Black Ladies

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She must have been mad, to yield her body the way she had. What had she done? Lord, what had she done? “What did you intend? To blackmail me? Claim I stole your virtue? I won’t succumb to such chicanery. I won’t be used. Not by you. ” she cried. She finally managed to drag her hand free of his, then leaped from the bed. Everything inside her was still whirling. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, she thought vaguely. When she’d dreamed of the moment she would confront him—this reckoning of accounts, as it were —she had been the one in control.

He splashed his face with water, then wiped his member. The towel was left there on the rug. Bracing his hands on the washstand, he stared at his reflection in the shaving mirror. Christ, what had he done? Claire was right. He was a bastard. Darkness took hold inside him. Turmoil raged in his breast. Cad that he was, he thought, he couldn’t help it—a part of him felt betrayed by her lies. On the dresser lay the ribbon she’d worn the night of the masquerade, the ribbon he’d rescued from the ground.

The sound came again. Definitely a scream, but fainter this time. He urged his horse ahead and down an embankment. There were ruts in the damp earth. Something had come through here. The brush was trampled, he noted, following the tracks. It was then he spied it, a carriage overturned, resting against the trunk of a tree. And a figure calling and waving at him. It was Claire. His heart pounding, he reached her. She collapsed in his arms. ” He smoothed her hair, touched a cut, bruised lump on her forehead.

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