At just eighteen years old, Honoria Harding had spent much time wondering how her life would turn out.
If left to her parents, she would marry well and become the wife of a respectable man, bear him children and run his household, just as her mother had done for her father.
If it had been left to her, Honoria would have married for love just as they did in the great romance novels she read all the time. But, even though young, she knew the chances of that were slim.
It did not stop her from dreaming, however. Did not stop her remembering the pact she and her best friend, Lord Guy Mansfield, had made when they were just twelve years of age.
Now, though, six years on, she knew it was simply not to be.
News had come that morning of his betrothal to Miss Judith Ingram, the lady his parents had decided was a better match for him.
Honoria had seen it long ago in the way his mother had always insisted he dance with the young woman at formal gatherings and the way she fluttered her eyelashes at him whenever she got the chance.
It had always infuriated Honoria, wishing she could warn the girl away and tell her all about the pact they had made to be wed, long ago.
Now, she sat in the gardens among the flowerbeds, hiding from her mother who had just delivered the news.
Though her heart was broken she would not allow the tears to fall. She would not show her parents the trauma the news had caused her.
It wasn’t until she heard the hurried steps, disturbing the pebble stone path behind her, that she realised hiding her emotions might not be an option.
“Honny?” Guy’s voice was filled with trepidation as he approached behind her.
Taking a deep breath, Honoria imagined ignoring him completely, hoping that he might simply disappear from her presence. The sound of his pet name for her, which had always been a gesture of affection, now felt like a bee sting to her heart.
“Honoria?” he said, stepping closer, and she finally twisted where she sat on the marble garden bench.
“I did not expect to see you here,” she mused, forcing herself not to scowl at him. The last thing she wanted was for him to know how much the news had hurt her.
“May I sit?” he asked, gesturing to the empty space on the bench beside her.
Honoria held her breath even as she nodded, and he swept down onto the seat beside her.
Shock overwhelmed her when he reached out to take hold of her hands in his.
Glancing this way and that, she needed to be sure that nobody was around to see the exchange.
“Honny, I’m so sorry,” he gasped, as though he could see the emotion she had tried so desperately to hide from him.
The way he squeezed her hands gave little comfort in the wake of the news.
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” she assured him, snatching her hands away from his grip and turning her head so that he might not see the tears that pricked the corners of her eyes.
“You must know that I never asked for this,” Guy insisted. She could feel the hurt coming off him at her reluctance to feel his touch.
“I should have known your parents would never entertain the idea of you marrying an aristocrat’s daughter.” Honoria shrugged as though it was no big deal, even as she felt her heart aching.
“You must know, had it been left to me, I intended to honour our pact.” Guy’s words stung because they meant nothing now. There was absolutely nothing that could be done. Even if it had not been for his parents, the news was out, and he would marry Judith Ingram as soon as their courtship had exceeded its proper time.
“It was a childish fancy anyway,” Honoria growled back at him, though she could not bring herself to look him in the eye. “Something we never should have discussed in the first place.”
She could feel his crystalline blue eyes upon her even as she tried to avoid his gaze.
“You don’t mean that.” The hurt was obvious in his voice, but what did it matter? Soon he would be lost to her forever, whether she liked it or not.
“I do mean it, Guy. You never should have come here,” she snapped at him, jumping to her feet. The urge to run was growing ever stronger, almost impossible to resist.
Guy was on his feet just as suddenly. He gripped her by her upper arms and forced her around to face him.
When she kept her gaze firmly planted upon his broad chest, he reached up and placed his fingertips beneath her chin, forcing her brown gaze up to meet his blue one.
“Honny, you must know I do this out of obligation.” He sighed. “I must respect my parents’ wishes.”
Another stab to the heart that left Honoria weak at the knees. She knew that this might very well be the last time she was close to him and a part of her desperately wanted to steal a kiss. But what good would that do other than make her long for something she could never have?
“Why have you come if only to tell me what I already know?” She glared back at him.
Guy stepped back, breaking the closeness between them and leaving a void that Honoria knew would never be filled.
“Answer me one thing,” she requested, feeling her heart pounding, desperately close to tears.
“Anything,” he breathed, and she longed to be close to him once more.
“Do you love her?” Honoria whispered, terrified of the answer.
Guy’s eyes widened in astonishment at the question and he quickly shook his head.
“I barely know the girl,” he pointed out. “And if it were up to me it would remain that way.”
“Do you think that you could love her?” Honoria asked, although she was almost entirely sure she didn’t really want to know the answer. The affection that had always been between them was slowly slipping away. She could feel it as though it was water slipping through her fingers, never to be possessed.
“She is to be my wife so I suppose that I must come to have some affection for her.” Guy shrugged.
“You should go,” Honoria suggested. “The last thing you want is for it to get back to Judith that you’ve been here.”
With that Honoria turned her back on him again and felt a tear roll down her cheek.
“Honny, don’t be like that,” Guy protested, and she felt his hand come to rest on her forearm as though he was pleading with her to turn back to him.
Honoria held her breath as she stayed rooted in place, determined not to let him see her cry.
“You should probably stop calling me that,” she said, shrugging off his arm. “Please, just go.”
An exasperated sigh left Guy’s lips as he removed his hand from her arm and began to walk away.
Honoria continued to hold her breath until she was sure he was gone. Then she let the tears begin to fall, dropping back down into her seat as though a heavy weight had landed on her heart.
After two years of reluctant courting, Guy found that it was next to impossible to hold off the inevitable. The date had been set and in a year, he would be married to Judith Ingram, a young woman of beauty from a respectable family. The only problem was, she was not her.
No matter how hard he tried, he could not force the memory of his promise to Honoria from his mind. The hard, heavy feeling in his stomach would not abate no matter what he did.
Every time a member of his family brought up the upcoming union, he had to bite his tongue to stop himself snapping their head off. To marry Judith was the last thing he wanted. Of course, she was a nice enough girl, and many would say she was quite the catch. But to Guy, she was an unwanted possession, forced upon him by his parents who believed they were doing what was right for him. Not to mention the fact that Judith was the right person to help him continue the Mansfield line, if it so pleased God for her to do so.
If Guy were asked the truth of what he wanted it would not be this. Unfortunately for him, he knew that nobody cared about what he wanted. They simply wished to see him married in the proper fashion, in a union arranged by his parents, with no thought to his feelings on the matter.
It was a fact that caused him many sleepless nights and restless days in which he found himself thinking of Honoria evermore. The more he tried not to think of her, the more her beautiful heart-shaped face seemed to pop into his mind. He saw her everywhere he went, even in the face of his betrothed and, had he allowed himself to slip, he may have called his fiancée by the wrong name several times.
His only solace was knowing, or at the very least hoping, that his intended hadn’t learnt of his feelings on the matter. His parents had been most careful not to let it slip.
He had come to sit in the drawing-room upon the window seat where he would often find Honoria sitting, waiting for him, when they were children. If he tried hard enough, he was sure he could still smell the sweet scent of her floral perfume clinging to the cushions. Deep down, he knew it was not possible. Honoria had not been permitted to enter the house in some years, exiled from his company by his parents to avoid a scandal.
Oh, how I wish you were here, Honny, he sighed to himself as he glanced out of the window at his sisters, who seemed to walk the gardens without a care in the world. No doubt one day soon they too would know the heartache of being forced into unions they could not abide. He only hoped that he would be around to sway their parents’ choice in the hope of finding them a match they would be comfortable with. Luckily for his sisters, they did not seem as choosy as he was. He often caught them gossiping about the eligible men in London and the surrounding counties and thought how easily they might find the match they hoped for.
Elizabeth, the older of the two sisters, seemed to sense him watching them and paused in a turn of the garden loop to stop and wave at him with a happy smile on her face.
“Guy?” The sound of his mother’s voice almost caused him to jump out of his skin, and he turned to find her standing in the doorway, her hands clasped before her in her usual graceful fashion.
“Yes, Mother?” he said as politely as possible, almost sure that she had come to convince him he was doing the right thing.
“Are you well?” She eyed him with a concerned expression that told him she knew every well of his mood and the fact that he was not well at all. But he knew it would do no good to voice his opinion as he had so many times before. She would not be willing to hear it.
“Yes, I am.” He nodded instead of beginning an altogether angrier conversation that he knew would get him nowhere.
“Am I to believe that Judith will be joining us for dinner this evening?” she asked, her expression still grave.
If she is so happy for this union, why does she always hold it in such contempt? Guy couldn’t help but wonder. He knew the answer, but it was not one that appeased his wishes to change the matter.
As all others in high society, his parents wished to better their standing.
What better way to do so than marry off your eldest son and only heir? Guy thought begrudgingly.
“She shall be.” He nodded, but they both already knew that. Judith had been coming for dinner three or four times a week from the moment their courtship had been announced. Where Honoria had once sat at their table, now she sat, as though she had always been there, all memory of his closest friend practically wiped from existence.
He had thought several times of writing to her, possibly even meeting her in secret. But what good would that do? It would only give her hope that they might be able to change things or – worse – give him hope that he would not find himself doing something he was sure he would regret for the rest of his life.
Even at such a young age he had seen the consequences of such marriages. He had seen the false smiles that lords and ladies, gentlemen and gentle ladies plastered upon their faces in order to look as though they were content with their lives. But the moment his intentions, or rather his parents’ intentions, towards Judith had been announced, he had become attuned to spotting those who were pretending. After all, he had become one of them himself, smiling and nodding whenever someone offered him congratulations on his future.
“It really won’t be so bad.” His mother sighed and crossed the room in order to sit on the window seat beside him.
For the first time in many years he began to feel as though she was his mother again. She placed her hand upon his knee and gave it a gentle, comforting squeeze, as she might have done when he was having a bad day as a young boy.
“We both know you have no knowledge on the subject,” Guy grumbled, struggling not to raise his voice.
They both knew that she and his father had been the lucky ones. They had both been born to respectable households, finding an affection for each other long before they ever knew they were to spend the rest of their lives together.
“Do you trust your mother?” she asked. Guy always hated it when she spoke of herself in the third person like that. Instead of pointing it out, he simply nodded. It would do no good to get on her bad side. But then again, what harm could it do when the damage already seemed to have been done?
Again, he thought of Honoria and how he wished that she had been the woman his parents had picked for him.
Though she was not a lord’s daughter or even the daughter of a nobleman, her father had good standing within high society, and she would make a good match for herself.
Just not me. Guy sighed, his heart aching with the knowledge. His parents believed that he was too good for her and so he was. That was all there was to it.
“Think yourself lucky, my beautiful boy,” his mother smiled softly and lifted her hand to his face, brushing his fringe away from his forehead before cupping his cheek. “There are far worse matches to be made.”
He knew his mother was right, but had he had it his way he would have been married years ago, to the only woman he had ever really seen himself spending the rest of his life with.
“You will be happy.” His mother assured him. But for the first time in his life, he couldn’t help but think that his mother was mistaken.
Having been married for seven years, Guy found that he was still at odds trying to find his footing. By now it was judged that they should have a whole brood of children running about the place, but it seemed that God had not been willing to grant the requests of his parents for their much-wanted grandchild. It was just one of those things that added to him believing his parents had been wrong all along.
Though he held a great affection for his wife, he could never have said that he loved her, at least not as he had hoped to love his wife when he thought about marriage as a child.
Even to this day he found himself thinking of the pact he had once made with his childhood friend all those years ago. He would sit beside the fireplace, wondering what had become of her, wondering why she had never married even after he had been betrothed to Judith.
It was on a night such as that, sitting beside the fire in the library of his father’s great manor, that he received the letter that was certain to change his life forever.
Sipping the whiskey he had poured for himself, swirling it in the glass before him as he mused over the past, he was startled by the sound of the door crashing open behind him.
The elder Lord Mansfield, his father, dashed into the room as Guy twisted in his armchair.
Upon seeing the worry spread across his father’s face, he hurried to his feet.
“Father? What is it?” he demanded.
“I thought you had gone home with Judith after dinner,” his father huffed. “When Mr. Branson brought me this letter and said you were still here, I had to come and find you.”
He sounded out of breath as though he had run the entire length of the manor.
Unhealthy as his father was, Guy was instantly worried for him and gestured for him to sit down on the couch.
“I was not ready to go home yet,” Guy admitted as he sat beside his father. The red-faced older man looked shaken.
“I’m glad you didn’t, although I’m sure you have most certainly received the same letter at home,” he gasped.
“Slow down, Father,” Guy urged him. “Catch your breath.”
“I believe it is you who will need to catch your breath when you read this.” Lord Mansfield shook his head and handed the letter to Guy.
When Guy read the words written on the yellow paper, he felt his stomach churn.
“All young men of fighting age are being called-up?” he gasped and looked at his father.
“I prayed this day would never come.” The older lord continued to breathe deeply, even though he had recovered from his bursting into the room. “How am I to lose you? My only son, off to war.”
His face paled as he spoke, and Guy had to admit that the idea didn’t appeal to him either.
“Just because I have been called-up does not mean I will have to fight,” Guy pointed out, although he knew the chances of his not seeing battle were slim. From what he had heard, things in France were not going well.
“Your mother will be devastated when she hears the news,” his father continued, almost as though he was already signing his death warrant.
“What am I to do if we lose you?” he continued without giving Guy a moment to get a word in edgeways. “You are my only heir.”
“Then I suppose I shall just have to take good care of myself while I am over there,” Guy said, plastering a smile upon his face for his father’s benefit. Inside he was filled with turmoil. There were so many things he still had to do, so many experiences left unseen.
“You must go home at once,” his father said, jumping to his feet as though he meant to push him out of the door. “You must go to your wife. This might be the last night you spend with her.”
Guy couldn’t help but roll his eyes. He was sure that there wouldn’t be soldiers knocking on his door in the morning to drag him away and throw a uniform at him.
Still, he knew that his father was right. Their marriage had not been one of love, but he held enough affection for Judith to honour her with one final night before he had to report in.
“I will do as you bid me.” He nodded and pushed himself to his feet. Finishing off the dregs of his whiskey, he offered his father a brief handshake before making his way to the door.
In the morning everything would change. He would be dragged away from all he knew and held dear, left to face unimaginable circumstances. But for tonight he would return to his wife and spend one last night in his own bed.
It was a quiet day just like any other as Honoria found herself wandering about the gardens of her parents’ London home.
The roses, in full bloom, filled the air with their fragrance as she took a turn about the flower beds.
In the distance she could hear her parents talking. The strain in their voices told her that they were no doubt arguing once more over her marriage prospects. It was a conversation she would rather remain out of and so she wandered further away, glad to hear them fading away. For the last few years, it seemed to be all they would talk about. While her father suggested that she would find the right man when he came along, her mother was determined to throw every eligible suitor at her in the hope that one might stick.
She could hear her mother now, shouting, “If she goes not find a husband soon, she will be a spinster. Is that really what you want for your daughter?”
More than once Honoria found herself wishing that she could get away from it all and become something off her own merit. She dreamt of being a singer or a writer or even a shop assistant, anything so long as it meant she could support herself.
Unlike her childhood friend, she had been determined that she would marry for nothing less than love. Much to her mother’s disgust, she had so far managed to avoid the snare set for her by high society.
It was that which she was thinking of when she heard footsteps rushing up the garden path towards her.
When she turned to see the dark-haired, green-eyed woman running towards her, she couldn’t help but feel shocked.
It had been some time since she had last seen Elizabeth Mansfield, but she could not say that she was displeased at her appearance.
The woman, who was much the same age as Honoria, skidded to a halt before her, panting as though she had run all the way across town.
“Elizabeth, what is it?” Honoria asked the moment she realised that her friend had been crying. Elizabeth’s eyes were rimmed with red and her tear-stained cheeks were flushed.
“Oh, Honoria!” Elizabeth gasped, and another bout of tears began to erupt from her.
Sensing her utter distress, Honoria gripped hold of her arm and guided her down onto the nearest bench.
“What is it?” Honoria asked even as she felt dread wash over her. There was only one reason why Elizabeth would have come to her in such a state.
“It’s Guy!” Elizabeth cried. “He’s been killed.”
The colour drained from Honoria’s face and her entire body began to tremble.
“That cannot be.” She shook her head.
“We received a letter this morning.” Elizabeth nodded incessantly. “The army office has no idea of his whereabouts other than the fact that his scouting party was attacked, and nobody survived.”
“Do they have his … his body?” Honoria struggled to say the words, but she knew she must know the answer.
Elizabeth shook her head, weeping. Honoria reached into the sleeve of her dress and produced a handkerchief. Offering it to the other woman, she said, “Until a body is found there is no proof that he is gone.”
She was determined, holding on to hope. If her best friend were dead, she would know about it. She would feel it in her stomach. Yet all she felt right now was sympathy for her friend’s younger sister.
Elizabeth took the handkerchief from Honoria and wiped her nose and eyes, trying and failing to compose herself.
“Papa says we must host a funeral,” Elizabeth gasped through her tears. “He says we must put him to rest.”
“How is that even possible without a body?” Honoria was angered by the news, angry that the Mansfields could be so quick to believe their son was dead.
“They say we shall bury an empty casket in the family plot,” Elizabeth wept, and Honoria reached forwards to wrap her arms around the young woman.
She felt tears well in her own eyes but in that very moment she vowed to herself, I shall not weep until I know the truth.
England appeared to be just as Guy had left it, untouched by the war that had ravaged France.
When the boat docked, he found that the town was bustling with people. Fisherfolk and their wives were busy selling their wares while wealthy noblemen and their wives wandered the coastline, surveying the land and sea as though they had not a care in the world.
“It’s good to be home.” Captain Robert Morgan, the man he had travelled home with, clapped him on the shoulder almost triumphantly.
Though Guy nodded in agreement, he couldn’t help but feel apprehension. England may not have changed but in the years since he had last seen her shores, he certainly had.
“Thank you again,” Guy said, offering the sturdy older man a hand.
Captain Morgan slapped his palm and shook his hand haughtily. “You’re welcome. Fare home and a fresh set of clothes was the least I could do for a fellow soldier.”
A fellow wounded soldier, Guy thought as he looked at the man’s other hand, which was strapped to his chest holding his own shattered arm in place so that it did not dangle limply at his side.
When Guy had asked why he insisted on still wearing it in such a manner, he had told him that it was so that he did not frighten small children.
Guy had found himself wishing that his own injury was so easily hidden. The shrapnel scars that covered seventy percent of his body were nothing compared to the obvious limp he now walked with.
“Where shall you go first?” the captain asked, and another wave of apprehension rolled over him.
“To see my family, I suppose,” he replied as the ship’s crew began to moor the boat. “And you?”
“No family to speak of for me so I suppose I’ll find the nearest tavern and a place to lay my head.” Robert shrugged as though it was of little consequence.
Guy found that he was envious of the older man. He was not looking forward to returning to his father’s manor in such a broken state. The thought of seeing his parents, his sisters and his wife and seeing the looks on their faces made him feel nauseous.
He had spent so long in his sick bed in France just wishing that he could be back home in England. Now, however, he found he felt quite the opposite. The reality of seeing his family again after so long frightened him.
“For a man heading home to his wife after two years, you don’t look at all pleased,” Robert commented, and Guy had to stifle a groan.
What would Judith think when she saw him? No doubt she would be angry with him for not returning her letters. They had poured into France along with letters from his parents right up until two months ago when all correspondence seemed frozen.
It wasn’t a strange occurrence, especially in times of war, for letters to go missing.
Perhaps they gave up when I didn’t write back, Guy thought. He still felt guilty at not writing back, although he had been in no fit state to do so. By the time he could pick up a pen again he had the opportunity to travel home and saw no point in delaying things further.
“I’m sure they would much prefer to receive you than a musty old letter,” one of the nurses in the French hospital had told him, and he had listened to her. No doubt she was right, although he was still terrified at the thought of how they might react when they saw how beaten and broken he was.
“Come on now, boy, let’s be off,” Robert said, and Guy followed him from the boat, struggling to walk with the way the boat swayed on top of his limp.
When his feet touched dry land, he struggled to stand at all. After so long on the ship, he had become used to his sea legs.
“Steady on there!” Robert urged him, gripping hold of his arm to help him steady himself. “Don’t go trying to run before you can walk. It can take a while to adjust.”
“Thank you,” Guy said, knowing he would have to add it to the list of the many reasons he had to be grateful to Captain Morgan.
“How about I buy us a drink?” Robert suggested, “give you time to find your bearings before you hurry off home?”
Guy had to admit that the thought of travelling by carriage after so long on the ship wasn’t something he was looking forward to.
Riding from London to his father’s manor house in the country would be a long journey, even if he wasn’t already shattered from being so long at sea.
“A drink sounds good.” He nodded and allowed the other man to lead him through the throng of people to the nearest tavern.
“Barkeep, two of your finest ales for two travel-weary soldiers, and one bed for the night,” Robert yelled as they entered the tavern.
The stout man behind the bar gave them a quick glance over before adhering to the request.
Guy limped across to the nearest bar stool, relieved to find that there were plenty of places to sit. Apart from a couple of old men drinking at a table beside the fireplace, the tavern was practically empty.
“So, tell me about this wife of yours,” Robert insisted as mugs of ale were placed in front of them. “Do you think she will be glad to see you, or are you a thorn in her side?”
He chuckled. Robert had always made it very clear that he saw no benefits to marriage. In fact, the whole thing seemed ludicrous to him whenever he spoke about it.
“I hope she will.” Guy shrugged and drained half the mug in front of him. He could not even begin to imagine how Judith was going to react when she saw him.
It had been two years and although her letters had been filled with affection there had never been any great love between them.
“Ahh. I see. It’s one of those.” Robert scowled and took a swig of his own ale, passing a few coins to the barkeeper as he did so.
“One of what?” Guy raised an eyebrow at him.
“An arranged marriage.” Robert laughed. “What was it? Money, land or power?”
Guy wasn’t at all sure what his father’s reasons were for having him marry Judith. In all honesty, he didn’t much care. All he had hoped for was a quiet life. It was all he had been able to hope for given his high standing in society due to his father’s earldom.
“I thank you for the drink,” he told Robert, making it clear he did not wish to talk any more on the matter. Then he swallowed the rest of the ale before pushing himself to his feet again. “I should be going.”
“Are you sure I can’t tempt you to another?” Robert asked, wiggling an eyebrow at him.
Guy shook his head.
“I really should be off, but I do hope we shall keep in touch.” Guy offered the man his hand once more.
“Of course.” Robert nodded and shook his hand. “Take good care of yourself Lord Guy Mansfield.”
The way he said his full title made Guy laugh. It had always been somewhat of a joke between him and the other soldiers, having found himself as equal to all others around him.
“And you, Captain Robert Morgan.”
With that he tipped his hat and began to make his way from the tavern.
He had just stumbled out of the door when he suddenly found himself face-to-face with an old friend of his father’s.
Sir Henry Gordon looked astonished to see him, an almost unbelieving expression upon his face.
“Lord Mansfield? Is that you?” The older man gaped at him and when Guy nodded the gentleman shoved his hand into his palm. “My boy, it is so good to see you alive and well! We had all feared the worst.”
A rush of cold overwhelmed Guy then. He got the strangest sensation that the man meant more than he was letting on.
“I expect you’ll be off to see your father at Hyde House?” the man enquired, and Guy was instantly confused at the mention of his father’s London accommodation.
“No, I was just on my way to Mansfield Manor.” He shook his head.
“Why would you go all that way when your parents are in London?” Sir Henry scowled.
“They are?” Guy did not attempt to hide his surprise and when the man nodded, he added, “Thank you, Sir Henry. You have saved me a journey.”
Hyde House was not even a fifteen-minute walk from the docks. He would soon be reunited with his family, though he was terrified at the thought of how they might react at seeing him again.
Hyde House was as he had always known it, a three-storey brick townhouse covered in climbing roses. Through the front left window, though his view was marred by a lace curtain, he could see the shape of a woman walking into the drawing-room. Whether it was his mother, his wife or even the maid, he could not tell. The thought that someone was home made his heart race.
With a long, deep breath, he thought for a moment of turning back the way he had come. He wasn’t at all sure he was ready to face them.
The chill in the afternoon air was causing his injured leg to ache and he knew there was no way he would make it all the way back to the inn.
It was now or never. He sighed and began to hobble up the steps towards the giant doorway.
The great black door loomed over him as he reached for the iron knocker and slammed it down several times.
“I’m coming!” a familiar voice sounded from the other side, and a moment later, Bertha, the head house maid, pulled the door open.
Her gaze started at his feet and trailed upwards, drinking in the sight of him. When her eyes came to his face her own turned as white as a sheet.
“Lord Mansfield! Is that you?” she gasped, almost as though she had seen a ghost. Guy noticed the way that her hand gripped the door handle, so tightly it was as though she was afraid to let go.
“Yes, it’s me.” He nodded simply, slightly annoyed that she hadn’t already invited him in.
“Do come in!” she insisted, stepping out of the way to allow him entry. “Your mother is in the drawing-room. I shall fetch her to you.”
She looked at the way he hobbled on his leg as though she thought he wouldn’t be able to make it all that way.
“There’s no need to disturb her.” Guy shook his head. “I shall go to her.”
He paused halfway through his walk to the drawing-room and looked back at the maid. “Where is my father?”
“He is out on business. We expect him back soon,” she explained.
Guy nodded. He might have an easier time of it if he were to greet his parents separately. They’d always had a habit of overwhelming him when they were together.
Stepping up to the drawing-room door, he once more took a deep breath and raised his hand to knock.
“Enter!” The soft, lilting voice of his mother warmed his soul as he reached for the handle and pushed the door open.
She sat on the window seat looking far more aged than he had left her. In the two years they had been apart time seemed not to have been kind to her. Though she was still beautiful, her face was wrinkled, and her hair had turned a silvery brown.
When she turned to look at him her face dropped just as the maid’s had. All the colour drained from her expression and she jumped to her feet as though she’d had the most terrible of frights.
“Guy! Is that you?” she gasped. “It can’t be!”
Even before he had managed to open his mouth to reply she was hurrying across the room to wrap her arms around him.
Although he was fairly well healed, the heaviness of her arms around him caused him to ache terribly and he groaned.
“Careful mother,” he warned her, placing his hands on her sides to prise her away from him.
“Oh, my dear, sweet boy!” she exclaimed as she stepped back and held him at arm’s length. “Let me get a good look at you.”
Guy held his breath as she looked him up and down. Her gasp told him that she was most certainly surprised by what she saw.
“What happened to you?” she asked.
Before he had the chance to answer, the door behind him swung open, almost ripped right off its hinges.
He and his mother whipped around to find his father hurrying towards him.
“My boy is home!” he exclaimed as he rushed forwards to embrace Guy.
Again, Guy sucked in his breath at the sharp aching pains his body produced at the merest of touches.
“Be gentle with him!” his mother warned. “He looks as though he has been through the wars.”
“He certainly looks far better than I expected him to look!” Guy’s father’s voice was filled with elation as he stepped back to give him the same once over that his mother had. “Why have we not heard from you?”
“I apologise for my lack of correspondence,” Guy sighed, and he felt his cheeks flush with shame that he had not contacted them since he had been wounded. “I was in no fit state to write to anyone.”
“We thought you were dead!” His mother almost screamed the words and Guy felt a sharp stab of pain in his heart at the thought of causing them so much worry.
“I must admit that more than once I believed myself dead too,” Guy nodded.
“You don’t understand,” Lord Mansfield shook his head. “It’s been more than two months without a word from you. The army office had no clue as to where you were.”
A lump formed in Guy’s throat.
“We were told you had been sent out with a large party to scout an area of France and that your party had been attacked. They feared you all dead […].
“To Heal a Brokenhearted Lord” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
All that Honoria Harding has been wishing for is to marry for love and live her happily ever after. While she has always known that the man of her dreams is her childhood best friend, everything crashes down when he finds himself trapped in an unwanted marriage. To add insult to injury, two years later he is called to serve his country in the war, leaving Honoria unable to know if she will ever see him again or not. When she discovers that he might have died on the battlefield, she is stubborn enough to not allow a single tear, until she finds proof that he is indeed gone forever. In a surprising turn of events, her other half has survived against all odds, and when he returns home, Honoria finds her heart entrapped by his gracious presence. Will she find the courage to claim her own happiness despite the challenges life throws her way? Will she manage to fulfil her dreams and share her life with the only man she has ever loved?
While everyone believes he is dead, Guy Mannfield, Earl of Wiltshire, returns to London to find that his wife remarried right after the announcement of his passing. Wondering how quickly she moved on, Guy’s suspicions are piqued by strange entries in his finance books. He knows he must investigate further or he may be ruined for good. To make matters more complicated, an unforeseen encounter with his long-lost best friend, makes his heart skip a beat. The last he expected was that she would be the one to help him find the truth about his wife’s schemes. In the course of time, his undeniably romantic feelings for her rise to the surface and his heart secretly dreams of a future with her. But the road is full of obstacles and he will have to move heaven and earth to find love and inner peace. Will Guy take the opportunity to right past regrets with his best friend? Will he uncover his ex-wife’s subterfuge and clear the path to claim Honoria’s heart?
Right when the two soulmates find each other again, challenging circumstances will test their love one more time. Will Honoria and Guy heal their past scars and give love a second chance? How far are they willing to go to beat the odds and find their way back to each other’s hearts?
“To Heal a Brokenhearted Lord” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.