The long-awaited second book in the St. Daine family series is almost ready to be born. I know, seems like you’ve been waiting forever, right? It will be worth it… Here’s a little excerpt to for you to think about while you wait (please remember, it is unedited so there might be a few mistakes)
Upstairs in her chamber, Phoebe St. Daine peered through the rose brocade curtains gracing the wide bank of windows that spanned the front of Rothwyn house, her bottom lip pinched firmly between her teeth while she stared down at the man to whom soon she would be wed.
To save Tristan, she reminded herself.
She would marry Edward Claybourne, gentleman and heir to the earldom of Vykhurst not because she had fallen madly, coiffure over skirts in love with him, but rather because doing so, it seemed, was her family’s only recourse if they wished to save her brother from the hangman’s noose. But it was not her brother of whom she was thinking when the man upon the cobblestones below tilted his head upward, his gaze searching the upper floors of Rothwyn House as if he knew she was watching.
Most young ladies of her acquaintance would likely have fled, feeling anxious and perhaps even a bit threatened—by her situation if not the man, Phoebe realized, but not her. Rather, she felt…empowered…which was probably why, quite unlike any other young maid in her position would have dared, she took a bold step forward.
Was he thinking about the kiss they had shared? She wondered.
He started forward, shoulders confidently squared, and Phoebe felt heat fill her cheeks. Her heart jumped excitedly against her ribs and her free hand slid downward to cover the giddy little flutter which had started in her stomach.
“He carries himself well, Phoebs,” her sister, Alaina, murmured over her shoulder from a place just slightly behind her. “Well enough for a future earl, I suppose. But then, the good Mister Claybourne could be an horridly grotesque cripple with a twisted, humped spine and still you would gainsay neither himself nor Lord Vykhurst, would you?”
Startled, Phoebe jumped and let the fabric drop. She had been so engrossed in watching the arrival of her betrothed, she hadn’t heard the younger girl come into the room. The words she had spoken, however, could not be ignored, even had Phoebe had so desired, because they were truth. She would wed Vykhurst with no thought to her own preferences. Her desires mattered naught, Phoebe thought. As long as it meant Tristan would soon be safe and home again, she might well agree to wed the son of Satan himself.
“Phoebe? Mister Claybourne has arrived. Your brother asks that you join them in the study,” Lady Claire Leighton, the future duchess of Rothwyn, announced from the doorway. She swept into the room, took one look at her soon to be sister, and her eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, my. You look stunning.”
A weak smile wavered on Phoebe’s lips and she swept both hands down along the rich fabric of her pale violet gown before bringing her right hand up to toy nervously with the ivory overlaid chalcedony cameo brooch her maid had pinned to the fine, lace-edged velvet collar she wore. “Yes, well, we cannot allow the man to change his mind, now can we?”
Behind her, Alaina chuckled wryly. “As if he had so many better options.”
Phoebe flashed the girl a warning look over her shoulder. Sometimes Alaina’s outspokenness worried her. Her sister was wise beyond her years, true, but someday soon that spontaneous yet rather saucy mouth of hers was like to land her in a right fine muckle of trouble. “Yes, well, let us ensure he has no wish to take himself off in search of those better options.”
After casting one last glance at her reflection in the tall, cheval mirror beside her bed, Phoebe turned to precede her sister and soon-to-be sister-in-law into the corridor while she tried to pretend her knees had not suddenly turned to warm jam, that her fingers did not lay quivering against her skirts, and that she was not intimidated in the least by the duty to which life had some-wise recently appointed her.
Saving her brother was one thing, but spending an entire afternoon with a man about whom she knew absolutely nothing was quite another.
But you do know, her conscious pressed. You know the full shape of his lips and how nicely they can be fitted to yours. You know the rough texture of his fingers as they trace the contours of your jaw. You know the heat of his body surrounding yours and you know the pleasure of being wholly, completely immersed in his kiss.
Aye, she did, indeed, know.
And he knew the same about her.
Her cheeks flushed and she lifted a hand to her brow in consternation.
If only she had used more of those first weeks of her debut chattering flirtatiously with the gentlemen to which her brother, Lucien, had allowed her to be introduced rather than chasing dead-end possibilities trying to discover Tristan’s whereabouts…
Emily, her other sister and Alaina’s younger twin, met them at the top of the stairs. Her expression appeared far more serious than the occasion warranted, and Phoebe drew up to allow her the moment of private conversation she seemed to need.
With a smile rocked sideways by sympathy, Emily leaned in for a quick hug, and then, with a consoling pat to Phoebe’s shoulder, she whispered, “He is someone’s brother, too, Phoebs. Remember that.”
For reasons she could not fathom at the moment, Phoebe’s bottom lip trembled. She clamped it between her teeth, hard. Pain flared, but she knew her eyes had already filled with the glossy sheen of tears because Emily, bless her, always seemed to know just what to say to bring things into perspective, and now she knew exactly how to approach the stranger who awaited her in her brother’s study.