Julianna walked the path, the soft purple rhododendron blooms leaving her heart to ache. For
when she returned to Oak Park, they would be gone, the camellias would be finished, the
azaleas done for another year. She would miss her favorite season, trapped in the Whitcomb's
townhouse, surrounded by Constance's things and not her own.
But she would enjoy them now and she plucked a purple bloom and studied it, still walking. Still
trying to enjoy the moment despite the ache in her heart.
As she turned the narrow cobbled path that led deeper into the back garden and toward the
orchard, she heard the soft thud of hooves on the packed earth of the drive just beyond the
garden wall. Looking up from her blossom, her heart lurched. For just beyond the stone fence,
atop his dark stallion was Jonathan, the sun glinting off his dark blonde curls.
Her breath caught in her throat at the sight before. There was no joy in his countenance. His
intense gaze pierced hers and sent her heart in to a spasm of rapid beats. Dear Lord, what did
he want? Anxiety skittered across her skin and left her feeling light headed.
Still, she lifted her chin and refused to look away. If he had something to say, he had better say it.
You're a Chesterfield. That in itself has you deserving more…
Her grandmother's words encouraged her and she held onto the quaking pride with all the
strength she could. It was now or never for them. It was time to move forward…together or apart.
In a swift motion Jonathan jumped from Arion's back and over the fence. Her heart fluttered
again. My but he was as graceful as a lynx.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, cursing herself for the quiver in her voice. "You said all
you needed to say last night."
He didn't respond, just kept coming toward her, his shoulders squared, his gaze unwavering.
She recognized that look. One that promised determination and a stubbornness that rivaled the
barnyard's most obstinate mule.
"Why are you here?" she asked, taking a step back, her body colliding painfully with a
Pipperidge bush. He came ever closer, a stealthy cat ready to pounce.
And still she stood there, wanting him to touch her, needing him to erase the pain his indifference
Now upon her, he set his hands on her shoulders and pulled her to him, his mouth crushing hers
as he drew her into a strong, heady embrace.
She yielded to his kiss, her mind spinning, all her senses sparking to life. She pressed herself
against him, her hands upon his chest, her finger curling in the fabric of his jacket.
What was happening to her? Never in her life had she expected his kiss to send flames licking
through her body. Her core tightened into an aching knot.
God knew she should push him away. She should slap his face and yet she opened her mouth
wider to receive his probing tongue. More, damn him, she wanted more. Needed all of him. A
low, deep groan slipped from her throat and she slid her hands up, up and around his neck, her
fingers entwining the soft curls that brushed his collar.
His hands traced the length of her spine, urging her ever closer.
She felt her self falling, sinking into him, losing herself in the kiss she never believed would
happen, but he pushed her away. With her vision still shrouded with lust, she looked in to his
eyes, they were darker than she had ever seen them before. His broad chest rose and fell, his
mouth a thin, angry line. "You see, we are nothing but friends."
There was a cold, callousness to his words and an iciness in his stare. "If you felt nothing, then
you are right." Her heart threatened to burst but what shred of pride she had left, refused to give
way. Lifting her hand she landed a heavy blow to his cheek, her fingers stinging as she pulled
away. The look on his face one of utter shock, his mouth agape, his eyes alive with anger. "Now
leave and don't come back." Tears blinded her. "And consider
our bond of friendship dissolved. You are a cruel man."
Finally, her tears lost their battle with gravity and streamed down her cheeks.
"You can't mean that what your grandmother said is true." He sneered. "Surely, you're not in love
"I said leave." She turned her back on him, shame and humiliation spiraled upward from the pit
of her stomach. "I have nothing to say to you."
"If I ever loved you, I no longer do. You are not the man I believed you to be." She felt sick to her
stomach, her entire body quaking with disappointment.
"I'm sorry, I thought…Damnation, I don't know what I thought!"
Lifting her skirts, Julianna rushed into the house leaving Jonathan behind. She didn't look back.
She would never look back, it hurt too much. She determined with the slamming of the door, that
he had most assuredly kissed her goodbye.
Lady Julianna loves Lord Jonathan Denbigh. But is he deserving? Julianna's grandmother, Lady Chesterfield
certainly doesn't think so but wants her granddaughter happy.
When Jonathan refuses to marry Julianna, Lady Chesterfield puts a ploy into motion that will see her
granddaughter engaged by the end of the season. To one man or another...