The Haversham Legacy by Nickie Fleming
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A woman approached the group of courtiers around the King. She looked very young and very innocent compared to most of the other women present. Her delicate pink gown made her stand out even more.
Charles the Second smiled pleasantly when he saw her and beckoned, "Ah, there you are, my dear! James, may I present Lady Claire De Vere, eldest daughter of the Earl of St. Albans."
The man he addressed made a courtly bow.
"Lady Claire, this is one of my best friends, the Marquis of Haversham."
A bit further away, a young man watched the scene. His name was George Templeton and he was the cousin of the marquis. He was not dancing, as one would expect of such a young and dashing young lad. With his fair hair, blue eyes, and his sportsman’s body, he was the dream of every girl and her mother--even more so because he was the sole heir of the Marquis of Haversham. The marquis was already thirty-eight years old and had never married.
James faced the girl--and it was plain to George how this pleased the older man. Of course the lady was pretty, with her black hair, blue eyes, and cherry-like mouth. She could be his daughter though, and most certainly she was too innocent for his cousin’s taste. Although James had never looked for a wife, he did not object to taking the occasional damsel to his bed. He once told his cousin that he preferred experienced women who knew how to please a man and did not make demands.
Yet right now he seemed to be drowning in the eyes of this girl who could only have sixteen or seventeen years of age. She said something and he laughed at it. Then he offered her his arm and they moved to the dancing floor.
George began to feel a bit unsure at that exact moment. It was as if the center of his universe suddenly shifted out of focus. He had built his life on the certainty of becoming the next Marquis. He could not--would not--allow something to happen to his dreams of becoming a rich and wealthy man.
The Haversham Legacy is a beautiful blend of the lavish and the picaresque, combining courtly life with swashbuckling adventure.
Mindy McKay for Rogue's Angels