Lady Adel's Captain
Disinherited by her stepbrother because she refuses to marry as he wishes, Lady Adel Fitzhugh needs a miracle. When a storm drives a coach of travelers to their door, her miracle arrives in the form of Captain Liam O'Shea. Captain O'Shea is taking his motherless young daughter to live with the nuns during his five-year deployment to India. Adel seizes the opportunity to begin a new life, offering her services as governess.
Liam accepts Adel's offer on the condition she raise the child at his family estate in Ireland. Fearing that if he dies in battle his daughter will be at the mercy of profiteers, he also proposes a marriage of convenience. If he returns, Adel will be free to file for an annulment and return to England. She agrees but has no idea the task will require all her strength and determination once she reaches his ruined castle and becomes "the O'Shea" to his people. And what if she wants to stay?
Adel eyed him warily, as if unsure of his identity. The emaciated man approaching bore little semblance to the portrait hanging in her studio. Finding herself face to face with Liam, she could not draw a deep breath into her lungs. His haggard appearance brought back memories of yesteryear and the stoically proud soldier who had danced with her, whose passionate kiss had left her weak-kneed. It was a terrible shock to see how he had wasted away.
She was horrified by the sight standing before her. There was a haunted look in Liam’s eyes, a look filled with pain and despair.
She collected her scattered wits and reached out to embrace him. He drew back, his sharp distaste obvious. “I fear, madam, that I am besieged with lice.” He held a crutch upward. “If it were within my power, I would ride atop the coach and not expose you to infestation.”
As if to make his point, he scratched beneath the armpit of his stained jacket.
A smile traced Adel’s lips. “Welcome home, Liam. Mary Kathryn wanted to come, but I cajoled her into staying to help Tilde prepare a sumptuous dinner for you.”
He tilted his head sideways as he contemplated Adel. “It will tear me apart for the child to see me like this.”
Adel shrugged confidently. “Mary Kathryn is a beautiful seven-year-old with a compassionate understanding that belies her youth. She is aware of your…your physical condition. And cares not a whit less for you. Now come. It is cold, and I see the tiredness in your eyes.”
He stood before the open carriage door. Determined to enter under his own steam, he handed the crutches to Edwin and then reached up to grasp the insides of the door. His strength failed him.
Ahern stepped forward. “You’re an O’Neill to the heart, laddie. Too stubborn to ask for help. Well, the chill is causing me bones to ache. So your stubborn pride be damned.” He grabbed Liam around the waist and with ease lifted him inside the conveyance