tagNovels and NovellasMarrying for Money Ch. 08

Marrying for Money Ch. 08

byharemgirl©

Note to readers: Thank you for your comments and suggestions. It is nice to see there is interest in my writing. To anyone who has been offended by my use of words such as "pussy" "cunt" or "cock", I humbly apologize, but what is a naughty girl to do?!? Just to clarify though, I am not attempting to write in historically accurate terms here. I write simply for fun, and I don't mean the good clean variety. So in the spirit of "good nasty fun" I will continue to use such terms.

*

Leanna and Neville arrived at the Jenkins home to attend her annual winter ball. They entered were greeted by Mrs. Jenkins, their hostess. She had to be at least eighty years old, and she peered closely at Leanna through a pair of spectacles. "My goodness, Neville. Who is this lovely young woman you have brought?"

Neville executed a deep bow over the woman's hand and turned to make the introductions. "Mrs. Jenkins, may I present Miss Leanna Webster. She has only recently come over from England."

Mrs. Jenkins' gaze never wavered as it assessed Leanna slowly. "Indeed? Well never let it be said that the English do not know how to cultivate absolutely charming young ladies. I'm very pleased to meet you, my dear." She reached out a hand to Leanna, who grasped it and curtsied politely.

"Thank you," Leanna replied, giving her a winsome smile. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well, madam."

Mrs. Jenkins laughed brightly and turned to give Neville a conspiratorial wink. "Well, I can see you are going to make everyone else hopelessly jealous, the ladies because they will never look so enchanting, and the men because they obviously have no chance to gain Leanna's favor with you hovering beside her."

Neville laughed. "You know what they say, finders keepers."

Mrs. Jenkins shooed them on, urging them to have a good time. Leanna was instantly aware of a multitude of eyes turned toward them. The men eyed her figure appreciatively, the women eyed her gown. There was a moment's hush before everyone began talking amongst themselves. Leanna knew that much of the talk was about them, and she felt a slight blush rising to her cheeks. However, she turned toward Neville and allowed him to lead her through the crowd to a table of refreshments.

Neville retrieved two glasses of light wine for them, and they sipped their wine and looked around with interest. Neville pointed out various individuals, telling Leanna bits about one person or another. She found herself relaxing as she listened to his funny stories, and soon the orchestra began to play a waltz.

Neville bowed slightly and gave her a wink. "Would you honor me with a dance?"

Leanna's smile was brilliant. "I would be delighted."

Neville swept her onto the floor, and they began twirling effortlessly to the music. Neville was an excellent dancer, and Leanna felt slightly breathless as he whirled her through a series of turns, using the opportunity to pull her closely against his chest. She was aware that he was holding her a bit closer than was necessary, but she felt no desire to protest. It was, in fact, quite pleasant being held in his strong arms with his warm palm against her bare back. She ignored the many people who were staring at them with interest, and smiled up at her escort as he continued to fill her in on the town's gossip.

The evening progressed smoothly, with Neville easily deflecting the interest of several other men in attendance. They soon realized that he had firmly staked his claim on this lovely young woman, and they reluctantly turned their attention to other, more available prospects. Leanna was equally aware of the many women who eyed Neville with longing in their eyes, but he seemed oblivious to their interest. It was clear that his attention was focused solely on her, and she couldn't deny the warm feeling that she got from that knowledge. It was nice to have a man's undivided interest for a change, especially when that man was as handsome and charming as Neville.

Leanna relaxed and began to thoroughly enjoy her evening. It was during yet another waltz, as she was gliding around the floor in Neville's arms, when she felt the first twinges of uneasiness. She had the distinct impression that she was being closely watched, but she tried to dismiss it. After all, people had been staring at them for most of the evening. However, this feeling was somehow different, and the hairs on the nape of her neck began to stand on end.

Just when she was about to say something to Neville, they collided with someone directly behind her. Neville started to apologize, and Leanna looked over her shoulder to see who they had run into. The smile on her face froze and her eyes opened wide with shock as she stared up into the murderous sapphire eyes of her husband! It was apparent from the way those eyes were flashing at her that he was thoroughly enraged, and she swallowed hard.

"Trevor!" She breathed the name in wonder. She had never thought he would bother to look for her, much less to actually come after her. She had thought that she had been successful at simply disappearing from his life. Her heart was thudding heavily in her chest, and she would have been lying if she had tried to deny the thrill she felt at seeing him again, no matter what the reason.

"Leanna," he growled in a voice so low and fraught with anger that it made her shudder nervously. Trevor turned his murderous gaze on Neville. "Take your hands off my wife." The words were spoken in the same low voice, but some nearby guests had overheard and whispers and gasps could be heard among the crowd.

Neville dropped his arms from around Leanna's waist, but he kept a hand at the small of her back as she turned to face her husband. The two men exchanged heated glares as if they were sizing each other up for battle, each trying to determine the other's strengths and weaknesses. Leanna glanced nervously at them both and at the guests who were watching the exchange with avid interest.

"Please, could we take this discussion outside?" she murmured. "We're gathering an audience in here."

Trevor grabbed her upper arm in a viselike grip that made her wince. "There isn't going to be a discussion. I'm taking you home." He turned and stalked out of the house, towing Leanna behind him like a naughty child.

She tried to pull her arm free, but Trevor's hand was like an iron band around her arm. She settled for trying to keep up with his fast pace so they wouldn't attract even more notice from the other guests at the ball. When they were outside, Trevor didn't pause, but began leading her to a nearby horse. Leanna yanked hard on her arm trying to get him to stop.

"Trevor, let me go, you're hurting my arm."

Trevor turned and snarled at her, his nose all but pressing against her own. "Haven't you realized by now, I'll never let you go." He glanced up and saw Neville standing just behind Leanna, and his gaze became even more homicidal.

Neville didn't appear to feel threatened, and he grabbed Leanna's other arm. Trevor squared off toward him, and Leanna could see the muscles working in Trevor's jaw. She had never seen him so angry, and she was breathless at the sight.

"Please, both of you, just calm down."

Trevor appeared not to have heard her. "I told you once already, take your hands off my wife."

"She's not going to be your wife for much longer Grayson. She and I are going to be married as soon as your divorce is granted. Leanna has already agreed."

The words were spoken with quiet determination, and Leanna groaned as soon as Neville uttered them. His declaration was definitely not going to help in diffusing the situation. She hadn't thought Trevor could get any angrier than he already was, but Leanna felt his hand tighten on her arm, as if he were having a hard time keeping his hands from bunching into fists. His eyes bored into her, and even in the dim light from the front porch lanterns, she could see the furious sparks in those sapphire depths before he turned back to face Neville.

"Oh she did?" he growled fiercely. When he spoke again, it started low but ended on a roar. "That's interesting, since she is already married to me. There isn't going to be a divorce, now or ever. Now, for the last time, take your hands off my wife!"

Leanna jumped and looked at Neville pleadingly. "Please, Neville. This is getting out of hand. Please let me go."

Neville dropped his hands to his side, but when Trevor immediately turned and began towing her once more toward his horse, he stayed just a step behind them. "Where are you taking her? She's not even dressed to be outdoors. It's freezing out here."

Trevor almost cringed as he looked at her dress again, and his eyes swept her full length before returning to her face. It would serve her right if she caught her death of cold! He glared at her accusingly even as he spat the words at Neville.

"I'm taking her home where she belongs. This is none of your business."

When Neville reached to grab Leanna's arm again, it was as if something inside Trevor snapped. He swung his fist and hit Neville in the jaw with a solid whack that made Leanna gasp. Neville's head snapped back, and he took a staggering step backward before turning and launching himself at Trevor. The two men fought for what seemed like hours but could only have been a few minutes, exchanging punches and rolling in the dirt, mindless of the curious guests who were watching from the windows. Leanna called to them repeatedly, begging for them to stop, but neither man seemed to hear her.

At first, they appeared evenly matched, trading the advantage back and forth. However, it didn't take long before Trevor began to get the better of the other man. As Trevor's fists kept raining punches, Neville began to fall back, repeatedly stumbling as he blindly tried to defend his face and head. Each of them were sporting bruises and cuts on their faces, their clothes dusty and torn. Trevor knocked Neville to the ground and stood panting harshly as Neville struggled to get up. Trevor looked as if he might go at Neville until he killed him, but Leanna finally managed to wedge herself between the two men.

"That's enough!" she said sternly, "this isn't accomplishing anything."

"I won't let him drag you away like this," Neville panted, blinking to clear his dizziness. "I don't trust him. God only knows what he might do to you."

Leanna placed a hand on Neville's arm and looked up at him pleadingly. "I'll be fine. He won't do anything to hurt me." Even as she said the words, she wondered if they were true. She had never seen her husband this enraged before, but she somehow trusted that he wasn't capable of violence toward her. She removed the pearl necklace and earrings and handed them to Neville. "I'm so sorry . . . about everything."

He looked stunned before asking softly, "what about all your clothes and belongings at the house?"

Not giving her a chance to answer, Trevor growled, "I'll send someone to fetch them tomorrow. Have them ready." He lifted Leanna roughly into the saddle and swung up behind her. Before she had a chance to say another word to Neville, he dug his heels into the horse's sides and they bounded into motion.

Leanna clung to Trevor's arms to keep from falling off the horse as they galloped down the road. She turned sideways to face him but couldn't see any details in the shadowy light from the moon. "Are you alright?" she asked. She reached up to touch his cheek, but he jerked his face away from her touch.

"Your concern for my welfare comes a little late, dearest." He said the last word with so much venom it caused a lump to lodge in Leanna's throat.

"Of course I'm concerned about you," she murmured huskily.

Seeing that he wasn't in a mood to listen to her she faced forward once again. She was glad of Trevor's warmth against her back, as she shivered in the freezing night air. In the heat of the moment, Leanna had left without her cloak, and now that some of the shock was beginning to wear off, she realized she felt chilled to the bone.

Noticing her discomfort, Trevor pulled the horse to a stop in the middle of the road. Without saying a word, he shrugged out of his coat and wrapped it around her shoulders, instantly encasing her in its warmth.

"Thank you," she whispered, her eyes locking with his in the moonlight. He stared at her for a few moments but made no reply.

When he kicked the horse into a gallop once more, Leanna leaned back against him and smiled secretly to herself. She bent her head to hide her smile and the sweaty, musky scent of her husband rose from his coat to curl in her nostrils. Her smile widened. Even though Trevor was furious with her now, he was concerned for her comfort. He had come after her, and he refused to give her up. He had nearly killed another man for putting his hands on her. Those realizations gave her more hope that she had had in a very long time. They definitely weren't the actions of a man who was in love with someone else. She somehow knew in that moment that they would be able to work everything out, and her heart began to glow with happiness. For the first time in weeks, she felt truly alive.

Within an hour, they reached the Inn in Charlotte, where Trevor had been staying. He dismounted and swung Leanna down from the saddle, grasping her upper arm in a firm grip once again. He turned to the innkeeper's son, who had just come out the front door when he heard the horse approaching. Trevor tossed him a coin and handed him the reins.

"Please take my horse to the livery and see that he is given a good rub down."

"Yessir, Mister Grayson."

The lad hurried to do as he had been asked. Trevor turned and stalked toward the inn, again towing Leanna along beside him.

"Trevor, please slow down, you're hurting me," Leanna whispered.

Trevor's grip eased fractionally on her arm, but he didn't slow down and he didn't answer her until they reached his room on the second floor and the door was kicked shut behind him with a resounding crash that startled Leanna. He released her arm and shoved her roughly into the middle of the room, as he leaned against the door, his eyes raking her coldly from head to toe. When he spoke, it was in a low, menacing growl that Leanna knew instinctively did not bode well.

"I want to hurt you, wife! I ought to wring your pretty little neck for what you've done."

Trying to appear calm, Leanna shrugged out of his coat and folded it across the back of a chair. The fact that Trevor hated her dress with passion was written clearly in his flashing eyes as they assessed her. Truth be known, she had no prior experience with his rage, and she was quite uncertain how she should proceed. The hour long ride had done nothing to diminish his anger, and as she stole a cautious glance at him from beneath her lashes, Leanna was struck by the thought that her husband in a high temper was a sight to behold. He had never looked more handsome to her.

"Where did you get that gown...if it can be called that?" Trevor growled. "There's hardly enough fabric there to cover a child."

Leanna turned away to hide her blush. "Neville bought it for me."

Groping for a way to calm him so that they could discuss matters, Leanna turned back toward Trevor, looking at his rapidly swelling black eye and the small gash along his cheek with a trickle of dried blood beneath it. He looked so savage and primitive, and it appealed to the primitive side of her. She took a tentative step toward him, reaching out a hand.

"You should let me clean your face and tend to that cut."

"No," he barked, causing Leanna to jump again. "Don't touch me." Trevor straightened and stalked toward her, his eyes glowing with fury, and Leanna instinctively took a few steps backward, keeping a small round dining table between them. His voice was deceptively low as he stalked her. "It certainly didn't take you long to forget about your vows and take up with another man. I see he picked a dress that would bare your body for his pleasure." His eyes raked her, repeatedly drawn against his will to the sight of her heaving, barely constrained bosom. "He must know you pretty well. He dressed you like a little whore!"

Leanna gasped at the slur and felt her own anger building. "How dare you criticize me for wearing this dress? Believe me, the gowns Eliza wore for your benefit made this one look positively prudish! The way she flaunted herself for your enjoyment, and right in front of me! I never felt so humiliated in all my life."

His full lips curled into an ugly sneer, "You want to talk about humiliation? I have been chasing around the countryside for the past six weeks, begging for information from anyone who would listen, hoping that someone, anyone might be able to tell me the whereabouts of my own wife! Now that I stop to think about it, I'm likely the biggest laughingstock in all of Virginia. I can just hear the dear old gossiping biddies now . . . you know about Trevor Grayson, he's that fellow who's had not one but two women run off on him." Trevor groaned at the thought. "Madam, you have served me up as tender fodder for the gossip gristmill for the next decade, so don't talk to me about humiliation!"

He kept advancing around the table and Leanna kept backing up, keeping the table between them. "Well how was I supposed to know you would come looking for me? I didn't think you even wanted me or cared where I was. After all, you had your precious Eliza with you to warm your bed. You obviously had no further need of me!"

Had Trevor been possessed of a single sane thought at that moment, he might have heard the hurt beneath his wife's anger, but his own anger and jealousy clouded his thinking, and with the grace of a fool, he bellowed on. "And whose bed have you been warming, Leanna? What was his name, Neville? It shouldn't have surprised me at all to find that you were on a first name basis with your lover."

"Oooh!" Leanna screeched, stomping her foot and nearly bouncing out of her dress. She narrowed her eyes, noticing that Trevor hadn't bothered to deny her accusation about Eliza. The thought of the other woman in her husband's bed flayed her pride until it was raw, and she longed to take him down a notch or two. "How dare you accuse me of taking a lover? What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."

"Aha! So you admit it!" Trevor's eyes took on an unholy light. "Never mind that fact that I kept your sheets very warm indeed, you still felt the need to run off with some other rutting bastard!"

"He was never my lover! For your information, Neville was a perfect gentleman with me the whole time I was living at his home. At least he had the good taste to only court one woman at a time. I cannot say the same about you!" Raising her chin to a lofty height, she continued. "And I didn't run off with him. We happened to meet, and he hired me as a governess for his children, that's all."

Trevor's ugly smile made it clear that he didn't believe her. "Right," he sneered, his eyes once again dropping to her dress as he continued to stalk her. His voice began low, but rose to an angry roar. "Tell me dear, sweet, faithful wife . . . how many employers purchase seductive gowns for their governesses and give them expensive pearls to wear? How many governesses spend the evenings waltzing in their employer's arms? How many governesses are engaged to the men who employ them? He did say you were engaged to him, didn't he, despite the fact that you're married to me?"

Any guilt Leanna might otherwise have felt was overshadowed by her own jealousy. Her eyes glittered in the candle light as she taunted him in return. "And tell me trustworthy, devoted, monogamous husband . . . how many spouses have the gall to present their wives with their mistresses on the first night they arrive in their new homes?" Her voice took on a high-pitched tone that was heavily laced with sarcasm as she continued. "Oh, by the way dear, this is my lover, who just happens to be the mother of my child. She is going to be living here with us, at least until I can get rid of you!" The last few words came out as a choked sob as Leanna blinked back tears.

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