Captain Ruaidri O’ Devir is a bold, hot-blooded Irishman on a dangerous mission … Lady Nerissa de Montforte is a cool and aristocratic Englishwoman who was never meant to be his captive.
The sexy, emotional, exciting and heart-stopping conclusion to the bestselling and wildly popular internationally, the de Montforte series by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Danelle Harmon.
She spoke so casually that Ruaidri had trouble believing that her feelings for this man had been as warm as she claimed them to have been. He was used to women who wore their hearts on their sleeves, their emotions, needs and desires on display for all to see. This cool, elegant woman beside him … did she lack that warmth, or had breeding and class choked off any expression of emotion she might otherwise have shown?
“Ye think he broke yer heart, don’t ye, lass?”
“Of course he did.”
“Yer heart isn’t broken, Lady Nerissa.”
She looked up then, frowning. “How dare you presume to know what is in my heart.”
“Yer heart wasn’t broken, because ye never really loved him the way ye thought ye did, did you?”
“You stand here beside me and relate this tale of woe t’ me with a dry eye and all the feeling ye might use to describe a bucket of sand. I think there’s more to you than that, and I think that this man, this Perry, would have made ye miserable. He wasn’t good enough for ye.”
“How dare you, Captain O’ Devir!”
“Well, I’m standin’ here, lookin’ at you. Ye’re made pretty enough to make a man weep, you are, and if this piece of shite couldn’t make up his mind and sweep you off to the altar, he sure wouldn’t have made ye a strong husband. Is that what ye would have settled for? A wishy-washy nob who not only couldn’t make up his mind, but was also gullible enough to be taken in by yer brother’s schemin’?”
She just looked at him, mouth agape. To deny his conclusions would have screamed of falseness; to her credit, she did not.
“He was,” she finally admitted, looking back out over the sea, “…indecisive.”
“And you wanted that in a husband?” He snorted. “Doesn’t seem he was worth a broken heart. Don’t tell me ye’re pinin’ for this blatherin’ idiot. Why, did he ever even kiss ye?”
“Captain!” she gasped, outraged.
“Well, did he?”
“He was a gentleman. He … he abided by the rules of propriety.”
She gasped, her eyes widening.
“He was an arse. When are ye goin’ to get good and angry about what he did to ye? If he loved you as ye deserve to be loved, he wouldn’t have dragged his feet, he’d have had a ring on yer finger and you in his bed before ye even had time to consider the difference between a kiss of passion and a kiss of ‘propriety.’” He shook his head. “Ye don’t throw gold overboard. Ye don’t hold a diamond up to the light and wonder whether it’s the real thing when it’s blindin’ ye with its brilliance. Indecisive piece of shite.”
“You did not know him!”
“Why are ye defendin’ him? He took, arguably, the best years of yer life with his wafflin’ like a one-footed duck.”
“Lots of people are indecisive … unsure.”
“Not in my line of work, they aren’t. Indecision will make a person dead, very dead. Oh no, I may be many things, Lady Nerissa, but I can assure you I’m not indecisive.”
“And your point?”
“My point is, the good Lord gave ye a face and form to bring a man to his knees. Yer earl was an idiot. I barely know you, but I can tell ye right now that if I were to kiss ye, it would sure as hell not be a kiss of propriety.”
“Of course it wouldn’t. You are anything but a gentleman.”
“Aye, ‘tis true. But I could show you what a kiss ought to feel like. Taste like. Make ye feel like.”
Her head jerked up, her fingers went to her throat, and in the darkness, he could see the twin stains that suddenly bloomed on her cheeks. “Captain, what makes you think I want you to kiss me?”
“Everythin’ about ye.” He unclasped his hands from behind his back and reaching out, finally tucked that errant strand of hair behind her ear, noting that she did not flinch or slap his hand away. “The way yer eyes look suddenly intrigued despite the protests of yer tongue. The fact that ye haven’t slapped me. The fact that when I suggested it, ye swayed toward me just the slightest bit.” He cocked his head, letting a little smile touch the corner of his mouth. “Ye’d enjoy it, you know.”
“You are arrogant and audacious.”
“And I could kiss ye senseless.”
She turned from the rail to face him, her eyes a defiant challenge that intrigued and amused him. She had been jilted by this complete arse of an earl, had been manipulated by the even bigger arse that was her brother but she was no simpering miss, and she was honest enough with herself that the idea of letting him kiss her was one that she viewed as a challenge. Perhaps even compensation for the way both fiancé and brother had made a total muck-up of her life.
“Ye’re not gettin’ any younger,” he prompted.
“And you’re not getting any less arrogant.”
“Aye, don’t hold yer breath on that one.”
She stood there looking at him, her eyes lovely in the darkness, her face so beautiful it took his breath away.
He did not move, allowing her this decision, the respect to have it put in her hands; a respect that others might not have given her.
Her chin came up and her eyes suddenly caught the glint of the rising moon. “Very well, then,” she said. “You think you can make me feel something I doubt I’ll ever feel again? Then kiss me.”