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Bound and Determined #2.5
Releasing Sept 22nd, 2015
Five years ago, Miss Sarah Swilp had been deeply in love with Jonathan Perry, the second son of an earl. But when Jonathan inherited his aunt’s lands and money, he turned cold, demanding Sarah’s maidenhood and uttering those unforgettably cruel words: “You do know I won’t marry you.” She refused, of course, and that spoiled everything. Now, just as she’s agreed to a marriage of convenience, Jonathan reappears—and after Sarah gets one look at his lean, hard body, the embers of desire burst back into flame.
Over time, Jonathan has learned quite a bit about the art of pleasure—though nothing has ever given him so much joy as the husky timbre of Sarah’s laugh. It had hurt to leave her, but what other choice did he have? Perhaps he’d been too afraid of ending up like his brother, targeted by a woman seeking a title. Seeing her again, Jonathan can’t help wondering what might have been if only Sarah had surrendered to red-hot lust. Fortunately, judging by the wicked look in her eyes, it may not be too late to find out.
Sarah’s Surrender is intended for mature audiences.
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He could not be here. Miss Sarah Swilp closed her eyes and prayed that when she opened them she would find it had all been an illusion, that he would be an illusion. He could not possibly be here. He’d been gone for five years, been out of England for five years. Why would he return now? And why here? He’d been a rich man when he left; now he was supposedly beyond rich. Why would he possibly choose the Carringtons’ ball as his first appearance in London?
Keeping her eyes closed, she continued to pray. This night was bad enough without Mr. Jonathan Perry deciding to appear.
He couldn’t be here. He couldn’t.
All the pain and anger of that night five years ago descended on her. She’d fought so hard to forget and now he was here—and on this night of all nights. Wasn’t it bad enough that she’d just discovered Lord Duldon was to marry Lady Bliss Danser, that her own foolish hopes were to be dashed? She should have known better. Not since that night five years ago had her life ever worked out the way that she wished.
She would have to open her eyes soon. Somebody would notice. And people thought her strange and moody already.
Still, perhaps she could afford one more moment.
No, she would be brave; nothing was ever gained by delay.
With slow deliberation she cracked her eyes, and squinted.
And against her will, her eyes sought out the strong figure of the man across the room, then lingered over his long, lean frame. He seemed taller, broader than she remembered, different from the man she had once thought she loved.
Love. Had it ever been love or had it all been the foolish imaginings of a child? It had certainly felt real at the time, but she’d learned her lesson. It had been burnt into her soul.
You do know I won’t marry you.
Had there ever been a phrase so hateful? So designed to cut a woman to the quick?
She’d been glad that he’d been gone these last five years, glad not to see him, not to remember him. Glad to forget he’d ever existed.
Glad to forget those dark eyes and their piercing stare; those endless shoulders that had protected her from the world; the scent of green grass and leather that always clung to him when she pressed her face against his chest. Glad to forget the safety of his embrace. Glad to forget how hard he’d felt against her cheek; the delicious sensations she’d felt when his hands skimmed over her. Glad to forget how happy his grin could make her; how constantly he’d made her laugh. Glad to forget the feel of his lips pressed against hers, his tongue sliding along the crease. Glad to forget . . .
And now he was back. And of course he’d arrived tonight, when it felt as though her world were falling about her. He’d have loved to laugh at her dreams, to have laughed at poor Miss Swilp reaching so far above herself once again, to have laughed that she’d ever imagined Duldon could be interested in her.
God, Jonathan looked good though, better than she’d remembered—and that should have been impossible. Why couldn’t he have grown thick about the waist or lost some of that dark hair? Why did he stand there so tall and proud, the black of his evening wear so stark and elegant? There simply was no justice in the world.
His head turned.
His chin dropped slightly, and his eyes met hers, pierced hers—and then moved on.
Did he not recognize her? She knew she had changed, but . . . Then his gaze returned, swept her from head to toe. His lips tightened. He turned away.
She knew what that look and gesture meant. Pity was all too apparent when aimed at oneself.
Without another thought, she turned and fled, pushing through the crush and up the stairs. The retiring room. She would find a moment’s peace there, a chance to collect herself before risking a confrontation with Jonathan.
She paused at the door. Hopefully, it would be empty. The evening was still too young for torn hems, and the ball was so glorious in its intensity that she couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to miss a moment of the excitement.
She slipped through the door and into the chamber, releasing a long sigh. Not even a maid was present. She was alone. Pouring cold water from a pitcher, she splashed her face, hoping to draw some color into her pallid cheeks. It didn’t take a glance in the mirror to know she lacked color. She’d felt it all drain the moment she’d seen him. Not that there had been much to begin with; the days when her cheeks shone like roses were rare indeed, and this certainly was not one of them.
No. No mirror was needed.
She knew exactly what she looked like, knew exactly what Jonathan had seen.
Lavinia Kent is a former two-term president of the Washington Romance Writers and a four-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart nominee. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family and an ever-changing menagerie of pets.