Title: Twelfth Night Promise
Author: Alanna Lucas
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
Lord Kinsley has never let go of the hope that he will win back Lady Emma’s heart. But when the shocking news arrives that Emma is due to marry, Kinsley realizes it’s now or never. He must take action and ride north to Cragbourn where Emma is spending Christmas with his sister and claim her.
Emma’s dreading her forthcoming wedding but what choice does she have? Her cruel brother is threatening to leave her penniless unless she becomes the middle-aged Duke of Faringdon’s wife. Until Christmastide at Cragbourn offers her an unexpected last chance, and she discovers Kinsley standing right before her proving that her desire for him hasn’t dimmed one jot.
Bad weather forces Kinsley and Emma to be together for all the days of Christmas; too long for her to keep up her pretense of ignoring him, and long enough for him to discover why she cut him off six years ago. But as Twelfth Night—their final night— approaches, will the truth bring them together, or push them forever apart?
“She’s getting married?” Kinsley’s question ricocheted off the elegant breakfast room walls, the words slapping him in the face.
“Lady Emma is getting married?” He leaned back in his chair, the air in his chest whooshing from his body. The room began to blur as his world tipped on its side and began to spin out of control. The hope he’d held onto for the past six years faded. Although Emma had been the one to end their courtship, he’d never truly believed her flimsy reasons. And he certainly had never even considered her request that he should find another lady to marry.
For several years, he’d try to glean what information he could about Emma. However, even when she was in town—which seemed to be almost never—his numerous letters were never reciprocated. Hell, he didn’t even know if she’d received any of his correspondences. Any typical man would have given up hope ages ago, but Kinsley wasn’t typical. Deep down, he had always believed that as long as Emma did not marry there was still hope for them.
“Yes,” his sister released an exasperated huff, as she firmly placed her teacup on its saucer. “Lady Emma is getting married.” Annoyed brown eyes glared at him. “How many times do I have to repeat myself? You may be my favorite brother but—”
“I am your only brother, Hannah,” he reminded her matter-of-factly. He was not in the mood for games today and wished she would get to the point at hand and answer his questions.
“Regardless, you’re still my favorite,” she began with a wink that only served to annoy him more, before continuing, “despite the fact that you never listen, and I have to constantly repeat myself.”
Five. Kinsley had been blessed with five very talkative sisters. Over the years he’d learned to filter through the conversation and extract the information he desired. But it would appear his skills today were lacking. He was having difficulty drawing out even the simplest details.
“Are you certain?”
“Certain of…?” Hannah raised a delicate, mocking brow.
His temper was hanging by a thread. He slammed his fist down hard on the table, rattling the teacups on their saucers. “That Emma is getting married!” his voice bellowed through the room.
“Yes, quite certain,” she replied unfazed by his mood. She took a sip of tea before launching into what Kinsley hoped was the information he desired. “I had a letter from Lizzie—Elizabeth as she now prefers to be called since marrying her marquess. One would think no female in all of England had ever married a marquess. And now she prefers to be quite formal, even with her relatives and…”
“But what about Emma?” He ground out the words in a deep growl. Clearly, his sister was having issues comprehending him and what he needed to know.
Hannah’s eyes widened as round as the tea-service saucers. “You don’t have to take that tone with me,” she huffed as her lips dipped into a frown.
Kinsley inwardly sighed. He didn’t mean to be curt with her. He adored his sister—all of them in fact and would do anything to ensure their happiness. He softened his tone. “I’m sorry, Hannah.”
“Apology accepted.” She smiled brightly, clearly recovered. “What do you want to know?”
“Everything.” Finally, he was getting somewhere.
“Well…according to Lizzie, Vivienne reported that Lady Emma’s brother insisted upon a hasty marriage. Owing to the fact that they are finally out of mourning after first their mother’s passing and then their father’s death earlier this year.” She paused as if allowing him to digest the information. “It is commonly known that her brother—the new Duke of Barkby—wants to be rid of his only sibling. They were never friendly toward one another.”
Kinsley did know that the siblings’ relationship was troubled and had been for quite some time. Vivienne—number three of his five sisters, and one of Emma’s closest friends—had kept him abreast over the years, and at times, advised him.
“In my opinion,” Hannah announced, “her brother is worse than their father. His Grace has quite the jealous streak and a temper to match.” She raised the teacup to her lips and took a dainty sip. “But I digress. Lady Emma and her aunt are set to spend Christmastide with Vivienne and Golding at Cragbourn. It should be quite picturesque in that part of the country with the expected snow. I do wish I was up for traveling, but alas…” With one hand still holding the teacup, she rubbed her rounded belly with the other to emphasize her point.
“How long is Lady Emma expected to be there?” Kinsley was mentally calculating how long it would take to travel from London to that far north. Cragbourn was less than half a day’s ride to Scotland. If he pushed hard, he thought he could make the journey in five days, just in time for Christmas Eve and bringing in the Yule Log. It was a tradition he never missed spending with at least one of his siblings.
“She’s due to arrive tomorrow and is staying until Twelfth Night.” Hannah paused for a moment before releasing a long-troubled breath. Her hand shook slightly as she replaced the fine china on its saucer once more. “Before continuing her journey to the Duke of Faringdon’s estate where she will be married.” Heartache softened her eyes as she looked directly at him. “The wedding is to take place on the fifteenth of January.”
Emma, his Emma, was to be married in less than a month? He’d had enough of this conversation. He’d had enough of abiding by a dead man’s demand. It was past time to take action. He pushed back from the table.
“Where are you going?”
“To do what I should have done six years ago.”
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Bestselling, award-winning author, Alanna Lucas pens Regency-set historicals filled with romance, adventure, and of course, happily ever afters. When she is not daydreaming of her next travel destination Alanna can be found researching, spending time with family, volunteering, or going for long walks. She makes her home in California with her husband, children, one sweet dog, and hundreds of books.
Just for the record, you can never have too many handbags or books. And travel is a must.
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