Clarke Garrison watched Adeline walk across the vast lawn of the estate. He wasn't exactly sure why he was compelled to watch her every move. They’d known each other since childhood.
Adeline wasn’t a child any longer.
Her dark hair hung to her waist in curls that only accentuated her deep blue eyes and porcelain skin. Womanly curves filled her white and blue flowered cotton dress nicely making his mouth dry. She was hands down one of the most beautiful women in this part of the shire, but there was something about her that set her apart from all others. She’d proved to him she was strong and resilient, not a shy maiden like many he’d met. He hated those giggling, silly girls his mother kept introducing him to. Even after the tragedy she’d endured, she’d held her head high and looked others in the eye when they spoke to her.
He didn't know why he chose to put himself through this torture day after day. He’d avoided Adeline at every turn possible since his return from the Crimea war. If she knew the truth, he was the last person she would ever want to talk to.
He was responsible for her brother’s death.
Turning from the large paned windows, he moved away, but came to a stop as his best friend Spencer swung the door open.
“There you are. Amelia and I have looked all over for you,” Spencer said as he pulled his new bride by the hand through the door.
Amelia smiled and said, “We're going on a picnic. It's such a lovely day the cook is packing lunch now.”
She was such a sweet girl. Spencer was lucky to find a wife that he was able to marry for love and not money. Spencer was the Duke, and through Clarke was not a Duke, he was from noble lineage and an Earl. His mother pushed possible matches for marriage and hung his entitlement over his head. What he couldn’t make her understand was that he didn’t want any of it; he just wanted things to be set right. Something money couldn’t buy.
“No, I'll be staying here,” he said in an even tone. He strode over to the bookshelf and pulled out a fine bound leather volume. “I have been meaning to read this all week, and now with the house quiet, I'll finally have the chance."
“The King’s American Dispensatory?” Spencer asked with a raised brow.
He hadn't even looked to see what he pulled off the shelf. He glanced down and scanned the title. “Herbal medicinal healing, important for everyone to know, don’t you agree?”
“Clarke,” Spencer began, but then stopped and turned to Amelia. “Can you give us a moment alone, dear?"
The last thing Clarke wanted to do was stand there and be lectured to.
"What," he said tersely.
“You are not the only one who carries scars and horror filled nights from those battlefields we endured. We fought. We survived. We were the lucky ones who returned home."
Clarke let out a snort of disgust. “So, I'm one of the lucky ones?"
“Yes, we both are. You were not solely responsible for Adeline’s brother’s death. We both gave orders that day. You didn’t just sit in the tent while the brigade was cut down."
“I do not feel like skipping across some bloody meadow for a bloody picnic.” Clarke pinched the bridge of his nose where the beginnings of a headache grew. “Your wife is waiting. I suggest you go and find her and be on your way.” He turned his back.
He didn't turn around for a good five minutes. He didn't want to be angry, he was a good-natured man. But there were just some things Spencer needed to understand.
Life would never be as it once had.
|Shot in the Dark|
|Fighting the Fire|
|Do You Hear What I Hear|
|Kilt by Love|
|Rush of Love and Fields of Gold|
|The Regimental Heroes Series|
|Excerpt The Reluctant Heir|
|Excerpt The Duke and the Lost Night|
|Shot in the Dark Chapter 1|