Excerpt from Rules for a Lady

     

     What was she—Gillian Ames, bastard and lowly housemaid—doing wearing emeralds? She should be thrilled at finally starting on the path to her dreams. She had wealth, support, and most of all, the opportunity for a fine marriage that would establish herself and her mother for the rest of their lives. She should be dancing on the rafters in excitement. Instead, all she could think was that she was a thief and a liar living someone else's life. Her breath caught on a sob, and she felt Stephen's hands tighten on her shoulders in surprise, turning her around so he could look directly into her eyes.
     "Amanda? What is wrong?"
     "I—I do not belong here," she gasped, then felt her eyes widen in shock. "I mean—"
     "Shhh, it's all right. You are Amanda Faith Wyndham."
     "No—"
     "Yes. Amanda, listen to me. You are an earl's ward and a beautiful woman who has already become an Original even before your come-out."
     She blushed. "Do not be absurd," she whispered, not comprehending the husky timbre to his voice or the almost desperate sound to his words. The mesmerizing golden flecks in his eyes filled her thoughts, and she felt her heart beat faster as he drew a ragged breath.
     He leaned down, his dark hair brushing against her forehead as his breath mingled with hers. And then without even realizing that she was the one who moved, she found herself in his arms, straining upward as his lips descended to hers.

 

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