Thea Worthington, Duchess of Wynchester divides her time between social engagements and playing her luck against fickle fortune. Yet every gamble is only a bluff—a means to hide from the pain deep within her, and the loss of a babe she never held in her arms. Now Thea's luck is about to run out. Her estranged husband has returned and seeks a reunion...Plagued with guilt over what happened to his wife three years ago, the Duke of Wynchester has kept his distance. The duke is resolved to piece his family back together, especially now that he's discovered his beloved brother—long thought dead—still lives. But Thea's lovely, porcelain facade is on the verge of cracking...spurred on by the duke's brother's secretive, malevolent animosity.With everything riding on her future, Thea plays a daring game of chance for love and her marriage...and this time, the dice are most certainly rigged.
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“Are you ready for our game?” she asked.
Scythe-like eyelashes flew apart and stormy eyes fixed on her face.
“This is no game, Thea Marie.”
“Everything is a game, Duke.” And the stakes were much higher than he could imagine.
“You can call our life a game,” his tone held a sneer, “only because society’s shaming means nothing to you.”
Thea bristled, reliving the sum of a hundred hollow looks of spite and shallow triumph that had been cast her way since she’d left Wynchester.
“Even if that were true,” she said, “I am not the one who sauntered into Sophia’s home like a leather-headed, gin-bitten drunk.”
“Not gin.” He snorted. “An exorbitant indulgence that Harrison imports—Armagnac.” He lifted his right brow. “One way or another, it seems my predisposition for decadence will be my ruin.”
“A single night’s excess will hardly be your ruin.” She frowned. “Even if it was, I would not be the cause.”
“Wouldn’t you?” Slowly, he rose from the chair, eyes hurling accusation with the same force he’d use to thrust one of the centuries-old Wynchester swords. “Every choice I made has been a sacrifice to the Worthington name and Wynchester title, the name and title you carry and have blackened without cause or feeling.”
Without cause? Without feeling? She inhaled sharply. My pregnancy ended in violence and pain because your loyalties lay elsewhere.
The words clanged against her teeth, straining to be spat in a final act of defiance that would, no doubt, result in a permanent rupture. She waited for the dark haze of anger, fear, and grief to dissipate, as she learned it would do with time and steadied breath. Old wounds may fester, but, right now, the slanderer Eustace was scheming his way back into their lives, and she believed he would be more than happy to see her husband in the grave.
She donned her most haughty expression, the one she used when returning a cut-direct.
“Well,” she said, “I never asked you to sacrifice for me.”
He held his breath as if he, too, struggled to restrain horrible words. Internally, she crumpled. Damnation. Even three sheets in the wind, he held sway over her spirit. She had courage and cunning but she hadn’t the strength. Truly, she hadn’t. And what deity in heaven or on earth would grant her angry heart Grace? The air was hot. Her skirts were heavy. Unattractive perspiration dampened her neck. She looked toward her mottled reflection in the night-dark window.
Run, her reflection ordered.
“No,” he said softly.
Wynchester’s quiet resignation slithered under her skin.
Her fingers stretched and stiffened inside tight gloves.
“Pardon?” she asked.
“No,” he repeated, “you never asked me to sacrifice for you.”
Something in his tone forced her to turn. His gaze dealt a stunning blow.
“And if I had?”
He straightened. “Let us lay the past aside. I am here, aren’t I? I responded at once to your challenge. Have you no guess as to why?”
She held his words in mental hands as if they formed the last piece of a puzzle. She turned them this way and that, but no matter which direction she tried, his words did not fit the scene she’d painstakingly created during their years of separation. She knew he wished for her return—but believed he acted for propriety’s sake, not his own.
…Yet the yearning in his gaze was not just for the restoration of appearances.
A slanted smile lifted one side of his mouth as he touched the pewter cup on Sophia’s desk. “What say you, Decadence? Shall we rattle fate?”
Wendy LaCapra has been reading romance since she sneaked into the adult section at the library and discovered Victoria Holt & Jane Aiken Hodge. From that point on, she dreamed of creating fictional worlds with as much richness, intrigue and passion as she found within those books. Her stories have placed in several contests, including the 2012 Golden Heart®. She lives in NYC with her husband and loves to hear from readers.
Check out what's up for grabs.
- 1 Signed copies of Lady Vice, Lady Scandal & Duchess Decadence + Swag Pack
- 1 eBook copy of The Accidental Duchess by Madeline Hunter
- 1 eBook copy of Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard by Vanessa Kelly
- 1 eBook copy of Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins
- 1 eBook copy of The Dukes Daring Debutante by Ann Lethbridge
- 1 eBook copy of The Love List by Deb Marlowe
- 1 eBook copy of I Spy a Duke by Erica Monroe
- 1 eBook copy of Reckless Wager + Bonus Novella Wanton Wager by Christy Carlyle
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