Courting Lord Whitmire
Regency Romance Novella
Colonel Lord Andrew Whitmire wished for an excuse to return to the Canadian front and to permit someone else to assume the responsibilities for Whit Manor and for the daughter he had abandoned for 15 years. However, he could permit no one, especially himself, to bring more dishonor to there family name. So many ghosts must see firmly settled before he could claim even a shred of the peace for which he yearned. When Miss Verity Coopersmith enters his world, Whitmire’s every thought is filled by the girl, who is everything he could want, but half his age.
A romance between them is impossible, but could the young lady have other ideas? Did she mean to ‘court’ Lord Whitmire? And dare he accept?
“What do we have here?”
A very masculine voice came from behind her, but Verity made no attempt to turn. She feared the slightest movement would spell her doom.
“How does it appear to you, sir?”
“It appears you thought the bog was a warm mineral spring.” The man’s voice held levity, but Verity found nothing amusing about the situation in which she found herself. She heard the man dismount and begin to walk slowly in her direction. “It is not often people dare to trespass upon my land, and, especially, not any as comely as you.”
Although he attempted to sound intimidating, Verity suspected he simply thought her situation a diverting tale to share with his chums over ale at the inn. There was no hardness in his tone.
He continued to stroll casually around the outside rim of the bog. At length, he stopped before her. “Perhaps you are one of those fairies who creates the steps which are impossible to climb—so impossible you took a fall and were caught in your own trap.”
Verity scowled. “I would appreciate it, sir, if you would cease with your attempts to make light of my situation and, instead, provide me a hand out of this muck.”
He grinned again, and Verity realized how breathtakingly handsome he was. Certainly, he was not a young man, likely old enough to be her father; yet, there was nothing lacking in his appearance. His eyebrows were everything masculine. He possessed a nose that was a bit crooked—as if he had known more than one round of fisticuffs—but, nevertheless, it was very aristocratic. And his mouth sat in a straight line, but remained unable to disguise his humor. She wished she could view the color of his eyes and the exact shade of his hair. She thought he would make an excellent study for her paints. Would she be capable of capturing the life and depth she viewed in his countenance?
He studied her for a moment, without comment. Finally, he asked, “How did you come to be caught in the bog?”
“It was a mistake,” she began.
“You do not appear to be a half-wit,” he declared, “so I assumed your situation was not purposeful.”
She glanced off to the path. “I permitted my imagination free rein. For a few minutes, I thought someone followed me.” She made her gaze meet his. “In fact, how do I know it was not you who trailed me?” she accused.
“I assure you, a man of my age has better things to do than to frighten young ladies in the midst of a rain storm.” As if on cue, a crack of thunder and a bolt of lightning accented his words. He tossed his hat behind him, and, without notice, he stepped into the bog and edged forward. “At least my batman will kill me but once for the abuse my clothes and boots have known today.” Although he did not ask her permission first, he placed his hand around her waist. “It would be of use if you would wrap your arms around my neck,” he instructed. “I plan to lift you into my arms.”
“But, sir—” she began to protest.
“Dear lady,” he corrected, “there is no tree or rock close enough to the edge for you to use as leverage to release yourself. If I am to remove you from this scum, you must assist me. I intend to lift you and to cradle you in my arms, and we will walk out together.”
After an elongated second, she presented him a nod of acceptance. Carefully, he bent his knees and slid an arm underneath and around her legs and lifted her to him. With a grunt, he pivoted to return to solid ground. It was then that her right leg finally pulled free with a popping sound, and she released a gasp of pain before she could swallow it. Her rescuer did not stop his progress until they stood along the tree line, with her still cradled in his arms. “What occurred?” he asked, as he set her on a downed tree.
Verity was still shaky, but she managed a response. “My boot stayed in the bog. My ankle—” She gestured toward the foot that throbbed as thoroughly as if it were a rotten tooth.
“May I?” He indicated her ankle. All the teasing was gone from his tone.
Tears crept into her eyes, but, again, she nodded her agreement. The gentleman knelt before her and discreetly lifted her skirt before bracing her right heel in the palm of his hand. With the fingers of his other hand, he rotated her foot and studied the movement before poking the soft tissue with his finger. “The ankle is not broken, but I fear it will turn black and blue before it knows no pain.” Standing again, he said, “Permit me to see you home. I will put you up before me on Tyr.”
Just as she thought to remark on the horse’s name being the same as that of the son of the Norse god, Odin, and a god of war, the man bent to lift her to him again. He was certainly a man accustomed to having his way—a man, a gentleman, no doubt, who gave orders and expected them to be obeyed. He strode toward the waiting horse and lifted her, with ease, to the saddle. Verity was, most assuredly, on the lean side, but she was tall and “solid,” as her father had often called her. Even so, her rescuer lifted her as if she weighed no more than a sack of meal. “Be careful, my dear,” he cautioned. “The saddle is wet and, therefore, slippery.” Then he retrieved her discarded cloak and hat and handed the items to her. With that, he stepped into the stirrup and swung himself onto the saddle behind her.
This is part of the Regency Summer Escape: A Regency Romance Summer Anthology (Regency Anthologies Book 3). 99 cents or free to read on Kindle Unlimited!
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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.”
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