Title: Betraying Ever After
Author: Kelly Martin
Series: A Shattered Fairy Tale
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
An earl in need of an honorable wife.
A servant in love with a man she can't have.
An evil plan that was set in motion years ago coming to fruition.
Can love conquer betrayal? Or will Emma's fairytale end at midnight?
Miss Emma’s eyes opened, and she looked as if she had been in a pleasant daze. What, if anything, had he done to cause it? Because he would surely do it again.
“Pardon me?” she answered hoarsely, her dream-filled eyes finding his.
His breathing hitched. He tried to look away but couldn’t. Such beautiful eyes. So full of— He couldn’t place what it was. Longing, possibly. What was he saying? Oh yes. “Your head, my lady. You said you must leave because it ached so.”
She broke eye contact, making him exhale the breath he had no idea he’d been holding. Surely the old cobblestone flooring of the balcony couldn’t be more interesting to look at than he.
“Yes, my lord. It does still hurt.”
“No wonder, with so much hair piled up there. I never understood it. Why women grow their hair to such lengths only to shorten it and toss it on their heads in such elaborate ways is beyond me.” Instinctively, he reached up to brush a loose curl which had fallen around her face. Before his fingers could feel the silken strand, he caught himself, cleared his throat, and lowered his hand. What was he doing?
She smiled, and the world was wonderful again. Sadly, she took it upon herself to place the stray curl behind her ear. “I take it, my lord, you prefer a woman’s hair down about her shoulders.”
“I do.” Vaughan relaxed a bit, but only a bit. His fingers still trembled to touch her. “Just as you wore yours the first night I saw you.”
Even with the limited light, he saw her cheeks blush and her gaze fall to the floor once more. That wouldn’t do. To get through this, he needed her eyes on him. He needed it as much as he needed to breathe. Lightly, he placed his trembling finger under her small chin and tilted it slightly until her eyes locked with his. There. Perfect.
When he lowered his hand, she didn’t lower her eyes. She kept the seductive blue orbs trained on him. His pulse quickened.
Without looking away, Miss Emma nibbled her enticing lip. “That was a last-minute decision.”
“The hair down?” he said, just to keep polite conversation going. If he had his choice, she would already have his ring on her finger and her back against the far wall. His lips would be on her neck, and his hands… well, they would find their own way.
“The entire thing.” With that, her eyes shifted. No longer were they filled with what he had hoped was desire. Now they held something else. Fear? No. What could this exquisite woman have to fear? Most definitely nothing from him. Could she not see how she affected him? With all his might, he wanted to protect her from the fear. He wanted to show her what she meant to him.
But he couldn’t move too quickly. It would scare her more if he did, and he couldn’t live with himself if he frightened her off. He did what he normally did if things got worrisome. He tried to boost the mood. Pushing down all of his nerves and trepidation, he smiled as brightly as he could muster. “Nothing is gained if torture is involved. If it hurts you, my lady, take it down.”
That most certainly got her attention. Her perfect baby blues widened. “Down? My hair? No, my lord. No. There will be talk for sure. Even more than already has transpired, no doubt.”
“Perhaps, but people talk. It is what they do.” He chuckled. “Please. For me.” Vaughan had been forward with women before. In fact, in Italy, he’d made it his mission. But there had never been love involved with those women. If she wanted her hair down, then she should wear it down. If society talked, let them talk. Outside on the chilly veranda, it was only the two of them. No titles. No money. Nothing keeping them apart. Just Emma and Vaughan.
“Please,” he asked again, praying she would concede.
Her delicate lips blew out a tension-filled breath, but she nodded in agreement. Her hand rose to the painful first pin holding the mass of curls and hesitated.
“Allow me,” he whispered before she could change her mind.
Kelly Martin is the bestselling author of heart pounding and heart-felt contemporary, historical, and YA romance. She has been married for over ten years and has three rowdy, angelic daughters. When Kelly isn't writing, she loves watching YouTube and drinking white chocolate mochas. You can follow her writing adventure at www.kellymartinbooks.com