‘I have a favour to ask…
I want you to marry me.’
Part of The Sinful Sinclairs. Samantha Sinclair was always Lord Edgerton’s complete opposite. But as Edge meets Sam again in Egypt, it’s clear the years have changed her as much as him. So when she blurts out an impulsive, convenient proposal, Edge’s protective urge compels him to accept. Is it possible for two such different people to be together and find the happiness they both deserve?
Sam (Lady Samantha) and Edge (Lord Edward Edgerton) are on a ship carrying them from Egypt to London in search of Edge’s brother, the missing Duke of Greybourne. Their marriage of convenience is off to a rocky start thanks to Sam’s insistence on accompanying Edge on a small naval vessel rather than following later with their relations. But they’re about to reach a truce over the rigging of a hammock…
Sam was still staring at the cabin door when Edge returned with a cloth hammock.
‘You expect me to sleep on that?’ she demanded. He smiled over his shoulder and heat fuzzed through her, her body tensing even as her mind relaxed at this sign that they were at least halfway to a truce. When he was done she came to inspect his work.
‘Edge, I shall fall out!’
‘You won’t. It is harder to fall than it looks. Try it.’
She eyed the dun-coloured fabric and he touched the tip of her nose.
‘You look like I’ve soaked it in bilge water. Come now, don’t be a coward.’
It was a blatant provocation, but it hit its mark. She placed her hands on the hammock.
‘Glaring at it won’t help, Sam. You need to turn around and…well, sit on it.’
She indulged in another futile glare, but did as she was told. For a moment when it took her weight she flailed back, her feet shooting upwards. She squeaked and grabbed at the cloth, sure the next thing she would see would be the ceiling as she hit the floor, but Edge steadied it.
‘Very gracefully done,’ he said, his face suspiciously blank. ‘Now swing your feet up, but this time try to get them inside.’
She was tempted to tell him to rip the blasted thing down, but she also wanted to conquer this absurd contraption. After all every fool on board knew how to sleep in one; she refused to admit defeat.
She swung one leg up and then the other, absurdly aware of her skirts riding up. This time instead of rocking side to side, it wobbled back and forth like a horse trying to buck.
‘You can’t sit upright in it once your legs are up. Lie back,’ Edge said. He sounded underwater.
‘If you laugh at me, Edge…’
‘Not much you can do to me from there, Princess. Just lie back.’
She lay back, her dress bunched under her bottom and her arms pinned to her sides by the fabric. She wriggled them free and clasped the sides.
‘I feel like a mummy,’ she grumbled.
‘You look marginally better than most mummies. Less comfortable, though.’
‘This is punishment for forcing myself on to the Lark, correct?’
He gave up trying not to smile.
‘If you could only try to relax for a moment, Sam, you will see it is not so bad. Close your eyes.’
‘I’d rather eat nails dipped in boot blacking.’
He took her shawl from a peg on the wall and tossed it over her face.
‘Now be quiet and stop fidgeting.’
She swiped the shawl from her face and folded it between her arms, but closed her eyes. Edge was so stubborn he probably wouldn’t allow her out of this blasted cocoon until she did as she was bid. Then she would return the mattress to the cot and resign herself to sleeping motionless.
His finger traced a line down the middle of her forehead.
‘You always had that line—a natural-born glowerer.’
‘That is not a word. And you are a fine one to talk about glowering.’
‘Keep your eyes closed, I said.’
He was nudging the hammock very gently, and she thought of the apple tree in Burford where she’d lived just before her father died. Lucas and Chase built her a swing and she would curl her body into a ball and watch the sky. She had very few memories from that time, but she remembered the gentle creak and swish of the rope and the clouds tangling in the branches over her head as the world’s breath carried her back and forth, back and forth.
She had the oddest sensation that the hammock was suspended over nothingness. She was just a darkness floating in another shade of darkness. The pressure on her eyes changed and she opened them and realised he’d extinguished the lamp, its acrid scent fading around her as she swung gently. She could not see him, but she felt his warmth, like a chimney after the fire fades. She wanted to reach out and anchor herself to him, but she was too pleasantly sleepy. She yawned, her head falling to rest against the fabric.
‘I’m floating… Did you put something in my wine?’ she murmured, her voice swallowed by the darkness.
‘I will if you don’t keep quiet; you are the least restful female I know, Princess.’
She smiled. Princess. He’d called her Princess. Twice. It wasn’t an endearment, but there was affection there, reluctant thought it was and for the first time she accepted that, however difficult matters were between them, Edge liked her. She knew she wasn’t a princess and he was certainly no prince. But he did like her when he wasn’t as annoyed as the devil with her. It was a beginning. And he had made this lovely swing for her.
‘This is quite nice. A pity you can’t join me.’
The rhythm stuttered a bit, but then fell back into a soothing ebb and flow. She was dozing when he stopped and she mumbled an objection, but it was lost to the brush of his mouth on hers. He’d probably only meant to give her a quick salute, but one shouldn’t give a sip of wine to a sot and expect them to tamely hand back the bottle. She threaded her hands into his hair, parted her lips beneath his and kissed him.
Thank you, Lara Temple and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Lara Temple writes regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion.
After moving around the world as a financial analyst she returned to her childhood love of making up stories, and was surprised to discover that other people don’t mind reading them.
She lives with her husband, two children, and Lord Oscar the pooch who are all very forgiving about her taking over the kitchen table when she’s writing.
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