Corseting The Earl
127 pages
English

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127 pages
English

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Description

Pippa Nickle is a merchant’s daughter who has made a grave mistake. When the chance to leave her little town to help with a cousin’s nuptials arises, Pippa hops on a mail coach grateful the trip will buy her some time to figure out what to do about her predicament. That is until she ends up seated across from a Mrs. Percephany Doyale who is not exactly what she appears. Lord Heath Sedgewick has been put in charge of finding the ringleader to the corrupt faction willing to kill to put Queen Charlotte on the throne. When he meets Miss Pippa Nickle he is hard pressed to decide if she is a friend, or a foe. Either way, falling for the doe eyed girl is not part of his mission. Can Pippa be trusted to keep Heath’s secret? Or will falling in love expose them both?

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Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 17 avril 2016
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781772990775
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0032€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

Corseting the Earl
 
By Killarney Sheffield
 
Digital ISBNs
EPUB 9781772990775
Kindle 9781772990782
WEB 9781772990799
 
Print ISBN 9781772990805
 

Copyright 2016 by Killarney Sheffield
Cover art by Michelle Lee
 
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, nopart of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introducedinto a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by anymeans (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, orotherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyrightowner and the above publisher of this book.
 
Dedication
 
For all those women who would secretly loveto torture their significant others in women’s fashion for a day.Come on, you know you would!
Chapter One
 
The minister droned on and on, his voicepunctuated here and there by the drone of a bee, or particularlylarge fly. The stale odor of perfume, sweat and pew polishassaulted her dry sinuses. Fighting the urge to sigh, Pippa peeredaround the church. Old Mrs. Phelps was asleep in the second pew,her chin to her chest, a bright orange hat covered in yellow birdstilted to the side and in danger of falling off altogether. Shestifled a giggle and glanced back at Mr. Henny in the fourth row.Though his gaze was fixed on the ceiling, she knew he was payingclose attention to the sermon of hell-fire and sin that was aregular favorite of the minister. She flipped open her fan as atrickle of sweat slid down her cheek. A cool dip in the pond wouldbe most welcome right about now. Turning her attention back to thefront she focused on the back of Mitchel Land’s head. His golden,cherub like curls were perfect as always. There wasn’t a girl intown who didn’t fawn over those delicate ringlets, or envythem.
Her fingers twisted in the limp ruffle on herdress. How would he take her news? Her stomach wound into amatching knot. He loved her, she knew he did. Had he not professedit on many occasions beneath the old oak tree by the pond? Theywould run off to Gretna Green and be married. A sigh of headyexpectation escaped her. She could not wait for their lives tobegin. No more lowly shop keeper’s daughter. Her new home would bethe impressive mansion on the hill overlooking the town. Everyonewould look up to her. She would be treated with the utmost respect,no matter her marriage was a little quick. Yes, she would be theHonorable Mrs. Philippa Land.
The minister finished his sermon to a heatwilted round of “amen.” Pippa stood and followed her family fromthe quaint little church in the middle of town. As usual they weresurrounded by well-wishers enquiring about her father’s leg, andshe took the opportunity to slip away. Upon spying Mitchel headingaround side of the church she followed, hurrying to catch up withhim.
“Mitchel,” she called in a soft voice, leastshe draw the attention of the elders gathered by the steps.
Mitchel turned, his tawny eyes sparking withannoyance. “Good day, Philippa.”
It struck her as odd he did not greet herwith closeted affection. Was he angry with her for cutting theirlast secret meeting short? She smiled her sweetest smile. “I wantedto tell you something.”
He glanced around and then frowned, his eyesnow devoid of emotion. “I have found someone new, Philippa.”
Pippa stood in stunned silence. It took aminute before she found her tongue and glared at him, her fingersclenching in the skirts of her pink Sunday best muslin. “You arejust being sore because I cut our last tryst short and my papadidn’t invite your father to the harvest dance.”
Mitchel picked an imaginary speck of lint offhis fine blue wool waistcoat. “Ha, why my father would not soil hisgloves at one of those peasant squalls. Besides, you know he wouldnot approve of me courting a merchant’s daughter. It is far beneathmy station, you know.”
It was at that moment Philippa wondered justwhat she had ever seen in the stuck up squire’s son. Surely, he washandsome, his golden curls, soft face and dimples marking him aseasily the best looking boy around, but was that all he had goingfor him, besides his father’s wealth? Had she had stars in her eyeswhen he paid her favor? Oh, how could she have fallen for him? Andnow she was in trouble and she doubted he was the one to help her. Papa is going to be so angry with me….
If the crowd of well-dressed church goersmingling about the steps should hear, it would be a disaster. Sheglanced at the older lady with a quizzing glass dangling from herbony fingers and grimaced. Mrs. Peabody delighted in spreadingrumors, and this one would be extra juicy, to say the least.Screwing up her courage she stepped closer and lowered her voice.“Mitchel, I am with child.”
His normal droopy eyed expression widened,his cornflower blue eyes practically bulging from their sockets.“Are you sure?”
With grim conviction she nodded. “I missed mymonthly and…well, I have felt queasy three mornings in a row. Ialmost spewed at my mother’s feet this morning, but excused myselfin time to wretch out behind Mrs. Tow’s chicken coop under theguise of helping search for her missing hen.”
Mitchel’s face paled, making his golden curlsseem brassy. “But we only…rolled in the hay once…. ’Tis entirelyunlikely the child is mine.”
Fury rose in Philippa at his betrayal. “Ofall the nerve!” She glanced over at the crowd by the steps in timeto see Mrs. Peabody raise her quizzing glass to her eye. Loweringher voice she hissed, “You know well and good I have never givenmyself to any other. I am not that sort of female.”
He gave her a smug look. “Do I? You gaveyourself to me now, didn’t you?”
“That was different and you know it! Why, youled me to believe you were going to ask my father for my hand, youlying cad,” she whispered.
“As my father would say, why buy the cow whenyou can have the milk for the taking, Pippa?”
Despair and anger swirled inside and shefought to keep from either pummeling him with her fists, orbursting into tears. “I will tell your father and he will insistyou marry me.”
Mitchel laughed at her childish whine. “As ifmy father would believe the sad tale of a mere merchant’s daughter.Why, he knows I’ve been courting Miss Hardisty for many months now.He will simply cast aside your lies and your reputation will bequite tarnished. Your poor parents will be devastated that youwould try and blame your fallen virtue on one so much more aboveyour station. Why, I bet they would be shunned by the whole town aswell.” His eyes narrowed. “I would see you and yours run out ofthis town, Pippa, before I would admit to that child being mine.Just think how it would hurt your parents, their only daughter,carrying a bastard in her belly. How dreadful.”
This nasty side of Mitchel’s personality wasone she had never seen, and she didn’t like it one bit. Pippapulled herself up tall and looked him in the eye. “Oh, but justthink of the damage to your reputation if I insist this child isyours, Mitchel. Why, your precious Miss Hardisty, second daughterof an earl, would refuse your suit before you could blink.”
He snagged her wrist and twisted it. “Youwould not dare.”
She swallowed, trying hard to be brave. “Iwould.”
Scowling, he tightened his grip until shewhimpered in pain. “Do you ever wonder what happened to Mary Baglo,Pippa?”
“She—she ran off.”
“Did she? What if I told you she did not runaway? Hmm?” He reached out and ran a gloved finger down her cheek.“She claimed to have found herself in very much the same positionas you.” When she gasped, he smirked. “Oh yes, the silly chitthought to tell my father and anyone else who would listen, but Istilled her tongue. After I strangled her, I stuffed her in aburlap sack weighed down with rocks, and sunk her in Chester’sPond.” An evil sneer rode his thin lips. “So much for telling herlittle tale, eh?”
“You lie!” Lips quivering she glanced overher shoulder, hoping no one suspected their volatile conversation,yet at the same time wishing someone would and come to her aid.
When she caught her father’s eye he motionedto her and then said good-bye to the pastor and his wife. “Pippa,come along now.”
Pippa jerked her wrist from Mitchel andrubbed it. “I do not believe you.”
Mitchel sniggered. “Meet me this afternoon onthe west side of the pond and I will prove it to you then.”
Her father’s voice, ripe with annoyance,interrupted her retort. “Pippa, I will not wait all day.”
“I have to go.” With that she hurried in thedirection of her mother and father.
Her father shifted on his crutches as sheapproached with a disapproving look. “Pippa, ’tis bad enough youwere talking to a boy unchaperoned, but to keep me waiting when youknow how badly my leg pains me, is just inconsiderate.”
Pippa resisted the urge to snap at herfather, sparing him the anger caused by her own foolishpredicament. “I am sorry, Papa.”
“Really, dear, I am sure there is no harmdone talking with a boy in a public place such as church,” Pippa’smother interjected and then guided him to the less crowdedsidewalk. “Come along now, you are just being cross because it istime for your dose of laudanum. I know you are sore darling. Do nottake your temper out on Pippa. After all, ’tis not her fault youtumbled off the ladder now.”
Pippa grimaced as she followed behind hertut-tutting mother. It pretty much was her fault, actually. If herbulky skirts hadn’t interfered with her ability to climb the ladderto reach the dried berries on the top shelf needed for a customer,it would have been she on the rickety ladder. And, if she had toadmit it, if she had not been focused on Mitchel escorting MissHardisty down the street past the store window, she might not havefailed to steady

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