Scandal of Love

By: Janelle Daniels



“I know.” Aubrey nodded sympathetically. “You can do this though.”

Her father was waiting for them in the carriage. Once they were all settled, they began the short journey to the ball. They were arriving fashionably late so that everyone would be in attendance for their performance.

“It will be all right,” her father tried to reassure her.

Sera nodded numbly, trying to make her father feel better, but she knew it wouldn’t be all right. How could it be? She would be making a mockery of love and marriage, and there was no hope of ever having those things now. “Let’s go.”

Ascending the steps, Sera let out a pent up breath.

“Lord Winters, Duke of Dorchester, Lady Sera, and Lady Aubrey,” the announcer called out to the packed ballroom.

Like a wave cresting over the room, their voices were extinguished one by one. Holding her head up high, she walked slowly in the room. A serene smile on her face, almost as if she hadn’t a clue that she was the center of attention.

Please let this end soon, she thought, scanning the crowd.

But it was only just the beginning.





CHAPTER 3



Hearing his fiancée announced, Quinton turned toward the door like everyone else to watch the Duke of Dorchester and his daughter walk into the room. He remembered Lord Winters from their meeting the previous day, but he didn’t recognize Lady Sera.

Wrapped in a pink gown with matching roses in her dirty-blond hair, his soon to be bride was announced directly after her father. While not exceptionally beautiful, she did have several features that he considered pleasing. His sigh of relief was immediate. He hadn’t thought to inquire about the woman’s looks until after the bargain had been struck. The dread he had been feeling, not knowing if he would be able to bed the woman, had loosened in his gut.

Marrying her wouldn’t be nearly as bad as he had feared.

The moment his fiancée moved out of the way, her friend, Lady Aubrey, walked in after, glowing in a shimmery ivory dress. His breath stolen, all he could do was stare at her. This was Lady Aubrey?

She had to be the most beautiful woman he had ever set eyes on. Her hair couldn’t have been described as blond; it was more a silvery gold that captured the candlelight. She was slim, with curves in all the right places, forcing any man to see her as the woman she was. He could probably wrap his hands around her entire waist.

This woman would be visiting his wife in his home once they were married. He would always be in close proximity, always tempted by her beauty, but never able to act upon it.

He cursed. What had he done so completely wrong in his life that he would be tortured so acutely? There would never be anyway to have her. She was the best friend of his soon-to-be bride.

Why couldn’t he have met her sooner? Why did he have to see her now when there was nothing he could do to have her?

“Beautiful isn’t she?” Lord Harold said, coming up beside him.

“Breathtaking,” he replied, looking at his fiancée’s friend. “Are you ready to play your part in this farce?”

Harold nodded, watching the two women. “Don’t worry, Quinton. I’ll make sure she knows who you are. No one will realize I’m introducing you.” His blue eyes twinkled with mischief.

Quinton rolled his eyes. Only Harold would make light of such a situation. Of course, he wasn’t the one marrying a stranger.

He tried watching his fiancée, but his eyes kept trailing back to the beauty in ivory. He had to get ahold of himself. It wasn’t going to do anyone any good if he kept up this infatuation with Lady Sera’s best friend.

The noise level in the room had risen once again after Lord Winters broke off from the women. “It’s time,” Quinton said.

Harold nodded, walking toward the two women. It only took a moment for the noise level to drop again. The room seemed to strain toward the small group, stretching to hear any tidbit of conversation.

Harold bowed toward the women. “My ladies, we feared you would not be able to join us this evening. Lord Devericks has been pining to see you Lady Sera.”

Quinton barely heard his friend as he watched the two women jerk in surprise. Both sets of eyes, his fiancée’s, a pretty speckled green, and her friend’s, a deep blue, the hue of the deepest lake, looked toward him in surprise before the emotion was quickly masked.

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