Friday, 21 February 2020

A Merchant's Daughter by Arabella Sheen EXCERPT 3

A Merchant’s Daughter

Arabella Sheen

A merchant’s daughter and a destitute nobleman. Can a marriage of convenience solve their problems?
Miss Emma Brentry is happy with life, but she feels the time has come to marry. Her father, a wealthy glass merchant, has expectations of grandchildren, and Emma doesn’t wish to disappoint him. Reluctantly, and somewhat halfheartedly, she begins the search for a husband.
Mr. Aaron Trent, a gentleman of noble birth, returns to England fresh from the Napoleonic war with a scar and limp to prove it. During his absence, his estate, Windhurst Hall, has been pledged by his cousin at the gaming tables. He is now in search of the necessary funds with which to buy back his home.
Traveling to Bath, Emma finds herself stranded on the road and is compelled to stay the night at The Stag and Hounds posting inn. She encounters Aaron, an attentive, handsome stranger, who offers her some much-needed assistance. Instant attraction is felt by both, and as dusk falls, Emma makes Aaron an offer he finds difficult to refuse.
With his pride standing in the way, can Aaron stay true to his principles, or will he, with reckless, passionate abandonment, succumb to Emma’s powers of persuasion?

Content Warning: contains explicit, sensual love scenes 

Excerpt 3...continued...

Emma felt flustered and out of her depth. Approached by a stranger, she had no idea how she ought to react. Should she be affronted, or should she simply ignore him? If he was prepared to assist, she decided that perhaps she ought to be civil in case she was compelled to accept his offer of help.
“My name is Emma Brentry, and I’m from Bath, sir.”
Emma stood and dropped a curtsy. She wasn’t used to introducing herself to strangers. Then again, neither was she used to frequenting posting inns.
“Miss Brentry.” The gentleman bowed. “Mr. Aaron Trent at your service. I was about to suggest I collect your belongings. My curricle is outside, and as I have yet to stable my grays, it will be no hardship to drive a mile or two and retrieve your luggage. Is that idea acceptable to you?”
The man before her was olive-skinned and unfashionably bronzed, as if he’d spent much of his time outdoors in the sun. He had a strong jawline and a straight nose that hinted of noble birth. For some unknown reason, Emma felt the immediate pull of his undeniable magnetism and was instantly attracted.
“The idea of you collecting my luggage is more than acceptable, sir. But might I be so bold to suggest I accompany you? You see, my father’s coachman, Gresham, is suspicious of most people we encounter, and he might not relinquish my belongings to you. I would also like to assure him that I am all right. He’s such a worrier, and as you and I are not known to one another…”
“I’m pleased to hear you have a coachman. To be honest, I was beginning to doubt your story. I could not envisage you driving a barouche or tackling the problems of a broken wheel alone. Certainly, you may ride with me. As for my credentials, here is my calling card.” Aaron’s hand delved into his pocket and emerged with a delicately engraved silver card case. He flipped the lid open and handed her a card. “Griffin will also vouch for me. Will you not, Griffin?”
“Course I will, Major Trent, sir. I’ve known you nigh on ten years or more. You’ve often stayed in Newton Saint Loe with your uncle, Lord Merton―God rest his soul. Merton Manor is just down the road. His lordship was always well-respected hereabouts. It’s a shame he passed away. And now that your cousin has―”
“Thank you, Griffin. I’m certain Miss Brentry has no need of my life history. If you could see your good wife prepares a room for her, and also somewhere for the coachman to sleep, we shall be indebted.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll ask Mrs. Griffin to see to it right away.”
Aaron placed his hand beneath Emma’s elbow, and he steered her carefully toward the door. As they stepped away from the inn and emerged into the bright sunlight and fresh air, she was made aware of exactly how dark and musky it had been inside. Taking a deep, cleansing breath, she turned to face Aaron.
Glancing briefly at his calling card, she read his details before placing it in her reticule for safekeeping. He seemed an honest enough person, and her instincts told her she could trust him.
“Well, Mr. Trent…what now, sir?” she asked.
Emma tilted her head to look up at Aaron. She estimated he was all of six-foot-two inches, and in the afternoon light, she could see that what she had thought to be dark brown curls were in fact jet-black locks. And then she noticed the rough, jagged line of a scar across his left cheek. It looked raw, fresh, and ugly.
As his eyes looked searchingly into hers, seeking her reaction to his injury, she only just managed not to turn her gaze away with unthinking revulsion. When inside the inn, she had not seen the scar, but perhaps that was because Aaron had intentionally kept his face averted in order to conceal the unsightly wound.
Emma looked across the cobbled yard and noticed an ivory-colored phaeton with two matching grays. It was standing near the water trough.
She hadn’t noticed the carriage earlier and surmised that the stagecoach, while waiting to depart, had blocked her view. It was a fine piece of equipment, and if she was of a sporting nature, which she wasn’t, she would be full of admiration for the elegance of the carriage and the thoroughbreds attached.
“Your carriage awaits, my lady. Shall we?”
As they walked toward the phaeton, Emma detected a slight limp in Aaron’s gait. At first, she’d thought the ivory cane he held was purely a fashionable accessory, as most dandies and coxcombs carried such a thing with them, but she’d been wrong. Aaron wasn’t using the cane for effect; he used it for support and as a walking aid.
Thinking it best not to comment on his disability, Emma remained silent. She didn’t want to offend. If she offered assistance, he might feel affronted.
Reaching the carriage, and without further ado, Aaron took her hand, and then, placing an arm around her waist, he assisted her onto the high seat of the phaeton. It felt strange having a man touch her. But there was no one to see. No one to chaperone, and no one to condemn their actions either. To Emma, it felt excitingly illicit. Being so free with a man and behaving in such a way was not her normal behavior.
Aaron walked around to the other side of the vehicle and joined her. They were perched on high, and to Emma, who had never previously ridden in such an excellent carriage, the ground seemed ominously far below.
She was unusually nervous. She was about to set off with a stranger and was aware that anything could happen.
The phaeton was light and well-sprung, and she’d been told by Harold, her sister’s husband, that to own such a carriage was extremely fashionable.
Emma leaned forward and smiled. “In case I forget, I must say how grateful I am for your thoughtfulness, and I do appreciate your kind offer. I have no idea how I am to repay you for your kindness, but I shall―”
Cutting her speech of thanks short, Aaron lifted the reins and asked, “Left or right?”
“Um…turn right, please. It is not far, and we should be there in―”
Her words were lost as, with a flick of the whip, the horses sprang forward and they were off at a spanking pace. 
A Merchant’s Daughter
Copyright © 2019, Arabella Sheen
ISBN: 9781949300468
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Electronic Publication: August 2019
Editor: Pamela Tyner
Cover: Fantasia Frog Designs

eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously. 

About Arabella Sheen

Arabella Sheen is a British author of contemporary romance and likes nothing more than the challenge of starting a new novel with fresh ideas and inspiring characters.
One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she is curled on the sofa with a book, while pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands as a theatre nurse for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the south-west of England with her family.
Arabella hopes her readers have as much pleasure from her romance stories as she has in writing them.

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