Read Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake Online

Authors: Jane Charles

Tags: #romance regency tenacious trents england historical

Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake

BOOK: Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake
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A Reluctant Rake

Copyright © 2013 by Jane
Charles

Cover Design by Lily Smith

Night Shift Publishing

Smashwords Edition

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, locations and events are either a product of the
author’s imagination, fictitious or used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to any event, locale or person, living or dead, is
purely coincidental.

This e-book is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and
purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the hard work
of this author.

Amy and Marc – two great friends
who

enjoy their own incredible romance
every day

(and brandy slushes when
available)

Bentley Manor, Northeast
Kent, England

September, 1790

Jordan Trent dashed out of the manor
and ran through the woods, taking the shortcut to the bridge over
the river. It couldn’t be true. Adele and Julia couldn’t be dead.
Father was mistaken, that was all. Tears streamed down his cheeks,
his breaths coming in white, smoky wisps in the cold morning. The
rushing river grew louder as he got closer and Jordan came to a
stop at the edge of the embankment. The family carriage lay on its
side, water flooding the inside, wheels rolling back and forth with
the movement of the river. Only the door was visible, the Bentley
crest prominently displayed. Items were strewn along the bank, and
he made his way down the small decline to the edge of the
water.

The book Adele had been reading, or
planned on reading, lay open, its pages soaked and ruined. A
child’s bonnet was snagged on a limb jutting out of the water.
Further downstream a trunk was smashed against an outcropping of
rocks with wet and ruined pieces of clothing lying in the mud along
the shoreline.

Just because these were Adele’s and
Julia’s things did not mean they were gone. The two could be
further downstream, perhaps warming themselves by a fire and
waiting to be rescued.

His heart thudded heavy in his chest as
Jordan picked his way along the bank, straining to see if there
were any signs of his step-mother and half-sister. All he found was
more of their clothing and personal items from the wrecked
carriage.

A small figure in a lavender dress drew
him close to the water. It was facing down in a puddle. He picked
it up and brushed the mud from her face. Julia would have never
left her favorite doll behind. She had always clung to it as though
the toy was the most important thing in the world. If the doll was
here, then Julia must be gone.

Pain constricted his heart as he
fingered the rip in the doll’s arm. He had caused the damage just a
day ago when he’d teased Julia and tried to grab the doll from her.
The arm had almost come off, and his sister had cried loudly, and
for the longest time. He hadn’t meant to hurt the doll. He only
meant to have fun with Julia, but she was too young to understand.
He couldn’t tease her the way he did his younger
brothers.

Nausea turned in his stomach. This was
his fault. If he hadn’t broken her doll then she would have never
cried and Father would have never taken the willow switch to her.
Adele had been so scared, crying and pleading with Father to quit
striking Julia, until father struck Adele. Jordan had never seen
anyone hit in the face before. The skin was red from Father’s hand
and a small trickle of blood seeped out of the corner of Adele’s
mouth. Adele had clutched Julia to her, covering the crying child
with her own body until Father turned away with a look of disgust.
He had gone into his library then and slammed the door. All Jordan
could do was stand there. He was too afraid of his father to
intervene, but shouldn’t he have protected his sister, and
Adele?

Jordan had gone to Julia’s room to
apologize but Adele had put her to bed so he had sat beside Julia’s
bed and had sewn the doll’s arm while Adele dismissed the nurse
from the room and set to packing Julia’s belongings. Adele was
running away with Julia because of him and because of it they were
killed.

Jordan would give anything to make it
so it had never happened. If only one could go back and fix
mistakes.

A few miles further down, the river
emptied into the ocean. They would never find them. But maybe they
weren’t dead. Yesterday Matthew had told him about Jonah being in
the belly of a whale. What if Adele and Julia had been swallowed
and were trying to find a way out? What if they got spit out on the
shore somewhere far away and didn’t know how to get back? Matthew
knew more about these things than anyone. Hadn’t he read the Bible
twice already? Jordan hadn’t even read it once. Nobody had made
him, and he didn’t like to sit and read when there were much better
pursuits available like riding his horse, fishing or climbing
trees.

He heaved a sigh and sank down onto the
rocks. Adele and Julia weren’t in the belly of a whale and they
weren’t coming back. His tears began to fall all over again and
Jordan rested his head on his bent arms, folded across his knees,
and cried like he had never cried before. His body shook but he
didn’t care if anyone thought he was a sissy. He was alone, and
nobody would ever find out about his tears, especially
Father.

“Jordan Trent!” his father called. “Are
you out here?”

Jordan sniffed and stiffened. Father
couldn’t find him crying or he would be the next one to get the
willow switch. Jordan didn’t doubt Clayton, his oldest brother, had
gotten it after they met with Father this morning. He scrubbed his
face with the back of his sleeve and prayed his eyes weren’t puffy
and red.

“Jordan?” his father called
again.

As much as Jordan wished to hide from
the man, he knew he could not. That would get him into bigger
trouble than crying. “I am down here, Father!” he yelled
back.

“Get up here before something happens
to you too,” the man barked.

Jordan stuffed his sister’s doll inside
his shirt so his father wouldn’t see it and climbed back up the
embankment.

Father looked at his face, frowned and
then put an arm around his shoulder. “I know you will miss them,
but this is for the best.”

“Yes, sir.” Was his father not going to
punish him?

“One day you will learn that women are
good for only one thing and your step-mother wasn’t even good for
that. I had hoped for more, given who her grandmother
was.”

Jordan looked up at him. “What would
that be, sir?”

“Pleasure and heirs.” His father smiled
and patted him on the shoulder. “When you are sixteen, I’ll take
you to a special place and someone will teach you all about
pleasure.”

Why did he have to wait until he was
sixteen? That was eight years from now. Besides, he could think of
lots of things women were good for. They sang, smelled pretty, read
stories out loud, hugged, played games and gave treats. Tears began
to form in his eyes when he remembered all the wonderful things
about Adele. He blinked them away. His father hadn’t spanked him
for crying a few moments ago, but he wasn’t going to chance it
again.

“You are the lucky one, Jordan,” his
father continued as they strolled back to the house. “As second
born you do not need to worry about responsibility. I don’t want
you weighed down with a profession like Matthew or
John.”

Jordan looked up at him.
Profession?

“I want you free to enjoy life like I
never could.” The man’s hand tightened on Jordan’s shoulder, and he
tried not to wince from the pain. “I insist upon it.”

Didn’t Father enjoy life? He enjoyed
his brandy often enough. He already smelled of it today, and they
hadn’t even had the midday meal. Perhaps if Father had joy he
wouldn’t yell so much or use the willow switch as often.

“I’ve made the arrangements. Once you
finish your formal schooling, you will never have to do anything
but find pleasure where you will. You will have the riches young
men crave and never be forced to marry.” His father sighed. “My
advice to you is to never marry. In fact, I will not allow it. If
you even begin to consider shackling yourself to one woman I will
cut you off and you will lose your inheritance.”

BOOK: Tenacious Trents 03 - A Reluctant Rake
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