, and does not know how to deal with me, or so he told me.”

“You are not a child, my dear. You are almost a young lady,” Lady Adele said, a little out of breath as they reached the top of the staircase.

“You can tell that to Christopher,” Lucy laughed. “He is always telling me I am too young and wild.”

Lady Adele gave her a reassuring smile. “The British are far too stiff and proper, if you ask me.”

Lucy giggled. “Do you not care for my cousin, Grandmama?”

“As I say, it’s more the British ways I don’t care for. There are far too many la-di-das,” Lady Adele said as she yawned. “We still have our gentry in America, but we don’t tolerate the pompousness of aristocracy. Now then, dear, come and get me when it’s time to go down for dinner. Can you do that?”

Lucy wished she didn’t have to leave her grandmother, but she had travelled a long way, and she needed her rest. She gave her a small curtsy and left her room. Going to her room, she decided to stay there until dinnertime. It wouldn’t do to bump into her cousin. He was bound to be in a foul mood with her, as he always was.

Laying on her bed, she pondered on how to pass away an hour or two, and then remembered the dandelions in her pocket. As she stared at the limp flowers, she thought of Christopher and hoped he hadn’t been too disappointed about her not returning with him. Christopher’s father came to mind, and she wondered why the two didn’t get along with each other. She had adored her father, and from what she could remember, her mother too.

Once, she’d overheard Christopher arguing with his father. It had been quite a heated row, and his father was telling him to grow up. At the time, she hadn’t thought much of it. Now that she was learning the importance of titles and ownership, she supposed that one day Christopher would inherit his father’s estate. As well as his title of Viscount. Perhaps his father wanted him to take on more responsibilities. She knew all too well that Christopher hated being serious about life, so he no doubt fought against carrying out his father’s wishes.

Whatever their reason for falling out, Lucy promised herself that she would speak with Christopher soon. She needed to remind him that fathers were not around forever. One day, he would lose him, as she had lost hers. Therefore, he must stop the animosity between them, and enjoy his company while he still could.

As she thought of Christopher, she recalled how close he’d held her when he helped her from the horse. Lately, her feelings for him were changing, and she’d almost wanted him to kiss her. She was sure that he felt the same way, too, but it was all so confusing. Thinking of him caused a stirring between her legs, and she now wished that she had been staying with them this night. But then again, it wasn’t right for her to feel this way about a friend, so she must make sure it never happened again.

The evening soon arrived, and she enjoyed a pleasant meal with her grandmother. Laughing at days gone by, and then discussing both her friends, Christopher, and Emily. Following dinner, they went to sit in Lucy’s favourite parlour room. It smelled of her father’s tobacco, and that was why she liked it in there. Her grandmother didn’t seem to mind the aroma, so they settled with tea and apple pie.

“And now, my dear, we must have our little chat,” Lady Adele began, and Lucy thought she looked quite serious. “I need to tell you the main reason why I have come to visit you.”

“Oh dear, Grandmama, you look very sullen,” Lucy remarked as she picked up some sewing work, so she’d have something to do with her hands.

“You do know that it is not very fitting for a young woman of your age to be living in the same house as an unmarried man, don’t you?” Lady Adele asked her.

“I am not yet a young woman, Grandmama, so I hardly think that people will gossip about us,” Lucy chuckled, not seeing the graveness of the topic.

“I will tell you the short version, dear, so that we can get on with things,” Lady Adele said, tapping her fingers on the arm of her chair.

Lucy nodded as she waited for her grandmother to tell her what was on her mind.

“This is not a good environment for you, in my opinion, and so I would like to offer to raise you if you will accept me?” her grandmother announced, still looking at her, but now with raised brows.

“What exactly do you mean, Grandmama?” Lucy asked, putting down her sewing work. “Do you mean to come and live here?”

“This is no longer your home, my dear, but I can offer you a new one,” Lady Adele replied. “Come home with me to a place of love, and a place where no one will talk down their nose to you. Please say yes and make me a happy grandmother?”

“Goodness, I had not thought of that. Of course, I want to say yes, but my friends?” Lucy said, her mind churning over with so many questions.

“You will make new friends, I promise you that,” Lady Adele assured her. “Now then, I am off to my bed, for I am still exhausted. I will need to build up my strength for the return journey. Meanwhile, you should write everything down that worries you, and tomorrow we can go through your list and sort each one out sensibly.”

“Grandmama, I do love you so very much, thank you,” Lucy said as she hugged her grandmother, feeling a sense of adventure at the new life ahead.

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

After her father’s death, Miss Lucy Felton was forced to move across the Atlantic. She left behind her childhood friends and the love of her life, Christopher Harcourt. Three long years passed before she returned to England and she wanted nothing more than to fall straight back into the arms of the man who had set fire to her heart and soul. Unfortunately, she was soon to find out a devastating truth; he was promised to another lady.

Love’s sizzling touch has slipped through Lucy’s fingers once again…

Despite his mother’s constant pressure, Lord Christopher Harcourt was struggling with finding a suitable bride, because he could never forget the burning passion he had felt for Lucy. Right when he finds a match, he discovers that Lucy is back in town and he feels powerless to resist their scorching allure. He knows that their path to love would be riddled with danger and treachery, but he is willing to risk everything to call her his own.

He will soon find himself with one choice, love or ruination…

When they find themselves embroiled in a scandalous journey of lust, the forbidden thrill of their affair sends shivers down their spines. With every stolen kiss, they risk losing everything they have worked so hard to achieve… As they navigate the tumultuous waters of deceit and betrayal, will their love survive the inferno of desire, or will they both be consumed by the flames?

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

Get your copy from Amazon!

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