Mindful of eavesdroppers among the gardeners yanking weeds, he pulled her to her feet and out to a distant corner of the garden. In a low angry voice he explained that he had just met with Parham about their proposed marriage.She sat down hard on aMoreMindful of eavesdroppers among the gardeners yanking weeds, he pulled her to her feet and out to a distant corner of the garden. In a low angry voice he explained that he had just met with Parham about their proposed marriage.She sat down hard on a stone bench. Proposed? John, I never meant for you to do that. You said you would pretend to court me, not propose marriage.
Why did you do that? It must have been horrid.It was. It was. Her confusion made him angry, if he needed any more excuse for that. I thought you understood. I had to request your hand to force his hand. To force him to do better for you than this, if he cared at all for you.But you shouldnt have done it. I didnt want him to insult you again.Pity was worse than the rest. I complete my contracts, and I will complete this new one also. Furious now, he grabbed her hand. I havent a ring yet, but Ill get one this afternoon.A ring?
She shook her head, as if he had awakened her from a deep sleep, and focused all her attention on the hand that held hers. Oh, I see. Youve lost your ring.Through gritted teeth, he said, I didnt lose the ring. Its just gone. And Im not talking of that ring anyway, but a betrothal ring.
Ill post the banns this afternoon. Youll want St. George in Hanover Square, I make no doubt.You dont want— John, what are you saying?Im saying— He broke off and took a deep breath to cool off his voice. Your uncle approved my suit. God knows why. Lunacy runs in your family, Ive always suspected. So well have to marry.She went utterly still, and savagely he realized hed made a hash of it, that she hadnt understood until just then that they would be marrying. Do you realize what Im saying?
Your uncle approved it. Well marry. Youll get the collection.John, I didnt mean for this to happen, you know it.It happened. Accept it. Hes not going to approve the poet now. You have no choice in the matter. No choice? She was still very quiet, still staring down at his hand. She rubbed with her thumb at the white circle on his ring finger, as if it were just paint and would come off with a bit of effort.He jerked his hand away and rose. Im not going to be the cause of you losing your inheritance.
And Im not going to have it said that my behavior was less than that of a gentleman. Ill call on you tomorrow to get the arrangements started.When he looked back from the garden path, she was still sitting there, her full mouth more mutinous now. But there was still that dazed look in her eyes, as if hed struck her instead of proposed to her. He felt a stirring of guilt. She deserved better, he supposed, than all this. Tomorrow he would take time to make it up to her, to explain all the benefits of this arrangement, to assure her hed do his best to make her happy.But today he had to find a church and post the banns.He was so preoccupied that he hardly heard the carriage lurch to a halt beside him.
But he turned when he heard someone leap out of the hackney and call his name. He had just an instant to see the cool intent in the other mans eyes and reach for his knife. But an instant wasnt long enough. The assailant already had his truncheon lifted, so it was only a matter of bringing it down with sufficient force.
And that he did, connecting smartly with Johns head. Johns last thought was regret that he hadnt turned back to conciliate Jessica, that she hadnt run after him to witness this, that he wouldnt get the banns posted this afternoon after all.---Poetic Justice is a Regency adventure romance, the sequel to Royal Renegade.Alicia Rasley is a RITA-award winner and national e-book bestseller.