A Summer Shame

A Summer Shame by Elizabeth Ann West

Book: A Summer Shame by Elizabeth Ann West Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Ann West
endeavors. "But I fear I may lose some of your attentions in the very near future .  .  ." He exited the alcove, leaving her no choice but to follow if she wished her curiosity to be satisfied.
    Outside, Graham Hamilton bounded down the worn stone steps hoping his own wagon had come round, but saw that it was preceded by the mystery carriage's arrival to the long drive. Donning his tartan cap in the pattern of his ancestors, he offered his services as a gentleman to open the carriage door. Handing out the most beautifully delicate blonde creature he had ever seen, he was at a loss for words as the strange woman appeared mesmerized by the grandeur of Starvet House. Finally, he found his tongue.
    "Ah, lass, you must be Mrs. Darcy's sister. Welcome to Scotland!"
    Jane forced herself away from her inspection of the house to thank the man for his assistance, only to find herself arrested at the sight of such familiar features. He was tall, rugged, and dashing with a strong chin and dark features. But his clothing, once she looked him up and down, was utterly ridiculous! Stifling a giggle, which the man did not appear to appreciate, she curtsied briefly before their meeting was interrupted by the opening of the grand, front door.
    "JANE!"
    Elizabeth shouted as she flew down the stairs to usurp Mr. Hamilton's place as Jane broke away from this handing down. The two sisters immediately embraced, spinning and talking so fast, neither gentleman could decipher their conversation.
    With another wave to Darcy, Graham Hamilton chuckled that by all indications, he would be seeing the enigmatic Darcy far more often than on the morrow, if only to escape the hen house now nesting at Starvet. Hoisting himself up into the modest wagon, he carefully drove his horses around the carriage and slapped the reins once he was clear.
    It was only a mere three miles drive to the edge of his lands, but he was anxious to learn the fate of his favorite mare who was to foal anytime now. Granting himself one last look at the two sisters, with one of particular interest, he was dismayed to see that the Darcy family had all retired indoors. Shrugging his shoulders, he reasoned he would learn more about the beauty from the south in due time. In due time, indeed.
     
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Chapter Nine
     
    For a spell, the three sisters enjoyed their reunion and the eldest, Jane Bennet, wondered if perhaps Mr. Darcy had not exaggerated the trials and tribulations of handling a pregnant Lydia in his letter beckoning her to leave England. As she sat in the morning parlor of the grand stately home, Jane remained quiet, still exhausted from her ordeal at Matlock and the long journey up north.
    "Tell me all about the gowns you wore! Were they lined with golden thread? Oh, how I wish I had been in London this summer! I am sure the evenings were simply divine . . ." Lydia gazed above Jane's head with a far off look on her face.
    Elizabeth attempted to shake her head as little as possible in warning to Jane, but her sister missed the cue. Instead, Jane brightened at her first opportunity to cheer Lydia and rolled into a delightful retelling of her adventures.
    "The first ball after breaking my understanding with Mr. Bingley was the most difficult, but I was saved in society's eyes by a most dashing man, why . . ." Jane's eyes widened as she recalled the connection to the county they were in, " he was the Marquess Haddington! He told me his family was an ancient Scottish line."
    Pinching the handle of her cup until her finger's first knuckles were white as sheets, Elizabeth nodded. "Jane, how are the Fitzwilliams?"
    Jane ignored Elizabeth's question and gave her attention to Lydia, still absorbed with interconnections of her experiences. Here she had been taught to think of London Society as this great sea, deep with debutantes and suitors, but the shallow degrees by which everyone who was anyone linked together distracted her in a profound way. "The Marquess Haddington has such

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