Needing a taste of my newest cherry?
I have one for you, Bella.
Lord Adam Stanhope, you see, is in need of a wife. No surprise for a politician who wishes to become Prime Minister someday...soon. But when he chooses his childhood friend, now a charming and outspoken widow, he gets more than he bargained for. Too bad, he has no plans to make her truly his wife. Too bad, he has no idea the resources a woman in love will use to get the man she needs in her bed and in her life.
It is a truth, universally accepted, that a politician in want of the premiership must also be in want of a wife.
Felice knew that was her new husband’s justification for marrying her so quickly.
“A reason as good as my own,” she told herself as she combed her hair back from her face and fluffed the ruffled bodice of her wedding dress. She pursed her lips, wondering how Adam really kissed a woman. How he kissed his mistresses. He had merely brushed her own mouth with his after the ceremony minutes ago. She’d always thought her lips worth more than a peck—and she was determined that this second husband of hers would do more than ignore her.
“I’ll insure that he does,” she resolved, with a check of her figure in the cheval mirror in the retiring room of her new brother–in–law’s mansion on Grosvenor Square. “After all, the fictitious Miss Proper has charms that Adam does not know about.” Nor should he!
That secret could ruin her marriage. “And I intend to keep both!”
So go to your wedding breakfast and be done with this mooning! You accepted his proposal! Now reap the rewards! London Society is open to you—the excitement of their lives, their intrigues ready fodder for your pen. For your romances and your poems.
She frowned at herself.
Be honest, Fee. You want more than inspiration for your stories. More than a means to repay that nefarious man your first husband’s debt. You want Adam Stanhope gracing your own bed, not just his look alike walking on the pages of your newest romance. You want him inside your body. Making you wet and warm. And kissing your—
A quick knock at the door had her whirling.
“Dear Felice,” cooed her husband’s Great Aunt Amaryllis from behind the portal. “Do come out now. We are quite eager to applaud you and Adam. The guests, too, are clamoring for the receiving line!”
Most likely, the men want more wine while they make wagers on how soon Adam will bed me. And the women? They want to assess how a country mouse like me managed to snare the renowned, rich and eloquent Adam Stanhope. Third son of the earl. Widower. Father. Some day soon, the head of his party, if the papers and broadsheets are to be believed. And thereafter certainly, Prime Minister.
“Adam Stanhope,” she murmured to herself. “A great catch, Fee. If you can intrigue him.”
And there was the rub.
Adam, now thirty, was notorious for outlandish behavior. When he’d turned seventeen, he’d run away from home and sailed to Hong Kong to work with his cousin in his Far Eastern trading company. Four years later, he’d come home to finish his education at Cambridge, marry the beauty of the Season and run for Parliament. He’d won twice now. But since his wife had died in childbirth, Adam had made a name for himself as a rake. He was just like his brothers in that regard. Still, he was the only one who had married and challenged the Stanhope family curse. For it was a legend that no matter whom a Stanhope married, no matter that person’s quality of character or breeding or good intentions, once wedded, a Stanhope lived in hell.
“I will be happy.” Felice repeated the phrase that had become her motto ever since Adam had appeared in Kent last month and proposed. “I’ll dispense with this hideous man plaguing me at once. Then I will devote myself to ensuring Adam is happy. I will be a social asset to him. And a good mother to his son.”
What more could a man ask for?"
(copyright 2010, Cerise DeLand, No reprint without written permission of the author.)