A Baron for Becky

A Baron for Becky by Jude Knight Read Free Book Online

Book: A Baron for Becky by Jude Knight Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jude Knight
Tags: Marriage of Convenience, courtesan, infertile man needs heir
work.’ She could be a seamstress or serve in a shop,
and Lord Chirbury would lease her and Sarah a cottage at favourable
terms. “I would suggest teaching, Mrs Darling, since you are
obviously well educated, but if your past were to come out... The
Longford villagers are good people, but they can be very hard on
those they don’t understand.”
    Rose’s sewing
was mediocre, and neither occupation would earn her more than a
pittance. “Forgive me,” she told Anne. “I need to make more than
that, if I am to give Sarah a chance at a better life than mine...”
She could not meet Lady Chirbury’s eyes, fearing the scorn and
rejection. But the countess surprised her. “I understand better
than you might think, Mrs Darling. Make sure he gives you a
favourable contract, then. My husband will read it for you, if you
    In the library,
several closely-written pages were lying on a table under the
window. “You suggested a contract, Mrs Darling,” he said. “Here is
a start. Everything is negotiable. I want you to be happy.” He
looked nervous. Did he really think she had a choice?
    She took the
chair in front of the table and began reading.
    Two years? He
wanted two years ? An upfront payment, hers to keep plus an
allowance. Was two hundred and fifty guineas a quarter low? But
wait; he would pay all her costs: the wages for servants, unlimited
accounts at the grocer, the butcher, and the candlemaker, as well
as her choice of milliner, modiste , bootmaker, and any other
makers of clothing and adornments.
    Dear Heavens.
Her eyes must be out on stalks!
    He would pay
for, and keep, a carriage and horses for her use, including grooms
and stabling. He would pay for a nurse for Sarah, and teachers for
Rose in dance and pianoforte.
    She read on.
She couldn’t help the grin, though she managed not to dance in her
    Aldridge would
purchase and staff a town-house within easy distance of Haverford
House. At the end of two years, the house would be hers, free and
    Two years. She
could do anything for two years.
    Surely between
the value of the town-house and what she could save, she would be
able to start again in the country? Be free? Give Sarah a decent
    He wanted a key
to the house. He wanted her to be available whenever he wished, and
travel if he wanted her company. He wanted the right of renewal
after two years, should he wish to continue to keep her.
    He would expect
her to host and accompany him to entertainments and activities. She
frowned a little.
    He was watching
closely. “Something wrong?” he asked.
    “Would you...
would you expect me to ‘entertain’ other men?” She hated that. Her
third protector had used a night with her to reward his friends or
bribe his allies.
    “I’m not good
at sharing what is mine,” Aldridge said. “Mrs Darling, I won’t
insist on you doing anything that makes you feel diminished. Though
I hope you’ll try new things, even if they seem a bit odd or
uncomfortable at first.”
    She considered
him carefully. Even in Bristol, even in her circles, Aldridge’s
parties were discussed in scandalised whispers. But rumours were
seldom accurate.
    His usual
twinkle deserted him, and his eyes were level and serious as he
said, “Mrs Darling, I ask one thing of my lovers, and I ask it of
you. Tell me what pleases you. Tell what does not please you. Never
pretend pleasure you do not feel.”
    “My lord,” she
protested, “this arrangement is about your pleasure, not mine.”
    He rejected
that with a swift shake of the head. “My pleasure is enhanced by
your pleasure. Women know this; that is why they pretend. But I
will know if you pretend, Mrs Darling, and that will destroy my
pleasure. If you wish to please me in intimate matters, then you
must first allow me to please you.”
    Rose’s mouth
was hanging open. She closed it, gathering her scattered
    “I want Sarah
to have her own apartments, and not to...” she blushed again, not
sure quite how to

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