Inevitably a Duchess: A Spy Series Novella by Jessie Clever
2014 Golden Leaf Finalist
Richard Black, the Duke of Lofton, waited for her, watching as the agony of marriage broke the woman he loved. Lady Jane Haven had to find a reason to survive, a purpose to carry on when it seemed God would not just let her die. But when fate finally offers them a chance to be together, a treasonous plot threatens to keep them apart. And when it becomes more than just a matter of survival, Jane must find the strength to be his duchess.
“You’re so beautiful, Jane,” he whispered, and the blush grew hotter on her face.
He kissed her once more, softly this time, and it was as if his kiss carried with it all that he could not say for Jane would not let him. A year may have been a long time for some, but for Jane, she was only beginning to feel the healing powers of passing time. But with the healing also came reminders that other things were moving on as well. Every time she saw the boys she marked a new change, a new development, and a hiccup of guilt would come to her for just a fleeting second. And she wished she could be stronger, she wished she could get stronger before time had passed completely. But whenever she felt brave enough to take three steps forward, something would push her back two. It was a kind of progress, she supposed, but it was a progress that time did not favor kindly.
When Richard finally ended the kiss, he did not release her. His gaze held hers until finally he spoke.
“Jane,” he said with a distinctive note of hesitation, “About what Nathan said-“
Jane laid a finger to his lips, cutting off any further words.
“The careless words of a young child,” she said, her voice strong even as her resolve fluttered. “There’s nothing to think of it.”
Richard’s eyes moved over her, but she refused to let him see how truly deep Nathan’s words had gone. She stood erect and still, no tremor passed through her. And finally, Richard relented.
He released her completely, moving in front of her down the hallway. She watched him recede into the distance for a moment, just enjoying the sight of him as he moved, all grace and poise, silent footfalls on the carpeted floor. She shook her head and began to move after him, picking up her skirts as she went. She was not nearly as silent as he, her petticoats swooshing as her skirts swished over them. A spy, indeed. Stealth would never be her strong suit with all of the noise she made just by walking in a straight line
“I’ll meet you in the foyer, my lady, once I’ve seen to my shoes.”
Jane smiled at Richard’s back, watching him descend the stairs before her. He had always insisted on calling her my lady, and she wondered why he did it. At this point in their affair, she did not really care for the words warmed her regardless of their meaning or intent.
“Very good, Your Grace, but do not tarry. You know I like to observe the occupants of the other boxes before the opera begins.”
“And I wouldn’t want you to miss your opportunity to spy,” he said over his shoulder with a wicked grin.
“Observation, Your Grace. It is merely observation.”
He stopped on the second floor landing to turn to her, his eyes flashing smartly. She couldn’t help but return his smile, his playful enthusiasm too much to conquer.
“Call it what you like, my lady, but it is still spying.”
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About the Author:
In the second grade, Jessie began a story about a duck and a lost ring. Two harrowing pages of wide ruled notebook paper later, the ring was found. And Jessie has been writing ever since.
Armed with the firm belief that women in the Regency era could be truly awesome heroines, Jessie began telling their stories in her Spy Series, a thrilling ride in historical espionage that showcases human faults and triumphs and most importantly, love.
Jessie makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds. For more, visit her website at jessieclever.com.
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Thanks Jessie for stopping by,
Thanks Jessie for stopping by,