Cloudy With a Chance of Marriage

Cloudy With a Chance of Marriage by Kieran Kramer

Book: Cloudy With a Chance of Marriage by Kieran Kramer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kieran Kramer
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical, Regency
Captain, in your uniform.” She couldn’t believe she’d blurted that out. Because she had imagined him in uniform.
    She blushed to the roots of her hair.
    He laughed. “In my uniform, yes, I could play the part as well as any naval officer. But you’ve seen me out of uniform. You know that given a choice, I choose the undisciplined road. You and others on Dreare Street might say I choose impulse and feeling over caution and reason. And I do.”
    “But that’s because you don’t know what the truth is anymore,” she said.
    He gave her a long look.
    She stared back, refusing to be cowed.
    “You’re not only a beguiling bookseller but a perceptive one, too, aren’t you?” He reached out and rubbed a scratchy thumb over her chin.
    She stepped back. “If you insist on flirting with me, Captain, I’ll ban you from the store.”
    He dropped his hand. “But how will I do your bidding then?”
    “You’re mocking me, sir.” Her heart was still pounding from his touch and now he had a look in his eyes that made her knees weak.
    He chuckled. “You’ve got it all wrong. I admire you and your independence. Tell me more about yourself.”
    The rumble of a carriage coming down the street saved her from having to answer. They went closer to the edge of the roof and peered down.
    “Perhaps it will stop at Hodgepodge,” Jilly said, leaning farther out for a better look.
    “Not so far.” Captain Arrow grabbed her arm and pulled her back against his stomach.
    For a brief second, she allowed herself to rest in the crook of his arm. Something wild and wicked in her wanted to lean even farther back against the man, but she forced herself to straighten her spine. “Captain?”
    “Yes?” he said into her ear.
    “You can unhand me now.”
    “Very well. But only if you take a step back with me.”
    They did, in tandem, and he released her. She pretended she didn’t care one jot that he’d held her and she’d liked it.
    The carriage did, indeed, stop in front of Hodgepodge. Part of Jilly was glad. And the other part was regretful. The part that was glad urged her to move toward the hatch leading down to her living quarters. She couldn’t afford to think about the part of her that wanted to stay on the roof with the captain.
    *   *   *
    From the front of the store, Stephen watched as a small, gray man got out of the carriage, his expression as stern as a schoolmaster’s. Stephen followed his instinct to go to the door ahead of Miss Jones and Otis. There was something about the man’s eyes he didn’t like.
    The visitor stopped in front of him, a black leather satchel at his side, and looked up at him. “You’re in my way,” he said dryly.
    “I know that,” replied Stephen. “What’s your name, and what business do you have here?”
    “Captain!” Jilly said behind him. “Please let our customer inside.”
    “He’s not a customer,” Stephen called back, his eyes still on the man.
    It was a statement, not a question.
    The man looked at him without flinching. “If it means I may enter the shop, then yes, indeed, I am a customer.” He gave Stephen a false smile. “My name is Mr. Alastair Redmond.”
    “What’s your business here?”
    “That’s between Miss Jones and me.”
    Stephen narrowed his eyes at him. “I’ll let you in, Redmond,” he said, “but watch your step.”
    “Right,” the man answered with a world-weary sigh. “I’ve heard that before.”
    Stephen reluctantly stepped aside, and Mr. Redmond walked up to the counter, where Jilly stood with a nervous smile pasted on her face.
    Did she sense as well as Stephen did that this sour-faced man was the bearer of some sort of bad news?
    “Are you the owner of Hodgepodge?” Mr. Redmond asked her, his voice reedy.
    Otis gave a small cry, but then he pursed his mouth and proceeded to fumble with his shoe. He almost had it off, and—
    “Otis,” Jilly whispered.
    He looked at her, his eyes filled with fear and something else—the

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