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Keta's Keep Romance Blog
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Keta's Keep Romance Blog
Blurb:Penniless when she arrives in Norfolk, her mother and father drowned at sea, Raine Brinsley longs to return home to her grandfather in Maine. When Derek Stafford, owner of a large plantation, offers a solution to her dilemma, she’s stunned, if not outraged. She’d prefer to fulfill the contract to have his child and forget about him and his self-serving scheme. If only she could dispel the deep-seated passion he’s awakened in her.
Derek’s one true desire is to father an heir to Stafford House, thereby securing his future. He didn’t count on the Scottish lass with green eyes interfering with his well-laid plan. After one night in her arms, guilt, not to mention the loss of his soul, became his penance. He’ll do anything to win her back, anything to quench the hunger tormenting him.
Setup: Raine has decided to accept Derek's contract to bear his child. But sinister sources are at work at Stafford House. The spirit of Derek's late wife roams the halls crying out for revenge. And Raine is the only one the ghost trusts.
Derek's deadline had come and gone, and she had yet to reach a decision. The practicality of his offer loomed, yet a little voice screamed inside her head she should flee from this man and his immoral plot. She told herself a thousand times she couldn't accept his offer, should tell him exactly what he could do with his lust for financial security. If she wasn't so terribly alone in Norfolk, she would.
The money he'd placed in the envelope all but spoke to her. She'd counted it a dozen times. An equal amount awaited her upon completion of the contract. A lot of money. An enormous amount. She embarked on a fantasy about her future. The funds would allow her to seek the medical care Grandfather might need in the near future, and it would certainly secure her passage to Camden. A thousand times over. She'd be able to purchase a fine home where she could care for Grandfather in comfort. Whatever they needed or fancied would be at their disposal.
On the other hand, what she knew about raising children, she could fit into a thimble.
What would it feel like to surrender a child she'd brought into the world? The answer to that question eluded her. If she accepted his offer, she simply couldn't form an attachment to the babe, either before birth or immediately after. Although vastly ill-equipped to deal with the lying-in period, the issue seemed to be the least of her worries in the scope of things. She could accomplish anything if she applied herself.
The three nights she must spend in his bedchamber ranked high on her list of dilemmas.
It had been delineated right and proper in the Accession--that's what her grandfather would call it--the Scottish word for contract. She bristled every time she read it. If she lost the child or delivered a stillborn, she'd be allowed the proper time to restore her health before fulfilling the entire terms of the contract. If she wanted to receive the remaining five thousand, that is.
On the contrary, if she chose to forgo a second series of rendezvous with the lord of the manor, she could, with initial down payment in hand, be on her way. She shook her head.
Whether she delivered the goods or not, she would be paid for her services. Loathsome. Abhorrent. Any way she sliced the pie, he had reduced her to a whore.
Visions of sharing his bed surfaced. An avid reader and well-schooled about amorous escapades, she imagined any man that had to pay a woman for coitus was a bumbling, incompetent lover. The thought delighted her. How she'd love to toss that in his face!
The last appendage of the agreement stated she'd surrender all rights to the child's care from birth through all eternity. Further, she'd take the first ship out of the harbor within four weeks of the delivering the babe, sooner, if the physician deemed her fit for travel, never to return to Norfolk or Stafford House again. Finally, Horace Masterson, Esquire, Norfolk, Virginia, and Derek Stafford of Stafford House, the same city, had signed their names.
She'd come to a decision. The wise words of her grandfather rang in her ears, 'There be no one in life, lass, other than yourself, to watch over ye. Ye must been on the alert for scoundrels and rogues. Stay one step ahead of the miscreants. She'd stay one step ahead of Derek Stafford all right, do his bidding, but his day of reckoning would come.
With a sigh, she rose from the chair and walked to the bureau to wash her face. Her chest burned and her hands felt colder than stone. She saw the Bible next to the porcelain basin. Not just any Bible, but the one she'd placed in the trunk. Lucinda's Bible! Tremors coursed through her. She glanced at the passage marked with a red check in the margin. Psalm, 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
The icy air cracked with tension. How did Lucinda's Bible suddenly appear in her room?
She hugged her cold body. Eerily still, the room loomed silent. Not even the ormolu clock on the night table ticked. When had it stopped? She crossed the room, tapped it and breathed a sigh of relief. Tick tock. Tick tock. She hadn't heard anyone enter her room, had she been so lost in thought she failed to hear someone place the Bible on the table?
On the bed, a woman appeared, a translucent, pale form with her hands folded across her chest, her bosom heaving with labored breaths. Surely an apparition. She blinked in an effort to focus. The chill fled from the room, vanished on the whisper of a breath. The woman had fled too, leaving her Bible behind.
Grandfather had warned her about spirits, desperate souls who remained behind with unfinished business or to warn the living that evil lurked in their midst. She sensed the spirit wouldn't harm her, but her abrupt appearances unnerved her. The poor creature would leave after her business was concluded, her mission accomplished. But what was the specter's mission?
The thud of horse's hooves on the ground outside drew her to the window. Derek. His perfectly sculpted body rode low and clung to the horse's mane. His dark hair blew in the in the wind behind him as he rode from the property at a fast clip. A relieved sigh left her lips. She'd been granted a reprieve and wouldn't have to gaze upon that wickedly handsome face. Not until tonight. With a sick knot in her stomach she wondered which topic she should broach first, the ghost that haunted her bedroom or the contract, both equally frightening.
~*~ Where the Rain is Made ~*~