The Duke's Shotgun Wedding (Entangled Scandalous)(29)

By: Stacy Reid



Jocelyn’s eyes were wide with dismay. “That’s awful,” she murmured.

“As he lay wounded and cursing, I realized he believed it was me abusing his wife so viciously. She’d been lying to both of us. I confronted her, and she confessed she’d done it to be free to wed me. She implored me to actually kill him so we could be together. Of course I wouldn’t, and ended our association. She threatened to kill herself because she loved me so desperately. When I ignored her threats, she later hanged herself. Then the foul rumors surfaced that I strangled her.”

Jocelyn’s face went ashen. “Little wonder you do not want to hear my words of love.”

He gently captured her lips. “No, you’re wrong. I’ve changed. Because of you. I want the kind of marriage you once described to me. To communicate, and share, and make decisions together”

Slowly, her face cleared, and her lips parted. “I do believe you love me, Sebastian,” she said, her eyes filled with wonder.

Warmth unfurled through his whole body, and intense love filled his heart to bursting.

He gripped her hips, spinning and tumbling her into the depths of the sofa. He settled between her thighs and kissed her lips with tenderness. “I believe I do, my duchess, I do believe I love you.”



Christmas Day

Fierce pride and joy filled Jocelyn as she looked around the massive dining table. It was perfect. Everyone had arrived, and laugher and merriment spilled through the halls of Sherring Cross.

The parlor rang with excited chatter from her father, brother and sisters, Anthony and Phillipa, Phillipa’s sister and parents, and the dowager Duchess Margaret, Sebastian’s mother, with her lord, and Sebastian’s sister Constance. Jocelyn had expected the dowager to be cold and forbidding, but the dainty creature that looked up at her long-lost son with such wide, imploring eyes had surprised her. Sebastian had not disappointed, and Margaret and Jocelyn both had been pleased with their first tentative conversation.

She and Victoria had been gratified and a little bemused at the twins’ shrieks of joy to be dining at the table with the adults. They had all crooned over the roast ducks, turkeys, stuffed pigeons, and roasted pork. Not to mention the Christmas pudding and punch.

Jocelyn could not have asked for a more perfect day.

She thought of her mama, and emotions tightened her throat. How she wished Mama could be here! How she would have loved it all.

Sebastian’s gaze met hers, and she gave him a smile and a subtle signal, then swept out of the room, away from the bustle. She went into the library, the room she thought of as their special place. All the things that brought them together so deliciously had happened there.

She stood at his favorite window, staring out at the snow falling steadily over the estate that she had come to love as home. Excitement bubbled through her.

His strong hands curved around her waist and he held her from behind. “Do you wish to retire?” he murmured, kissing her nape.

“I doubt they would forgive us.” She smiled at his reflection in the frosty window pane. “I have a gift for you.”

His brows went up, but he looked pleased. “Another?”

“Yes, I thought I should tell you tonight, considering the multitude of generous gifts that you have showered on me.”

“Tell me what?”

She spun in the circle of his strong arms, glowing with joy and contentment. “Our child will be here in the summer.”

“Our—”

The stunned look of elation on his face made her heart overflow with love. “Merry Christmas, my love.”

Sebastian wrapped her in his arms and held her tight. “And Merry Christmas to you, my sweet duchess. You’ve made me the happiest man in the world.”





Acknowledgements

This would not have been possible without the blessings and favour of God. To my husband Dusean, whom I adore. Thank you for being my biggest fan and supporter, and for loving the fact that I am a ninja in disguise. To my sisters, Hayley Lawrence and Kadia Hufford, thank you for rooting for me, and just for being awesome.

To my amazing editor Nina Bruhns, for enjoying my characters as much as I do, being challenging yet supportive, and just fabulous to work with!

To Tanesha Westcarr, for being encouraging when I had self-doubts. To my beta readers, Cadian Drummond, Chaday Taylor Nelson, Diedre Mcleod, and Elrona Gooden, for reading my first, second, and third drafts!

Thank you!

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