Authors: Kimberly Logan
Tags: #Historical Romance, #England, #Regency Romance, #Love Story, #Romance, #London
|A Kiss In The Dark|
|Knight Family |
|Tags:||Historical Romance, England, Regency Romance, Love Story, Romance, London|
To love him, she would have to risk everything...
Deirdre Wilks, the infamous Viscountess Rotherby, is shunned by the ton, who whisper behind closed doors of her shadowy past. And now every hope she harbors of repairing her reputation is at risk when a desperate, dashing gentleman comes to her for aid.
He has heard the rumors... but fearing for his sister, vanished somewhere in London's disreputable corners, Lord Tristan Knight must seek help from the mysterious beauty. Although her intentions are cloaked, Deirdre's warm heart and enchanting face are more befitting an angel than a sinner. And soon, Tristan realizes he can never relinquish this bold and remarkable woman.
Yet Deirdre must guard a secret - a shocking truth that, once revealed, could destroy the passionate love he has brought into her life.
To the wacky but much-loved members of my family, who always know how to make me laugh, even when I want to cry. I love you all more than you’ll ever know
And to the kind and gracious ladies of Kentucky Romance Writers. God may have given me the talent, but you taught me what I needed to know to use it successfully. Thank you for your encouragement and support. I wouldn’t be where I am now without you
“It appears that I owe you an apology,” Tristan murmured, his breath wafting against Deirdre’s cheek in a gentle caress.
“That is quite alright, my lord. But it’s not as if I’ve never been kissed before.”
“You misunderstand, Deirdre.” The sound of her name on his lips was a smooth purr, and one corner of his mouth curved upward in a devilish grin. “I was apologizing for my crude comments regarding your late husband. I had no right to criticize the man when I didn’t even know him.”
He leaned toward her until only a breath of space existed between them, and he continued in a conspiratorial manner. “Why would I apologize for a kiss I enjoyed so very much?”
For a long moment, Deirdre stood frozen, trapped by the passion she could see in his eyes. Then with a low sound of distress, she broke free and hurried into the night.
last the girl!”
Tristan Knight, the fifth Earl of Ellington, raked his fingers back through his hair and began to pace the area in front of the fireplace, his movements agitated. “I tell you, Archer, if I cannot rein in Emily’s antics, and soon, I shall be a suitable candidate for Bedlam!”
Standing just outside the circle of firelight, the elderly butler shook his head, his rheumy blue eyes full of concern. “She is young yet, my lord, and she has had little guidance in the past several years. I’m afraid your father allowed her to run a bit wild.”
“I am well aware of what my father
.” Tristan came to an abrupt halt, his hands going to his hips as he pivoted to face his servant. “The man wrought a bloody mess with his ambivalence and neglect and has left it to me to untangle.”
As though realizing there wasn’t much he could say in reply, Archer remained silent.
Tristan’s brow lowered as his gaze traveled about the study, taking in its masculine décor. On the surface, nothing much seemed to have changed in the eight years he’d been gone. The massive mahogany furniture was as grand and imposing as ever, the vast collection of books lining the shelves as awe-inspiring. Only an extremely discerning eye would have noticed the fraying edges of the Axminster carpet or the faded hue of the heavy brocade draperies hanging at the windows.
“His lordship was never the same after your mother’s death,” Archer finally spoke again, shifting the weight of his spare frame from one foot to the other. “I’m afraid he spent most of his evenings at his club and in the gambling halls, and when he did come home, he was usually a trifle too … inebriated to attend to any of the household affairs.”
The mention of the late countess made Tristan’s heart squeeze painfully in his chest. Letting out a soft exhalation of air, he sank into an armchair close to the hearth, reaching up to rub wearily at his temples. “I know. And I apologize for snapping at you, Archer. None of this is your fault. I’m afraid I let my temper get the better of me. Again.”
“I understand, my lord. The Lady Emily can be a bit trying at times.”
That was putting it mildly. “How many governesses is it now? Three? Four?”
“Five at last count, I believe.”
Five in less than four months! Bloody hell, was his sister intent on going through every available governess in London?
“To be fair,” Archer ventured, “the Mrs. Eversley incident wasn’t entirely Lady Emily’s fault. That cruet of vinegar did look rather amazingly like the woman’s flask of nightly restorative in the right light.”
“I doubt Mrs. Eversley would agree with that assessment, especially after swallowing a mouthful of vinegar. And there is absolutely no excuse for the honey in Miss Dalrymple’s shoes or the garter snake in Mrs. Petersham’s bedclothes. Why, if Mrs. Petersham had been a few years older, the poor woman might have had a fit of apoplexy. As it was, she was hysterical.”
The butler’s lined face flushed a dull red. “Lady Emily is rather high-spirited, my lord, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, the last few months have been quite an adjustment for her. What with his lordship’s death and then your arrival … well, I’m certain all she needs is some time to accept the changes in her life.”
“I have given her time. I’ve given her four months, but the situation seems to be getting worse instead of better, and I am fast running out of options, not to mention suitable governesses. Mrs. Petersham came very highly recommended, and this latest debacle of Emily’s has sent her packing in less than a week.”
“Why, my lord, I do believe you managed to accomplish the same feat with your last tutor in less than twenty-four hours.”
Tristan couldn’t restrain the slight smile that curled the corners of his mouth at Archer’s words. It was true. He had been far from the model son and heir. In fact, after years of trying to please a father who couldn’t be pleased, he’d rebelled rather shamefully.
Tristan’s stare went to the large writing desk in the far corner of the room, and in his mind’s eye he could envision Sinclair Knight seated behind it, his expression stern as he once again lectured Tristan on the error of his rakehell ways. He and his father had never seen eye to eye on anything, and on many occasions it had only been the calming presence of Lady Ellington that had kept them from each other’s throats.
As always, thoughts of his gentle mother sent a shaft of anguish piercing deep within him, and his smile instantly vanished. Images flashed across his vision. A man’s scarred face. The flash of a knife. The flow of blood as it stained the cold stones of a dark alleyway.
Unable to face the tormenting memories, Tristan forcefully pushed them away and glanced up at Archer. “Emily hates me,” he murmured aloud, “and I can’t say that I blame her. I abandoned her, left her alone with a man who was so caught up in his own pain he couldn’t even take care of himself, much less a daughter.”
The butler shuffled forward to lay a gnarled hand on his arm. “She doesn’t hate you, my lord. She simply isn’t used to having someone in her life who cares what she does.”
Pushing himself to his feet, Tristan strode over to the windows and pulled aside the curtain to look down on the street below. Dusk was just starting to fall over the stately town houses on Berkeley Square, and except for a lone lamplighter making his solitary rounds, all was peaceful and still.
“I do care, Archer, although I doubt Emily would believe that right now,” he said without turning around. “I only want the best for her, but I haven’t the slightest idea of how to go about raising a fourteen-year-old girl.” He bowed his head. “I shouldn’t have stayed away so long.”
One hand clenched into a fist on the window ledge. He couldn’t deny the truth of his own words. He should have come home sooner, but the mere thought had been too painful. And never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that Lord Ellington would become so caught up in his dissolute lifestyle that he would let not only the responsibilities of his title fall by the wayside, but his duties as a parent as well.