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Authors: Jenna Petersen

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The Desires of a Countess

BOOK: The Desires of a Countess
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The Desires of a
The Jordans: Book 3

Jenna Petersen

Copyright Jesse Petersen

Smashwords Edition




Copyright Jesse Petersen, 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced
without written permission. For information address Jenna Petersen,
PO Box 6205, Bloomington, IL 61702

Check out these other books
by Jenna Petersen:

From London With Love (Lady Spies Book 1)
Desire Never Dies (Lady Spies Book 2)
Seduction is Forever (Lady Spies Book 3)
Lessons From a Courtesan
Her Notorious Viscount
What the Duke Desires (Billingham Bastards Book 1)
The Unclaimed Duchess (Billingham Bastards Book 2)

A Scoundrel’s
Surrender (Billingham Bastards Book 3)

Rogue for a Night

Almost a Spinster


The Secrets of a Lady (Jordans

The Temptation of a Gentleman (Jordans















Chapter One




If he comes here, I’ll run
him out myself!”

Calm down,

Virginia Blanchard turned on her heel
to stare at her best friend. Harriet Percy smiled back with a
serene expression. Ginny frowned. How could her friend not see the

Did you just tell me
to calm down?” She motioned wildly to the letter Harriet held in
her hand. “After

Her friend nodded. “You have no idea
what this-this-” She glanced back down at the missive. “Simon
Webber is like. He may not be the ogre you believe he

He’s a Blanchard!” Ginny
snapped as if that explained everything. In her mind it

Her friend rose to her feet and
returned the letter with a wry smile. “Actually, he’s a

Ginny paused to shake her head, but
most of the heat was gone from her voice and from her emotions. The
fear was taking over, and that was much worse. She was so tired of
being afraid. In the last few months, she’d thought her fears were
gone for good, but now they returned with vengeance.

Simon Webber’s mother was
raised a Blanchard,” she whispered. “Which makes him my husband’s
cousin. If I’ve learned anything from the past four years in this
family, it’s that all those people are fiends.”

Harriet’s face softened with pity and
Ginny winced. She didn’t want that. Not even from her best

Jack is one of ‘those

Ginny sank into a chair by the fire.
Was it too early for a drink? Rubbing a hand across her throbbing
temple, she struggled for calm and control.

My husband is dead. Henry
won’t be raising Jack, I will. And I’d never raise him to behave
like one of that family.” Ginny tossed the envelope on the table
with a disgusted sigh. “Or a Webber.”

Harriet sat in the chair next to hers
to place a warm hand on her own. “Don’t assume the

I have no choice, don’t you
see? This man has been named trustee of Jack’s inheritance. He’ll
have the power on a whim and at will to give or take my son’s
future until he comes of age and is given the title.” She took in a
shallow breath and somehow managed to keep weak, useless tears from
filling her eyes. “After Henry’s death, I swore no one would ever
have the authority to do that again.” She swallowed and found a bit
of strength somewhere inside of her. “Unless I get rid of this man,
I’ll have failed my child one more time.”

Harriet shook her blonde head. “Don’t
talk like that! No one could do more for a child than you have done
for Jack.”

Ginny pursed her lips as she dismissed
all she’d gone through in the past. She had more pressing problems
in the present. “I can only hope all I’ve done won’t be for
nothing.” She ran a hand over her eyes. “It doesn’t bode well,


She motioned to the dreaded message
with one slender finger. “First, the man didn’t even bother to
write himself. He let Henry’s loathsome solicitor do the deed. Mr.
Randall probably took enormous pleasure in removing my purse.” She
grimaced as she thought of thin weasel of a lawyer. “And the letter
clearly states that this Webber isn’t only the trustee of the
estate until Jack comes of age, but he’s to have some part in
overseeing my son’s upbringing, as well.”

She jumped back up to pace the room.
“Oh, this is so frustrating. At least when Henry was alive, I knew
what I was dealing with.”

A bastard,” Harriet
interjected with heat.

Ginny smiled at her friend’s loyalty.
“But this Webber could be far worse. He’s an unknown

Or so you

Ginny couldn’t fathom her friend’s
naivety. Of course, Harriet had never had to reckon with a husband
or in-laws like hers. No, Harriet’s late husband had been the love
of her life.

Knowing that family
as I do, I feel I
the worst. And so I’ll have to do my best to get rid of this man.”
Ginny glanced up at her best friend. “Will you help me force his
retreat to London?”

With a nod, Harriet brushed her hand
again. “You know I’d do anything for you. I only wish I could give
you back some of the happiness you deserve.”

Ginny dipped her head to shield
Harriet from seeing the effect of her words. Happiness was a luxury
she could ill afford. “Getting rid of this man will be the closest
I can come to happiness.”

Her friend’s grip on her hand
tightened. “Well, perhaps once you’ve done that, we can concentrate
on finding you a new love. A new husband, even. Or at least someone
to take away the loneliness that has haunted you for so

With her friend’s words, every nerve
in Ginny’s body crackled. Just the thought of another husband made
her sick with anxiety. Another man’s hands on her, not with
tenderness, but violence. The clumsy taking in the bedroom. The

No. Those were things she’d left
behind when Henry had mercifully departed the earth. She never
intended to revisit them again.

Let’s just concentrate on
one thing at a time, shall we?” she asked with a shiver. “And right
now all my attention has to be on Simon Webber. If he thinks he can
waltz in here and take what rightfully belongs to my son, he’s in
for a nasty surprise.”


Simon strummed his fingers along the tabletop as he
glanced at his pocket watch for the third time. “Who the hell does
the woman think she is?”

He rose to his feet and strode over to
the window. Rain pelted the glass and the damp air chilled the
room. With a frown, Simon looked at the fire. Only a few embers
remained and barely heated the room at all, but there was no
kindling in the wood box to stoke the flames.

With a purse of his lips, he returned
to his seat to wait. It was clear Virginia Blanchard didn’t want
him in her home. Between the chilly welcome by the house staff, to
this… he checked his watch again… hour-long wait in the drafty
sitting room, every action seemed designed to make him want to
leave. But why? He was here to help the woman, not harm

Could his aunt’s accusations have been
correct? Normally he didn’t put much stock in what Cordelia or her
malicious daughters said, but perhaps Lady Westdale really
crazy. If that was true, he was
going to have to remain at Westdale to ascertain if she was also
unfit to raise James Blanchard. The heir to the title couldn’t be
brought up in an unhealthy environment.

An hour and a bloody
quarter!” Simon grunted as he strode over to the door and yanked it
open. A startled footman stood watch outside.


He used the no-nonsense tone he
generally reserved for lazy galley hands. “Tell Lady Westdale that
if she cannot see me now, I shall retire to Lord Westdale’s office
and begin my study of the books. Now point me in the direction of
his private rooms.”

But Mr. Webber, I was

Well, I just told you
differently.” Simon glared at the boy with what he knew was a hard,
undeniable look. He hated to intimidate, but he’d do it if his hand
were forced. As it was being forced at present.

is my
cousin’s office

The boy paled as he motioned down the
hallway. “Down the hall, two doors on your left, sir.”

Thank you.”

As Simon took the few long steps to
his cousin’s business quarters, he stifled a smile. If
didn’t rouse the reluctant
Countess of Westdale, he didn’t know what would. He wasn’t a man
accustomed to waiting. Especially when he didn’t want to be in York
in the first place. His ship waited. Port waited. His life

And he was here. Doing his family


With a wry smile, he sat down at his cousin’s desk
and smoothed his hands over the oak surface. Nothing but the best
for Cousin Henry. Always. Some things never changed.

Before he could contemplate his family any further,
the study door flew open. Simon looked up to lock gazes with one of
the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. Her blue eyes flashed fire
and her cheeks were flushed with anger.

She couldn’t be anyone else but Henry’s wife.
Nothing but the best.

Mr. Webber, is

Simon was surprised by the icy distain
in her voice as she took a purposeful step into the room and shoved
a few wayward auburn curls behind her ears.

Simon managed to snap out of his haze
enough to remember his manners. He stood up with a curt nod. “Yes,
and I must assume you are the Countess. I’m here to…”

She held up her hand for silence like
he was some footman at her command. “I am well aware of
why you’re here. But that
gives you no right to barge into private, family quarters and rifle
through my late husband’s papers.”

Simon arched an eyebrow. He was in no
mood for her disrespect, not after the miserable, wet ride from
London in the confined carriage and then the endless moments he’d
been banished to the sitting room. His patience was far past its

He did his best to keep his voice
calm, but instead it came out as nearly a growl. “I beg your
pardon, my lady, but if you’ll recall, I have been waiting for you
for well over an hour. Perhaps
were raised to believe that an untitled person’s time isn’t
as valuable as your own, but I assure you mine is. I have
responsibilities here and I intend to address them, with or without
your assistance.”

Virginia Blanchard’s eyes widened at
his retort, then her face twisted into the brittle mask of a smile
as she collected herself. “Ah, yes. Your duties.”

Where was this venom coming from? And
how could it exist in the guise of such loveliness? He’d come to
Westdale with an open mind, ready to do his duty and assist in any
way he could. He’d expected a brokenhearted widow to greet him.
Instead he found this… this…


With a frown, he decided to switch
tactics. Obviously the woman felt threatened. Perhaps a gentler
approach would sooth her.

He motioned to one of the armchairs in
front of the desk. “Why don’t you sit down, Lady Westdale? I’m very
tired from my travels and I believe I may have spoken too harshly.
Perhaps we can begin this conversation again.”

To his surprise, Virginia didn’t react
with pleasure to his attempt at charm. In fact, her face paled
further and her hands began to shake with emotion.

This is
my home
, Mr. Webber. You’d do well
to remember that before you go offering me a seat as if I’m some

BOOK: The Desires of a Countess
10.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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