Read The Summer of You Online

Authors: Kate Noble

The Summer of You

BOOK: The Summer of You
9.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
PRAISE FOR

Revealed

“Revealed is not just a simple romance novel, it is a damn good one.”
—The Book Smugglers
“Noble crafts an exciting, witty, and highly entertaining tale about an unlikely duo caught in a killer’s web.”
—Romantic Times

“Full of action and adventure . . . Revealed has it all . . . Ms. Noble has real talent.”

—Romance Junkies

“Revealed is . . . fresh and lively and utterly delightful. Revealed will enchant lovers of the Regency novel, but I highly recommend it even for those who usually avoid this genre. Somehow, I think you’ll be hooked by this story as securely as I was.”
—Fallen Angel Reviews
“[A] terrific tale of ‘love and war’ that contrasts . . . Regency High Society with the dangerous world of espionage.”
—Midwest Book Review

Compromised

“Noble’s clever and graceful debut Regency romance is simply sublime.”
—Booklist
“Compromised is a delectable and delightful debut! Every word sparkles like a diamond of the first water. I can’t wait for Kate Noble’s next treasure of a book!”
—Teresa Medeiros, New York Times bestselling author
“Kate Noble’s writing is smart and sparkling. Wonderfully entertaining, delightfully effervescent romance.”
—Amanda Quick, New York Times bestselling author
“An amusing historical romance . . . A lighthearted late-Regency romp.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Ms. Noble is a talent to watch. I look forward to her next book.”
—Romance Reviews Today
Berkley Sensation titles by Kate Noble

COMPROMISED
REVEALED
THE SUMMER OF YOU

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Copyright © 2010 by Kate Noble.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Sensation trade paperback edition / April 2010

eISBN: 9781101428009

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Noble, Kate, 1978-

The summer of you / Kate Noble.—Berkley Sensation trade pbk. ed.

p. cm.

eISBN : 978-1-101-18666-4

1. Nobility—England—Fiction. 2. Brigands and robbers—Fiction. 3. Mistaken identity—Fiction. 4. Lake District (England)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3614.O246S

813’.6—dc22

http://us.penguingroup.com
To the residents of Martin Lane—past, present, and future—for a lifetime of summers.

The Village

Prologue

LONG ago, before England was cut up with pavement or bisected by trailways, there existed in the county of Lancashire a small village called Reston that never bothered anyone. Oh, of course its residents knew of the greater world and participated—paid those taxes and fought those wars that greater men told them to. They kept their eye on the periodicals for the latest fashions and dances. But of far greater concern to the village of Reston was how the trout were running that year, when the summer squash would be ready for picking, and whether the village council would vote to allow the creation of a cow path across the Morgans’ farm, mere miles from the village proper.

Reston sat on a small river connecting two small lakes, wedged delightfully in the valley of remarkable fells and mountains. We will concern ourselves with the easternmost lake, called Merrymere. It was not like the grand bodies of water that attracted most of the tourists, but it did provide most of the scenery and sport for the locals, as well as the occasional sightseer who became lost and bypassed larger venues to the south like Windermere or Coniston Water.

The people of Reston amused themselves in much the same manner as other villages, earned their living in much the same manner, prayed, danced, lived, loved . . . all of those things that make people people. Their biggest gossip concerned the public assemblies, and their biggest fears were those people for whom they had yet to be introduced. Everyone in Reston was pleasant, polite, and above all, socially correct.

All except one.

They said he was a war hero—others thought perhaps he was an enemy soldier, cowardly hiding from his losses in the middle of their happy valley. Some thought him romantic, a lost soul—others merely a beast. But everyone learned after their first encounter to stay far away from old widow Lowe’s house, for her nephew, the man who inherited, was certain to send them running back to the safety of the village.

It was whispered that he had dreams. Terrible dreams of blood and water, salt and gunpowder that haunted him, had him crying out in his sleep—mournful noises that carried over the lake, the sound of the damned being ferried to hell.

But, as vexing as they found his presence, their British souls refused to bow to their fears and be undone. So the people of Reston went about their lives, ignoring the far side of the lake they called Merrymere and its sole inhabitant. And he ignored them. Reston rose, ate, worked, talked, took tea, danced, and slept, all while keeping in the periphery of their mind the danger, the monster, that lurked mere miles away.

One

LADY Jane Cummings, only daughter of the Duke of Rayne, second cousin twice removed of the Prince Regent (or was it three times?), and most sought-after ginger-haired—but unfreckled—dance partner of the Ton, was in trouble.

And it was all Phillippa Benning’s fault.

Or Phillippa Worth, as Jane supposed she must become accustomed to calling her recently reclaimed friend. But how long would that friendship last if Phillippa persisted in causing Jane such distress as to commit social blunders was undetermined.

For you see, Lady Jane had missed a step.

She could be mistaken for a statue in that moment, standing stock-still in the center of Phillippa’s great ballroom, which was festooned in bridal drapery, white silk bowers running between massive bouquets of summer roses in every color. Dancers swirled around her, as colorful as the flowers, stepping with mirth and verve in time to the music, while Lady Jane’s attention was caught and held by the alarmingly familiar shock of hair she saw at the other end of the row, lazily scanning the dancers from the sidelines. Everyone who was anyone was celebrating Phillippa’s recent conversion from Benning to Worth, i.e., her marriage. And being as this was London, and it was the Ton, and Phillippa being, well, Phillippa, she must have invited the entire catalogue of Debrett’s to her wedding celebration. Oh, but how could she have invited him?

Jane was jolted out of her shock when a twirling debutante, doing her best with the tricky steps of the quadrille, bumped into her frozen form. Murmured apologies set off a ripple of whispers that Lady Jane, of all people, had taken a misstep when dancing. Jane quickly rejoined her partner, falling into the steps with a hurried but well-practiced ease.

“Is everything all right?” Lord Turnbridge asked in his reedy, if earnest, voice.

“Of course, my lord.” She smiled prettily at him, causing his face to take on a decidedly berry shade. “I was simply . . . struck by the decorations on the fireplace mantel. Mrs. Worth has outdone herself.”

Jane turned her eyes toward the far end of the room, where the gold and white silk-draped fireplace stood and where she last saw that blazing shock of hair, that tall, languid form. But this time, no such sight was presented. She turned her head back around, scanning the crowd behind Lord Turnbridge fervently, but to no avail. Drat it all, where had he gone?

Lucky for Lady Jane’s sanity and Lord Turnbridge’s ego, the music ended then, and she need no longer subject her dance partner to such inattentiveness. Instead, she smiled sweetly at him as he escorted her to the side of the room. Annoyingly, Lord Turnbridge escorted her very slowly. Once there, he bowed tediously low—it was all Jane could do not to tap her foot with impatience. But finally he rose, and Jane performed the most perfunctory of curtsies before he turned away to find his next partner, and presumably, allowing Jane to be found by hers.

That is, if she had wanted to be found.

As quick as grace and the crush of people would allow, Jane moved through the crowd, ducking and weaving the flow of traffic like a fish in a current.

She couldn’t have imagined him, could she? Oh please, let her be suffering delusions and she imagined Jason. He couldn’t be in London. He just couldn’t. It had only been six weeks since she came out of mourning and back into society—maybe two months . . . but now . . .

Jane ducked into a corridor that she hoped led to Phillippa’s outrageously pink drawing room—really, if Jane and Phillippa had been speaking to each other at the time of her redecoration, Jane would have seriously attempted to steer Phillippa into a few more varied shades. It was in the Pink Room, however, that desserts were being served. There, overly plump matrons would be devouring sweets with a speed that would distress their laces come tomorrow, and where Jane knew no sane eligible man would go. (Those men who did cross the threshold of a room that pink quickly scampered away, either because of a lack of young female attention or the fervent enthusiasm of their mothers.) But alas, a left turn, and another left, and Jane quickly found herself nowhere near the Pink Room. Backtracking, Jane lifted a curtain she thought led to the hallway.

Suffice to say, it didn’t.

“Jane!” Phillippa Worth (née Benning) cried, as she tore her lips away from those of her husband, who was kind enough to use his height to block her from view as she readjusted some clothing that had gone suspiciously awry. “Whatever are you doing?”

“I’m looking for a place to hide!” Jane whispered furiously, placing her hands on her hips.

“I apologize, Lady Jane,” Marcus Worth said in his even, affable drawl, “but as you see, this alcove is occupied.”

Jane shot him a rueful glance to which Marcus only smiled. “You’ve been married all of twelve hours. You can’t wait another two until your wedding banquet is over?” Jane snorted at Phillippa.

Phillippa looked up at her husband and he down at her, his easy grin apparently infectious.

“No.”

“Don’t suppose we can.”

“Well you’ve got to,” Jane replied, “because I am in a dreadful spot, and it’s all your fault!”

“Why?” Phillippa looked immediately concerned. “What have you done now?”

“I’ve done nothing,” Jane scoffed, “’tis your doing, and I demand that you fix it!”

“Me?” Phillippa replied, outraged. Then looking to Marcus: “Darling, you can’t let her . . .”

“My dearest wife,” Marcus interrupted, then, grinning, added, “I just love saying that. Ah—anyway,” he continued, at said dearest wife’s look, “if there is one thing I’ve learned during our brief courtship, it’s not to get in between the two of you when you squabble.”

Phillippa looked like she was about to teach her new husband a very keen lesson about disagreeing with one’s wife, but Jane had no time for such a segue. “How could you invite him?”

“Invite who?” Phillippa replied, immediately snapping back to the pertinent conversation.

“Jason!” Jane whispered in a rush and watched a slight look of confusion mar Phillippa’s brow.

“Jason? You mean your—” at Jane’s nod, Phillippa expostulated. “But I didn’t. I didn’t even know he was in Town—I would have added him to the guest list had I known, but—”

“You would have added him?” Jane exclaimed.

“Well of course—he is, after all, a Marquis—” Phillippa replied blithely, but Jane threw up her hands.

“Did it never occur to you that I might not wish to see him?”

“So sorry,” Phillippa snipped, “I haven’t kept up with your preferences—next time I’ll plan my wedding celebration around your likes and dislikes, shall I?”

Before the conversation could further devolve into a spitting match, Marcus Worth luckily (and intelligently) intervened.

“Dearest,” he said, putting a gentle hand on his wife’s arm before turning to her assailant. “Lady Jane—I take it you feel the need to make an expedient exit?” She nodded, and so he continued, “Did your father attend with you this evening?”

Jane shook her head. “He was feeling a little tired. Lady Charlbury was good enough to act as my chaperone this evening.”

Even Phillippa raised her brows at that—Lady Charlbury was an interesting paradox: a widow of middle years, she ruled society through her friendships with the Lady Patronesses, but it was of late more and more difficult to get her to respond positively to an invitation. They had both been lucky enough to attend her fete earlier this season, but to have her attend Phillippa’s—!

“She’s an old friend of my father’s,” Jane replied with only the slightest of braggadocio.

“Well, then my darling wife will go and tell her you had a headache, and we sent you home in our carriage,” Marcus said, forcing the conversation back onto its original track, “and I will show Lady Jane the back way to the door.”

Phillippa, nodded, agreeing to this scheme—in no small part, Jane was certain, because it afforded her the opportunity to be seen conversing with Lady Charlbury—who was impressive even by Phillippa’s standards.

Phillippa leaned in and gave her husband a not-so-quick peck on the lips. Then, once Jane stopped cringing, Marcus offered her his arm and led her out of the alcove and in the opposite direction of the flow of human traffic.

Marcus Worth neatly ducked and weaved his way through the crowd, managing to blend himself into the throng so much so that not a soul stopped him or wished him well or smiled in acknowledgment. Considering this was his wedding banquet, it was an astonishing feat. One that must have served him well in his covert role with the Home Office. It was rumored he would be knighted for his services to the Crown, and no matter how much the public cajoled, Phillippa would not divulge specifics of said service. Which, of course, made the gossip all the more rampant.

But Jane was privy to the truth. She had witnessed Marcus and his brother Byrne in acts of heroics usually reserved for sensational novels.

“Turn here,” Marcus’s whisper interrupted her musings as he abruptly turned down an underlit servants’ corridor.

It took Jane’s eyes a moment to adjust, but when she did, she followed Marcus Worth’s abominably long stride toward the kitchens.

“Right this way, Lady Jane,” Marcus Worth said solicitously, carefully stooped in the low corridor—Phillippa had met and married perhaps the tallest man in London, outside of the circus. Lady Jane was just a hair shorter than the average female—and so to keep up with his leisurely stride, she was reduced to trotting.

Once in the kitchens, so rife with activity no one noticed the new master of the house and the daughter of a Duke wandering through, Marcus, after a quick word with one of the servants, guided her into a different corridor.

“This will take us to the butler’s pantry, which is right beside the front door,” Marcus informed her.

“Phillippa keeps her silver next to the front door?” Jane questioned. “Does she wish to invite burglary?”

But Marcus simply laughed at her snide remark. “No, the silver is kept in safer stores—we call it the butler’s pantry because it keeps the butler, who has a habit of lying down in between answering the door.”

Considering Marcus and Phillippa had been married mere hours, it was on the tip of Jane’s tongue to ask not only how he became so familiar with the workings of this household, but also with all its secret corridors. But Jane found it prudent to keep her mouth shut, especially since they had just breached the hidden door to the butler’s pantry.

There was indeed a lack of silver, and in its stead a comfortable chair and blankets for either a terribly indulged or greatly beloved family retainer. A book on the chair completed the tableau, and Jane was tempted to peek at the title, but that would have necessitated moving, and the space was too tight for such allowances.

“Right through this door,” Marcus pointed in front of them, “and left out of the house. I believe you’ll find a carriage waiting to convey you home at the top of the drive.”

“Mr. Worth”—Jane smiled at him—“you are a terribly useful sort.”

Marcus, it seemed, decided to take that as a compliment, for after a moment he inclined his head with a smile.

“I am very glad Phillippa married you,” she said, patting his arm, “and do hope you survive it.”

At that, Marcus Worth threw back his head and barked with laughter. He opened the door in front of him and escorted her out of the butler’s pantry.

And since he was laughing, Jane simply had to join in. And so, as they laughed, and came into the candlelight of the main foyer, they perhaps were less than attentive to who else could be in that general vicinity.

So the fist to Marcus’s jaw came as a bit of a surprise.

Not that it actually connected. Marcus had alarmingly quick reflexes, and his extra height allowed him to narrowly avoid his attacker’s reach. Jane smothered a scream, as Marcus caught the hands of his attacker and pinned them mercilessly behind his back. Then, attracting far too much attention from the festivities’ attendants down the hall, he shoved him face-first against the door to the butler’s pantry.

“For heaven’s sake, Jason,” Jane cried, as he squirmed beneath Marcus Worth’s iron grip, his right cheek pressed against the wainscoting, “have you gone completely mad?”

“I take it this is the man you were so keen to avoid?” Marcus drawled.

“Yes—Mr. Worth, I’m so sor—”

“Oh shut it, Jane!” Jason spat out of the side of his mouth. Then, to Marcus, “Now, who are you, and what the devil were you doing in that closet with my sister?”

BOOK: The Summer of You
9.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Early Decision by Lacy Crawford
The Impossible Clue by Sarah Rubin
Finding Sarah by Terry Odell
Friends till the End by Gloria Dank
Ice Planet Holiday by Ruby Dixon