"The Sons of the Aristocracy" Book 2

Cover photo © PeriodImages.com

Cover design by KGee Designs
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9893973-6-0
iBooks ISBN: 978-0-9893973-3-9

See the April 2014 issue of InD'Tale Magazine for the
3-1/2 star review


The Widowed Countess

"When twin brothers love the same woman, is two times the romance worth double the trouble? Especially when one is a ghost?"

The sudden death of David Fitzwilliam, Earl of Norwick, is a crushing blow to his countess, Clarinda. Their four-year union had been a celebrated love match. With her year of mourning just beginning, Clarinda takes comfort in knowing she carries a child. She could give birth to the next earl, but it’s David’s identical twin brother Daniel who will assume the duties of the earldom until an heir is old enough.

Too bad Clarinda’s last encounter with the despicable man went so poorly. He claimed to have been the Fitzwilliam that courted her and asked for her hand in marriage, implying that Clarinda had accepted David’s suit only to become a countess. But Clarinda is quite certain it was David who courted her and captured her heart all those years ago. David was the man she loved – not Daniel. Now that she’ll have to live in the same house as Daniel, though, she wonders how she’ll manage. “He despises me,” she tells her best friend and confidante Adele Grandby, Countess of Torrington, recounting how she slapped her brother-in-law so hard she was sure she broke her arm.

Adele has a secret she cannot yet share with the widow and a husband who’s made it his business to ensure a certain member of the ton – one of his goddaughters – is properly wed. Dorothea, the dowager countess, arrives in London for her son’s funeral and seems to have plans for her daughter-in-law and the spare heir when she isn’t busy with her own liaison with a younger viscount. And the ghost of David has become a nightly visitor to Clarinda’s bedchamber, hinting that she’s carrying twins and making comments that would suggest he’s suddenly rather fond of his brother – and inferring that Clarinda should be, too.

Clarinda has no idea David’s ghost has been visiting Daniel, acting in part as a matchmaker and soothsayer while insisting his death in a traffic accident in Oxford Street was not, in fact, an accident. “I was shot,” David claims, encouraging Daniel to do a bit of investigating while considering his brother’s blessing in regard to Clarinda.

Daniel needs no encouragement when it comes to Clarinda – he’s loved the woman since her come-out and will gladly take her as his wife when she’s out of mourning. If she’ll have him. He still remembers how she slapped him all those years ago.

Through the funeral, the reading of the will, and David’s burial, these would-be lovers will learn more about David’s past, determine the fishy circumstances that led to his death, and discover that their own futures are meant to be shared with one another – and possibly some twins.

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Daniel scanned the room and noted another paneled door. Striding toward it, he suddenly felt overwhelmed by the sense that he wasn’t alone. Pausing, he glanced around. When he was sure there was no one else in the room, he continued to the door and peeked in. The huge bath featured its own fireplace and a device in which water could be heated for bathing. The tap at the bottom hung over the edge of the largest copper tub Daniel had ever seen.

“Two can bathe in there,” a familiar voice said as Daniel stared at the bathing tub. “Never tried it myself, but I recommend you do.”

Startled, Daniel glanced around, sure no one was physically in the room and yet ... “Who’s there?” he asked, thinking a footman must have arrived with the first of his trunks.

“Who do you think?” David’s voice replied, a bit indignant.

Damnation! Daniel spun around to find his brother leaning against the wall, his arms crossed in front of his body in the stance he used when he was in casual conversation. “David?” Daniel whispered, blinking a few times to be sure he was indeed seeing and hearing his brother.

“Aye,” his twin replied. “Thought I would welcome you to my old world before I left for my new one.”

Daniel wondered if perhaps his gnawing hunger was playing tricks on his mind. He could swear his brother stood against the wall and was regarding him with that mischievous look he used when he was playing a trick on him. Deciding David couldn’t be standing in front of him, Daniel gave the room another quick glance and strode into the bedchamber. He nearly tripped over David’s outstretched boot.

“God in heaven,” Daniel breathed as he backed away from this twin brother.

“I couldn’t tell you if He is or He isn’t,” David murmured with a shrug. “As you can see, I haven’t made it there yet,” he added, uncrossing his arms and walking toward Daniel as if he intended to join him in the bedchamber. “How was your trip?”

Staring at his brother as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, Daniel shook his head.

“That bad?” David offered, his hands moving to clasp together behind his back. “You made it here in record time. I was going to visit you at your apartments, but I thought you should get a good night’s sleep before I ... paid a call,” he added uncertainly. Perhaps it was nervousness that made him shift his weight from one leg to the other.

“How thoughtful of you,” Daniel managed to get out before he gave his head a quick shake and turned away from what he had decided was a figment of his imagination.

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