Bought for Revenge

Free Bought for Revenge by Sarah Mallory

Book: Bought for Revenge by Sarah Mallory Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sarah Mallory
Tags: Romance, Historical Romance
    A period of dry sunny weather followed and Annabelle rode with Lucas almost every day. No arrangement was made, but as she rode across the park each morning Annabelle would lookout for him on the moors above her, the black figure of a horse and rider outlined against the eastern sky. He would gallop down to meet her and they would ride over the Oakenroyd land, then across to Morwood, where she accompanied him to the outlying farms, explaining the histories of his tenant farmers and their families, details that the taciturn northern people would never tell him themselves, such as how young John Sutcliffe had struggled to rebuild the farm after his father was killed in a riding accident two years ago, and how Matthew Crabtree bred the best milch cows in the county and Jonah Oldfield the miller might appear surly at first, but he had a heart of gold, while his wife Hannah had a gift for healing. Lucas remembered Elias Greenwood’s words:
Thinks well of everyone
or tries to
. What would she think of him, when she knew the truth? He pushed the thought away.
    By the time April was sliding gently into May they had covered the whole estate and Belle declared that Lucas had no further need of her. They were within sight of Oakenroyd, the point where the path to her home parted from the road into Stanton.
    ‘Are you tired of my company, then, Miss Havenham?’
    ‘Not at all, but…’
    She hesitated over her next words. She was aware that spending so much time in Lucas’s company was giving rise to comment. Even Mr Keighley had mentioned it when he called at Oakenroyd recently. Her father had been quite sanguine.
    ‘I fear it is my fault,’ he had said in his gentle way. ‘Belle is standing in for me by showing Mr Monserrat over his new lands and introducing him to his tenants. I do not ride so often now, you know, and never to Morwood.’
    ‘Then the rumours of an alliance are unfounded?’ asked Mr Keighley.
    ‘Oh, completely,’ Samuel had replied comfortably. ‘I’m afraid I quite bullied Annabelle into going out. She is merely being neighbourly.’
    ‘Then I shall make sure I dismiss any speculation I hear.’
    ‘Aye, do, sir,’ cried Annabelle, her cheeks burning, and not only with indignation. ‘It is a poor thing if one cannot ride out with a neighbour!’
    The exchange had left her feeling slightly uncomfortable. During their rides together Lucas never did or said anything untoward, but she was very much aware of his physical presence, of the warm note in his voice when he addressed her, and there was a curious lightness in her chest whenever she met his smiling eyes. It was nothingmore than friendship, she told herself, but sometimes, in the dark reaches of the night, she hoped—dreamed—one day it might be more than that. Not that she could admit as much to Lucas, of course, so now she prevaricated a little.
    ‘I fear I am taking you away from the building work.’
    ‘You are not. I still make regular visits to the manor. To be truthful I think the builders are relieved that I am not on site all the time.’
    ‘I know most of them,’ said Annabelle. ‘They are good men and do not require constant supervision.’
    ‘I am aware, and it is not why I spend so much time there. I like to be involved, to get my hands dirty.’
    Her eyes dropped to those hands, gloved in the finest leather and resting lightly on Sultan’s glossy mane. Strong, capable hands. The memory of those same hands spanning her waist, lifting her down from Apollo, suddenly made her grow hot and she looked away.
    ‘So will you be riding again tomorrow?’ she spoke quickly, to defuse the sudden awkward tension she could feel around them.
    ‘Not tomorrow. I would like to do something different.’ He smiled at her enquiring look. ‘I sent Rudd to fetch my curricle and he returnedyesterday. I would like to take you out in it, if I may.’
    She could feel the smile bursting out from inside her. There was no question of

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