by Amanda Quick
$4.99 U.S. / $5.99 Can.
Augusta Ballinger was quite sure that it was all a dreadful mistake. The chillingly pompous and dangerously disturbing Earl of Graystone could not possibly wish to marry her. Why, it was rumored that his chosen bride must be a veritable model of virtue. And everyone knew that Augusta, as the last of the wild, reckless Northumberland Ballingers, was a woman who could not be bothered by society's rules.
That was why the spirited beauty had planned a midnight encounter to warn the earl off, to convince him that she would make him a very poor wife indeed. But when she crawled through his darkened study window, Augusta only succeeded in strengthening Harry's resolve: to kiss the laughter from those honeyed lips and teach this maddening miss to behave! How could he possibly know that it was he who was in for a lesson... as his brazen fianc? set out to win his heart - and an old and clever enemy stepped in to threaten their love, their honor, and their very lives?
Augusta narrowed her eyes. "What would have been the point? You would have lectured me and made a most unpleasant scene, just as you are doing now."
"I would have taken care of the matter for you," Harry said grimly. "And you would not have put your neck and your reputation at risk as you did tonight."
"It seems to me, my lord, that both of our necks and our reputations were at risk tonight." Augusta tried a tentative smile of appeasement. "And I must say, you were most impressive. I am very glad you turned up when you did, sir. It seems to me it all turned out for the best and we should both be thankful the thing is over."
"Do you really believe I am going to let the matter rest there?"
Augusta drew herself up proudly. "I will, of course, understand completely if you feel my actions tonight have put me beyond the pale. If you feel you cannot possibly tolerate the notion of marrying me, I shall be quite willing to cry off and free you from this engagement."
"Free me, Augusta?" Harry reached out to catch hold of her wrist. "I fear that is impossible now. I have come to the conclusion that I shall never be free of you. You are going to bedevil me for the rest of my life and if that is to be my fate, I may as well take what consolation I can for what I shall be obliged to endure."
Before August had time to realize what he intended, Harry had yanked her across the short distance between them. An instant later she found herself lying across his strong thighs, as his mouth came down on hers . . . .
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