Lucas Mayfield, the Eighth Earl of Heightford, couldn’t be more pleased with the private club that is his brainchild. But when a young courtesan at the club’s masquerade appears far too innocent, his suspicions are raised—along with his interest. . . . Until her gleaming hair tumbles down and he recognizes her as the Duke of Chatterwood’s beautiful daughter. How did the minx even know the place existed? And how has he allowed himself to give in to temptation and kiss her? More perplexing: she has vowed the kiss won’t be the last . . .
Liliah Durary’s father has cruelly demanded she marry her best friend, Meyer, though no romantic feeling exists between them. In fact, Meyer and Liliah’s other best friend, Rebecca, are truly in love. Liliah sees only one option: She and Meyer will maintain a platonic marriage until some other arrangement can be made. Still, she intends to experience pleasure before she is wed. An intriguing new club seems the perfect place—and when Lucas Mayfield kisses her, he seems the perfect other arrangement she seeks. All Liliah has to do is convince him . . .
Lady Liliah Heightfield was fully expecting a fantastic Christmas season. In fact, it would be the most wonderful Christmas she’d experienced in a while. Before, life had been in shades of gray, all varying degrees of control from her tyrannical father, but now…sweet freedom reigned and she soaked in it’s beauty each day as she woke up next to her beloved, and utterly improper husband.
But that’s an entirely different story.
It was as she was considering this truth that gentleman in question strode into the breakfast room. His warm gaze, utterly at odds with the cold blue of his eyes, seared through her and she blushed under his knowing grin. “I’d say good morning, but since I’ve already said that sentiment, and dare I say, much more, I’ll simply reply that I love the way you blush when you know my wicked thoughts concerning you.”
Liliah gave her lips a wry twist as she arched a brow. “Who says I blush at your thoughts? Perhaps I shock myself.” She lifted a delicate shoulder.
At this, her husband, the notorious Lucas Mayfield, Eighth Earl of Heightford, chuckled. “I suppose that’s the delight of marriage, nothing is improper any longer.”
“I rather like having no restraints.”
“Somehow, I’m fully aware of that. And approve, mind you. Approve of it whole heartedly.” He bent to kiss Liliah’s head, then sat beside her.
“Need you ask?” He replied with a grin.
Liliah lifted the pot to pour. The steam swirled around the delicate china cup, and splashed slightly when she placed a single sugar cube into the tea.
“So, it is December.”
“You’re powers of observation are astounding.” Lucas commented as he lifted his cup.
“You’re powers of irritation are equally astounding.”
He chuckled and then nodded just before taking a sip of tea.
“As I was saying, it’s nearly Christmas and we haven’t even a sprig of mistletoe or a Yule log.”
“Is that what has you concerned? Well, let us remedy that today, shall we? If you wish, we can even go about Wasseling.”
Liliah’s eyes lit up with excitement. Wassling? I’ve never done it before, only read about it in stories. A few will go about singing, but nothing like in the country.”
“It’s more traditionally an activity in the countryside. We might be in Scotland for the season, but I dare say they celebrate it much like us, if Heathcliff is to be trusted.” Lucas set down his tea.
“May we have a tree?”
Lucas tipped his head to the side, giving his wife a curious expression.
“Why in heaven’s name would we get a tree?”
“I once met a lady who was visiting from Germany. She stayed with her aunt over Christmas, and her biggest lament of the season was not having a tree.”
“Rather pagan, if you ask me.”
“Should you truly be stating what is pagan, and what is not?” Liliah asked with a slightly ironic tone.
“You may have a point.”
She gave a slight nod of appreciation, then continued. “She said that they would bring in a fur tree, a small one, mind you, and decorate it with tapers, and wrapped dates, and little cakes. The smell was heavenly, she said, and it was a great anticipation to share the treats on the tree with those you loved.”
Lucas studied his wife. “I can see that Christmas time will not be traditional with you, will it?”
“Do you mind?”
“Not in the least, it actually gives me more anticipation for the holiday. It can get rather stuffy in London.”
“Good thing we’re in the Scottish Countryside, then.”
“A very good thing indeed.”
Liliah bit her lip. “Do you think we could start today?”
Lucas sipped the last of his tea. “I rather think it’s necessary if we are going to fit in all the delightful ideas you have mentioned.” He raised his eyebrow as if questioning whether the ideas were in fact, good or if he was placating his wife. Liliah rather thought it was the later. But it was of no consequence. She was going to have a lovely, country Christmas.
It was later that day when Liliah decided that the country Christmas she had in mind was not as magical as she expected.
The glorious fur tree that she imagined was more of a bush.
The wassling wasn’t as prudent of an idea seeming as they were quite a distance from other estates.
The only good part of the escapade was the Yule log. It was exactly as she imagined; large, stately and crackling loudly in the hearth beside the Christmas bush—she refused to call it a tree.
As the rain pelted the window beside her, she gave a slow sigh. As if reading her melancholy spirit, the warm hand of her husband curled around her waist and pulled her back into his warm chest. His breath tickled her ear a moment before he kissed her lightly on the neck.
Melting into his embrace, she released some of the tension of the disappointment of the day.
“You forgot something.” Lucas whispered against her skin.
“Oh?” she asked, leaning into the kisses her placed so tenderly along her jawline.
“Something quite important, mind you.”
She nodded, not caring what it was she forgot, she was in her happiest place, her husband’s arms.
“I’m quite shocked, actually. With all the enthusiasm you started with today, I thought this would be the first thing you’d endeavor to establish.”
Liliah turned to face him, a question furrowing her brow as she met his smile.
“Curious?” He asked, his blue eyes caressing her face, lingering on her lips.
“Perhaps.” She played coy.
“You’re surprisingly unobservant.” He teased.
Frowning further, she followed his gaze upward and noticed a sprig of mistletoe above their heads.
A smile started in her heart, then spread throughout her whole body, landing on her lips as she met her husband’s warm expression.
“It is a tradition.”
She nodded seriously. “And we mustn’t attempt to alter it as such.” She cracked a smile.
Lucas bent his head down, his breath warming her lips just before capturing them with his own. Liliah reached up to entwine her arms around his neck, savoring the warmth, the acute sensation of home that surrounded her whenever in her husband’s arms.
And true to form, the kiss only grew in intensity, and soon, the only remaining thought was that she rather loved being swept up into Lucas’ arms. And that their room was annoyingly far away, but that was remedied soon enough.
And as her husband clicked the door to their bedroom shut, she decided something important.
Christmas is more about who you share it with, than anything else.
About the Author
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! Life is full–of blessings and adventure! Needless to say she’s a big fan of coffee and wine…and living in Washington she’s within walking distance of both!
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