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The Duchess of His Heart

Rosie Zweet








This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 by Rosie Zweet

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.



First Edition:
May, 2018




Author’s note: This work is only for ADULT.

All characters are 18+



** Individual pictured is model and used for illustrative purposes only





The Duke

London, 1856.

James nodded to his acquaintances as he passed the crowd, heading to where his son stood. Like always, Lady Goodwood’s ball was smashing success. Giggling debutantes and equally silly young bucks crowded the ballroom, dancing under the candlelight.

Of course, James understood how it felt to be young, and how foolish ones could be. After all, once, he had been young and a fool.

Yet, for someone close to his seventy, James didn’t feel old, only sometimes, when he remembered that most of his old friends were buried six feet under. In those rare times, he had a bout of melancholy.

He clasped his son’s shoulders, grinning from ear to ear. His son had given him yet another healthy grandchild. One more reason he should be thankful that he was still alive.

The majordomo announced in a booming voice. “Her Grace, the Duchess of Mayne.”

James stared the vision. His heart skipped a beat, even after all these years he couldn’t suppress that giddy feeling. Madeline, still, was the prettiest girl, not that he would say it aloud, of course. They were enemy, yet he knew his life would be dull without her.

She was eighteen no longer. Her once raven-black hair was silver now. The years of her reign as the most beautiful woman of the ton was long gone, yet for James, she was still that pesky, little imp. Rebellious and irritating, making him longed to tweak her dainty nose, then kissed her senseless.

His grin widened as his eyes followed her. Gracefully, she climbed down the curving stairs.

“Father, behave,” his son whispered beside him.

James rolled his eyes. His son never understood the fun. He wondered who his stuffy child took after, obviously not him.

For some as old as him, he had no reason to behave. He cared not what those silly ladies and lords would think. He would play cat and mouse with this particular duchess as he pleased. His Madeline and him, they always fought, terrorizing the ton with their antics and outrageous wagers.

Oh, he wished to go back to that time when he was twenty-six, and she was nineteen


The Duchess

Forty years earlier...

Madeline had been happy this morning. Her wedding dress just came. It was exquisite, white, flowing with rosette.

In two days, she was going to be James’ Duchess. She was busy, the housekeeper needed her guidance. Madeline scarcely met her many guests, but many things had to be done. And she had to make sure everything ran smoothly.

She knew the ladies and the lords were already here. The house was full of their noise.

“Pardon?” She couldn’t believe what she just heard. Her mother said that her fiancé was no longer hers.

“The wedding, no, not the wedding, your wedding is off, my dear.”

“You’re lying, Mama?”

Mama’s usually sharp eyes mellowed. And Madeline could see pity there.

Oh, James why why? I thought, we’re, at least, friend...

“Lady Marbury and Lamprey found him kissing your cousin in the garden. Your betrothal is over, girl,” Mama’s eyes locked to hers. “I told you Sarah is a trouble, a wanton, just like her Mother.”

Sarah, of all people, why her, the one who betrayed me?

This must be a lie. Madeline had welcomed her beautiful cousin when the girl shunned by the ton, though, she knew not the nature of her cousin’s scandal a year ago.

Ignoring her mother, Madeline exited the room, looking for her cousin. This must be a misunderstanding. Sarah will tell me so, she prayed.

“Cousin Sarah,” she called the black-hared girl, and hastened her pace crossing the hall.

“Mady…” Her cousin stood, flanked by two other girls, both were James’ sister.

“I heard…” She couldn’t finish her words, for her cousin burst into tears at the sight of her.

Diana, James’ youngest sister, stepped forward, standing between Madeline and her cousin.

“You odious girl, stop abusing your cousin!”

Sarah tugged Diana’s sleeves, trying to stop the angry girl. “It’s not Cousin Mady’s fault…”

But Sarah’s voice fell on deaf ears.

Abuse? Madeline blinked and blinked. What have I done?

***

The confusion turned to anger. Today was the second day Madeline hid in her room. More than once, James tried to talk to her, but she couldn’t face him, not now, or maybe not ever.

She sat by the fire, willing the tears to stop falling, but of course, she had no control over her body, just like she had no control over her cheating fiancé, or she should call him ex-fiancé now.

That faithless man! She wanted to rip his heart out of his chest.

Bitter laugh tumbled out her lips. She wouldn’t go crazy. She was Madeline Summers, a daughter of a duke. She would keep her dignity even if it hurt.

What have I done wrong? She couldn’t help but wonder. She had to admit that in her youth she was a bit wild.

You’ll be James’ Duchess, my dear,” her papa had whispered on her sixth birthday. “But that’s our secret,” he added.

At that time, she didn’t know why man and woman needed to marry, but she always liked James, even he often called her toothless imp. So naturally, after that big revelation, she followed James everywhere he went.

The fact that the boy seemed to hate her lost to her. He didn’t know that they would someday wed, after all.

Year after year passed, she matured into a young lady. She tried her best to be proper, to be his perfect duchess, to meet his approval. No longer an imp, now, she was proper. Her manner was impeccable. Turned out, it was for naught.

Love, one couldn’t force love. Not, that she loved him, she told herself. He was her ticket to be a duchess. That’s all, nothing more. Yet, those blasted tears kept falling.

Her mother called her pretty, and that, too, must be a lie. In her brief came out, only a few had dared to ask her for dance. At first, she thought because everyone knew she was already taken even if it not yet official. But now, she realized that she might be not as pretty as she thought.

Her entire nineteen years was a lie, a big lie. She didn’t know what became of her now.

She wanted to flee, hiding in Grandmama’s house in Scotland, but Mama forbade it. A duke daughter wouldn’t flee, she said. Tomorrow, she had to attend James and Sarah wedding, listening as they said their vow.

She wanted to turn back the time. She should listen to James. He had never wanted this betrothal. He said the word, he proposed, my mind said.

He had time to run away, but he had bent his knee on her eighteenth birthday. Though, now, it felt like just a dream.

Lord, don’t be a fool it’s your father doing, he must force him or something, said the other.

Maybe those gossiping ladies were right. She, Lady Madeline, was the villain in this debacle, like those step-sisters in Cinderella story.

Yes, hate me, it’s better than pity.

Pity. She couldn’t abide that. If villain those people want, a villain I shall be.

Taking the vial from the table, she walked outside. This was time for revenge, enough hiding now. Sooner or later, she had to face people again.

Lady Madeline isn’t a coward!

Tomorrow, if she couldn’t flee, might as well, she made James suffer as she did. The itching powder in this bottle would serve her purpose. Seeing the duke scratching his bum as he said his vow would be hilarious.

For a split second, a genuine smile tugged her lips.

Madeline stood outside James’ door. Oh, God, I’m mad! Squaring her shoulders, she pushed the door.

In the dim light, she could see him sprawled on the big bed, making the big bed looked small.

Walking on her tiptoe, she closed the distance. Heart pounded against her chest. She halted near the edge, eyes rounded as she saw the gleaming skin before her eyes.

Damn him! He slept in peace while I cried my heart out!

This was unforgivable. With trembling hand, she tried to open the vial, but suddenly the world tilted in its axes. Losing her balance, she tumbled on the bed.

A bulky shadow stretched above her body. “James!” she shrieked. Dear God, he was naked!

Gray eyes bored hers as his fingers tried to pry the vial from her grasp. His blond locks fell, curtaining his tanned face.

Pinning her wrists above her head, “What is it, imp?” he asked as he threw the vial onto the carpet with a thud. “You want to poison me, is that it?”

I’m a fool. I couldn’t even do this small thing right.

Much to her horror, tears welled in her eyes.

“Chris! Don’t cry.”

She didn’t want to either, but the dam had broken. She couldn’t stop the wetness that seeped out of her eyes. All she could do was close her eyes, blocking his face from her view. She didn’t need to see him mocking her!

Damn his soul! She hated him for making her became watering pot like this.

Soft lips landed near her eyes, brushing the tears away.

“Please, don’t cry. I’m sorry… I…”

He trailed small kissed on her face, caressing her with his soft, yet form lips, willing the tears to stop.

This is wrong. He was Sarah’s fiancé, not hers anymore. But he’s yours first, said that naughty voice inside her head.

Slowly, she opened her eyes and greeted with his smoldering gray eyes.

“James…”

Time seemed to stand still as their breath mingled. Her heart pounded painfully, loud in her ears.

Their lips drawn to each other, his body crushed hers, knocking her breath away, but she didn’t care. She wanted those lips to plunder hers, just like this, yes, slanting and taking, devouring without civility. Like a hungry beast that he was.

This kiss was different than that kiss he stole on their engagement day. This was hunger. This was an untamed need.

His lips coaxed hers to open. She gasped when his hot tongue touched hers, teaching her how to parry, while down there, his wandering hands brought fire to her flushed skin, making her tingled all over.

She had never known this side of him. Wild and dangerous. Suddenly, she was aware the seven years difference in their age. It hadn’t seemed to matter before.

His palms kneaded her bottom, shaping her fleshy mounds in his large hands, lifting her slightly, rubbing her on his harness.

“James…” she moaned between kisses.

He drew back, panting hard. His lips were swollen, no doubt, just like hers.

“Did I shock you, imp?”

She wanted to deny, but it would be a lie.

“I want to see you,” he rasped. His hands gathered the hem of her nightgown, slowly, he pulled it over her head.

His eyes riveted on her breast, making it hard for her to breath.

Chewing her lips, “James… this isn’t proper,” she said. Even in her own ears, it sounded silly.

“I bet it does, love,” he chuckled, but his darkened eyes didn’t leave her rounded flesh. “Beautiful…” he murmured as his hand cupped the swell of her breast.

“Ahhhh…” she moaned. His touch made her tingled, from head to toe.

His eyes locked hers as bit by bit, he lowered his lips. Her eyes widened when she realized what he was about to do.

Finally, his hot mouth took her aching nipple. “James…” she moaned, fingers raked his hair. Her back arched from the sheer pleasure. Her body shuddered. Heat pooled in her loin.

Loudly, his mouth feasted on her tits, one after another, drawing cries from her lips.

“James… oh James….”

Oh, dear, he was so wicked, and she couldn’t help herself but loving each pull of his naughty lips.

Drawing back, his nose flared. His breathing rasped aloud. Slowly, his lips went down, trailing kisses on her navel, making her quivering inside, and that heat inside her flower turned into lava of needs.

“Oh, James…” she whimpered.

She had no will to resist as he parted her thigh wider, suddenly, his tongue licked her nether lips. Involuntarily, her hips bucked.

Gripping the bed sheet, she couldn’t stop herself from seeking more and more, offering her cunt for his nibbling mouth and wicked tongue.

“I can’t wait,” he panted. In a flash, he crawled up. His lips were back, devouring her lips in a searing kiss.

And down below, she felt a board hardness nudged her cuntlips open. It was so big and hot, despite her wetness, she felt a burned sensation as slowly, he stretched her entrance.

She wanted to see his manhood, yet she was afraid. It felt so big, too big.

He broke the kiss, burying her face in the crook of her neck.

“I’m sorry, imp,” he said as his hips bucked hard, slithering in, as it’s ripping her cunt into two, knocking the breath out of her lung.

Her eyes rolled back, marveling the fullness he brought. His hardness was in a place, deep in her, where no one had before.

Chris, you’re so tight,” he hissed. His face laced with pain. Muscles strained in his neck.

Lifting her face, she kissed his face, his jaw, his cheeks and finally, his lips.

“I’m fine,” she murmured.

Then, he began to move, pulling out of her ravaged cunny and pushed in deeper.

She bit her lip, stopping her whimper. It hurt but felt pleasant too.

“Are you okay?” His gray eyes searched hers.

She nodded. Her hands held his arms. “Stop talking,” she said, trying to be brave, kissing him again.

Her inner wall clung on his rod, following its in and out. Little by little that delicious tingle came back. Each brush of his hot rod stoked the fire in her belly.

He drew back, his eyes peered down, looking at her face, as if he was searching something. Suddenly, he grinned. His lips swooped down, taking her swollen lips, and pumped her cunt harder, in and out, harder and faster.

The friction of their heated flesh was addicting. That need in her belly turned into a wild wife, making her craved for more and more.

Out of sudden, his body fell. His heavy chest flattened her breast, pinning her onto the bed as he rocked her small body, pumping her with his thick manhood.

His teeth graze her neck. His hot breath made her shuddered. The split second his manhood left her felt like hell.

Oh, God, what he is doing to me?

Each friction of his hot length drove her mad. She took a fever. This was no longer a game. She needed him to douse that fire in her.

“My pretty girl. Oh God…”

Clawing his back, she angled her hips, eager to receive his invading rod.

“Faster, James…” she moaned without same.

She wanted became one with him. His pumping became erratic, as if he, too, had that same fever.

God, imp, you feel so good,” he grunted, giving her cunt hard plow she deserved, parting her grasping muscle relentlessly.

Sweat lined on his brows, his body was damp with perspiration. But she didn’t care. Her fingers dug into his taut muscle, holding him tight as his butt rose and fell, pumping her with an urgent need, in and out, in a frantic pace.

She was close to something wonderful. She felt it. It was tangible, but out of reach.

His deep stab made her shattered. “Oh… James…” she cried as her body convulsed. Finally, she crossed that edge of pleasure.

Her cunt clenched, milking his pistoning manhood.

“Oh, my little imp.”

Tortured moans spilled from his lips. His body jerked, sending his twitching rod deeper. She felt a blast of scalding wetness flooding her inside, making her cunt tightened, milking his manhood, wanting more.

“Arrgghhh… God, imp…” His manhood kept twitching, injecting his sticky release again and again.

After several heartbeats, he finished pulsing. He rolled her with him. His arm wounded around her sated body, drawing her back close to his chest, and kissed her hair.

Her conscience flooded back in vengeance.

God, what I have done?

Trying to untangle herself from him, “Release me, your grace,” she said in a haughtiest voice she could muster.

“Now, my dear, what that’s for?”

She threw a pillow at his handsome face. “You oaf. You’re Sarah’s fiancé. Tomorrow is your wedding day, in case you’ve forgotten!”

She tried to scramble away, but his iron hands stopped her.

“Don’t go, please.”

“You’re mad. They’ll find me, find us here!”

She needed to escape this colossal mistake, but gently, he turned her body, facing him. A maddening grin tugged his lips.

“Exactly, my dear. Let’s them find us.”

Her eyes widened in shock. She couldn’t believe what she heard. Why would he want to be found? Unless No, no, she shook her head. He couldn’t possibly love me. He always calls me imp!

“Do you truly want me to wed your cousin?”

Of course, not!

As if he could hear her inner voice, he said: “Then stay, please…”

But why? What are you about now? Thousand question filled her head, but the more important question was, Do you love me?

She could see the answer to all her question in his gray eyes.

“But Sarah…”

“I’m sorry for her, but I can’t marry her. I didn’t mean to involve her in all of this… but I was drunk, you see. That’s mistake. I thought…”

“You thought?”

“I thought she was you, for God’s sake… You both have black hair. I was stupid. This shouldn’t happen.”

Suddenly, she felt bad for her cousin, but she couldn’t let go of this man. Stupid, selfish, arrogant and maddening, and all of that.

“I’ll atone my mistake, but, please imp, don’t let me marry her. I’ll buy her a husband or give her anything she wants—except myself, of course.”

“Are you sure James? Sarah is pretty, you know. I understand if you chose her.” She lied, but she had to make sure.

“Are you daft woman?!”

His arm tightened around her waist, drawing her close to his hard chest. “I only want to marry this silly imp. I have a fondness for a toothless imp, though, she’s no longer toothless now.”

She laughed so hard. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Of course, she remembered the first time they met. Her front teeth were missing, and freckles smattered her nose. A little she-devil, spoiled little girl, a menace for anyone close to her.

“Will you marry me, love?” he asked with serious gray eyes.

“As I recall, you already asked, your grace.”

She was happy, truly happy, all sadness these last two days was forgotten. James was hers. The man she loved was hers.

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Last Ride before the Wedding

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Taken Care of by the Butler

From an Innocent Miss to a Bride

The Colonel’s Errant Wife

My Last Wifely Duty

His Father’s Approval

Replacing Mama

What Pa Did While I Sleep

Wedding Night with My Father-In-Law

Taking Care of My Father’s Urgent Need

My Drunken Father Does Me

Lonely Days with My Father-In-Law

My Uncle Teaches Me before the Wedding

Charity and the Villagers

Charity and Her Uncle

His Rebellious Ward

Forbidden Love

My Father-In-Law-Baby

A Ride with My Suitor’s Father

My Angry Father Checks My Cherry

In Name Only

Teaching My New Father

What Uncle Did Under My Skirt

The Headmaster’s Bedding Lesson

My Father Teaches Me to Please

The Explorer’s Daughter

The Explorer’s Wife

In My Father’s Arm

Basic Instinct: Papa and I in the Jungle

Teasing the Butler

Addicted to Doctor’s Magic Seed

By Aunt’s Order: Uncle Deflowers Me

Consoling My Niece

Older Man: The Mistress’ Faithful Servant (Part 1)

Older Man: The Mistress’ Faithful Servant (Part 2)

Older Man: The Mistress’ Faithful Servant (Part 3)

Forbidden Lust: Welcoming Papa

Older Man: Courtesan’s Training

Forbidden Lust: My Twin, My Other Half

Cajoling Father with My Body

Becoming Papa’s Bride

Older Man: His Innocent Miss

The Marquees’ Inconvenience Bride

His Wayward Daughter

Papa’s Plaything

His Grandfather Impregnated Me!

Perverted Old Man: Maid’s Inspection

It’s Too Big Uncle!

A Hole for Papa

Uncle’s Bedtime Story

Uncle’s Good Little Niece

The Beast of Borneo

Caught In the Act: His Father & Their Little Maid

The Headmaster, Uncle and I

Voyeur: Father and His Young Ward

Cuckold: The Doctor Breaches My Virgin Bride!

Older Man: His Father Deflowers Me!

MMMF: Her Father, My Servant and I

In Lust with My Father-In-Law

Older Man: His Gullible Bride

Uncle’s Christmas Gift

His Daughter’s Curious Hands

Daughter for Sale

Older Man: The Runaway Bride

The Little Matchmaker Awakening

Taboo Lust: The Gypsy’s Daughter

His Tempting Ward

Older Man: The Doctor’s Daughter

Older Man: The Courtesan’s Innocent Daughter

Older Man: The Duke’s Daughter

Making Porn with My Daughter

Her Captive (part 1)

Older Man: His Good Little Wife

The Vicar, My Uncle and I

His Naughty Ward

Impregnating His Sleeping Daughter

Uncle Accidentally Slipped In!

Her Grandfather and Oriental Massage

It’s Wrong Bed, Papa!

Naughty Lessons from Uncle John

Bedded by the Warlord and My Father

Deflowered by Her betrothed’s Father

His Naughty Goddaughter

The Courtesan and the Lonely Older Man

The Courtesan: An Unexpected Visit!

In Wrong Room: Her Tempting Niece!

Naughty Show with His Grandfather

Welcoming His Daughter Home!

Voyeur: Older Man and His Naïve Wife

Older Man: His Lady-Valet

My Bad Uncle

Demon Possessed Daughter

Virgin Bride: Punished by Father-In-Law and Stepfather

Sneaking into Uncles’ Bed

His Gullible Daughter-In-Law

Deceiving the Virgin Miss

Using His Sleeping Daughter

The Wrong Brother: The Earl in My Bed

Grandpapa Eased My Aching Need!

Sharing Their Little Maid


Box Set:

Lady Anne and Her Uncle (1~5)

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The Gullible Miss Jane (1~3)

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Bundle: Older Man & Younger Woman (Regency Lady, 20 Short Stories)

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Papa and His Young Lady Vol. 2 (6 short stories)

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Slightly Taboo: Older Man & Younger Woman (18 Short Stories +2 bonus)

Step Taboo: Dumb Daughter, Sly Father (9 short stories + 2 Bonus)

The Wrong Brother: The Earl in My Bed

England, 1813.

My heart leaped in joy as the carriage rolled down, following the steep road down the hill.

Grandpapa’s country house loomed in the distance, gleaming white and red, surrounded by green spring leaves, down below, near the valley.

My cousins, Philipa and Jane, couldn’t understand my fondness to Grandpapa Langston, but it was to be expected. He wasn’t their grandfather after all. I sighed aloud. That could be said to me too. Sir James Langston wasn’t my real grandfather. The second duke of Griffon was.

But I had never seen this duke, and no doubt, I would hate him if I had. By all account, the late Duke was a horrid man. He married my grandmamma—Grandpapa Langston’s sweetheart—by force and deception, separating the young lovebirds.

The duke was like that dragon who imprisoned the princess in the tower, while Grandpapa Langston was the brave knight. Then, came Mama, the thought of her as the dragon’s spawn made me winced. Of course, she wasn’t that!

Years later, after the duke died, Grandpapa finally reunited with his childhood sweetheart, and took Mama in, raising her as if she was his own daughter.

Just like a fairy tale, the story ended well, at least for some times until Grandmama died a year ago. Poor grandpapa was lonely now. And as a good granddaughter, I came to his rescue. Besides, I preferred his company than those lecherous gentlemen of the ton.

My eyes stung as I remember how they ogled my tits. True, it was much bigger than my cousins’ or any other women of my acquaintance, yet it was rude to stare, wasn’t it?

I couldn’t help it. My tits grew and grew, until it became over large, much to the desperation of the dressmaker.

Such bosom for a little girl,” she said.

I didn’t know which one hurting the most: the fact that my tits weren’t fashionable or she called me a little girl.

I wasn’t a child anymore. Now, I was eighteen, a woman grown. But I knew what the dressmaker meant, my face gave an impression of innocent: rosebud lips, big blue eyes, and pert nose. Just a year before, I wished I looked older. My wish came true, I matured alright, but in an entirely different area. My tits of all place! It made me want to hide in shame.

The carriage swayed and halted. Swiftly, the footman opened the door. Grandpapa’s beaming face welcomed me. He was lean and tall, lanky but not frail, impeccably dressed in an austere black waistcoat and white cravat.

His white hair slicked back and glinted under the sun. His green eyes brimmed with unshed tears. Not even wrinkles on his old face could detract the elegant cuts, or the sharpness of his face. To me, he was the most handsome man in the world.

Without much thought, I lurched into his waiting arms, squealing in delight, for once, I didn’t care that man brushed my tits, in fact, Grandpapa’s chest not only brushed, but squashed my tits.

“Oh, Grandpapa. I miss you.”


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His Lady-Valet

London, 1800.

Sir Montgomery didn’t recognize who I was, just as expected, but still, it stung. I practically grew up under his nose, alongside Bella, his daughter.

Though, he was hardly ever at home, always busy in London. Only God knew what he did there. It was parliament and politics, Bella said. She always complained about her father, but at least, she had a father, unlike me, an orphan.

Sir Montgomery paid little attention to his own daughter, and of course, he paid even less attention to me, Bella’s friend and companion.

Or maybe, just maybe, my charade was working. People often mistook me as a boy when I dressed in breeches and coat. But Bella insisted that I didn’t pass as a boy anymore, so I had to cut my hair, which I refused at first, but in the end, I relented, though, the hair wasn’t short enough according to her liking.

But this tall man didn’t seem to notice that I was, in fact, not a boy.

“Sir…?” I tried to draw his attention.

He sighed aloud. His silvery-blond hair glinted under the spring’s sun as he spun on his heel.

“My valet, you say?” he said, only sparing me a brief glance. His hand held the rein, ready to mount his stallion.

“Yes, sir. I heard your valet is missing.”

His deep-blue eyes narrowed.

Of course, the said-valet wasn’t really gone. Bella had paid the man.

Her father was in a hurry, though, Bella didn’t know why. Her quick mind conjured the plan. And that was a sensible plan.

Sir Montgomery was the perfect candidate to escort me safely to London, at least, his reputation would protect me from curious stares, or Uncle Carl’s minion.

I would rather die first than marry my cousin, Lionel, like Uncle Carl bade me to do.

Releasing the rein, finally, he gave me his utmost attention, scanning my body from head to toe. I fought the urge to tug my clothes. Was there something wrong?

His slow perusing, making me oddly breathless.

Oh, don’t be a ninny!

Squaring my shoulders, I stood still, wishing that my clothes wouldn’t give me away. The garment started to feel too tight in a certain area, but I had no time to sew a new one. Just months ago, it was fit into perfection, but my breasts and hips had begun to grow. I might welcome the curves years ago, but now, it only served as an inconvenience.

My heart raced as his gaze lingered on my chest. His brows furrowed, the line in his forehead deepened.

Please no God, don’t let him notice, please.

Shifting on his feet, his attention was back to his stallion. “You, hardly look old enough,” he murmured.

“I’m a grown… man, sir,” I said with a touch of indignation.

His eyes twinkled. “Really?” A dimple flashed on his cheek.

Well, the man looked pretty: no broken nose, no scar or missing teeth. His high cheekbones tapered down, sharp like a blade. His face was the materialization of that hero—my sister read in her silly’s books. Of course, I wouldn’t swoon. I wasn’t that kind of girl, yet his gaze made me—I didn’t know what this feel called. Odd, I supposed. Uncomfortable and tingling too.

“I won’t disappoint you, sir.” I straightened my back, letting him see my bravery, for I had nothing else to offer. My body was skinny, too thin for a robust lad, and too flat for a girl.

“How old are you, lad?”



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