She looked up at the sky. A few miles away a bank of dark grey clouds was slowly making its way toward her.
She groaned. A good solid downpour was the last thing she wished to be caught in. With a shrug of her shoulders, she picked up the empty boot and began the long, uncomfortable hobble back to Langham Hall.
Clarice was in sight of the Hall when she heard the rumble of wheels on the road. She turned and saw a black travel coach approaching at speed. Her heart leapt. Word had somehow reached him of her plight: David had come to save her!
â€˜Thank God,â€™ she said, and waved madly at the driver.
He saw her and began to rein the horses in. The hatch next to him flipped open and he leaned down. Whoever was in the carriage was issuing instructions. He righted himself in the seat and shook his head at her. He urged the horses on toward the house, leaving Clarice standing on the side of the road covered in dust.
She looked down at her filthy coat, completely nonplussed. Why hadnâ€™t the coach stopped? Obviously the passenger did not know who she was, as no-one would intentionally leave Lord Langhamâ€™s daughter stranded by the roadside.
â€˜He must not have recognised me,â€™ she said. Under her bonnet and long woollen coat, she looked just like any other country lass. With a resigned huff of disgust she hobbled on her way, following the coach.
â€˜Just wait until I get my hands on you, Mr Radley; fancy not coming to the aid of a damsel in distress. What sort of gentleman are you?â€™ she muttered.
With the pad of her blistered foot sore and her other boot beginning to rub, it was some time before she finally arrived home. By the time she reached the house, the coach had gone around the back and into the stables. She rushed inside the front door.
â€˜Is he here?â€™ she asked the first footman she met.
He nodded. â€˜The gentleman is with her Ladyship in the upstairs drawing room.â€™
Catching a glimpse of her reflection in the hall mirror, she stopped. Having taken her bonnet off toward the end of the return journey, her hair now bore testament to the strength of the Norfolk wind. Her face was red and dry.
â€˜This will not do,â€™ she said.
If David had come all the way from London for her, the last thing he needed to see at the end of his long journey was Clarice in such a bedraggled state. Especially when she planned to take him to task for his lack of gallantry in leaving her on the roadside.
Half an hour later, shod in soft, comfortable slippers, she took a deep breath and knocked on the door of Lady Aliceâ€™s drawing room. The necklace hung outside the bodice of her gown in plain view, a statement of intent.
As she opened the door, she saw her grandmother seated on a couch facing the door. The visitor had his back to her. Clarice stepped into the room and then stopped.
The look on Lady Aliceâ€™s face was enough to dash Clariceâ€™s hopes.
The Favourite Heiressâ€¦
Once engaged to the future Duke of Strathmore, the beautiful Lady Clarice Langham now finds herself in the humiliating position of celebrating his marriage â€“ to another woman. As a result of the scandal, it seems her reign as Londonâ€™s most eligible debutante has come to an end. But things begin to look up when handsome and charming rake David Radley makes it clear that, at least as far as heâ€™s concerned, sheâ€™s still the catch of the season.
The Illegitimate Sonâ€¦
The eldest son of the Duke of Strathmore, David Radley has been raised alongside his fatherâ€™s legitimate children. But while he is generally received as part of the family, not everyone thinks he should be, and especially not Clariceâ€™s father, the Earl of Langham, who forbids her from having anything to do with him.
An Unsuitable Matchâ€¦
Davidâ€™s been in love with Clarice for years, and it isnâ€™t long before the attraction between them develops into something deeper. Yet he senses Clarice is hiding something and until she reveals her secret, she wonâ€™t be free to follow her heart. Despite everything, David will not give up on Clarice, not even when another seems set to claim herâ€¦
Available from all good ebook stores including Amazon
The Duke’s Daughter, Book 3 in the Duke of Strathmore series. Coming August 2015. Lucy and Avery’s story.
- About the Author
- Posts in the Past
Award winning author, Sasha Cottman writes Historical romance centred around the glittering world of London during the Regency period. Her themes cover love, family and the belief that for everyone there is that someone special.