The Grace of a Duke

The Grace of a Duke by Linda Rae Sande Read Free Book Online

Book: The Grace of a Duke by Linda Rae Sande Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Rae Sande
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical, Regency
state of shock, but thought instead to throw the duke a lifeline. “Of course, Lady Charlotte,” he said instead. “Where should we start?”
    Charlotte took a seat in a wingback chair that afforded a view of both men’s profiles. “Why, at the very beginning, of course,” she said before she took a sip of coffee and waited for their replies.

Chapter 5
    Lady Charlotte Attempts Seduction
    The distant sound of cracking and splintering wood and was that glass breaking? pulled Joshua from a dream-filled sleep. He laid for a moment, listening and wondering about what could have made such a sound, especially one that was louder than the sound of the wind battering the trees just beyond the room’s windows. A sound from closer drew his attention, though, and he concentrated on it. Mewling, from a frightened cat or ... a woman? Rain pelted the bedchamber windows, and, for an instant, a flash of lightning turned the room white. The mewling, sounding very close, turned into a cry of fear. His senses at full alert, he sprang from his bed and moved toward the source of the sound, realizing almost immediately that his dressing gown was nowhere near and he was nude. A boom of thunder sounded from far away. He surveyed his room in the darkness, another flash of lighting illuminating the shape of a person, a woman, he realized. “Who is there?” he asked, the sound of his voice louder than he intended. In the light from the next lightning strike, he made out the identity of his visitor. It was Charlotte, her hands covering her ears, her eyes squeezed shut. The whimpering sounds increased to a cry as the sound of booming thunder filled the room.
    Joshua moved quickly to her, positioning himself so that his nakedness wouldn’t be so apparent if she opened her eyes. “Charlotte?” he whispered, wanting to reach out and cover her mouth so as to silence her cries. Should a servant hear her and come to his room to investigate and find her here, she would be ruined. But he calmed himself on the thought that there would be no servants prowling the halls this time of the night, and Garret would be in his room, on the other side of the guest bedchamber that Charlotte should be in this very instant. That, and the sounds of the wind and the rain that now pelted the windows, allowed him to put his concern for Charlotte’s reputation aside as he now tried to determine what was causing her distress.
    “I apologize, Your Grace,” the Charlotte said between sobs. “I am ... so frightened.” White light filled the room, and she practically screamed again.
    “Lady Charlotte,” he whispered, finally taking her in his arms and pulling her against the front of his body. He almost regretted the move; the scent of woman invaded his nostrils. The feel of her satiny dressing gown caressed his skin. Her hair, a mass of loose blonde waves, gave off the scent of jasmine, and he fought the urge to bury his nose in the silken threads. Her hands suddenly wrapped around his body and pressed into his back as the side of her face pressed against his neck and shoulder. He felt the warmth of her body, felt the wetness of her tears, felt her trembling and heard her quieting sobs. “Whatever is wrong?” he queried, his hands moving to the middle of her back, holding her hard against him so she wouldn’t be able to see his scars. Or his nakedness.
    The room filled with light again and the sound of rolling thunder followed immediately. Charlotte’s arms tightened around his back as she cried out again. “Please, don’t make me leave,” she whispered, her tears leaving moist trails on the front of his chest.  
    Her heart pounded a tattoo that Joshua felt down to his core. She is scared to death, he realized, feeling the trembles of her body beneath his hands. “Shh,” he replied, not sure what he could say to assuage her fear. Very aware of the curves of her body pressed against him, he felt his loins tighten and fought to keep control of himself. If he

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