The Reluctant Wife Excerpt

Get control of yourself, Clare, a small part of her brain urged, dimly aware that exhaustion and relief made her foolish. She didn’t care. His arms around her back and his shoulder firm beneath her cheek felt solid. Safe. Dependable.

“Easy, easy. It’s only a tent,” he soothed, one hand making gentle circles on her back.

“You thought about us. No one ever—” He had cared for her, she realized, from the moment he found her at the inn in Calcutta comforting his children. No man ever considered my comfort before.

She took a shuddering breath. Dependable? This is Fred Wheatly holding you, the man who— She couldn’t remember what made him undependable just then. She cared only for his kiss on her head, then her ear.

She raised her head. Bending his head down to meet hers, his gentle kiss made no demands, forced no response, and asked only trust. No man had ever kissed her like that. She couldn’t resist him. When he withdrew to search her face, she closed the distance and kissed him back, the taste and scent of sweat, sand, and the essence of male sending her reeling

“Papa? Are we there?”

He broke off the kiss and tipped his forehead to hers, silent laughter rocking him. “We have come to a place. That much is certain,” he responded. Clare didn’t think he referred to the way station.

It was a matter of some minutes to pitch the tent and create a nest for the girls to sleep. Clare stood with her back to the entrance, watching them drift off to sleep. The shelter had enough space to accommodate Clare and Fred as well, if they slept close together. Her heart began to pound.

Fred reached from behind her to take one hand and tug her out of the shelter, taking care to secure the opening. “They’ll be fine for a bit,” he said. “Come with me.”

“I—” Clare hesitated, unsure what to say or even what she wanted.

A crooked smile preceded his pull on her hand. “I won’t bite. I just want you to enjoy this.” He led her several feet away, out from under the scraggly trees of the way station.

Her gaze followed his free hand upward. The moon had sunk lower in the west. To the east, a riotous panorama of stars covered the sky from north to south. She had thought they were abundant in Dehrapur, but nothing in her life had prepared her for the overwhelming vastness of the universe. Her petty fears and concerns shrank to insignificance.

“Come, sit,” he urged. Only when he spread it out did she see the blanket he carried. He pulled her down next to him, and the two stared upward.

“Lie down, you’ll get a stiff neck,” he told her, and she knew it was only logical.

As darkness deepened, more appeared, and then the sky began to fall. She sat up with a gasp.

Fred let out a long sigh at the same time. “We’re privileged. Shooting stars come in showers at times. Only good luck puts us where they can be seen so clearly.”

She lay back down, content to nestle her head on his shoulder. The falling stars continued, one after another in rapid succession—two, three, four at once. All thought ceased, but after a time, her overwrought senses shifted focus from the delights in the sky above to the feel of the man next to her. When he leaned over and began to kiss her in earnest, her mouth opened under his.

2 thoughts on “The Reluctant Wife Excerpt

  1. I’m really looking forward to this book. I believe that Fred has been very wicked with his cousin’s wife. I’m curious as to whether this will be revealed in this book.

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Caroline Warfield, Author

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