Behind the Duke’s Door
Spinster Lady Elizabeth Fentworthy agrees to Harrison Reedburn, Duke of Walthingburn’s proposal to marry and produce a legitimate heir. Walthingburn’s dissolute cousin has been threatening to have Harrison and his lover Arthur, arrested and hung on sodomy charges in order to gain the Dukedom for himself. Can Elizabeth, Harry and Arthur pull the wool over the ton’s eyes and convince everyone Elizabeth and Harry are madly in love and Arthur is just a friend?
“Behind the Duke’s Door” January 2011 Spice Briefs
Ominous rain clouds hovered, but did not dare break over London on Lady Elizabeth Fentworthy’s wedding day. Her mother forbade it. They sky stayed dry and Saint James Church hosted its nattily dressed occupants with its usual venerable standards. After all, it was not every day a firmly on-the-shelf old maid of twenty two married the catch of the season, the Sixth Duke of Walthingburn, Harry Reedburn.
Lady Elizabeth stood, knees shaking, in front of the large crowd and looked up at her new husband’s handsome face. He didn’t notice.
He was too busy scanning the room for his own lover, Arthur.
She passed a discreet glance around the room also. Ah, there he was. “Fifth row from the back on the right side,” she whispered under her breath to Harry. As the third son of the Earl of Mayhue, poor Arthur could not be seated toward the front of the church. Her mother reserved those seats for the very highest levels in the Ton.
Harry responded with an easy grin at her that had the romantics in the audience pressing lacy handkerchiefs to their eyes and sighing about young love. Elizabeth wished for a hanky herself, because she was the sole occupant of the room, save Arthur and her brother, who knew that while Harry’s grins were for her, his kisses were for Arthur.
What had she signed herself on for? When Harry had suggested a marriage between them this past February, she’d agreed with her eyes wide open, but now she stood in church and felt the lie pressing in on her soul. She’d recited her vows in a daze and barely heard Harry do the same. He’d pecked her on the cheek, a fitting dignified ducal kiss, and now he placed her hand on his brocade coat sleeve and she put one foot in front of the other to the exit of the church.