43 Chapters
Mercedes hesitated to leave her bath of luxury that evening, but the cold water threatened to turn her skin to prunes. Towel drying herself, the lilac-scented soap assailed her senses, reminding her of home. Right after her father’s death, she’d boarded up his cottage on the outskirts of Bristol, and prayed all would be fine when she returned. She missed the neighboring cottages and yearned for the closeness she had with the families living nearby—families she considered part of her life.She pushed away the disheartening thoughts and changed into an evening dress. Although no guests had been invited to the supper meal, she wanted to look her best. Of course, the selection of dresses in her sister’s closet didn&rsq
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Angry voices woke Mercedes from a most pleasurable dream. As her mind slowly came alert, she still experienced the tingling of William’s lips on hers, and his fingers across her neck. In her dream their kiss hadn’t been interrupted, and he’d caressed her neck, her shoulders, and down her bosom. In her dream, his lips had followed the trail of his hands. Now awake, she scolded herself for becoming so infatuated with her sister’s husband.Mercedes’ mind argued, reminding her Kat was dead. But she countered back, telling herself Kat would be turning in her grave if she knew what th
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The glare from the sun hitting the window stung William’s eyes as he peeled them open. He scowled at the men occupying his bedchambers, but mainly at Captain Wilkes. “What is the meaning of this?” William demanded.The soldiers aimed their wide-eyed gaze at Mercedes, seemingly perplexed and at a loss for words. William glanced over his shoulder at his wife. He sucked in his breath. In the light, she created an alluring silhouette. Although her face was scarlet, she looked absolutely breathtaking. Raven hair wildly framed her head. Her modest white nightgown was such a contrast to her hair. She appeared as pure as newly fallen snow. How could she look that way when she was exactly opposite?

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The following week Mercedes stayed home and played games with the children. She and James formed an attachment, but Lizzy proved more difficult. The adorable little four-year-old child played with them, but still refused to speak.Stepping into the role of woman of the house, Mercedes enjoyed planning the daily meals and organizing the staff, just as she’d done when she was married to Fredrick. Doing something productive took her mind off her worries. At first most of the servants seemed afraid of her, but as the days flew by, they warmed up just as James had. Mercedes dared to ask them questions about
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William stared at the plate of eggs, sausage and honey-scones his servant placed in front of him. Not in the mood to eat, he couldn’t stop thinking about his wife’s actions with Brandon Kennedy last night. Gabe had overheard the conversation between Kennedy and Mercedes and had spied on them from another room to see how Kat handled Kennedy.William shook his head in confusion. What was his wife up to now? For heaven’s sake, she lied to his business partner! That in itself was out of the ordinary. William’s very charming wife would never snub Brandon, even in front of her husband, yet lately she had done it twice. Once when Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy had come for dinner, and yesterday when she thought nobody was
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The lovely morning passed too quickly for Mercedes and the time she’d spent with James and Lizzy would soon come to an end. Within an hour they’d be going back home and she didn’t want the pleasure to stop. When each child clasped her hand, her heart soared. Completion intensified in her chest, causing her to burst with happiness.The morning had started out perfect, first with the tender conversation with William, followed by the brief but earth-shattering kiss that had left her body weak and shaking. Then to have William’s children come to accept her kindness and love… Definitely, the day could not be better.Read more
William climbed into his coach and tapped on the roof, then braced himself when the vehicle lurched into motion. Today had been as bad as yesterday—worse, in fact, because he couldn’t stop thinking about this morning’s kiss. Undoubtedly, his wife’s charms had bewitched him, because she was certainly a witch. How else could he explain the sudden yearnings he experienced whenever she was around?Exhaling a deep sigh, he relaxed in the seat and stared out the window. The sun descended over the horizon, pink and red shades highlighted the sky. Another day without an invitation to Colonel Burwell’s weekend party. His plans to secretly search the man’s house were slowly fading from his grasp, and he feared he
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“Here we are.”Ignoring William’s grumble as he stared out the carriage window, Mercedes sat forward in her seat and admired the enormous estate. Full trees, the land, and greener rolling hills made it a splendid sight.The Burwell’s three-story house had at least three wings added to the structure as it circled around the backyard. She caught a glimpse of the rose garden that seemed to last forever. At the edge of the yard, a cluster of trees led into a small forest.Read more
William raised his glass of brandy in salute, and then quickly drank the liquid, wishing he were someplace else besides here. After the luncheon, he and the rest of the men had gathered in the library to discuss politics. The women wandered outside on the porch to converse about more delicate subjects as they daintily sipped their tea. William had tried to sneak away from the men several times, but someone stopped him every time. It irritated him that he couldn’t sneak around and search through Colonel Burwell’s study as he’d wanted. Would William ever find the proof he needed that someone was trying to sabotage him?Unfortunately, he had to paste a smile on his face and nod like a fool, raising his glass at the right mo
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The evening’s meal and dancing afterward was a huge success for Lady Burwell. A few more guests arrived, nearly crowding the ballroom. It thrilled Mercedes when William escorted her out on the dance floor, but she wished he didn’t have to leave her arms. While in his embrace his eyes sparkled like gems and his soft smile weakened her limbs. Would he ever feel the same way about her?“Are you enjoying yourself, my dear?” he asked.“I’m certainly trying.”Read more Protection Status