B E T R O T H A L
Summary: Regency Lady Wilhelmina is your typical unmarried female aristocrat— lounging about salons by the day, and prowling London's best ballrooms by night. Of course, she does have a few, well— unseemly pursuits like duelling, fencing and horse riding— although her speed on her beloved stallion certainly far exceeds that of an ordinary lady of the ton. But who's going to berate her? No one, of course, due to the fact that she was the only sister of the Duke of Stradford AND the Marquess of Warwick. That is, until HE came along. And Mina's world turned upside down.
He stood at the window of his London townhouse contemplated---so many feet below him---the crowd thronging the streets of London. It was over. It was finally over.
He turned away from the window with a soft sigh and reached for the decanter of brandy that now stood on his bed stand. It saved him the trouble to stumble across the room in the middle of the night to reach the connecting room to his study, which became, of late, his temporary winery. A dark look flitted across his face as he recalled the past that plagued him constantly in his dreams. It was it that drove him to drink himself to sleep every night.
He shook his head hard to clear the memories that threatened to invade his temporary, hard found peace and gulped down a mouthful of brandy straight from the decanter. He hadn't been a stickler for proprieties since the war, when--
"No," he muttered under his breath, "I won't think about that. Or...her."
Her. Or, to be more specific, Lady Charlotte Krafton. Beautiful, shrewd, a paragon of virtue (at least on the surface) and the widow of the late Earl of Fleming. But beneath the virtuous-widow facade she presented to the world was a cold, calculating, manipulative monster who used her feminine wiles to get what she wanted. He remembered how she--
Good Lord, he was thinking of the scheming bitch again!
I won't think about her. I won't think about the bloody harlot. He silently chanted as he made his way to the window overlooking the streets of London again. Looking down at the huge mass of people celebrating the downfall of the blasted dwarf Napoleon, he considered his options for the future. Now that the war was over, he supposed he'd have to stop his missions for the War Office. Not that there'll be any more assignments for him, anyway.
He took another sip of the decanter of brandy and pondered on his choices. He supposed he'll have to enter the marriage mart to hunt for a wife, but God knows what an awful business that would be. He quaked at the prospect of enduring ton parties and bearing the interrogation of the inquisitive gossipmongers of the ton. Not to mention the enthusiastic mamas who'd push their marriage-eager daughters at him at the slightest---slightest, mind you---hint of interest he show towards them.
The man known as the Falcon to Europe's network of spies quite shuddered at the thought of having to go through such hell in order to purchase a female for siring progeny. Anything would be better than this. Anything.
Even getting caught by the French.