Becky Thorn has been keeping a secret for more than seven years. A secret that, if found out, could destroy her. So before she gets too ensconced in London society, she accepts a position as a governess for a reclusive Viscount and his wife, far away from the ton.
Stephen Hastings, the third Viscount Hastings, is nothing short of perturbed when the tart Miss Thorn shows up on his doorstep. He is a man with little time and even less patience, who feels his pushover housekeeper is doing a fine job keeping his wards out of his hair. But Miss Thorn thinks differently and needles her way into becoming his governess, and eventually, the object of his affection.
Becky gasped and spun from the bookshelf to find herself face to face with the lord of the manor. She stammered as she fished for an appropriate excuse. Truth be known, she should not have been traipsing about the house at this hour, let alone on a mission to borrow one of the library’s books. She would be dismissed before she’d even had a chance to begin.
“I’m so sorry, my lord, I was just…”
Lord Hastings raised his brows in question and sipped lazily from the snifter he held in his hand.
“I was just leaving, actually. Good night.”
Becky bobbed a shallow curtsy and then backed towards the door, eager to return to her room.
“Miss Thorn, you needn’t leave on my account,” Lord Hastings said dryly. “You interrupted the rest of my day, why not finish it out?”
Becky stood frozen, trying to decide whether she should be grateful for the chance to stay and choose a book or outraged that he’d insulted her yet again. Unable to keep her thoughts or feelings to herself, she opted for the latter.
“Forgive my impertinence, my lord,” she began, “but may I ask why you have taken it upon yourself to be exceedingly rude to me since my arrival?”
A sinister chuckle escaped from Lord Hastings’ lips. “Don’t take it personally, Miss Thorn. You’re a servant. I treat you no differently than I treat anyone else in my employ.”
“Considering I’ve been brought here under false pretenses, I find your behavior reprehensible.”
“Behavior?” he asked indignantly. “Need I remind you that you are governess to my niece and nephew and not to me? However you find my behavior it is none of your concern.”
“It is when it affects me.”
“Then I suggest you grow a thicker skin, Miss Thorn, for I am not in the habit of walking on eggshells for the sake of my servants’ feelings.”
Becky remained silent. She had already overstepped her boundaries more than once today and she would not put it past Lord Hastings to turn her out even at this late hour. Though a thousand retorts swirled in her head, she merely clamped her lips shut and walked to the shelves of books that lined the walls, drawing her robe tighter around her as she did.
But there was no hope of concentrating on the books or their titles. She was outraged and tired and feeling completely lonesome and helpless. All she really wanted was to go to sleep but she was still too wound up from the day’s events.
When the hairs on her neck stood involuntarily, she was certain she was being watched. She turned around to see Lord Hastings regarding her with a cynical smile.
“Would you please stop staring at me? It makes me uncomfortable.”
“Would you care for a drink, Miss Thorn?”
That caught her off guard. She was prone to a glass of wine or a pint of ale from time to time, but only amongst friends, never with intimidating strangers.
“No, thank you,” she said proudly and turned her attention back to the books.
“It might help you sleep.”
He had a point there.
“All right, then,” she sighed. “Perhaps just a little.”
After obtaining a degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and years of pursuing a career on the stage, Jerrica left the “glamorous” life of an actress in favor of writing romance. She continues to reside in the New York City area with her husband, cat, and precious daughter.