Seducing an Earl under the Mistletoe (Preview)


Lady Evelina’s heart fluttered like a bottled butterfly, as she found herself amid the labyrinth of bookshelves, lined with ancient tomes enveloped in the soft glow of candlelight. The scent of old parchment and wood polish mingled with the flowery perfume of her presence. Her eyes locked with the man who was standing opposite her, their clandestine intentions hidden behind hushed whispers and exchanged glances. 

Evelina’s heart raced as she stepped closer to Sebastian, as the silent acknowledgment of their passion echoed all around them, veiled by the sanctity of the library’s dimly lit corners. She knew they didn’t belong here. Everything about this was forbidden, but then again, so was their love. All she could do was extend her hand to him, her delicate fingers brushing against his, a clandestine touch that sent shivers through her, igniting a flame of longing that she struggled to contain. 

As they moved closer, the rustle of her silk gown and the sound of their muffled breaths filled the air, creating an intimate symphony that heightened their anticipation. Sebastian, possessing a strength and confidence that matched his aristocratic stature, drew Evelina into his arms, the warmth of his touch melting her resolve.

With each stolen glance and subtle caress, their desires deepened, kindling a fire that threatened to consume them both. Evelina’s heart pounded in her chest as Sebastian’s lips gently grazed her earlobe, his whispered endearments setting her senses ablaze. The scent of his cologne, mingled with the fragrance of aged books, was intoxicating.

In the secluded aisle of the library, amidst towering shelves and the weight of history surrounding them, their passion found release. Their lips met in a forbidden kiss, a mingling of fervor and restraint that left them both breathless. The stolen moment between them was a fusion of intellect and desire, a dance of longing that defied the constraints of societal norms.

Lady Catherine Winters nodded at the excerpt she had chosen, finally concluding that it would be the perfect addition to the letter she had already started to write, addressed to her publisher. She was seated at her opulent writing table, as the gentle candlelight accentuated the honey-colored hue of her hair, making it seem almost luminescent in the soft glow. Each strand was meticulously in place, a testament to her refined sense of appearance. 

Her gaze, framed by delicate, arched eyebrows, revealed the keen intelligence and steely determination residing in her grey-blue eyes. They were eyes that had witnessed the world through the lens of privilege and nobility, harboring a wisdom that came from generations of aristocratic lineage. The eyes spoke of a woman accustomed to command and unyielding in her expectations, and yet here she was, in expectation of Christmas family drama she could barely have any effect on. It was simply one of those hectic moments one had to endure, and that was it. 

She sighed heavily as she dipped the quill in ink, her thoughts measured and precise, as always. 

The manuscript should be ready shortly after Christmas, and no sooner than that, I’m afraid. As a time-honored tradition within the Winters family, it is my duty…

Catherine stopped to wonder whether she should add and privilege. The truth was, she loved her family, but this was more of a duty. Her family had always been prone to emotional outbursts on both ends of the spectrum, and as someone who had a tendency to think reasonably, she sometimes found this difficult to process. 

She nodded silently to herself, then continued writing. 

…to partake in the familial festivities at our ancestral estate in Brighton. Hence, it is with a mix of anticipation and a tinge of regret that I inform you of my temporary absence from the heart of literary endeavors that is to be found only in London during this Yuletide season. 

However, rest assured that my commitment to the esteemed publication of my latest serial ‘Reflections of Forbidden Virtues’ remains steadfast. I anticipate resuming our professional dialogue upon my return, especially the topic of the book design. I anticipate an exquisitely designed cover, a tasteful selection of fine vellum adorned with gold filigree, and a crest embossed in the finest gilt, which shall truly encapsulate the essence of the ideals of love I expound within the pages. But I would be happy to discuss these after the holidays. 

Until then, I extend my heartfelt wishes for a most joyous Christmas and a prosperous New Year. 

Yours faithfully, 

Carver Frost

Catherine wondered if she would ever get accustomed to this name. Even after all this time, it still felt foreign, although in a way, it did belong to her. It was her own creation, a part of her own mind and heart. Yet, she knew that they would never understand. She had to keep hiding behind this pseudonym and accept her fate as it was. 

Chapter One

In the gentle embrace of a winter’s evening, as the first snowflakes descended from the heavens, Lady Catherine and her dear aunt, Prudence Birdside, the Viscountess Birdside, stood outside their London residence, wrapped in the embrace of fur-lined coats to stave off the evening chill. The soft glow of the lamplight cast a warm, comforting aura around them, lending a magical quality to the falling snow.

Lady Birdside, a silent witness to the Winters’ family’s ups and downs for the past several years, was the first one to break the tranquil silence, which seemed to soothe Catherine. 

“The soiree last night was quite the affair, dear Catherine,” she said as her eyes reflected the shimmer of the snow. “I must say, you have certainly managed to capture the attention of quite a few eligible suitors.” 

Catherine offered a tender smile, appreciating her aunt’s care and concern. “Indeed, it was a pleasant gathering. However, my heart lies in pursuits beyond the realm of matrimony. My true love, Aunt, is the freedom to pursue knowledge and contributing to society.”

Her aunt nodded, understanding the determination that lay in her niece’s words. “Your path is one of distinction and purpose, my dear. I see so much of your mother in you. Just like you, she always followed her heart and her aspirations.” 

Catherine always found it difficult to talk about her late mother. It had been only five years, but the passage of time was a relative thing. When she found herself lost in the magical process of writing, she noticed that an hour felt as short as a minute, sometimes even a second. But every time she would visit her mother’s grave, her heart clenched in the same amount of anguish it did the first time, the fifth time, the fiftieth time. She could not believe that time healed all wounds. How could she, when the only wound she had was a gaping hole of agony that would not diminish, year after year. 

Tears welled in Catherine’s eyes. She didn’t know what to say, as memories washed over her. But not only that, it was the fact that she was being torn out of the embrace of the woman who had become like a second mother to her, and thrown into the emotional instability that reigned in her own home. She tried to remind herself that she would not only be visiting her father, who himself was unable to find peace after the death of his wife, but she would also once again find herself in the company of her twin brother Marcus, and her younger sister Virginie. Catherine embraced her aunt, assured that their bond was unbreakable. 

“Thank you, Aunt Prudence, for always standing by my side. Your wisdom and love have been there for me in my darkest hours, and you continue to be a pillar of support,” she gushed, her nose buried in the woman’s shoulder, inhaling her smell, which she didn’t want to forget. 

“Come now,” her aunt smiled as the two ladies pulled apart. “A most joyous time of the year is ahead of us. And you get to spend it with your loved ones. Rejoice, my dear. Then, once you’ve had enough of them, run on back here.” 

Both ladies chuckled sweetly at this, after which Catherine climbed into the waiting carriage, feeling an overwhelming mixture of emotions. Sadness at parting with her aunt, apprehension at visiting her father, but excitement to see her siblings. She wiped away her tears and closed the carriage door, feeling a surge of determination to enjoy her time in Brighton, and then immediately, upon her return, continue her work on the final chapter of her newest manuscript. 

Seated within her elegant carriage, adorned in the finest of traveling attire, Catherine gazed out at the passing cityscape. Buildings gradually gave way to open fields and glimpses of the English countryside. The crisp winter air filled the carriage, invigorating her senses and reminding her of the freedom that lay beyond the city’s boundaries.

The journey was accompanied by the gentle rhythm of horse hooves and the occasional muffled chatter of the driver. Catherine, a keen observer of the world around her, marveled at the changing scenery. Trees, barren yet beautiful, stood tall against the winter sky, their branches intricately etched against the canvas of clouds.

As they approached the outskirts of Brighton, the scent of sea air mingled with the crispness of winter. The sight of the vast expanse of the English Channel brought a sense of peace and familiarity. The waves, gentle and rhythmic, whispered tales of the family history intertwined with this coastal paradise.

However, as her carriage rolled to a graceful halt in the courtyard of her family estate, a lingering sense of unease settled within her. She peered out of the carriage window, only to notice that the welcoming committee of servants and family members was conspicuously absent. The atmosphere, though peaceful against the backdrop of the sea, felt oddly subdued. 

Alighting from the carriage, her footfalls echoing in the emptiness, Catherine cast a concerned glance at the estate. The grandeur of the Georgian mansion loomed before her, but the silence that enveloped it was palpable, a stark contrast to the usually bustling homecoming.

I wonder where everyone is, she thought to herself, her brow furrowing in confusion. 

Not waiting a moment longer, she ventured into the estate, the doors creaking open eerily. A chilling hush greeted her as she stepped into the spacious foyer. The grand staircase loomed like a silent sentinel, the portraits of ancestors gazing down with a solemn air. 

At that moment, the butler appeared, somehow later than he ought to have been. He smiled upon seeing her. “Lady Catherine,” he bowed immediately. 

“Bowers,” she said as she smiled back. 

Just as she was about to ask where everyone was, she heard voices from the drawing room. She felt momentarily relieved at the sound of familiar voices, and yet curious about the argument that had obviously been ongoing for quite some time. She stepped into the chamber, and her presence drew all three people there to an abrupt pause in their heated discussion. 

“Ah, Cate!” Marcus, with his striking handsomeness and stern countenance, was the first one to exclaim. “You’re here!” 

Virginie immediately joined him. “Dear Cate, we did not expect you so soon!” 

While Marcus possessed the good looks of their father, intertwined with a bit of a temper, Virginie had always been a mirror image of their mother, a vision of delicate beauty and youthful charm. Her features were imbued with a sweet innocence that only seemed to enhance her loveliness, and when she smiled, her playful spirit surfaced even more, eager to explore the wonders of the world around her. 

The siblings embraced cordially, after which their father approached Catherine and wrapped her into an embrace. Bryant Winters, the Earl of Saltdean, was a man who once possessed a dignified handsomeness that spoke of noble lineage and refined character. In his youth, his strong jawline and well-chiseled features were complemented by a full head of dark hair. 

However, the passage of time had etched its story on Lord Saltdean. The loss of his beloved wife five years ago had left a visible mark on his countenance. The years weighed on him, causing his hair to go silver and lines to carve across his face, a testament to the heartache and sorrow he had endured. His once-vibrant eyes had dimmed, carrying a somber depth that bore witness to the depths of his grief.

“It is so nice to see you all,” Catherine said, once the warm greetings were exchanged. “I hope all is well here?” 

Marcus nodded, a gentle smile breaking his stern façade. “Indeed, dear Cate. A minor disagreement over a game, nothing more, I assure you.” 

Virginie chimed in, her eyes twinkling with affection and joy at seeing her sister home for the holidays. “We were just discussing the nuances of a certain chess match that took a surprising turn.” 

“Who lost?” Catherine wondered, on the verge of a chuckle. It would not be the first time that her father and her brother had argued over a game of chess, any game really, in an effort to prove the other wrong. 

“Father,” Marcus shot his answer as if out of a cannon. 

“If we were playing by wrong rules, then maybe,” Lord Saltdean announced with a dignified scoff. 

Catherine and Virginie exchanged a meaningful glance, then burst into a joyous chuckle. The family’s reunion continued in the familiar setting of their drawing room, where the soft glow of the fireplace and the comforting aroma of tea that had just been brought in by one of the servants provided a comforting sense of ease. 

Seated next to her, Virginie seized the opportunity to lean closer to her sister. “Oh, Cate, do tell me about London. I’ve missed the hustle and bustle of the city. Any noteworthy news or intriguing stories from the society circles?” 

Catherine chuckled again. “London has been its usual whirlwind of activity, but you know I hardly pay attention to such things.”

“Indeed,” Virginie sighed with disappointment. “I hoped that would change.” 

“Well, I am truly sorry to disappoint you, my dear,” Catherine teased, much to the delight of her sister. 

Virginie glanced over at their brother and father, who seemed to have been distracted by their own conversation for the moment, then continued, “If you don’t have any news, I do. You remember that charming gentleman I met during our last trip to London?” 

Catherine thought about it for a moment. “Comte Barrault?” 

“Yes, Amaury Barrault,” Virginie confirmed, with a twinkle in her eye. “He is so wonderful, Cate. He has been courting me. We’ve exchanged letters, and I do believe that this will blossom into something truly special.” 

Catherine beamed at her sister’s news, thrilled for her. “I am so happy to hear that. I am certain that he is a gentleman of character, although it never hurts to be cautious, especially with people you’ve just met.” 

Catherine could see that her sister did not particularly appreciate this sisterly advice, so Catherine smiled again, taking her by the hand. 

“But you are a good judge of character, my dear. If you see him as a good man, I’m sure that is what he is,” she added, much to Virginie’s delight.

“If only Marcus was as good a judge of character as you and I,” Virginie said in a conspiratorial manner.

“What makes you say that?” Catherine wondered. 

“Lady Willoughby,” Virginie clarified, and Catherine remembered the lady in question as Marcus’ latest paramour. Her sister continued, unaware that Marcus was now within earshot. “It is truly heart-wrenching. He was truly enamored with her, but it seems that fate had other plans.” 

Just as the two sisters were lost in their gossip, Marcus cleared his throat loudly, a hint of amusement in his eyes. “Ladies…gossiping about your brother’s heartbreak? I trust my ears are playing tricks on me.” 

Caught off guard, Catherine and Virginie exchanged sheepish glances before bursting into laughter. Marcus joined in, playfully shushing them and changing the topic of conversation. The delightful banter continued, reminding them all of the precious bonds they shared as a family. It was moments like this that reminded Catherine that things could be normal again, that things could actually be well again. 

Just as Catherine expected, the conversation quickly focused on Christmas. 

“I can’t wait to decorate the tree! We should have ribbons and baubles and mistletoe! The halls must echo with laughter and cheer, just like in the stories!” 

Leaving everyone to the joys of planning, Catherine slipped away from the drawing room, excusing herself under the guise of ensuring her belongings were properly arranged in her chamber. As she made her way through the hallways, her mind was preoccupied with thoughts of the upcoming celebrations. Christmas had been her mother’s favorite time of the season, and this would be their fifth Christmas without her. It still felt strange. Catherine wondered if that feeling would ever change. 

As she stepped into the courtyard first to see whether her trunks had even reached her chamber, a scene unfolded before her which seemed almost like a scene from one of her own stories. Approaching on horseback was an unfamiliar rider, his silhouette elegant against the backdrop of the estate. The setting sun cast a golden hue on his features, accentuating his good looks and the grace of his movements. His eyes, she imagined, were a deep shade of mystery, hidden by the shadow of his top hat.

Catherine found herself captivated, her breath caught in her throat as if she had stumbled upon the hero of a romantic tale. There was an air of sophistication and allure about him that sent her heart racing and her thoughts spiraling into a whirlwind of possibilities. Desire flickered within her, an ember lit by the flame of curiosity and the allure of the unknown. She envisioned the tale of an unexpected love, an adventure waiting to be written, and her writer’s soul hungered for the inspiration that stood before her.

“Ah, you’re here, old boy!” Catherine could hear her brother’s voice before the mysterious rider even stopped before them both. 

She exchanged a meaningful glance with Marcus, then focused on the horse first, then the rider. She watched as he dismounted his horse, his movements fluid, a captivating blend of strength and masculine elegance. As he stepped closer, Catherine couldn’t help but be mesmerized by his presence. His eyes seemed to possess fathomless depth, and his demeanor exuded a quiet confidence that was both intriguing and alluring.

“Am I late?” the man asked. 

“By no means,” Marcus shook his head, then the man’s hand. “You are just in time.” Then, as if he had even forgotten Catherine was standing next to her, he added. “Oh, and may I introduce my sister, Lady Catherine. Catherine, this is an old friend of mine, Arthur Taylor, the Earl of Rinder.” 

“It is a pleasure, Lady Catherine.” He bowed before her. 

“The pleasure is mine, Lord Rinder,” Catherine replied, feeling herself slightly tongue-tied by this handsome man, as she offered a graceful curtsey. He smiled at her mysteriously, almost as if he was wondering whether they had met before. Her eyes met his, and she couldn’t help but be captivated by the intrigue and charm that seemed to emanate from him.

As Marcus continued the introductions and discussed the plan for their ride, Catherine found herself stealing glances at Lord Rinder. His features were handsome, with an air of quiet confidence that fascinated her. His eyes, expressive and deep, seemed to hold a world of untold stories and wisdom. At that moment, Virginie herself appeared, and after a brief introduction, she had an idea that stunned everyone. 

“Shall we embark on an adventure together, the four of us? A ride through the countryside!” 

“Uhm…” Marcus started, but he wasn’t allowed to finish. 

“I don’t see why not.” Lord Rinder interjected. 

“Exactly!” Virginie clapped her hands in delight. “The more the merrier!” 

Catherine and Virginie exchanged glances, their anticipation growing. This unexpected twist added a layer of excitement to the outing, and the prospect of sharing this experience with Lord Rinder made it all the more intriguing.

Half an hour later, the ladies had changed into their riding habits, and they returned to the gentlemen. The stable boys brought their horses, and as soon as they mounted their horses, they set off together. The group formed a picturesque scene against the backdrop of the sprawling estate. The wind carried their laughter and conversations as they rode through the beautiful countryside, the charm of the day heightened by the delightful company. Catherine had no idea where she was riding off to, but she was eager to find out. 

Chapter Two

The horses’ hooves gently crunched through the frost-covered fields, the crisp winter air invigorating and the landscape a breathtaking panorama of white. The sun hung low, casting a golden glow that danced across the frosted grass, creating an enchanting atmosphere.

Behind the two men, the ladies rode side by side, commenting on the nature that surrounded them. 

“The fields look like they’re covered in diamonds!” Marcus’ younger sister exclaimed. 

The one who had instantly captured Arthur’s attention, replied breathlessly, “Indeed, a winter wonderland.” 

But Arthur could barely focus on the winter wonderland around him, and there were two reasons for that. The first one was auditory, as Marcus’s words poured right into Arthur’s mind, where there was already his own maelstrom of thoughts and emotions taking reign. 

“…it is all simply too much sometimes,” Arthur could hear Marcus say. “I have taken most of the responsibility for Catherine and Virginie, and it weighs heavily on my heart. Taking care of the family, of the girls…sometimes, the weight of all these duties seems insurmountable, old boy.” 

Arthur listened intently as they directed the horses further and further away from the manor. Having known Marcus for years, he also knew the extent of his friend’s devotion to his family, and the challenges he now faced not only as a brother, but also as another father figure, despite the fact that their father was still alive and well. 

The first one was true, but the second one…Arthur knew of the incredible amount of debt the man had managed to accumulate, ever since the death of his wife. But everyone had simply attributed that to the pain and anguish of losing a spouse. Arthur could understand such loss. After all, his own brother had disappeared and was presumed dead. Was there anything more difficult than living in doubt, in painful hope, than not knowing whether someone was alive or dead? It was better not to think about that. 

However, at the same time, there were more people in Lord Saltdean’s household depending on him. He could not allow himself to succumb to despair. And he was glad to see that Marcus had stepped up and started to take care of his family in a way that earned him even more respect in Arthur’s eyes. 

“I can only imagine, old chap,” Arthur nodded, turning to glance at his friend, then shifting his focus to the horizon before him. “Your dedication to your family is admirable, but remember, you are not alone in this journey. I am here if you need anything.” 

Arthur tried to focus on his friend’s words, but that was becoming increasingly more difficult with the weight of his own troubles. Still, he was a good friend, and good friends listened. 

“Thank you, Arthur,” Marcus voiced his gratitude. “Your words bring me solace. But it’s not only that…it seems no matter what I do, I cannot seem to do right sometimes. I cannot escape heartbreak no matter how hard I try.” 

Arthur’s thoughts momentarily drifted to his own concerns, a complex whirlwind of emotions and responsibilities he wrestled with. However, he chose to keep them within, choosing instead to focus on providing comfort to Marcus.

“Has something happened?” Arthur inquired. 

“Something always happens.” Marcus sighed. “I wonder if there is even a point talking about it.” 

“Sometimes, it is enough to simply get something off your chest,” Arthur reminded him. “In time, everything falls into place.” 

Arthur did not believe that one bit. Some things were broken, and no matter how much one tried, one could never piece them back together. Death left an empty place that could never be filled, just like the shoes he was forced to fill now. The death of his brother had left a burden for him, and how was he supposed to carry it now, when he had been a carefree spirit all his life? 

“Isn’t it nice to believe that?” Marcus said, his voice bringing Arthur back from the storm of his own painful thoughts. “But enough about me, old boy. I have been selfish enough in sharing only my own troubles. How are you doing?”

Arthur, caught off guard by Marcus’ sudden shift in focus, hesitated for a moment. He had always been one to bear his own burdens and put on a brave face, reluctant to burden others with his worries. But the genuine concern in Marcus’ eyes encouraged him to open up.

‘Thank you, Marcus,” Arthur finally spoke, choosing honesty over stoicism. “Truth be told, there are challenges I face in my endeavors, and as you know of my loss which has left a void that is difficult to fill.”

“Still no word?” Marcus asked, his voice down to a whisper, as if he wasn’t sure whether they were allowed to talk about Arthur’s missing brother. 

“I doubt there will ever be,” Arthur admitted with a pained tone of voice. 

“One should never lose hope.” 

“Even when hope causes more grief than letting go?” Arthur asked. 

Just as Marcus was about to reply, Virginie appeared next to her brother, manifesting as if out of thin air. 

“You two slowpokes need a bit of a jar, it seems,” she said, her exuberant enthusiasm infectious, injecting a burst of youthful energy into the moment that had become overly melancholic. “How about a race?” 

“Race, you say?” Marcus grinned, immediately caught up in Virginie’s excitement. “Well then, let’s make it a lively affair!”

 With a mischievous glint in his eye, Marcus urged his horse forward, gaining a lead in the race. The wind whipped through his hair as the horse galloped ahead, carrying him swiftly across the frosty fields.

“That’s not fair, Marcus!” Virginie exclaimed competitively as she spurred her horse to follow her brother. Their laughter filled the air as the race continued, the joy of the moment making the bitter cold of winter feel insignificant.

As the laughter and the excitement of the race faded, Arthur turned his attention to Lady Catherine, who was now riding by his side. 

“It appears we weren’t part of the race,” he remarked in an amused manner. 

Catherine smiled, her eyes reflecting the beauty of the snowy landscape. “No, not this time. I prefer the gentle pace of a leisurely ride, taking in the beauty of our surroundings.”

He was glad to hear that. Arthur couldn’t help but notice the radiant smile that graced Catherine’s face as their horses continued to walk in unison. Her smile was like a burst of sunshine on a winter day, illuminating her delicate features and adding a warmth to the cold, frost-kissed air. Strangely, she managed to make him forget all about his troubles, if only for a few precious moments. 

“You know, it is so strange that Marcus and you have been friends for so long, but up until now, we’ve never really met,” she pointed out, a comment that he liked for some reason. He liked that he had sparked an interest in her, for she had the same effect on him. 

“I spend most of my time in London,” he explained. “With Mother here and Father abroad, it is my duty to take care of most of the estate affairs, and as you know, the good solicitors are all in London.” 

“That is true,” she smiled. 

He wondered if Marcus had ever spoken of him to his sisters, but before he could get lost in this thought, she continued. 

“There is a lovely little brook nearby,” he heard her say. “Even if it is frost-bitten, it is still a marvelous sight. There is a small wooden bridge there. The horses could rest, and we could take a walk…if you’d like, of course.” 

He couldn’t resist smiling at the final addition to her sentence, almost as if she felt self-conscious at the last minute. 

“I would,” he replied as his horse followed hers, leading him down a path he had never been before. 

Shortly after, they found themselves dismounting their horses and looking around them. Catherine rubbed her upper arms with her gloved hands, the air crisp with the bite of the season. 

“Are you cold?” Arthur immediately asked, ready to take off his own coat for a lady in need, but her shaking of the head assured him there was no need for that. 

“Pleasantly so,” she smiled. “Come, the bridge is right over there.” She tied her horse’s reins to a low-hanging branch, and he followed suit.

Their steps echoed softly against the snowy path as they approached the old wooden bridge that spanned a gently flowing brook. The structure stood as a timeless sentinel, a testament to the history of the land. 

Taking a quick glance at her, Arthur only now realized how different they were. Catherine, a true Londoner, was adorned in the fashion of the city—her attire a blend of elegance and urban sophistication. Her eyes were bright, reflecting a life immersed in the hustle and bustle of the capital. She carried with her an air of cultured refinement, an essence of the city streets she knew so well.

Arthur, on the other hand, was the epitome of a countryside enthusiast. He wore a sturdy overcoat and boots caked with mud from the rural paths he often traversed. His eyes held a glint of deep contentment, a reflection of his heart deeply rooted in the open fields, the trees, and the whispers of the wind.

At that very moment, he couldn’t suppress his chuckle. 

“Is something funny?” she asked, not sounding offended but rather intrigued. 

“Just the fact that your brother and sister left us here all alone, two people who could not be more different,” he pointed out, still amused. 

She tilted her head a little as she spoke. “You think we are so different?” 

“I can prove it,” he said, gesturing around himself. “Tell me what you see.” 

She took a moment, then turned to him again. “I see a bridge. A very practical one. I love how it seamlessly melds with the natural surroundings. It is like a charming relic of a simpler time.” 

Her answer made him smile. It was more creative than he expected it to be. 

“What do you see?” she wondered. 

“The river flowing below,” he replied, gazing into the distance. “I hear the tranquil melody that soothes one’s soul. I see the freedom and man’s closeness to nature, which can be found only in the countryside, the opposite of confined spaces and crowded streets of the city.” 

She smiled back at him when their eyes met again. White snowflakes adorned her hair and shoulders like delicate pearls, and the subtle blush on her cheeks heightened her beauty in the ethereal winter light. Her smile was warm and genuine, melting the coldness of the winter day. Arthur couldn’t help but be captivated by her, the radiance of her presence amplifying the already stunning scenery around them.

“That was very poetic,” she admitted. “You should think about becoming a writer.” 

“Oh, absolutely not,” he shook his head quickly as they continued to walk across the bridge slowly. 

“Why not?” she wondered. “I would love to read whatever you write.” 

“You love to read?” he asked, intrigued. 

“Most certainly,” she confessed without any hesitation. “I love classic romantic tales and poetry.” She continued to share a few of her favorites, and he watched her face light up with enthusiasm as she spoke. “It is somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine,” she chuckled, ending her little monologue. 

“Oh, we all have one of those,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. 

“Even you?” she teased. “I cannot imagine someone like you indulging in anything mischievous. You seem too nice.” 

Arthur had to admit that he didn’t like that. He didn’t want her to think that he was too nice. What man wanted a woman to think so of him? 

“Well…” he started, wondering if it was a good idea to admit this, but he knew he had to say something, “if you must know, my guilty pleasures are the decadent, fantastical romances penned by Carver Frost.” 

“Carver Frost?” Catherine echoed the name, halting immediately. Startled for a reason Arthur could not explain, Catherina took a step back, gasping loudly as her foot plunged through a rotten plank, leaving her stuck and half-submerged in the chilly stream below. Panic and embarrassment washed over her as she struggled to free herself. 

“Are you all right, Catherine?” Arthur exclaimed, rushing to her aid, his concern evident in his eyes.

“I-I’m…I’m all right, just a bit stuck,” she stammered, attempting to free her foot from the broken gap.

With a strong and steady grip, Arthur helped lift her out of the water, her face flushed with a mixture of cold and embarrassment. Their eyes met, and they shared nervous laughter filled the air, breaking the tension of the unexpected incident.

As Arthur steadied Catherine on the bridge, their hands met in a clumsy but tender embrace, a spark of connection igniting between them. Her touch sent a rush of warmth through him, and he could feel the heartbeat of the moment, as if the universe had conspired to bring them closer. He didn’t know why, but his body, his mind, they refused to release her from his grip. He could see her cheeks flushing, not just from the cold, but from the same sensation that was making his own heart race like a horse at Ascot’s. 

As Arthur helped Catherine to safety, his concern for her well-being evident, he couldn’t help but notice a sense of unease in her reaction to his earlier confession about enjoying Carver Frost’s novels. The curiosity lingered in the back of his mind, but for the moment, he focused on ensuring she was safe and comfortable.

“I think it would be best if we head back and get you warmed up,” Arthur suggested, his tone caring and considerate.

Catherine, regaining her composure, nodded appreciatively. “Yes, that sounds like a good plan. And this will be such a fun story to share with Marcus and Virginie.” 

He couldn’t help but grin at her words. She was unlike any other city girl he had ever met, and her outlook on life was utterly refreshing. Usually, ladies would be aghast at the fact that they had soiled their gown, while she had not mentioned that once. Moreover, she was in a good mood in a situation that required great effort of her to remain so, which he appreciated more than anything. More and more, he was drawn to this lovely, unusual lady, and the desire to know more about her gripped him fervently.


After they returned home, the following two hours were spent by the fireplace of the Winters’ residence, and shortly after, Arthur waved them goodbye, returning to his own home. Upon returning, Arthur was unexpectedly intercepted by his mother, who wore a welcoming smile and an air of sophistication as always. 

“Ah, darling! You are just in time!” she exclaimed, walking over to him and giving him a peck on the cheek. “I am hosting a small gathering of friends for tea, and it would be so marvelous if you could join us!’ He could immediately see that glint of matchmaking intentions in her eyes. 

Arthur was well aware of the entire situation, so he politely declined the invitation. “While I would love to join you all, Mother, I’m afraid that the horseback riding from this afternoon has made me utterly exhausted. My only wish now is to retire to my study and perhaps go over an important business matter I have left for later today.” 

His mother, however, persisted, the twinkle in her eyes revealing her ulterior motive. “Oh, Arthur, can’t that wait? Your betrothed might arrive in Brighton sooner than you think. It would be a wonderful opportunity for you two to spend time together and get to know each other better.”

“She is not my betrothed yet, Mother,” Arthur reminded her, although it was something his mother paid little heed to. In her mind, the engagement was already arranged between the two families, although no official announcement had been made yet. 

He was also in no mood to delve into this discussion right now. He gently squeezed her hand. “I assure you, Mother, there will be plenty of time to acquaint myself with the lady when the time is right. But for now, this business endeavor requires my undivided attention,” he replied, trying to convey his utter determination. 

His mother, although slightly disappointed, relented, knowing her son well enough to understand when he was firm in his decisions. “Very well, Arthur. I shall inform our guests. But do keep in mind the importance of these social gatherings and the opportunities they present.”

“Of course, Mother,” he said with a smile, then hastily retreated to his study, where he picked up a book in an effort to focus on something else, other than the lovely afternoon he so unexpectedly spent with Marcus’ sister. He couldn’t explain this sudden infatuation with a lady he had just met. No woman had ever had such an effect on him, and he had no idea what to attribute it to. 

He started to leaf through his book, nestled in his cozy armchair, but he could barely concentrate. He sighed, blinking heavily, then glancing at the window. The sight before him almost made his heart stop. 

There, in the dimly lit courtyard, he could clearly see a dark, concealed figure skulking about in the bushes. Startled by this unexpected sight, his heart raced as he dropped the book onto the floor and rushed over to the window. 

The figure moved with stealth, concealed within the shadows of the bushes. His instincts urged him to investigate, to unravel this mystery. Quickly, he grabbed his lantern, the urgency of the situation dispelling any hesitation. With a determined stride, he exited his study and made his way to the courtyard. Each step echoed in the stillness of the evening, shrouded in eerie silence. 

Arthur cautiously approached the bushes where he had seen the figure, his lantern casting an illuminating glow on the surroundings. His senses were heightened, and he felt a mix of apprehension and curiosity. As he parted the foliage, he was greeted with an empty space. The figure had seemingly vanished.

Puzzled, he searched the vicinity thoroughly, finding no trace of the mysterious intruder. Arthur couldn’t shake the feeling that something was amiss, as he was still unsure of what he had witnessed. Returning to his study, he remained vigilant, the incident leaving him with a lingering sense of unease. It was clear that the mystery of the concealed figure was not easily explained, and he vowed to remain vigilant, ready to confront any future peculiarities that might come his way.

“Seducing an Earl under the Mistletoe” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Catherine Winters, a spirited young woman, torn from her cherished life in London and her secret career as a romance serial writer, is forced to confront her family’s eclectic chaos during Christmastide. Amidst the holiday frenzy, a tempting man captures her attention, the enigmatic Lord Rinder. As they share a chance encounter beneath the mistletoe, a spark ignites between them, leading to a scandalous pact that promises to redefine their destinies.

Can Lady Catherine weave a real-life love affair as intoxicating and alluring as the passionate narratives she pens in her novels?

Arthur Taylor’s tranquil life in the countryside is turned upside down when his parents reveal their plot to arrange a marriage with him and Lady Margot Fisher, a woman once promised to his deceased brother. However, a fateful kiss with the tantalizing Catherine sets his body and soul ablaze. In a clandestine agreement, Arthur experiences the liberating joys of a carefree existence, while becoming the muse Catherine needs for her passionate tales.

Will Arthur be able to defy his parents’ scheming to pursue the fiery Lady that stirred his heart?

The simplicity of their arrangement is short-lived as dark clouds gather over the Winters family. With a dire family secret revealed, the threat to shatter their passion-filled world is tangible. Together, Catherine and Arthur must face the pressure of society, familial expectations, and the whispers of their own hearts. When everything seems hopeless, can the two of them navigate through the storm and ensure the triumph of their sizzling love?

“Seducing an Earl under the Mistletoe” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

One thought on “Seducing an Earl under the Mistletoe (Preview)”

  1. Hello there, my dearest readers! I hope you enjoyed this early Christmas gift and you can’t wait to read the rest of this fiery romance! I will be waiting for your first impressions here. Thank you! ❄️♥️✨

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