Mistress of Merrivale

Mistress of Merrivale by Shelley Munro Read Free Book Online

Book: Mistress of Merrivale by Shelley Munro Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shelley Munro
the warmth of his calloused hands at her neck countered some of her trepidation. A tremor of an entirely different kind swept her, heating every inch of her skin. Her eyes fluttered closed, and she breathed in his bay rum scent, her pulse racing with anticipation. The urge to reach for him, to slide her palms over his cheeks and draw his face down for a kiss teased at her. Aware she needed to act like a wife instead of reminding Mr. Sherbourne of her seductive mistress days, she curled her fingers into her palms until the inclination faded.
    “There you go.” He stepped away from her, seemingly unaffected by their proximity.
    “Thank you.” Jocelyn surveyed the necklace in her looking glass. “It’s beautiful.”
    “I thought the necklace would suit you.” Satisfaction glowed in his stern features, telling her she’d pleased him. “There are earrings to match. I’ll give them to you later. Shall we?” He offered his arm to escort her to dinner.
    The cook excelled herself with a delicious meal of oyster soup, roast venison, lamb stuffed with flour and raisins, and salmon. Jocelyn tried a little of everything, including the vegetables of chopped spinach and asparagus. Over their food and several glasses of red wine, they talked about the manor and Mr. Sherbourne’s normal routine. They ended their meal with a fruit pie served with custard.
    “Tell me about the village,” Jocelyn said.
    “It’s small, but adequate for our needs. There’s a baker, a blacksmith, a draper, a chandler and a coaching inn.”
    “And a parish church?”
    His grin dazzled her. “Yes, we have one of those. We go to Tavistock on market day for some of our supplies, but I try to support those in the village.”
    “I look forward to a visit. I hear Tavistock is a decent size town.” Her needs were few, but her mother would enjoy purchasing fabrics and sewing supplies. “What about neighbors?”
    “You’ve met Hannah and Peregrine,” Mr. Sherbourne said. “I grew up with them. Viscount Hartscombe, their father, operates several copper mines and owns much of the land around here, although he and the viscountess are often traveling due to their interest in ancient civilizations. You’ll probably meet Vicar Allenby and his wife, Mrs. Allenby, very soon. There’s a retired army man called Captain Cartwright. He’s the elected parish constable. Then there’s Duxton, the home of Sir James Harvey. When I was a child, my parents used to attend social gatherings in Tavistock. I haven’t participated as much as my parents did when they were alive.”
    Something in his clipped tone suggested he was thinking about more, but Jocelyn bit her tongue to still her questions. Patience. The last thing she wanted was to start off their marriage with a disagreement.
    “I can’t wait to explore your estate and the village.”
    “Always tell someone where you’re going.” A clipped demand to obey. “Take one of the footmen with you. They will make sure you don’t get lost or wander off the path should a mist drift onto the moor.”
    Jocelyn’s brows rose at his abrupt order. “Yes, of course.” Some of her surprise must have shown.
    “The moor is a hazardous place and the weather can change on a whim.”
    “Dangerous?”
    “There are hidden bogs. It’s easy to wander off the path if a fog descends without warning. People have disappeared and never been seen again. A child wandered off only three months ago. Despite our search, no one has seen him since.”
    “I’ll keep that in mind.” Jocelyn suppressed a shiver with difficulty. Why wasn’t he mentioning the murder? Perhaps the servants had exaggerated. “I’ll make sure Mother and Tilly take an escort if they go in search of wild herbs.”
    “They can take the carriage to the village if they wish to make a visit.”
    “I’ll let them know.” She glanced up from her fruit pie to find Mr. Sherbourne studying her mouth. His eyes rose, darkening with desire when their gazes met,

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