Thea Worthington, Duchess of Wynchester divides her time between social engagements and playing her luck against fickle fortune. Yet every gamble is only a bluff—a means to hide from the pain deep within her, and the loss of a babe she never held in her arms. Now Thea’s luck is about to run out. Her estranged husband has returned and seeks a reunion…
Plagued with guilt over what happened to his wife three years ago, the Duke of Wynchester has kept his distance. The duke is resolved to piece his family back together, especially now that he’s discovered his beloved brother—long thought dead—still lives. But Thea’s lovely, porcelain facade is on the verge of cracking…spurred on by the duke’s brother’s secretive, malevolent animosity.
With everything riding on her future, Thea plays a daring game of chance for love and her marriage…and this time, the dice are most certainly rigged.
He had no reason to believe that she would not behave, of course. She had given her word. But she’d not taken his request with equanimity.
In fact, he could have sworn she had responded by flirting with him.
I will behave…if that is what you really wish.
Her gaze met his from across the room. She spread her black fan and cooled her cheek’s slight flush.
Oh yes, Thea Marie. Misbehave for me.
Two warring thoughts immediately reared in response. Where the hell did that come from? And, capital idea.
The second was accompanied of a vision of her black curls, tangled and damp around her temples and then cascading in waves across his white linen pillows.
He blinked to clear his head and motioned to the conductor. As the violins struck up the next dance, Thea took the arm of a man in her group—the MP of something- or-other, Tory, of course—and joined a group of three other couples.
The feathers in her hair wafted as she stepped in time to the strains of a cotillion. The sight of her smiling at the MP was enough to make him consider rotten-borough reform.
His lips formed a thin, grim line.
Why was it he could look into the eyes of any man present and know exactly what he must do to bend them to his will, and yet know nothing of her thoughts?
He read men’s needs on their features with the ease others read newspapers. Never had he tainted his discernment with compassion, nor had he used his gift to acquire friendship. A duke’s business was to perceive, to know, and to direct, not to understand. And definitely not—his gaze briefly flit over Randolph and Harrison—to make friends.
Thea Marie. He concentrated, but she remained a blank page. The inner nudge that told him how to proceed was missing. Every night he stood outside her door while his conscience warred with his need. There were worse things than being uncertain whether or not your wife would welcome you into her bed, but such uncertainty was enough to
drive one mad.
Well—he folded his hands behind his back—absent direction, he would focus on the main…a united front. Their collective consequence restored.
But even as his duchess played—or in this case, danced— her part with precision, he knew restored consequence would not be enough.
He wanted more.
St. Swithin. Sentiment was not only a hungry panther, it was one of those irritating crank toys—crank the needs inside your heart and suddenly a white-faced devil bursts out to play. The partners changed and Thea Marie twirled in Harrison’s arms. Her smile in that moment was genuine— rare and precious. Another surge of jealousy, directed at the man who was the closest thing he’d ever had to a friend.
Then, at the start of the next dance, she joined Lord Randolph.
…And pop goes the weasel. Air. He needed air. He started moving.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wendy LaCapra has been reading romance since she sneaked into the adult section at the library and discovered Victoria Holt & Jane Aiken Hodge. From that point on, she dreamed of creating fictional worlds with as much richness, intrigue and passion as she found within those books. Her stories have placed in several contests, including the a 2012 Golden Heart®. She lives in NYC with her husband and loves to hear from readers.