Celebrate spring with Lady Chandler’s Sister: Book 3 of the Twins’ Trilogy by @reginajeffers #Regenc
Lady Chandler’s Sister: Book 3 of the Twins’ Trilogy
Regency Romantic Suspense
Sir Alexander Chandler knows his place in the world. As the head of one of the divisions of the Home Office, he has his hand on the nation’s pulse. However, a carriage accident on a deserted Scottish road six months earlier has Sir Alexander questioning his every choice. He has no memory of what happened before he woke up in an Edinburgh hospital, and the unknown frightens him more than any enemy he ever met on a field of battle. One thing is for certain: He knows he did not marry Miss Alana Pottinger’s sister in an “over the anvil” type of ceremony in Scotland.
Miss Alana Pottinger has come to London, with Sir Alexander’s son in tow, to claim the life the baronet promised the boy when he married Sorcha, some eighteen months prior. She understands his responsibilities to King and Crown, but this particular fiery, Scottish miss refuses to permit Sir Alexander to deny his duty to his son. Nothing will keep her from securing the child’s future as heir to the baronetcy and restoring Sir Alexander’s memory of the love he shared with Sorcha: Nothing, that is, except the beginning of the Rockite Rebellion in Ireland and the kidnapping of said child for nefarious reasons.
As Alexander turned toward the sound, a small fist punched its way through the opening of the overlap, to be followed by a chubby leg. Miss Pottinger darted around him before he could react. She dropped to her knees to separate the folds of the blanket. “I am here,” she cooed. “Hush. All is well.”
“What in the world?” his mother declared from the still open door.
Alexander was as stunned as his relation, but he managed to respond, “To the best of my knowledge, I would say the sound comes from the babe in Miss Pottinger’s arms.”
Lady Chandler pointedly closed the door. “Why does Miss Pottinger have a baby in tow?” his mother demanded.
The young lady stood to face them. The babe still fussed, but not so profoundly. “I can explain.” A small frown drew her brows closer together. She stared at him with an uncustomary longing that shook Alexander to his core.
“Then I suggest you do,” he instructed, but he held the suspicion he did not want to know the lady’s tale.
“This is Greer,” she said through trembling lips. Unshed tears filled her eyes. “Actually, he is Alexander Greer Chandler.”
It took Alexander an extra heartbeat to respond. “To Hell you say!”
“Alexander!” his mother chastised.
“Did you hear her, Mother?” He pointed an accusing finger at Miss Pottinger. “I have had many who wanted to claim a piece of the baronetage, but never have they thought to produce an heir without my participation. And to think I offered you shelter in my home!”
The tears glistened in Miss Pottinger’s eyes, and she caught the child in a more protective grasp. “You may think of me as you will, sir, but Greer is your son.”
“Who in bloody hell are you?” he growled in controlled tones so as not to frighten the whimpering child.
“I speak the truth.” Her chin notched higher, but she instinctively took a half step back.
“Do you mean to convince me that you and I were lovers? Or perhaps you think to imitate the blessed Mary with a divine conception? You should well understand I am not cut from Joseph’s cloth.”
“That is enough, Alexander!” his mother ordered. “There is no reason to speak so crudely.”
“What would you have me do, Mother?” he barked. “This woman,” he pointed to Miss Pottinger again, “makes a mockery of the kindness we extended to her.”
“Even so,” his mother declared, “you will act the role of gentleman.”
Alexander returned his gaze to the woman holding the child, and her eyes fixed steadily upon him. Silence filled the room with unspoken questions. What frustrated him the most was that even now his body would enjoy being Miss Pottinger’s lover. For some reason he could not name, he remained attracted to her physically.
The lady’s eyes closed as she sighed heavily. “What must I do to convince you?”
“More than stand before me with a child in your arms. I am not easily moved by the Madonna image. If this is your scheme to earn funds from me, you have erred. Did you think me an easy mark when you approached me upon the street?”
To his dismay, Miss Pottinger’s eyes softened in what appeared to be compassion. “I waited for you upon the street. Only you. The men stationed inside the building would not permit me entrance to the floor where your office is located, so I could call upon you privately.” She instinctively rocked the child in her arms and kissed the tuft of sandy brown locks upon the child’s head. “If I held the means to raise Greer without you, we would still be in Scotland. When you did not return as you promised, Aunt Maude and I possessed few choices to see to Greer’s future.”
“Scotland again,” his mother said as her hand came to rest upon his back.
“You will forgive my cynical nature,” he said with a snarl. “Consider it a necessity in my chosen occupation. Perhaps you should share with me when and where the child was conceived, and do not omit the name of the child’s true father.”
She stiffened in what appeared to be ire. An odd tightness swept across her face. Her vestige of control had faded. “Your most recent journey into Scotland was in September; you arrived, once again, in Kelso. We knew great joy at your return.”
He wondered how she knew of that disastrous journey. Certainly, both he and his mother had mentioned his time across the border, but neither he nor Lady Chandler had disclosed the particulars of his stay in Scotland.
For a moment, he thought Miss Pottinger would not continue. She looked pointedly to her aunt before she spoke her response, and the elder woman nodded what appeared to be her encouragement. “Greer’s mother’s name is Sorcha Pottinger. Do you not recall Greer’s mother? Do you not recall? I am a twin. Another held the same countenance as I.”
Fear filled his chest. Fear that what the woman would disclose next would turn his well-ordered life upon its head. “And why has the child’s mother not accompanied you on this journey?” he asked in cautious skepticism.
A long silence held, and he suspected the lady organized her response in her head, before speaking it. At length, Mrs. Steele spoke, “Greer’s mother is never far from my heart. We were certain you knew that our dearest girl, Alana’s twin, has passed. You were always so kind to her, we believed, in our soul, that you would grieve as we do for our family’s loss. Her leave-taking coming within a month of her delivering a child.”
He could feel the pair of them anticipating his response, watching him with matched intensity. He should have swallowed his words, but they slipped out just the same. “How convenient!”
“It is never convenient to lose a loved one,” Miss Pottinger chastised in disapproving tones. “You, of all people, should know that. You spoke tenderly of Sir Loren’s passing, and how often you wished to ask your father a question regarding the estate. Like you with your father, I yearn to ask my sister’s advice on so many things. The void I experience each day will never be filled.”
He stared at her in growing confusion, struggling to make sense of a situation he knew he would have difficulty rebuking, for he held no memory of what occurred while he was in Scotland, and that fact put him at a distinct disadvantage, a place he rarely found himself. His chest tightened, constricting his breathing. Attempting to take control of the panic rushing to his heart, he made himself present her a rueful smile. Alexander ignored her rebuke; instead, he took a deep breath to steady his composure. “And when did Miss Sorcha and I create this child?”
Miss Pottinger blushed thoroughly. “One would assume shortly after your marriage.”
“Oh, bloody hell, no,” he sputtered. “Although I hold no knowledge of a Miss Sorcha Pottinger, you might have convinced me that on a drunken night I laid with your sister, but even deeply drunk, I would recall a marriage ceremony. I know my duty to the baronetcy.”
If money were no object, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?
I would again love to visit Bath in England. I am a romantic. Captain Frederick Wentworth’s love letter, the greatest love letter ever penned, to Miss Anne Elliot was written there. I wish to walk where Jane Austen did.
What’s your favorite thing about Spring and why?
I am a gardener. I love all the new blooms in their seasons. I live in North Carolina, we have been in Spring since February.
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Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
Social Media Links:
Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors’ Blog: http://austenauthors.net