In Regency times, a romance between two men is forbidden, but Lord Jack Belmont and Connor, Duke of Granby, continued their affair for twelve years until Connor broke things off to make the expected marriage. But to Jack he committed the ultimate betrayal when Connor fell in love with his wife.
Three years later, Connor is a widower now and wants to rekindle his love with Jack. Jack gives in for one night, but that isn’t enough for his former lover. He wants the rest of their lives. He even sends twelve red roses of devotion to convince Jack their love can last at least another twelve years.
It wasn’t until another hour, when Connor had stepped out onto the terrace of his family’s home for some air, that he came across Jack again. This time was not at a distance for Jack stood on the terrace, leaning against it, his back to Connor, looking out at the gardens. Connor could see the glowing red of his cheroot.
Connor wrinkled his nose. Smoking cheroots was something he had never gotten into in his youth as Jack had.
There was only two others out on the terrace and they were in the corner by the French doors. Two older lords Connor was familiar with but not particularly friendly.
Jack didn’t seem aware of his presence so Connor took the opportunity to take in his appearance.
The younger man had always been spectacularly gorgeous with sandy colored curly locks that fell onto his forehead giving him a downright angelic look. Blue eyes the color of cornflowers and long lashes that most of the ladies of the ton would envy.
Tonight he was dressed in fawn colored breeches that hugged his rounded arse and brown Hessian boots. His waistcoat matched the breeches and his cravat was beige, a perfect match to his chocolate colored coat. It wasn’t entirely evening attire one would wear at the sort of ball Connor was giving, he himself wore all black with long trousers and a snowy white cravat, but Jack made it all look elegant and appropriate.
Eventually, Connor was able to get himself out of his transfixed state to approach Jack.
“Good evening, Belmont.”
Jack gave no indication he was startled by Connor’s arrival, so he wasn’t sure if Jack had been aware of him the entire time or not.
Jack flicked off the end of his cheroot, and then gave Connor a sideways glance. “Granby.” He paused. “You have my sympathy for the loss of your wife.”
Connor swallowed heavily. It had been years since he’d even heard Jack’s soft, deep voice. He should be focusing on the reference to his grief for Sheila instead of the way Jack’s voice stirred something in him that it had always stirred.
“Thank you. It has been difficult.”
And that was true. He had loved Sheila. Unlike Jack, Connor had always been attracted to both men and women. It worked in his favor since it was expected of him to marry one day, as he had. It had been fortunate happenstance he’d found a woman to love, as he had with Sheila.
It had never meant he did not love Jack. He had. Still did. Always would, he knew. But he could not marry Jack. That was impossible. He’d done what anyone in society would do, including Jack had it been required of him. It certainly would have been had Jack been the first son instead of Deveraux.
Jack knew that since they’d begun their affair. It was merely that he had thought their affair would continue as it always had even after he married Sheila. But Connor had been unable to do that to the woman he loved.
And his lover had viewed it as him choosing Sheila over him. Connor had. Because that was simply the way it was done. He’d gotten no joy from breaking things off with Jack. It had crushed him.
Jack turned fully to face him and he was so damn beautiful that Connor’s breath caught in his throat. Briefly images of Jack lying beneath him as Connor moved within him flashed through his mind, like quick bursts of lightning.
“I am sure it was. Sure it still is. If you will excuse me, it is necessary to check on my sister. And to see if my mother has arrived to take over duty for her.”
The idea Jack was leaving made him quite unhappy.
Jack’s cornflower eyes narrowed. “Not here, Connor.”
His heart raced. “Where then?”
Jack shook his head in denial.
“I still have the town house.”
His former lover and friend glanced at the men by the doors and then back to Connor.
“On Berkshire Court.”
“I know where it is,” Jack said in a low voice.