LOST IN YOUR ARMS: Governess Brides #6
New York Times bestseller Christina Dodd bring you her most sensual adventure in The Governess Brides series about a Groom Who Can’t Remember… And a Bride Who Wants Desperately To Forget.
Enid MacLean cherishes her peaceful life…then she receives word that an explosion has injured the husband she hoped she’d never have to see again. Reluctantly, she agrees to do her duty but, except for his distinctive green eyes, the man she nurses back to health is not the man she recalls.
And he remembers nothing. From the depths of his amnesia, he reaches out for the woman he believes is his wife, tempting her with ardent words and reckless passion. While Enid finds herself losing her heart to this stranger, she cannot help but wonder how her husband has become such a dangerous, seductive man…and what secrets he carries locked away in his lost memories. Last time marriage cost her her happiness… This time love could cost her her life.
“Wickedly witty,” — Julia Quinn, author of Bridgerton
The Governess Brides Series in order:
The fifth tale in the Governess Brides series, LOST IN YOUR ARMS is one of my favorites. It’s an amnesia story and a nurse story in one, filled with tragic deception, non-stop adventure and unstoppable passion. I’m very proud of LOST IN YOUR ARMS.
An eager query brought Enid’s wandering thoughts back to Lady Halifax’s parlor.
“Please, Mrs. MacLean, won’t ye tell us about yer wedding?”
Enid stared around at the circle of feminine faces, all bright with happiness, and at the blonde, round-cheeked girl in whose honor they were gathered. The girl who, in less than a fortnight, would become the blushing bride to Lady Halifax's underbutler. Enid took a breath. “My wedding? Oh, you don’t want to know about my wedding.”
“We do!”An eager chorus answered her, a chorus from Lady Halifax's upstairs maids, her downstairs maids, and her scullery maids, all girls with their heads stuffed with puff pastry dreams of love.
Enid, at the ripe old age of twenty-six, was at least five years everyone’s senior in age and five hundred years their senior in cynicism.
“Was yer wedding as wonderful as mine is going t’ be?” Kay clasped her hands at her bosom. “Mrs. MacLean, did ye have lace on yer gown?”
The problem, as Enid saw it, was that she was a woman of mystery.
Oh, not really. For three years she had lived in the London townhouse as Lady Halifax's nurse-companion. But as the wasting disease weakened Lady Halifax, Enid had become her mouth and ears in the household. She reported the household activities to Lady Halifax, and gave Lady Halifax's instructions to the servants. But never, ever, had she confided her past to anyone. She knew speculation had run rampant. The maids thought that, because of Enid's upper-class accent, her education and manners, she was a lady who had fallen on misfortune and had turned to labor to support herself. Now they had her trapped with their offer of tea and cake, their high hopes and fabulous imaginings.
“Please?” Shirley, fifteen years old and fresh from the country, clapped her hands and tipped her cake plate off her lap and onto the carpet.
Enid hushed the horrified exclamations. “It’s all right, dear. See? There’s no harm done.” Trying to distract the tearful Shirley, she said, “Stop crying so you can hear the details of my wedding.”
Shirley snuffled into her handkerchief. “Aye.”
“Did ye get married in a big church?” Ardelia, plain, plump, and brown, dabbed up the last crumbs of cake with her thumb.
Putting down her fork, Enid put the plate on the end table beside her and made the decision that, if she were going to tell a lie, she might as well tell a colossus. “I was married in a cathedral by an archbishop.”
“A cathedral?” Sarah’s brown eyes grew huge.
“I was wed on a beautiful, sunny morning in June, with wild pink roses in my arms and all my friends in attendance, in blue dimity” — turned only twice — “with a splendid full skirt and black lace gloves” — loaned by the vicar’s wife — “and a blue velvet hat with a black veil” — given by Stephen and acquired heaven-knew-where and hopefully by legal means. Carried away with her enthusiasm, Enid added, “And my black boots were polished so brightly, I could see my face in them.”
“Wi’ yer blue eyes an’ yer black ‘air, ye must have looked splendid, Mrs. MacLean.” Gloria, a rather nondescript girl who extravagantly admired Enid, flattered her now. “’Ow did ye dress yer ‘air?”
Enid touched the loose knot gathered in a black net snood at the base of her neck. “It’s so flyaway, I never do more with it than this, and I didn’t have a maid. My family had had set-backs …” She dabbed at her perfectly dry eyes. Dear, dear, these girls would believe anything!
Sarah loved a good theatrical, and she knew how this story should end. “Yer family ‘ad lost their money, then yer Stephen rescued ye.”
Love never rescued anyone. If Enid were kind, she would have told the truth and disillusioned these girls. But she knew they wouldn’t believe her. Young people never did. She hadn’t.
Ardelia leaned forward, eyes shining. “Did yer Da give ye away?”
“No, my father was dead.” Good riddance. “But I needed only Stephen.”
“Was yer ‘usband a tall and ‘andsome gennaman?” Dena’s ample bosom heaved.
“He boasted a head full of golden hair, so bright it almost outshone the sun, and fine pale skin.” Enid stared out the window at the Lady Halifax's city garden, not seeing the summer blossoms, instead trying to remember how Stephen MacLean had looked on that day eight years ago. Her memory produced a portrait tarnished by time. But that answer would never do for girls who wanted to believe in love ever after. “His eyes were the deepest green, almost like the sea on a stormy day, and shot with gold, like lightning bolts.”
“Sea-green lightning bolts,” Ardelia said in tones of awe.
“But he wasn’t at all vain.” Stephen had been the vainest man Enid had ever met, but in this fairy tale he became a prince. “He carried an air of adventure and excitement that never flagged. He was the son of a noble family, unjustly dispossessed by his wicked cousin, so he roamed the byways of England, helping the old and bringing justice to the poor.”
“Like Robin ‘Ood,” Sarah said.
“Just like that.” Enid's narrative carried her away. “He met me and right away he claimed I was the very woman he was looking for.” That, sadly, was the truth. Enid simply hadn’t understood the underlying reason why. “He proposed that very night, but I refused him for a fortnight.” She laughed at her youthful foolhardiness. “I was only eighteen. Two weeks was a very long time.”
“I’m eighteen, too!” Kay exclaimed. “It seems like forever until I marry me Roger.”
“Time will pass,” Enid promised.
Kay grimaced. “Ye sound like me mum, Mrs. MacLean.”
Kay’s words pricked Enid's bubble, and like Cook’s tall soufflé, she wanted to collapse. How had Enid gone from youthful indiscretion to aged wisdom so quickly? How had she become like someone’s mother when she’d never even cradled a babe in her arms … and because of Stephen, she never would? She strove never to think of that, yet here she was, glaring at a silly gaggle of girls, who gradually straightened in their chairs and looked down at their feet.
“Mrs. MacLean, are ye … well?” Kay asked timidly.
Rising, Enid strode to the window to hide her expression. “I’m just lost in memory.” Too true, and too bad.
Sarah broke the brief, fearful moment of silence. “Mrs. MacLean, if ye don’t mind me asking, what ‘appened to yer ‘usband?”
Enid considered how to end the tale. Finally, with delicate understatement, she said, “He rode out one day on his charger, and now he is forever gone from me.” Her lies condemned Enid to hell. She knew it. But hell or not, she couldn’t resist one last, theatrical — and in its way truthful — declaration. “There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of him.” Facing the maids, she struck a dramatic pose. “I would give anything to see him one more time.”
The maids sighed in gusty, thrilled unison.
Lady Halifax's quavering voice spoke from the doorway. “Enid, dear, Mr. Kinman has arrived to fulfill your dearest wish.”
Caught! Enid snapped out her affected pose.
Behind Lady Halifax stood a officious-looking stranger, dressed in the brown tweed proper. He, too, wore a solemn expression on his florid, prize-fighter face.
Fear caught at Enid's throat. What had Lady Halifax said? Your dearest wish…
“It’s true.” Mr. Kinman stepped forward, twirling his brown derby in stubby fingers. “We have found your husband, Stephen — alive.”