|A Murder And A Kiss
Author: Fading-Scream PM
Set in regency London, a murder leaves the Montrose twins as prime suspects – at least in Nathaniel, Marquess of Hartington's mind. Cole and Catherine Montrose have many secrets to keep hidden about who they are and what they can do, but when Hartington starts digging into their past there is only one thing to be done - or is there?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Mystery - Chapters: 15 - Words: 27,053 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 02-09-13 - Published: 11-21-12 - id: 3076203
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Laughter tinkled up from the ballroom to where a lone gentleman stood lurking in the shadows on a balcony. Nathaniel Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington and heir to the Duke of Devonshire, was bored. He was sick of the simpering misses who swarmed to his side, trying to catch him in a compromising position in order to claim the ultimate prize: marriage into one of the oldest and most prestigious families in England. The self-proclaimed bachelor had endured seven seasons, each one worse than the last, and each year he managed to evade the matchmaking mamas and their devious daughters. In truth, the ton reminded him all too well of the espionage in which he had engaged during the war against Napoleon, under direct order of the Duke of Wellington. However, being an intelligence agent did not require one to be bored or subjected to ridiculous and endless giggling. To be truthful, Nathan had to admit that he preferred espionage.
Dressed impeccably with the cut of his sombre black coat being of the height of fashion, his cravat intricately tied and ornamented with a ruby pin and his shoes polished until they shone, and armed with a dazzling smile, he had earned his reputation of being a black-hearted devil. Although they amused him in bed, women had little worth to him. They had all proven themselves to be weak and prone to nagging the poor men in their lives until those men died, most likely just to get away from the voice of the woman in question.
Sarah was different though. Nathan smiled as he remembered how his sister, nine years older than himself, looked out for him whenever he got into trouble with their father. She was strong in both character and resolve, never one to dissolve in a flurry of tears, and she refrained from nagging… most of the time. If only there were more women like Sarah.
"Ah! There you are Hart." A voice called out from behind him as he was leaning on the railing above the ballroom, watching the couples dance a lively country jig while safely hidden in the shadows.
Michael Laurence, Earl of Rushford and Nathan's brother-in-law, was one of the few men who Nathan could honestly call a friend even with the ten year difference in ages. A broad bulk of a man with hair so blonde it appeared silver and grey eyes which frequently lit up with humour, he had often saved Nathan's wretched hide during the war. As a result, the bond between the two men had been strengthened into wrought iron.
"I'm in hiding Rushford. Mrs Keelson's trying to foist her daughter onto me. Apparently we'd make a 'handsome couple'. As if I'd let myself fall into that trap."
Rushford chuckled knowingly. "Ah, my friend. Which one? Is it the spotty one or the one who's been squeezed into a dress so small that she's afraid to sit down?"
Nathan grimaced. "I didn't pay that much attention. I was too busy plotting my escape route. It was a mistake to come to this soirée. If Sarah hadn't begged me to come I wouldn't have bothered."
Rushford smiled slightly, understanding how much Sarah had her little brother wrapped around her finger. Nathan would do nothing to offend or upset her, besides refuse to find a bride that is. That had been an old argument, one which Rushford sincerely believed that his beautiful wife would never win.
"Care to join me in the card room Hart? You can attempt to win back the fortune your sister forced you to spend on that atrocious painting you hide away. I will never understand her need to support struggling artists."
"Her pet projects are nothing next to your reforms in regards to the underprivileged." Nathan countered, patting Rushford on the shoulder.
The two gentlemen made their way toward the card room where they were joined by Lady Rushford herself, her bright green eyes sparkling with amusement as her husband and brother debated which table they should join. Shaking her head she made her way to a settee where a few of her friends sat.
Nathan and Rushford eventually joined a table and were soon engaging in a game of cards. It was indeed not the best night for Nathan, losing two guineas on the turn of five hands. Determined to get his money back he became engrossed in the game, the background chatter becoming a dull buzz. A terrified scream tore through his concentration. He turned to Rushford, their eyes meeting for a moment in shock before they both turned toward where Sarah had been sitting. She was gone. Panic flooded his mind as he and Rushford rose from the table, rushing toward where the feminine scream had come from.