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Enjoy an Excerpt:
She simply looked at him, her gaze taking in every inch of his face. After a long moment, she said, “You say you cannot offer me what I want, but how can you be certain of what I want? What if—for now—all I want is your friendship, and your companionship? What if all I want is you without promises of obligation?”
He shook his head. “That’s basically the opposite of what a lovely, young woman of marriageable age should want, Susanna.” She shrugged. “You’d be surprised to learn how progressive a marriageable-aged young woman I can be.” He chuckled. “What about Riverton?”
She shrugged again. “You said you wanted me as bait for something, which I assume is still current?”
He nodded, though it pained him to admit he needed her to continue her relationship with the viscount, even if it was just for show. “Then I shall continue on as before,” she concluded. “Though I have no intention of marrying him, even if your investigations turn up nothing.” “Please don’t hold out for me, darling,” he said softly, brushing a wisp of hair from her face. “You can’t put your life on hold me for me.” She shook her head. “Ian Carlisle, you absurd man, without you my life cannot go forward. I’m simply waiting for you to catch up.” There was no doubt; he was definitely in love with this woman.
Staring into her blue eyes, he could see the life he should have. A caring wife at his side, raising children in the country, fishing and horseback riding. Bringing up another Lord Westcott, doing it right this time, without all the mental baggage his father had dumped upon him. He himself sitting in Parliament, managing his family estates and living a life out of the shadows and schemes of the criminals of the world. Living life with the good and the wonderful away from the misery and the depravity.
It almost brought him to tears. For the first time since he ran away from home and joined the Army, he wanted more. He wanted more than his nomad existence, he wanted more than dipping into the immoral and illegalities, no more to bear witness to what the scums of humanity could do to one another.
“My darling, Susanna,” he said softly, trying to maintain his even tone, lest she see how broken he truly was—how her declaration had shaken him. “I do not deserve you.”
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