The Wedding Night

The Wedding Night Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: The Wedding Night Read Online Free PDF
Author: Linda Needham
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
longer!"
    "My services are not for sale, Dean Hayward. I will leave the college if I must!"
    "But Rushford is expecting you to—"
    "Let him rot." Mairey's smile came easily, triumphant and at peace with the simplicity of it all. The Willowmoon was safe. She'd never see the man again, never again be tempted. "Now excuse me, Dean Hayward"—she started up the short walk—"I've been gone three weeks and have a lot to catch up on."
    She took hold of the door latch, but the handle wouldn't budge.
    "Mairey…?" Hayward 's voice had become wheedling and whiny.
    She ignored him and tried the door again. Still nothing, though the entire mechanism looked as if it had been polished quite recently.
    "You can make up for your great gaffe, sir, by having the door planed to meet the jamb." Mairey wedged her shoulder against the panel, gave a shove, but came away with an aching arm and a colossal misgiving.
    "Mairey, I couldn't stop him."
    "Stop whom?" Mairey didn't like Hayward 's ashen pallor any more than she liked the prickling chill that lifted the hair at her nape.
    "Rushford."
    "You couldn't stop him from what?" Yes, Rushford was the misgiving, and the anger that grew hotter at the tips of her ears.
    "He wanted…"
    "He wanted what?" She'd been privy to the power of Rushford's wants but was having difficulty finding sympathy for Hayward 's fear.
    He sighed and handed her a brassy new key.
    She kept back a sailor-blue curse. "He's locked me out of my own library?"
    "Well…"
    "May the man find adders in his marmalade! " Mairey grabbed the key out of Hayward 's cold fingers, crammed it into the lock, and yanked down on the latch. She shoved hard, and the door flew open to a vast, echoing emptiness.
    Stunned, Mairey stepped inside, her heart gone hollow.
    The orange light of the nearly spent evening spilled in from the tall, barren windows, painting soft stripes across a floor stripped of its carpets and the threadbare tracks her father and her grandfather before him had paced into their delicate patterns.
    The towering shelves that had once held thousands of books were empty. Gone were the cluttered curio cabinets and the gouged, ink-stained worktables, her father's leather chair with its caressing imprint, and the partner's desk they had shared.
    Gone.
    A sob filled her chest and found voice in her throat. Tears slid down her cheeks.
    Rushford.
    "He came a week ago, Mairey." Hayward clung to the door handle. "With a half -dozen men and three lorries."
    She swabbed away the tears, cursing them, too. "You let Jackson Rushford steal my father's library!"
    The Willowmoon !— he had it all! Every word. Every letter. Drawings, maps, runes!
    "Rushford promised me that he would pay you well, my girl."
    "Pay me?"
    He dipped his chin and shook his head. "Oh, Mairey, I'm a wicked man."
    You're a fool , she wanted to say. But she knew that wasn't true and would only hurt him more deeply. Hayward wasn't privy to her father's secrets, and certainly not to hers. How could he have known the havoc he would cause? Better that he didn't pry.
    "Never mind, Dean Hayward." She slid her palm across the windowsill. Clean. Stripped bare. Sterile. The room was cleaner than she'd ever seen it, from ceiling to floor. Not a trace of the Faelyn family remained. "I'll go to London in the morning. I'll find Drakestone House and rescue my library, or Rushford will pay dearly."
    "How?"
    "A thief is a thief. I don't care who he knows, God or the queen."
    "Do you mean to call down the police on Jackson Rushford?"
    She couldn't risk the authorities—too many questions.
    "I have no choice but to confront the dragon in his lair."
    And not a clue as to what she would do when she got there.
    * * *
    Her temper still charringly hot, Mairey let herself into the little house in
Holly Court
wanting nothing more than to see her sisters, to hold them and never let go. But it was nearly ten, and they would be fast asleep and not expecting her until tomorrow. She could hear Aunt
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