The Truth About Lady Felkirk

The Truth About Lady Felkirk
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THE WIFE HE DOESN’T KNOW…When William Felkirk opens his eyes the past six months are blank. What happened? And who is this beautiful woman claiming to be his wife and caring for his broken body?Justine will do anything to protect her sister, even if that means pretending to be a stranger’s wife. She must guard the reasons for her deception with her life. But with every passing day William unlocks her heart just a little more, and Justine knows she won’t be able to hide the truth for ever…

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‘He is waking! Someone get his Grace and her Ladyship immediately.’

He opened his eyes at last and tried to sit up, but the room was still a blur and his back did not want to support him.

Who the devil was her Ladyship?

Something smelled wonderful. No. It was someone. Roses and cinnamon, close at his side. Muslin leaning against his bare arm and warm, silky skin touching his shoulder, then smoothing the hair on his brow. His senses were returning to him in a series of pleasant surprises.

‘Is someone going to explain to me what has happened, or will you leave me to guess? Did I take ill in the night?’

‘We heard nothing from you for months. When Justine brought you home you were in no state to say anything. There had been an accident.’

‘Who is this Justine?’

‘It seems there is much you have lost, and much that must be explained to you. But first and foremost you must know this. The woman before you now is Lady Felkirk.’

He paused again.

‘William, may I introduce to you your wife, Justine?’

My first career, long before I settled into life as a writer, was in theatrical costuming. During the theatre season I spent eight hours a day, six days a week, sewing for others. In my spare time I sewed for myself. Over the years I have tried the majority of fibre arts. I taught myself to knit in high school. It took me two or three tries to learn tatting. It took fifty years and the advent of internet instructional videos for me to learn to crochet.

The one thing I've never tried, and never will, is bobbin lace. I have watched it being done and I know I am far too impatient to manage even a simple project. And, considering the mess my newest cat has made of the knitting basket, I can only imagine what he would do if given a pillow trailing a lot of threads, with bobbins just waiting to be batted.

How fortunate that I have Justine to work through any of my subconscious lace-making urges.

Happy reading.

The Truth About Lady Felkirk

Christine Merrill

To Jim: after thirty years, you must be near to sainthood.

CHRISTINE MERRILL lives on a farm in Wisconsin, USA, with her husband, two sons, and too many pets—all of whom would like her to get off the computer so they can check their e-mail. She has worked by turns in theatre costuming, where she was paid to play with period ballgowns, and as a librarian, where she spent the day surrounded by books. Writing historical romance combines her love of good stories and fancy dress with her ability to stare out of the window and make stuff up.

Everything hurt.

William Felkirk did not bother to open his eyes, but lay still and examined the thought. It was an exaggeration. Everything ached. Only his head truly hurt. A slow, thumping throb came from the back of it, punctuating each new idea.

He swallowed with effort. There was no saliva to soothe the process. How much had he been drinking, to get to this state? He could not seem to remember. The party at Adam’s house, which had been a celebration of his nephew’s christening, was far too sedate for him to have ended like this. But he could not recall having gone anywhere after. And since he was in Wales, where would he have gone?

His eyelids were still too heavy to open, but he did not need vision to find the crystal carafe by the bedside. A drink of water would help. His arm flailed bonelessly, numb fingers unable to close on the glass.

There was a gasp on the other side of the room and the shatter of porcelain as an ornament was dropped and broken. Clumsy maids. The girl had been cleaning around him, as though he was a piece of furniture. Was it really necessary to shout ‘He is waking!’ so that anyone in the hall could hear?

Then there were hurried footsteps to the door and a voice called for someone to get his Grace and her ladyship immediately.

He opened his eyes at last and tried to sit up, but the room was still a blur and his back did not want to support him. He stared at the ceiling and what little he could see of the bedposts. It was still his brother’s house. But Penelope had never been a ladyship, even before marrying Adam. Even now, she laughed about not feeling graceful enough to be her Grace, the Duchess of Bellston. Though she was just out of childbed, she was not so frail as to cede her duties as hostess to another. Who the devil was her ladyship?

He must have misheard. But the rueful shake of his head made the pain worse, as did the thundering of steps on the stairs and in the hall. Could not a man bear the shame of a hangover in privacy? He tried to sit up again, and as he did, he felt an arm at his back and hands lifting him, like a child, to settle him against the pillows.

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