Their passion was a
force of nature ...
as wild and
powerful as the sea ...
"A delightful read... A hero and
a heroine you will cheer for.
A wonderful story of hardship and
love conquering all."
--Old Book Barn Gazette--
They came from opposite worlds: Brianne,
a young woman trapped in a life from which she longs to escape;
and Captain Marcus Delaine, the Earl of Hawksmoor, a man whose
heart and soul cannot be touched by anyone. When Brianne briefly
stows away on his ship, their lives are filled with beauty and
passion. . . But when tragedy strikes, Brianne and Marcus are
torn from each other, and the love between them is buried beneath
the agony of betrayal. Traveling to England Brianne is determined
to touch the heart of the vengeful, embittered man Marcus has
become. . .even if it means losing him forever.
Brandy wandered among the green baize tables, watching
the men play whist. Richard and his father sat at a
table in the corner, both of them laughing, betting modestly,
mostly just enjoying the game. For a while she had stood
at Richard's shoulder, and he had seemed pleased by her
In a few more days, he planned to announce their
betrothal. He wanted them to marry as soon as possible and
Brandy had agreed. He was such a very nice man.
She left the gaming room and wandered out onto the
terrace. It was unseemly to be out there unchaperoned, but a need for fresh air and a moment alone drove her to desperate measures. She sighed as she walked toward a balustrade in the shadows that overlooked a small formal garden. Torches lit narrow gravel paths and spring flowers had begun to bloom: pansies and daffodils, tulips and hyacinths.
"I see you're still not overly concerned with your reputation." Marcus's deep voice spun her around. "I doubt your betrothed would be pleased to know you are out here all
Her chin inched up. "I didn't know you were out here or
you may be certain I would not have come."
He chuckled softly, a seductive rumble in his chest. A
little tremor ran through her.
"I suppose not," he said. "More's the pity." He moved
closer, till his lean frame stood only inches away. She
could feel the heat of his body, smell a faint trace of his
"Why are you following me? What do you want?"
"Do you really not know? Or are you merely pretending?"
She moistened her lips, which had suddenly gone bone dry.
"Why did you come back? Your brother said you left your ship in the Indies and returned to London alone."
He reached out to her, ran a long dark finger along her jaw.
"Perhaps I came back for you. Perhaps I discovered that I
She only shook her head, took a step backward. "There had
to be some other reason, something important you needed to do. You would never leave your ship for a woman."
Lines furrowed into his forehead. His turbulent gaze held
a look she didn't understand. "You aren't just any woman,
Brianne." He moved closer, till his leg brushed the hem of
her skirt and the air seemed to thicken around them. His
eyes drifted over her face, came to rest on her mouth.
"You're different, Brianne. You're not like anyone else. I
should have told you that a long time ago."
She stared up at his darkly handsome face and before she
realized his intention, he bent his head and his mouth settled
softly over hers. Brandy gasped, her lips parting in surprise,
and Marcus's tongue swept in. His hands felt strong and hard
as they drew her into the circle of his arms, pressed her the
length of his body. Heat surrounded her, seemed to crawl
beneath her skin.
For an instant she was his once more, and the world no longer felt tilted as it had for so long, but seemed to right itself and each piece fall perfectly into place. She kissed him with all the love she'd once felt for him, with the force of all she had lost when he had left her. For a moment, the dream of a life with him glowed anew, as fresh and beautiful as it once had been.
Then she thought of Richard, thought of his kindness, his loyalty. Loving Marcus only meant more pain, more heartache, more loss. She pressed her hands against his chest and shoved him away, stepping backward several paces, her breath
coming sharp and fast.
"That... that shouldn't have happened. It won't ever happen
again. If you wish for us to remain friends, Marcus, I'd advise
you to keep your hands to yourself in the future."
His gaze, hot and intense, bored into her. "I want more from
you than friendship, Brianne. I always have."
Brandy shook her head, suddenly close to tears. "It's too
late, Marcus. You didn't want me. You never really have. A
kind and decent man has asked me to marry. Please...if you care for me at all, you will leave me in peace."
He looked as though he might argue, but glanced away instead. His knuckles were white around the head of his cane.
Brandy turned away, fighting hard not to cry. She didn't know why he was there, but it really didn't matter. What she told him was the truth--it was too late. She didn't want to see him. She didn't want to be near him. She had finally learned to live without him and she meant to keep it that way.
Wordlessly, she walked toward the door, leaving him there on
the terrace, uilt gnawing at her insides. How could she have
betrayed Richard that way when he had been so terribly good to her? Ignoring her trembling limbs and a sudden urge to run, she made her way back inside the house.