CRADLE OF DREAMS - Keta Diablo
Erotic Romance - WARNING: Explicit language and intense sex. Historical/Civil War/TIME TRAVEL
With visions of battle still fresh in his mind, Roane Bradfield returns home to find the woman he loves betrothed to another. He corners Kendrick Moreland at Dowager Huggins’ Grand Ball and whisks her into the secluded library. One way or the other, he will know the reason the duplicitous beauty cut him from her life when she promised to wait forever.
Kendrick can’t believe her eyes when Roane suddenly appears at the ball. Has he truly risen from the dead? Amid wagging tongues and hushed murmurs, the fantasy of her every dream whisks her from the ballroom. And the expression on his face is anything but loving. Revenge, danger and powerful love collide in the Cradle of Dreams.
The temperature in the crowded room suddenly rose, and his forehead broke out in a fine bead of perspiration. Not now, please no sweats or tremors. I’ve waited two years to see her again, and now the moment is at hand. Miss Kendrick Moreland never missed a ball before the Rebellion, and he had no reason to believe her life had changed one iota after the war. His had, irrevocably, irretrievably, since his time away, more so since his valet told him the woman of his every fantasy was engaged to Pitt Fleming now. Kendrick would show; he felt it in his bones. He would know the reason she tossed him aside like last week’s news and pledged her heart to another.
The word slipped from his lips with a sigh, “Ah.” He had only to think of the exquisite woman and she appeared like a mirage before him. Gazing over the congested masses, his frown deepened and his heart launched into triple beats. Damnation. How did she still manage to affect him so? His cock expanded and every muscle in his body tensed.
Without a doubt, she was the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on. She hadn’t changed, not one freckle. Her sleeveless dress—a white moiré with a border of scarlet velvet and overlaid with a black lace flounce—would be the envy of every woman in the room once she made her grand entrance. A ribbon of white morning glories held up her golden curls. Around her slender neck, a simple cameo pendant rested directly above the swell of her creamy breasts. She was exquisite beyond words, the epitome of everything unsullied and elegant. On a derisive snort, Roane said the word aloud. ”Unsullied.” Well acquainted with Fleming’s sordid reputation of deflowering virgins, he wondered how long it had taken the notorious debaucher to climb between Kendrick’s thighs.
He studied Pitt—a fop of a man, a dandified highbrow—and jealousy lashed his spine. Kendrick couldn’t possibly love Fleming. What had happened to her promise to love him forever while she cried a river of tears over his departure? She had clung to him like a helpless child, her slender arms wrapped about his neck, her distinct scent of lemon verbena, intoxicating him. He should have taken her when he had the chance; delivered what she so desperately wanted.
Her lush, pink lips had parted, ‘Oh, don’t make me wait, darling. Make me yours tonight, completely, wholly.’ Her firm, ripe breasts had pressed against him, and he had all he could do to wrench away from her, save her honor and her virginity for his homecoming. Or, in the event there wasn’t one. She had played him well, and worse, he had fallen for her delicious charms.
Roane quit the private box and headed for the stairwell leading to the ballroom. Soon he would confront the treacherous Miss Kendrick and take what rightfully belonged to him.
A shrill voice rang above the crowd. “Roane! Lord in heaven, is it truly you?”
If he didn’t know better, he could swear the Dowager Huggins would require her smelling salts posthaste. Her fleshy jowls fell to her chest and her powdered face, a chalky white, turned a pale shade of green before his eyes. What bedeviled the elderly woman now? Had she lost her mind in the last two years?
Roane bent at the waist and reached for her dimpled hand. Bringing it to his lips, he kissed the clammy flesh. “Dowager, how good it is to see you again.”
“But . . . but, oh, dear me, you’ve no idea how glad I am to see you, my boy. I didn’t want to believe you were lost to us forever. Deep in my heart I knew it couldn’t possibly―”
“Lost to you forever?” He feigned ignorance over the rumor of his death. “You have me at a disadvantage, madam. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, Roane, you really don’t know, do you?”
“Know what my dear Talulah? Please, explain yourself.”
“They said you had died at the battle of Petersburg. The newspaper listed you as killed in action.” She wrapped her stout arms about him and delivered a wet kiss to his cheek. “I don’t know how such a blunder occurred and little do I care. I only know you’re here in the flesh and my heart overflows with joy.”
Pretending to be taken aback by the news of his supposed death, Roane made a good show of placing his hands at his temples. In truth, his valet had informed of the faux pas. “Dowager Huggins, I can only assume someone confused me with my first cousin, Reine Bradfield. He died at Petersburg I'm sorry to report.
Oh, dear me . . . .”
Turning toward the boisterous chatter, the rest of the Dowager’s words were lost to him. Necks craned in unison to gawk at him, and tongues wagged as the shock of his presence spread like a living, breathing wildfire throughout the ballroom. Taller than most men, Roane looked over the heads of the crowd and locked eyes with Miss Kendrick Moreland. If he thought the Dowager’s complexion had shifted from white to pale green, it was a minor alteration compared to the sickly gray pallor rising in Kendrick’s cheeks.
Clearly, she too thought him dead and buried. Rage bubbled up his chest. It didn’t matter. If he had indeed died, she had mourned his death for less than a fortnight. So much for eternal love. He would make her squirm; make her regret the frivolity of casting him aside in such short order. If Pitt Fleming meant to interfere, he would beat the man to a bloody pulp and take immense pleasure in doing so.
He felt a muscle twitch in his jaw as he excused himself from the Dowager’s doting countenance, and with measured gait, walked toward Miss Kendrick Moreland.
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