Taming the Duke

Taming the Duke by Jackie Manning Read Free Book Online

Book: Taming the Duke by Jackie Manning Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jackie Manning
Tags: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Regency
said, gazing into her immense brown eyes. Standing in the golden lantern light, in Bashshar’s stall, she looked so natural, as though she were at home with the animals.
    “The way you look just now, reminds me of Potnia, the Greek goddess of wild animals,” he said. “In the hunting lodge, there’s a ceiling mural of her, standing in the forest among lions and deer.”
    Her eyes widened with surprise. “She is also called the Sweet Virgin, and she’s usually shown with her magical griffins, which are thought to protect her.”
    He lifted a black brow in amazement. “You’re familiar with Greek mythology?”
    She smiled. “My grandfather was also a scholar, who believed in the unpopular notion that women should be educated. My mother and her sisters were much too proper to care for books, but I loved to read. My grandfather taught me French, Latin and Greek, which came easily to me. He taught me history, literature and art,” she added wistfully.
    He realized again how truly amazing she was. She was nothing like his mother, or Elizabeth or the practiced lovers he had known. Alicia appearedto have a stronger inner strength than his sister, Olivia, but maybe Alicia’s pride gave that impression. All he knew was that the more he learned about Alicia, the more he wanted to know.
    “This sense of peace,” Dalton said. “How do you manage it?”
    She blushed becomingly, and, if he didn’t know better, he’d have thought her shy. “No one has ever asked me that.” Her gaze remained on the horse, her left hand petting the powerful neck.
    Dalton was aware she hadn’t answered his question, but he decided not to pursue it. Instead, he took her free hand and placed it against his chest. “What do you feel now, Alicia?”
    Her dark eyes widened as he felt his heartbeat pound beneath her fragile touch. “Surely if you can behold a horse’s spirit, you can behold a man’s?”
    A sudden spark ignited between them. He felt it through his fingers. Or had he imagined it?
    Alicia curled her fingers into her palm and withdrew her hand. She stepped back, as though he had never asked the question. “I’ll provide you with daily reports of Bashshar’s progress, your grace.” Her voice held no emotion.
    What had happened between them? For the briefest of seconds, he knew that she’d sensed it, too. Dalton stepped back, suddenly needing to break away. “If you require anything, ask Ulger, the stable master.” Dalton’s voice held steady, despite his sudden unease. “Ulger has been instructed to tell the servants to protect your privacy.”
    Dalton opened the door and allowed her to passin front of him. “I’ll drive you to your cottage in the carriage. It’s too dark for you to walk the long distance alone,” he added, returning the bar across the latch. He watched the deep crimson strands of her hair shine like live coals when she walked beneath the lantern. She hurried through the long building until the main entrance came into view.
    Outside, he handed her into the carriage. “I hope you found your quarters to your liking.”
    “Yes, thank you.”
    He noticed she was trembling. Was she suddenly afraid to be alone with him? Dalton wondered. Or was it his earlier remark that at any hour, a member of the ton might enter the stables?
    When they finally reached the cottage, he helped her down and bowed as gallantly as if she were debutante of the year. “Good night, Lady Alicia.”
    Before going inside, she waited until the carriage wheeled along the path and disappeared into the night. “Good night, your grace,” she whispered when her breath finally returned.
    The morning’s sunlight bathed the snowy marble walls of the horse stables with gold rays. Alicia checked over her charge. Bashshar stood patiently, showing no sign of his past nervousness. Sensing only mild apprehension in the animal this morning, she felt pleased and relieved that the stallion was accepting her so readily.
    Oats brimmed from the grain

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