Gift of Love
Since losing her intended at the Battle of Waterloo, Lady Rebecca Hastings has lost her joy for living. On what would have been her wedding day, she is reunited with a childhood friend and neighbor, Adrian Russell, Marquess of Burton. As they reminisce about their childhood together, she is immediately conscious of new feelings for him.
The cheer of the Christmas season and some puzzling visits from the spirit of her intended eventually help Rebecca realize her enduring love for Adrian. But can he ever accept her as more than a friend?
Rebecca sighed with relief and smiled at Adrian. He gently rubbed the soft skin on the edge of her jaw before lowering his hand. She was disconcerted to feel a prick of moisture upon her eyelashes. She hastily reached up to pat her eyes with her fingers before answering. “You are very understanding. I assure you that I have not spent my days since the funeral languishing at his graveside. But the Christmas holidays seem to have brought his presence and spirit back to me in full force.” In more ways than you can know, she thought to herself.
“Perhaps you will permit me to join you shortly after you plan to arrive at the churchyard? We could go for a short ride through the park if you do not think it would be too cold for such activity.”
“Of course, I would enjoy that. Contrary to what Miss Frost believes, I rarely become chilled when I am outside in winter.”
“It must be the remnants of your hoydenish ways from when you were a girl. You were rarely at a standstill. You definitely kept warm with your constant pranks and rollicking escapades in those days.”
She giggled as his words brought back somewhat embarrassing memories of their mischief-making. “I seem to remember that you and Paul were up to plenty of antics yourselves.”
Adrian looked back at her in mock consternation. “I can see I will need to refresh your memories of what transpired during our ride tomorrow, Becky.”
Rebecca’s smiling visage became serious when he used his pet name for her from their youth. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been called that.”
“Since I was the only person who gave you that nickname, certainly it was I who last said it. You must have done something very outrageous to deserve the designation,” he teased her as he started to walk toward the front door. “I will meet you at the churchyard about eight o’clock tomorrow morning.”
“You always did treat me like a sister.”
Adrian stopped and turned back to her with an arrested expression. He looked intently at Rebecca before saying, “Conclusions are sometimes reached without the use of common sense.”
With that cryptic comment, he turned to collect his cloak, hat, and gloves from Cord. He strode out of the door without a backward glance leaving Rebecca standing alone in the hallway attempting to comprehend Adrian’s parting words.