Midnight Meetings series, book 3
An excerpt: “I have a few requirements milord…”
Miss Turner bent over at the hearth, dumping ashes into a red pail. She could be ringing an off-key church bell with her energetic cleaning or calling the morning muster.
“Mr. Beckworth asked me to remind you that ‘today you start making amends.’”
“Wait. Samuel’s here?”
“That’d be the only way he could ask me to awaken you.” More metal banged. “He’s in the barn with Adam. They’re getting ready to repair a fence. You’re expected.”
He sat up and scrubbed a hand over his face. The business venture started today? Looking lower, he couldn’t get out of bed, not with the telltale bulge between his legs. Miss Turner’s fine hips bent over at his fireplace didn’t help. Honey-colored hair spilled to her waist, held back by linen banding the crown of her head. The linen strip had been tied off in a white bow below her ear.
The effect was messy and…desirable.
“Then we’ll discuss expectations later, but you need to know I’m not an early riser.”
“I am.” She walked to the end of his bed, her curt gaze falling on tented linen. “And parts of you are, I
daresay. As to expectations, I say we discuss them now.” Miss Turner was a sergeant in russet skirts, one familiar with the rhythms of men. Both arms were folded under ample breasts, pushing her shift’s white drawstring bow over a low-cut bodice. Tavern maids and fast widows favored the enticing neckline. He ought to purchase more gowns and a mobcap for her. The apron was the only housekeeperish thing she wore.
He sat up, tucking rumpled sheets over his erection. “You have me at a disadvantage here.”
“What? Your John Thomas?” She shrugged, the drawstrings dancing lively. “I’ve seen more full salutes
at the Goose than you ever did in the army. Now about those expectations.”
He chuckled, the sound raspy as an old saw. “Very well. I don’t like waking up cold. I expect you to
stoke the morning fires.”
A brow arched. “There’s no coal, and you lack sufficient wood for a decent fire.”
Miss Turner’s quip roused him. “I’ll see to the firewood supply. Is there anything else I can do to make
your time in service here easier?”
Morning light shined, catching the dark-coffee hues of her eyes. “Ohhh…that’s right. You’re Lord
Trustworthy, helper of women in need.”
He accepted the barb. There was no denying the truth. He had manipulated circumstances to get her
here. Miss Turner was miserly with her trust, doling it out in pieces before pulling back. He’d once seen
a tiny sea creature in the West Indies—a hermit crab, the natives called it. She reminded him of the creature,
which lived partly exposed. Any intrusion, and it shrunk back into its shell.
“I have a few requirements, milord. Your cottage is much bigger than the Beckworths’. I’ll need help. A
“If a laundress helps,” he said, his hand sweeping wide, “by all means find one.”
“And a charwoman too.”
“Hire a laundress and a charwoman if you must.”
He paused. “For a week.”
“I already did. Mr. Beckworth suggested the Dutton sisters.” She paused. “They’ll be in service for
as long I need.”
“How…helpful of Mr. Beckworth.”
“I’m glad you agree. Alexander went to fetch them from the Red Swan while you slept.” She gave him
a tight-lipped smile. “Of course, any repairs to the cottage and I’ll use my army of one.”
He could feel his scant coin box getting emptier by the moment, but there was no mistaking the steel in
her voice—a quality he liked, the same as the white bow dangling from her bodice and the other one
touching her neck. He couldn’t decide which one he’d untie first if given the chance.
“Anything else?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” she warned softly. “There’ll be no making free with your hands under the stairs, milord.”
“Agreed. You haven’t had a good look at the stairs. Worst place to launch a full-scale seduction.”
She fought a smile and lost. “That would mean there’s a best place?”