“What do you think about all of this, Louisa?” Archibald (Archie to those who were acquainted with him) Pelham asked his daughter from his place in front of the fire. His gentle, encouraging voice ebbed into the daze that Louisa was in the midst of.
This daze included, as it always did, her sister Evelyn and her new husband, Nathan. Louisa found herself trying to see things from her sister’s perspective this time around. She imagined falling in love with a ruined man, and what she might do if that was her life’s circumstances. There was a little voice in the back of her mind that told her she’d run away and elope with the man, just as her sister had.
But then, her rational mind would kick in, and she would remember her family, their relations, and the importance of their place within society, and she would realize that she could never do what her sister had done. Louisa was, at her core, a very selfless young woman, and because of this, she was still appalled that Evelyn had secretly eloped with a man who was technically still married and left the family to deal with the consequences of her actions.
Finally, Louisa snapped out of her daze and returned her father’s look. He was gazing at her with a mixture of concern and mild frustration on his face, a look that Louisa was all too used to. She and her father had a mutual respect for one another, but that was as far as their relationship went.
Archie Pelham was a very serious, studious man, but he did have a gentle side to him. He spent most of his days either working at or talking about his position at the bank, and Louisa couldn’t actually remember the last time she’d seen him partaking in something just for the sake of enjoying it. He had wiry salt and pepper hair that curled up at the ends, as did the moustache that perched above his lip. His eyes were an enviable shade of blue, but his nose looked as though someone had played too much with a ball of clay and then plopped it upon his face. He was smartly dressed despite the family’s lack of wealth, and he always made an effort to look the best that he could.
“I agree that Wembley might be our best bet,” Louisa finally responded, leaning forward in her rickety wooden chair. “But, I have heard good things about Haringey, so I do not believe we should remove that from the table.”
The family was discussing where they should move to. After the disgrace that Evelyn brought upon the family, they found that their reputation was in ruins. The Pelham name was removed from every invitation list for the foreseeable future, and all of their ‘friends’ they had in London had mysteriously cancelled their dinner plans with them. These same friends also refused to reply to their letters or requests to see them.
Evelyn and Nathan ran off to elope some three months ago, and the family had had to endure this treatment ever since. When they came to the communal decision that they’d had enough, Archie had suggested they make a move to the countryside, where they could start fresh away from the prying eyes of society. Now, they just had to decide where to move to.
“Perhaps we should begin enquiring into living situations in Wembley, then,” Archie responded, making a note on the paper he had resting on his knee. “The bank does have another branch out there, so it would not be difficult to relocate. I shall first see if there are any buildings for sale in the village that would be suitable for us, and then I shall ask Peter if I might have a transfer to that branch. Does Wembley suit you well, dearest?”
Archie was looking over at his wife, Martha Pelham. Martha, however, was distracted looking out the window at the moon, and appeared not to have heard what her husband had said, “Oh yes, I’d very much enjoy some Wensleydale cheese if we’ve got any, my beloved.” Martha was also waving her hand in the air in time with music that neither Archie nor Louisa could hear.
Archie simply patted his wife twice on the knee and said, “All right, my dove, we’ll take care of this then,” and then went back to his writing.
While Louisa and her father might not have seen eye-to-eye on everything, she had always appreciated the unconditional adoration that he had for her mother. Martha was a simply breathtaking woman with long, enchanting black hair that she often let half of run down her back when she went out. Her unusual hairstyle garnered her many stares in the village, but she was such a kind, generous, harmless woman that no one very much minded, at least until Evelyn ruined everything for everyone.
As evidenced by her response to her husband’s question, Martha was neither the most attentive nor the brightest person in their household, and so Louisa found herself often picking up her mother’s slack. However, Martha did always ensure that her family’s emotional needs were well cared for, which was one of the reasons why Louisa was so close to her mother. When Martha was having difficulty keeping her attention on one single task and Louisa was becoming frustrated with her, she simply had to remind herself of the number of times Martha had been patient with Louisa’s tumultuous moods.
Louisa was also grateful that her mother had passed down her fine features to her. Louisa had small, bright grey eyes that were complemented by a petite nose. She had what some might call an angular face, but it truly aided in giving her face a delightful, pixie-like look.
She had long black hair like her mother as well, but Louisa’s was as curly as could be, whereas Martha’s was pin-straight. Louisa was also as thin as a rod; so much so, in fact, that many times during her childhood, her father had called upon the doctor to look at her and ensure she was taking in all of her nutrients. No matter how many times the doctor reassured him, Archie had always worried that there was some underlying medical problem that Louisa had, which had translated into him being over-protective of her as an adult.
“Papa,” Louisa said, interrupting him from his writing, “what about selling this house? Do you believe we’ll be able to do it? I am not sure that there will be much interest from anyone in town, as …” She had wanted to finish the sentence with, ‘as no one will want a disgraced family’s house,’ but she knew that her father was already aware of their status and so felt no need to go on.
Archie removed his half-moon glasses from the end of his nose and rested them on his paper, his quill next to them. “That is a very good point, Louisa,” he said seriously, rubbing his temples with his index fingertips. “All I can say is that I hope there is someone, like us, who wishes to come to London from another place that does not know of our … past issues. This is a wonderful home for a small family, and I believe that if we have luck on our side, we should be able to find one interested family.”
Louisa nodded, and her father went back to his writing. Louisa looked at her mother, who was still gazing out the window and now had both hands dancing in front of her face to the unheard music. If she let her thoughts run away from her, Louisa knew she could become very worried about the situation at hand. While she trusted her father’s intuition, she was doubtful that there would be many families even from out of town who would be interested in their home. There was nothing wrong with it, per se; it was just that it was in a less desirable area of town and so many people would look past the charms it had.
She also knew that if they were unable to sell the house, there would be no way that they would have enough money to move to another town. Archie worked harder than anyone at the bank, and Martha had a little bit of family money, and yet the family did not have very much money to spare. They were in rather desperate need of a fresh start if the family was to have an enjoyable remainder of their lives, and so all Louisa could do was keep her fingers crossed that the sale of the house went smoothly.
“Would you like to talk about anything else, Papa?” Louisa asked her father as she stretched sleepily. She was not exhausted yet, but she had done a great many things around the house today to assist Sophie Flaherty, the family’s servant, and so she had hoped for an early night.
“That should be all for now, Lulu,” Archie said affectionately, not looking up from his paper. “I shall write up a description of the home to get it sold and will post it in the morning. Your mother and I should be fine to take care of the smaller details tonight; you go off to bed. Goodnight, love.”
Archie presented his cheek to be kissed as he continued writing, and Louisa rose to peck it. She then turned to her mother, who was surprisingly looking right back at her and said, “Goodnight, Mama.”
“Are we not having cheese before bed?” she asked, sitting up more appropriately in her chair and smoothing out her well-worn green plaid dress. “I thought that you mentioned …”
“There’s a small bit left on the table, dearest,” Archie said, pointing towards the table with his free hand. “It isn’t Wensleydale, but it’ll do.”
Martha smiled, perfectly contented, and rose to kiss her daughter on the cheek. “Goodnight, Lulu,” she said lovingly. “I’ll save you some Wensleydale for your breakfast.”
Louisa chuckled at her mother’s lack of attentiveness and hugged her. As she walked past her chair in the sitting room, she looked at the small dog sitting in front of the fire and called to him, “Come on, Lloyd! Bedtime.” At first, the dog’s ears perked up, and when his brain caught up with what was happening, he quickly rose and trotted beside her. He gave her one small bark, and Louisa bent down to pet the scruffy-looking black and white mutt.
Louisa had discovered Lloyd in the village one day, being tormented by a group of boys. They wanted to see how far he would go to get something to eat, and by the time that Louisa came upon them, they seemed to have already made him do some rather terrible things. Louisa scolded the boys for such cruel treatment of a kind, harmless animal, and then she scooped him into her arms and brought him home with her.
“That is the mangiest mongrel I have ever seen,” her father had said when she came home. “No wonder those boys were having their fun with him, you should have left him there.”
“Archibald Reginald Pelham!” her mother had scolded him. “This is a creature in need of assistance, and you say that about him? You apologize to him right this minute!”
Archie had rolled his eyes good-naturedly and then obeyed his wife’s orders. “I am sorry, you mutt. But it is true; you are rather ugly.”
Lloyd had given him a yap in return, but Archie did not protest against him anymore. Louisa had him feeling and looking better in no time, and Lloyd quickly became an important member of the Pelham household. He even had his own little bed by the fire that Martha had sewn for him, but he much preferred sleeping next to Louisa, right by her head.
And so, the dark-haired, worried young woman and her loyal mutt had trundled off to bed. Louisa’s mind may have been plagued by worry and concern, but she knew that there was no point in ruminating on it tonight. She decided to wait and see what the morning would bring, and hopefully, that would be immediate interest in this house that she had come to associate with her family’s disgrace.
The enchanting dark-haired woman had come to see Isaac once more. This time, he was sitting in a room that he did not recognize and was wearing far less clothing than the occasion called for. But when she appeared in front of him wearing only a chemise and her bloomers, it did not matter that Isaac was only wearing his drawers. As she walked towards him and whispered his name, her clothing fell away, and soon she was standing in front of him, beckoning for him to reach out and touch …
There was a pounding on Isaac’s door that jolted him awake. He bolted upright and called, “Yes?” as his heart raced in his chest.
“The sun has been up for hours, brother,” he heard his elder brother, Gregory, call through the door. “You said you would be up at dawn, and I am rather disappointed in you.”
“I’ve been awake for hours,” Isaac lied, rubbing his eyes sleepily. “I shall come down to breakfast, momentarily, after I have finished writing my … my journal for the day.”
“Of course, your journal,” Gregory shouted, not believing a word his brother had said. “Just come down soon, all right?”
“Quick as I can,” Isaac called back, leaning back and rolling onto his side to face the wall. He cursed his brother for having interrupted such a wonderful dream, and once he heard Gregory’s footsteps retreating, he closed his eyes and tried to bring the young woman back to him.
He couldn’t quite make out her face, but when he was able to conjure up the image of her tantalizing, entrancing body once more, he stroked himself beneath the covers. His erection was so stiff it was almost painful this morning, and so he edged himself close to release rather quickly.
He focused on what her breasts might look like when he tore off her corset, or how her lips might feel as he slipped inside of them to ease her begging for his throbbing cock. Then, at last, he imagined bringing her so much pleasure that she wrapped her legs around him to draw him the deepest she could inside of her. He envisioned feeling her intermittently clamp down on him and release when she reached an orgasm, and that made him groan noiselessly and release.
When he had finished, he felt clammy and cold as he usually did, but there was a lingering thought in his head. While he could not place who the young woman was when he was pleasuring himself, he could now see her face very clearly but could not recall her name. She was the daughter of the family who’d been disgraced by their connection to Nathan Fennett. She had such an enchanting face that as Isaac cleaned himself up and got dressed, he could not get her off of his mind.
By the time he went down for breakfast, Isaac had his mind sharpened and ready for the day. He was not the type to fixate upon a young woman, for he always had far more serious, scholarly pursuits to think about. He had finished his tenure at university not long ago and was now working to become a well-respected lawyer. He specialized in business affairs, as he had learned a great deal about their dealings from his father when he was growing up. Now that his father was gone, he and his brother were determined to do well by their family’s name and to assist their mother, Agnes.
When Isaac reached the dining room, Gregory was reading the paper at the end of the table and Agnes had pulled her chair over to the window. She was gazing out it into the sunlight as she sipped her morning tea. When he entered the room, Gregory looked up from his paper and said rather obnoxiously, “Well, well, GOOD AFTERNOON!”
“Oh, Gregory,” Agnes had scolded him, “do not tease your brother like that. He was up very late last night studying your father’s books again, and so I am glad to see that he is well-rested.” She placed her teacup on the windowsill and looked at Isaac lovingly. “Good morning, Isaac, how did you sleep?”
“Quite well, thank you, Mama,” he responded politely. “Might I look in the paper when you’re done, Gregory?” His older brother had been taunting him since the day he was born, and so Isaac had learned to deal with it by utterly ignoring it and trying to take the high road. It only rarely worked, but when it did, it made Isaac feel very high and mighty.
“Mmmm …” Gregory said thoughtfully, “you could, but there’s nothing interesting in it. Oh, except this home for sale on the rough side of town. You said you were looking for investment properties, right? This one would be PERFECT!”
Gregory said everything so sarcastically that even though Isaac sometimes had difficulty reading social cues, he knew he was continuing to taunt him. Gregory handed Isaac a part of the paper, and Isaac looked over it seriously. The excerpt described the property as An elegant, modestly sized home with excellent amenities. Well-kept with a great deal of potential. There were a few other descriptions of it, but what interested Isaac the most was the address.
“Mama,” he tried to say casually. “Where did that woman who you acquired some pieces of art from reside?”
Agnes looked to her son with her brows knitted. “I can’t recall exactly … was it not somewhere near the Lamberton farm?” she asked him.
Isaac had to resist smiling. That was precisely what he had wanted to hear, as the woman in question was the mother of the young woman he had dreamed about, and this advertisement was for the sale of her house. “Yes, I believe it is, thank you,” he replied.
“Why do you ask?” his mother enquired.
“No reason … it was just a memory I was having difficulty placing,” Isaac lied. Thanks to this interaction, Isaac could now remember the beautiful young woman’s name: Louisa Pelham. Isaac decided that he would go and enquire about this property this very morning so that he did not have to wait another minute to see her.
He wolfed down the big breakfast that Mrs Iver had made for him and then excused himself from the table. “I must go into town to enquire about a … position,” Isaac lied again to his mother and brother.
“Oh how exciting!” Agnes cried, clapping her hands. “I am certain that they will accept you, Izzy. Who wouldn’t want to have a well-bred young man like yourself in their firm?”
“Yes, Izzy,” Gregory teased him, “it makes no difference that you’re a bona fide genius; all that counts is your excellent breeding for a position such as this!”
Agnes glared at her elder son and said, “You know that isn’t what I meant, Gregory, and I should ask you to speak to your mother and brother more kindly. I did not think I would need to give you this talk at your advanced age.”
Gregory suddenly turned bashful and mumbled, “Sorry, Mama.” While the boys did enjoy tormenting each other, they also knew the importance of trying to rein it in around their mother.
“Thank you, Mama,” Isaac said pointedly, “I shall see you both when I return.” With that, he rushed out of the estate and into the waiting carriage so that he could go and hopefully see the beautiful Louisa who had been quite literally haunting his dreams.
When he arrived in front of the quaint house, his heart soared. It was much prettier than he had been expecting, which genuinely made him want to purchase it. He now did not have to lie when he was introduced to Louisa’s parents, for he had a real reason for being interested in the home, outside of courting their daughter.
He descended from the carriage quickly, actually, a little too quickly. When he reached the bottom of the stairs and stepped towards the front gate, he collided with someone who was carrying a basket of eggs. They flew into the air, and even though Isaac reacted rapidly enough to catch some of them before they hit the ground, four or five of them were still ruined.
“Watch where you’re going!” came a gruff voice from beside Isaac, and when he finally turned to face the person, he discovered that it was Louisa.
“I … I do apologize,” he stuttered, having been surprised by her sudden appearance. She looked just as beautiful as he remembered, and he could not stop himself from being rendered speechless.
Thankfully, though, Louisa did not continue being mad once she realized who was standing in front of her. She looked him over and then said, “I … believe I know you, don’t I? But I cannot recall your name, I apologize.”
“No need to apologize,” Isaac reassured her, his voice finally finding him again. “We have met so infrequently that I would have been more surprised if you had remembered my name. I’m …”
“The younger brother of … a duke, are you not?” Louisa asked, hoisting the egg basket she was carrying onto her other hip.
“Yes,” Isaac replied happily, “Gregory, the Duke of Grenfell. I’m Isaac Quince, and you are …” He trailed off, trying to make it seem like he was also struggling to remember her name. Of course, he remembered it perfectly but did not want to appear too eager or odd, knowing that he tended to do both when meeting someone new.
“Louisa Pelham,” she said, giving him a curtsey. He fumbled to return it with a bow; he couldn’t believe he’d been so caught up in her that he had forgotten to do that.
“How delightful to re-make your acquaintance, Miss Pelham,” Isaac said politely.
Louisa gave him a weak smile. “Actually, I’m just Miss Louisa,” she corrected him.
Isaac could have kicked himself. How could you have forgotten about her older sister?! he cursed. She knows that everyone in town is aware of her sister’s actions, and now you made her bring up her position in the family!
“Of course, I am so very sorry, Miss Louisa,” Isaac corrected himself, thoroughly embarrassed.
Thankfully, however, Louisa just chuckled. “You apologize a lot, don’t you?” she asked him, brushing a hair that had fallen in front of her face out of her eyes. Isaac knew that he couldn’t gaze upon her for long as that would be improper, but when he went to respond, he was struck by her delicate face. It made him want to walk towards her and kiss her passionately, but he controlled himself and focused on their conversation.
“I really do,” Isaac joked. “I suppose that was one of the first things I learned at university: when you don’t know what else to do, simply continue apologizing until the situation resolves itself.”
Louisa laughed harder, which delighted Isaac to no end. When she laughed, her eyes squinted almost shut, her cheeks became cherubic, and two adorable dimples appeared. She was so breathtakingly beautiful that Isaac’s heart started beating faster just because he was looking at her.
When she stopped to take a breath, Louisa responded, “You went to university? What for?”
“I am very nearly a lawyer,” Isaac responded proudly. Immediately, however, he lost his confidence. He did not want to come off as a stuffy, dull man to this fascinating, engaging young woman. “That must sound rather serious and boring, though, in addition to being a surprising pursuit to remove myself from society for.”
Louisa cocked her head to the side. “Not at all,” she assured him. “Are you passionate about it?”
Isaac nodded emphatically. “Very much so indeed,” he responded.
“Then you have nothing to be ashamed of,” Louisa responded. “I think that whatever one is passionate about …”
“Lulu!” someone called from inside the house, “Did you have trouble finding the eggs, darling?”
Isaac looked to Louisa and could not stop himself from repeating, “Lulu?” When he did, Louisa went bright red and began trying to say something, but she was stopped when her mother came out the front door.
“Oh!” Louisa’s mother said, “You have a gentleman caller! In that case, I shall just …” and she began going back inside the house until Louisa called her.
“He is not – no, Mama, that is not what is going on here!” Louisa said. Her mother stopped in the doorway and turned around again.
“Then … who is he? Why are you speaking with him out in the garden? Invite him in!” the older woman called, beckoning both of them inside.
Louisa turned to Isaac. “Why are you here, exactly?” she asked him quickly.
“Oh yes, right, sorry,” he stammered, hating himself for apologizing again. “I came to enquire about the purchase of your house.”
Louisa looked shocked, but then her expression changed to pleasure. “Well then,” she said, pointing towards the house, “I suppose you’d better come in and speak with my father.”
And even though Isaac knew that he and Louisa had absolutely no romantic connection, he suddenly felt incredibly nervous at the thought of having to be introduced to this beautiful young woman’s father.
When Louisa and Isaac entered the house, Louisa found herself feeling rather anxious. Although she hardly knew this man, she felt immediately drawn to him. He was quite handsome in his own quirky way – he had a blond mop of hair atop his head with chestnut brown eyes that seemed to dart everywhere when he spoke. He was extraordinarily tall, but despite this, his limbs still seemed a little too long for his body. However, this did give him a rather endearing look, especially when all of this was coupled with the most adorable smile that Louisa had ever seen on a young man.
If Louisa remembered correctly, Isaac was the same age as her. He came from a very respectable family, but they had been struck by tragedy a few years ago when his father died suddenly. However, judging by his comment about attending university, Louisa assumed that Isaac was doing well enough that he could leave his family to complete his studies.
While other people may have been put off by Isaac’s apologetic nature as well as his somewhat awkward social mannerisms, Louisa found them both utterly charming. Before her sister ruined their family, she had been introduced to far too many young men who thought so highly of themselves that they never took notice of Louisa’s miraculous qualities. She was done with gentlemen like those, and so speaking with Isaac was a breath of fresh air.
“You have a lovely home, Mrs Pelham,” Isaac said sweetly.
“Oh please,” Louisa’s mother said, “call me Martha. “Anyone who is going to purchase our home gets to refer to me by my first name!”
Isaac immediately looked uncomfortable and said, “Well, thank you, but I should mention that I have not yet made up my mind about this property, so …”
“Who is this?” Archie said a little too gruffly when he walked into the sitting room and saw Isaac sitting there. Louisa had to stifle her laugh, as she knew Isaac had felt uncomfortable because her mother had insinuated he was going to automatically buy the house, but Louisa knew that Isaac had nothing to worry about. If she knew one thing about her mother, it was that she was so forgetful that she would likely forget why Isaac was even visiting them in the first place in just a few minutes.
“This is Isaac Quince,” Louisa introduced him, “and …”
“Did I forget that you were bringing a gentleman caller here today?” Archie said, looking worried, “because if I did, I apologize profusely.”
Louisa could feel her cheeks turning red once more, and her eyes subconsciously flicked over to look at Isaac. She expected him to look rather confused or embarrassed by the repeated questions about him being her guest, but instead, Isaac simply looked … happy. And then, when he noticed she was looking at him, their eyes met very briefly, and then they both looked away. Louisa’s heart was pounding, and she could feel her hands beginning to shake, which was a dead giveaway that she was beginning to feel something for a man.
“I am here to enquire about the purchase of your home, Mr Pelham,” Isaac said politely but also a little too loudly. He cleared his throat and then continued at a much more reasonable volume. “I can imagine that a fine home such as this one must already have a great deal of interest.”
Isaac’s comment was met with silence from all three of the Pelhams, and Louisa felt momentarily bad for him. She wondered if he knew the full story of her sister’s elopement, and if he did, why was he pretending that it had no impact on how well their house would sell?
“Would you like to see the house and the grounds then?” Archie asked, shifting the subject so as not to have to respond to Isaac.
“I would enjoy that a great deal; thank you, sir,” Isaac replied, and then the two gentlemen set out towards the back garden.
When Louisa heard the back door shut, she turned to her mother and said, “Mama, why did you have to make that comment about the gentleman caller?!”
“What else was I to think, darling?” Martha asked, putting her hand on her daughter’s chin. “I saw my gorgeous youngest daughter standing out in the garden with a terrifically handsome young nobleman, and I thought that …”
Suddenly, the mother and daughter were interrupted by a young woman with wild red hair and green eyes bursting through the front door. “Louisa!” Sophie Flaherty, the family’s young Irish maid, cried, “Why didn’t you tell me you were having a young man ’round this mornin’? I would have cleaned myself up if I knew he and your father would be traipsing around the garden. I wore my dirtiest clothes today because I thought the only things who’d be seein’ me were the earthworms and the slugs!”
“Not you too, Sophie!” Louisa cried, putting her face in her hands. “He’s not my young man! He’s just here to see the house,” she mumbled into her palms.
Sophie looked at her queerly and put her hands on her hips. “Here to see about the house?” she asked, her voice laced with confusion. “But … he’s such a handsome fella, I thought for sure he would be yours.”
“We all did,” Martha encouraged Sophie, and Louisa groaned.
“If you two are going to keep talking like this, I am retiring to my room and will not come out until he has gone!” Louisa cried somewhat dramatically, taking her hands off her face and glaring at Sophie and Martha.
Sophie looked at Martha, and both women shrugged. “I suppose we have no choice then but to drop the matter,” Sophie said, sounding disappointed. “But why don’t you tell me about him, so that I can decide if I want to take up cupid’s misplaced arrow for myself and aim it right at that fine young man’s …”
“His name is Isaac Quince,” Louisa conveniently interrupted Sophie right when she was about to get inappropriate. “He’s the son of the late Duke of Grenfell, and the younger brother of the current Duke of Grenfell. He just completed his time at the university as he wants to become a lawyer.”
Sophie raised an eyebrow at Louisa and said, “The son of a nobleman, and studying to become a lawyer in his own right? Mrs Pelham, could you or I have dreamed up a more perfect match for little Lulu?”
Louisa rolled her eyes. Even though Sophie was almost the same age as her (perhaps only a few years younger) and the two young women were quite good friends, Sophie loved to tease Louisa at every chance that she got. She was a playful, vibrant young woman who had been Louisa’s almost constant companion since Sophie was hired on in the house. Even if she got on Louisa’s nerves from time to time, she was still incredibly grateful to have her in the place.
“Don’t call me that,” Louisa scolded her, “and I shall decide for myself whether or not I believe him to be a suitable match for me. Although …”
She had wanted to continue telling Sophie off for assuming that she had wanted to court Isaac right away, but then she remembered that since her sister’s disappearance with Nathan, not a single man had paid even a scrap of attention to Louisa. It seemed that not only had Evelyn ruined the family’s social ties and standing, but she had also barred her sister from ever making a good match.
That made her think that the pleasant conversation that she and Isaac had was nothing more than that – just polite small talk. There was absolutely no way that Isaac could ever see Louisa as a potential wife, and so any interest that he had shown in her must have simply been because he was interested in buying their home.
“Never mind,” Louisa said abruptly. “I am going to take Lloyd for a walk and shall likely not return until our visitor has left. Please give him my best.” Before either Sophie or Martha could respond, Louisa was out the door with Lloyd trotting along happily beside her.
When Louisa was out in the bright early afternoon air, she suddenly felt much less suffocated. Standing there in the sitting room, she had begun to feel like she was watching a wave that her sister had created come slowly crashing down upon her. She felt enraged at Evelyn once more and knew the only way to deal with that was to walk.
Lloyd was as happy as a pig in night soil with this decision, for although he was left to roam about the grounds of the house for much of the day, he rarely ever got to go for a proper, purposeful walk. Louisa looked down at him as she tried to encourage the storm inside her head to dissipate, and seeing him so serenely happy just being out there with her did wonders for her mood.
The girl and her dog reached Louisa’s favourite spot in the whole area after a long traipse through the woods. It was a lush section of the forest that had a small stream running through it. When Louisa was little, she and Evelyn used to come here and pretend they were runaway orphans, and they made this little area into their outdoor home.
That memory only made Louisa sad now, as she realized that Evelyn was a runaway for real now. Of course, Evelyn was not the same type of runaway that the girls had played make-believe, but regardless, the memory was still tarnished by reality.
Despite this, however, Louisa decided to sit by the water and try to focus on anything other than all of the things that were troubling her. Louisa let Lloyd wander around the area, knowing that he was so loyal and obedient that he would go no further than anywhere he could see her from, and then she closed her eyes.
And while she tried to encourage herself to focus on anything other than what was going on at the house right now, her mind kept drifting back to Isaac. She imagined she and Isaac living in her house together with Lloyd, and that made her feel a little happier for a few minutes. Then, she imagined what it would be like to have Isaac come home to her after a long day of work and how their idyllic little life would seem. That engaged her for another short while. Finally, she allowed herself the sinful pleasure of imagining what it would be like when she and Isaac turned out the light at night, and their bodies were pressed against each other beneath the quilt …
“Oh …” Louisa let out a quiet moan at that thought.
But then, she was rudely jarred from her fantasy when she heard a voice say from behind her, “Are you hurt?”
Louisa’s eyes sprung open, and she whirled around to see Isaac on his horse, looking at her with concern in his eyes. “What? Yes, I’m … I’m fine,” Louisa stammered, trying to stand up.
“It’s just that you made a sound like you were hurt when you were sitting there,” Isaac said gently, “so I thought …”
“No, no,” Louisa reassured him, finally managing to stand. “I was just … Why are you out here?”
“This is a short cut that I usually take,” Isaac explained gently. “I told my driver to take the carriage home with one of the horses as I felt like taking this route home. I promise that I did not come here to spy on you. I simply came upon you and heard you … well … make that noise.”
Louisa could feel herself panicking. She could not honestly tell if Isaac knew that the unintentional noise she had made was a sexual one but knew that she needed to get out of that forest so that they did not have to continue this conversation. “Yes, well, I must be getting home, so I shall leave you to your journey. Goodbye,” she said hurriedly.
But unfortunately, in her haste to leave the situation, Louisa did not notice the algae-covered rock just in front of her, and when she put her foot on it, it slid out from beneath her. She fell backwards and hit her head on another rock, and before she knew what was happening, her world plunged into darkness.
“For a Lady’s Lust” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
When Louisa Pelham’s family is forced to sell their house and leave everything behind, Louisa couldn’t feel more relieved to have a chance at a fresh start. However, the last thing she expected was to meet the endearingly attractive brother of the Duke of Grenfell, Isaac, who desperately wants to buy their house. Just when their passionate affair starts to grow, things take an unexpected turn for the worst, as Louisa’s father suffers an apoplectic attack and comes close to death. Suddenly, Louisa must find the strength to grow beyond her age, as her father can no longer financially support them. She is forced to face what seems like a dead-end option; to accept a very wicked offer from a man who wishes to ruin Isaac. In return, he promises to marry Louisa and restore her family back into society. Will Louisa follow her fiery heart and surrender to her burning desire? Or will she jump at the chance to pull herself out of her ruinous life?
Isaac Quince, the younger brother of the Duke of Grenfell, is destined to become a lawyer. When he hears about a house on sale, he instantly wants to buy it, but it’s not only the investment property he has his eye on… More importantly, he wants to use the purchasing process as an excuse to casually court the family’s seductive daughter who stole his heart from the moment he laid eyes on her. Even though he has noticed her before and felt the electrifying connection, he never had an excuse to get close to her. This time though, he intends to win not only her body, but her fiery heart as well. The only obstacle is Stephen Strandmere and his long-standing grudge against Isaac, which makes him capable of anything that would guarantee Isaac’s financial and social failure. Will Isaac manage to convince Louisa he is her sizzling soul mate before it’s too late?
Torn between her family, the man she loves and the man who promises to save her, Louisa must make a decision. And she’d better make the right one, as just a tiny mistake can blow everything up. With Isaac’s and Louisa’s rivalry transforming into burning desire, it is clear that it is too late to resist their overwhelming connection. When every thrilling kiss sparks hotter desire, will Isaac and Louisa’s love endure this temptation? Or will Stephen manage to destroy this passionate affair once and for all?
“For a Lady’s Lust” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.