Here's an excerpt from this sexy romance:
Rose placed the flower on her mother’s grave. Engrossed with making the sign of the cross, and offering up a small prayer, her lips moved in rhythm with the words as she stood and then took a step back. Failing to notice the three people attending the grave directly behind her, she stumbled into one of them. As the fates would have it, the man had also chosen the same moment to step backwards and the two strangers collided. He faired less well than she did, falling to the ground in disgrace.
He turned his furious aspect towards her; his injured pride had darkened his face. She saw him bite back on whatever retort had formed in his mind.
“My apologies, kind sir,” she said demurely.
“I will hear no such thing,” one of the young ladies who accompanied him replied. “John, you really should watch what you are doing.”
“I would say it is the other way around. The working class should step out of the way of the gentry.” The second lady’s eyes were piercing. This woman, with eyes of blue ice against a fair complexion, and an equally fair crowning glory, approached Rose and examined her minutely. “I find it surprising that one such as this should have a grave to attend here.”
Although the woman spoke generally and not directly to her, Rose replied. “Appearances can deceive and the person I visit once had the ear of the Queen.”
The eyes now shone with the chill of pure bitterness. “Come, Mr Bennett. I find the atmosphere here disagreeable.”
With that, she stalked off, leaving John on the ground and the other young lady wringing her hands. This woman turned back to Rose imploringly. “I am so very sorry.”
Apparently, she apologised for the other woman’s behaviour. During this time, John had managed to regain his feet and his composure. His gaze fell on the gravestone.“A relative?” he inquired.
“My mother,” Rose allowed.
“I am sorry. I pray your bereavement was not a recent one.”
Rose turned her gaze to the woman who had spoken and had a penchant for apologising. Her eyes looked soft and were almost the same shade of brown as her hair that peeked out from beneath the bonnet. Glancing towards John, Rose saw the same eyes regarding her. Clearly, these two were related. “No. It has been a few years.”
“Yet you miss her still.”
Rose inclined her head modestly. No one referred to the single lily that she had used to adorn the grave. Rose could only afford the single bloom and there would be trouble if any others in her family knew she had purchased it.
“Mr. Bennett! Miss Bennett!” The voice flew towards them on wings of darkness. Clouds gathered over their heads in reply to the blonde woman’s beckoning.
“Oh!” Miss Bennett sounded harassed. “That woman is so infuriating,” she confessed suddenly, and then jumped in alarm, her small gloved-hand flying to her mouth in shock. John’s colour deepened.
“Really, dear sister, should we discuss our business in public?”
“I am so sorry, John.” The young lady removed her apologetic gaze from her brother’s face and turned once more to Rose. “Madeleine Bennett,” she introduced herself, “and this is my brother, John Bennett.”
John rolled his eyes. “Need I remind you it is hardly a woman’s place to introduce oneself?”
Madeleine looked perplexed. “Then who is there to do it for one?”
Her gaze took in their surroundings and she turned her attention to Rose. “I have you, dear brother, but this woman has no chaperone. I thought to complete the introductions so she should not feel awkward in telling us her name.”
“You presume,” John commenced, “that this woman should desire to tell us her name when there is no reason for her to do so. She may not wish it.”
“On the contrary,” Rose spoke up. “My name is Rose Light and I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Madeleine gazed at the grave now. “Lily Light,” she murmured, reading the name aloud. “A lily for a Lily. How delightful.”
“Forgive my sister. She speaks too quickly and too freely.”
Rose looked at the man, taking in his measure. His scarf and gloves shone white against the pale grey fabric of his suit. The long frock coat reached almost to his knees. The top hat matched the colour exactly and the cane he carried was made of walnut with a silver adornment. The sister’s dress had a ruffle at the hem. Beneath them, fine calf leather boots peeked out. The rich purple-brown colour of the fabric had a swirled design on it. The sleeves gathered most voluminously at the shoulder, the cuffs and front offset with white ruffles. The bonnet matched her outfit accordingly, fashioned to fit the person wearing it.
They had money.
Rose in her threadbare coat cared not if she had a penny to her name. People should behave a certain way and this man had shamed his sister in front of a stranger. “I would think you would be proud that your sister speaks freely and has the strength of character and courage to announce her mind.”
John flushed and Madeleine blushed pinkly. “I would believe,” John replied, “that a stranger would not interfere with affairs they have no previous knowledge of.”
“A stranger would not do so if they had not been led to interfere. However, for you to remark in such treatment of one’s sister in public begs a well-mannered person to intervene.”
John opened his mouth while his sister hid a small smile. Whatever he had been about to say was lost for eternity as a sharp voice rang out. “John!” The command travelled clearly all the way from the main gate of the cemetery.
“Oh!” Madeleine glanced around. “John, your fiancé…”
John coughed. “Yes, we should be going.”
Rose had turned her head and gazed down the path. “Before you take your leave may a stranger ask why one would be marrying such a shrew?”
Madeleine giggled and then dissolved the sound into a squeak as her brother glared at her. He then turned the glare on Rose. “If you were other than a lady…”
“According to your fiancé…” she gave the word special emphasise, “I am no lady. You are gentry and I am commoner, yet I would not speak in such a way as to reprimand my sister. If I were a man of any class, I would not cow-tow so openly to a woman of any aspect or relationship. As man or woman, I would not be marrying someone I had no love for.”
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