The Scene Set-up: Lord Marcus offered to help Genevieve once before, which she turned down. Circumstances made her rethink that refusal. She’s having a tough time divulging painful secrets while digesting Lord Marcus’s genuine offer to help—and that he asks for nothing in return.
Lord Bowles brushed hair off her face, his tenderness healing her, coaxing her. She wanted to melt into him. How empty her life had been, lacking in the smallest acts of gentle affection. Her body was lighter for having shared weighty secrets.
“Please don’t think ill of her. My mother was good to me. She never deserted me.”
His gloved hands stroked her cheek. The leather touch, the smell of his warmth, his skin all anchored her. She turned into the caress and shut her eyes. Pieces of her life played, sharp memories, vivid and as real as if lived yesterday. The struggle to read. Her uncanny skill with mechanisms and the trouble it brought. Late nights and her mother bringing strange men to their room above The Golden Goose.
“Do you have other family members?”
She shook her head. “Maude Turner is my last known relative. What I’ve told you…it’s all I know.”
She was alone in the world save a grandmother she’d never met.
“Then, we’ll begin with her name.” His arm light on her shoulders, Lord Bowles steered her toward the cottage.
Drained to the bone, she was ready to curl up beneath her brown wool covers and end the day the same as she did last night. Walking to the cottage, wheels ground the dirt. Peter Dutton drove his cart off the road.
“Greetings, Lord Bowles, Miss Abbott.” Peter set the brake and sprang from his seat. He maneuvered a chest from the back. “This came today, Lord Bowles.”
“My things from home. Put it inside, if you will.” They reached the middle of the yard when he stopped and faced her. “Is there anything else?”
Her nose was level with his neckwear, the cloth loose from the day’s labor. She studied the wrinkles and bits of dust caught in the creases. All that remained was a tumult of emotions…not so safely hidden from his perceptive eyes.
She touched his cravat. “Must I bare every single painful part? You can guess there was bad blood between my mother and grandmother.” Her voice thinned to a whisper. “I’m not sure my grandmother will want to see me.”
Voices carried across the yard. Lily and Ruby prepared to leave with their brother, and she couldn’t make herself move. Did he understand this was hardest of all? Her gnawing fear of rejection.
“I understand bad blood with family.” His gloved hand tipped her chin up. “But I also know quality when I see it, and you, Genevieve Turner Abbott, are a person of true quality. Anyone should be over-joyed to claim a connection with you.”
Underneath her cloak, she rested both hands on her belly. She was suspended for a moment, certain a cushion of air nestled between her feet and the ground. “Lord Bowles, you’re in danger of becoming a sainted man.”
His crooked smile spread. “Should never have told you about being a choir boy. Could do permanent damage to my reputation.”
“Your secret’s safe with me.”
What are the critics saying?
What are you waiting for?
The Lord Meets His Lady (Midnight Meetings series, book 3)