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With a tarnished reputation, Mercy Lyndhurst expected to become the Earl of Rochford's mistress, not his wife. Immediately abandoned by her husband after their wedding, Mercy transformed herself from commoner to countess, vowing to protect the lands and people her husband was forced to leave.
Over the past six years, William has restored the family fortune all the while tortured by his memories of Mercy…and the dark night he killed a man. When a threat draws him home, William learns just how much has changed—including his wife. While the passion still flares between them, he fears he has wounded her too badly to regain her trust. But as the danger grows they must unite to save the estate…and possibly their marriage.
Now enjoy an excerpt:
Mercy blinked, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness. Rochford slumbered peacefully on the bed. She took a step closer. Though with his face relaxed in sleep and his slender shoulders showing above the sheet, he looked closer to a boy.
He had looked fearsome in the barn, invincible, but he was just a young man. Only a few years older than herself, maybe one and twenty. And handsome. She had never let herself notice before. She could have dreamed of him, if she’d had any will left to dream. She could have loved him, if she’d had the strength to hope. As it was, she had always been beneath him, a village girl to the landed lord.
It had been easier not to think of him at all, than imagine what could have been.
Well, she was still far beneath him, warming his bed. Or supposed to. He was sound asleep. No matter her determination to carry this through, or to get it over with quickly, she was not bold enough to climb in while he slept.
She considered returning downstairs to wait, but she didn’t want to risk running into Nathaniel again. Besides, the tall chairs in front of the hearth looked so inviting.
Rochford flung an arm above his head. Mercy froze. He turned and then blinked at the ceiling. With a sigh, his gaze lowered until it met hers.
“You,” he breathed. He sounded accusatory, but he had been the one to bring her here.
She shivered. “I wasn’t sure if I should knock.”
Her courage fled. She turned to leave, but a rustle and a rush of air warned her of his approach. Breath escaped her lungs in a quiet burst of shock. She didn’t move a muscle, barely breathed, waiting for him to touch her.
“You shouldn’t have come here,” he whispered against her temple.
Soft pressure drifted down the side of her body. She swallowed hard.
“You don’t belong here.”
It was true. She was sorry. She wanted to tell him but the words would not form. A breath blew across the back of her neck, raising the hairs there.
Hardness pushed against her behind. She knew what it was. His lips danced down her neck. Her fingernails scraped the door.
“Tell me no,” he said. “Tell me I’m a brute, not to touch you.”
Her hands curled into fists, impotent against wood panels. And go where?
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