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The Countess’s Groom
A tale of forbidden romance between a young countess and her servant.
Rose, the Countess Malmstoke, is trapped in a violent marriage. Escape seems impossible—until her horse groom Will Fenmore offers to help her.
As they plan her escape to the American colonies, Rose learns to trust Will with her life and her heart. Is the future she dreams of possible?
**The prequel to The Spinster’s Secret.**
“A tender, heartwarming story”
~ Amazon reviewer
“An absolutely wonderful, super adorable, brilliant historical romance novella. Loved it!”
~ Goodreads reviewer
OCTOBER 1762: Part One
WILL FENMORE, horse groom to the young Countess of Malmstoke, watched his mistress as Creed Hall came into view. The Hall crouched on the crest of the hill, a grim building of gray stone with narrow windows and a frowning roof, surrounded by dark trees.
The countess’s hands tightened on the reins. The mare slowed from a trot to a walk, and then halted.
Will halted, too.
The countess’s cheeks had held a flush of color while they’d cantered; now they were parchment pale. Will saw tension in her shoulders, tension in the rigidity of her jaw.
One more night, he told her silently. You can do it.
The countess didn’t move.
The seconds lengthened into a minute.
Will wanted to reach out and touch her, grip her arm, tell her that she had the strength to do this. He curled his hands into fists to stop himself.
Another minute passed, and still the countess sat motionless, staring at Creed Hall.
Will’s unease grew. Is this it? Will she break today? The gelding he rode shifted restlessly, sensing his disquiet.
“He’ll be gone tomorrow,” Will blurted.
The countess turned her head to stare at him.
Will didn’t look away, as a servant should. Instead, he met her gaze. You can do it, Countess.
The countess took a deep breath. “Yes,” she said. “He will be gone tomorrow.” She lifted her chin and urged the mare into a trot.
At the great iron-studded door Will dismounted and helped the countess down from her horse. She took another deep breath and entered Creed Hall—very young, very beautiful, and very afraid.
Will watched the heavy door swing shut behind her. Someone needs to rescue you, my lady.
WILL WAS saddling the countess’s black mare, Dancer, when his ears caught the clatter of hooves and coach wheels. He knew what it was: the traveling carriage departing, bearing Henry Quayle, fifth Earl of Malmstoke, south to Portsmouth.
For a moment he saw Quayle in his mind’s eye: the pomaded, curling wig, the plump and dimpled cheeks, the full-lipped, pouting mouth, the dark brown eyes framed by lashes as long as a girl’s. A cherubic face—until one saw the cruelty in the soft mouth, the cruelty in the large and liquid eyes.
The sound of the carriage faded. “Good riddance,” Will said aloud. They could all breathe more easily with the earl on his way to the West Indies, the countess most of all.
Dancer flicked an ear at him. She was a beautiful creature, as lovely and slender-limbed as her rider, and as gentle.
Will’s heart seemed to lift in his chest when he settled the sidesaddle on Dancer’s back. I’ll see the countess soon. “You’re a fool, Fenmore,” he said under his breath. “She’s a noblewoman, you’re a servant. Remember that.”
He turned. A footman stood behind him in a powdered wig and velvet livery. “The countess won’t be riding today.”
Will knew what that meant. “He hurt her?”
“Worse ’n usual. Don’t look for her this week. She’ll send word when Dancer is needed.”
Will nodded. When the footman had gone, he turned back to the mare. “I hope Quayle gets the fever,” he told Dancer fiercely. “I hope he dies.”