Please enjoy this excerpt from A BRIDE BY MOONLIGHT by Liz Carlyle:
Napier cocked one hip on his windowsill and crossed his arms, studying her. “Elizabeth,” he said quietly, “why are you not leaving?”
Her satin cords, or whatever they were, having been tossed aside, Elizabeth threw up both hands and looked at him incredulously. “Because we’ve work to do?” she snapped. “Because the sooner we’ve done whatever it is you’ve dragged me off to do, the sooner we’ll be away from here?”
Away from here.
Away from her.
God, he prayed for both—but for far different reasons, he was beginning to think.
Suddenly her eyes widened. She cut a glance at the door, then hastened to it, the green velvet of her carriage dress slithering enticingly over her hips. Then, to his extreme discomfort, she bent over a little and set an ear to a flat spot in the carved wood, providing a delectable view.
It seemed an eternity before she straightened and shook her head. “My imagination,” she muttered. “I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
Napier sighed, and altered his strategy. “Make your point, but be quick about it,” he said. “In what way might you be of help?”
Again, the ingenuous expression. “Why, it’s hard to know,” she said, “when I’ve been told nothing of what brought you home to Burlingame. After all, I am just the hired help—no, the blackmailed help. Nonetheless, I will have time alone with all your maddening female relations—and ladies do gossip. Moreover, they will take no notice whatever of another lady asking a great many questions. Indeed, given our so-called betrothal, they will wonder if I do not.”
“There is some truth to that,” he admitted.
“And then, of course, there’s Fanny.”
“Who, pray, is Fanny?”
“My maid,” she said impatiently. “Servants’ hall tittle-tattle is the purest form of gossip.”
“True, my man Jolley is invaluable in that regard.”
“Furthermore, Fanny and I are apt to be in parts of the house you will not,” she said. “While you’re closeted with your grandfather in some stuffy estate office, the ladies will likely take tea in the drawing room, or sew in the parlor, or read in the library. Are you looking, perhaps, for a weapon? Or purloined goods? Or what?”
He considered it for a moment, and wondered why he should not take her up on it. Elizabeth was a clever piece of work, and the fact that she made his cock throb every time she drew near was merely a testament to his stupidity.
“All right,” he said, setting one hand high on the bedpost. “I need every bit of gossip either you or Fanny come across, so long as you take no risk to get it. And I need paper.”