Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Excerpt from The Wager

"No lies, no deceit, only truth between us," Damian gazed at the shimmering lake, his mind reeling.

He knew what he wished for was not possible. Everything between them was false.

He sat on a rock near the duck pond, waiting for Amorica. He tossed a small pebble into the water and watched the ripples spread across the surface growing ever wider just as the lies between them grew. Sunlight filtered through the leaves on the trees, playing chase with the ducks and the swans.

He tossed another pebble. His thoughts were a mixture of yearnings long buried which now warred with loyalty to his commitments. Donning the facade of a court dandy had once intrigued him. Now he abhorred each moment.

Amorica--she made him feel again--completed him. She filled an emptiness within his heart. He didn’t understand why, but she did. He could not close his eyes but he would see her. His dreams were filled with images of her.

Yet her presence in his life jeopardized everything he worked for, all he believed. He wondered how much she knew and if he could trust her. She had found the list. Moreover, his excursion into her chamber had told him she had found a way to protect its sanctity. Still she might very well have shown the names to her cousins.

No, he could not take any chances. The gamble was too big and concerned too many people. The lives of his friends were at stake as well as their families. For a while, this mission had made him forget his past. Now, all he could think about was Amorica, and learning to care again.

He tossed another pebble. This ludicrous bet he’d wagered with Dicky and Richy might well be the best thing that happened to him. He would not offer marriage even though the thought of bedding her made his heart race and his mind whirl. She was a lady born. He could not bed her without the sanctity of marriage vows. But he could spend time with her. To preserve the ruse he’d created, he needed to go along with the bet.

He rubbed the back of his neck, wishing he could ease the building tension. The midnight raids an ever-increasing peril to all who participated.

The conquest of Amorica would not be easy. She appeared to be intelligent and stubborn--not easily duped. No, he would not be able to win her compliance with sweet words and subtle seduction. Even though she was innocent in nature, she was smart and would see through any ploy he might conceive. He might never be able to hold her in his arms.

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