The Christmas Knot
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November 26, 27 and 28th
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Widowed and destitute, Edwina White takes a position as governess in a remote village in the north of England—in a haunted house. She’s so desperate that she’ll take anything, and besides, she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Little does she know that her new employer is the seducer who lied and deceived her many years ago.
Sir Richard Ballister inherited an estate with a ghost and a curse, and every governess he hires leaves within a week. Finally, a woman desperate enough to stay arrives on his doorstep—but she’s the seductress who dropped him many years earlier for a richer man.
The last thing Richard and Edwina want is to work together, but they have no choice. Can they overcome the bitterness of the past in time to unravel a centuries-old knot and end the Christmas curse?
Her employer was Richard Ballister?
Edwina could do nothing but stare, aghast. Richard looked as appalled as she felt. She gazed about her hopelessly, shivering in the gathering dusk. If she returned to the inn, if she…
Richard recovered himself and handed the waiting man a coin. “Thank you, Joseph. Off you go before it starts to pour.” He grabbed Edwina’s valise and with a curt motion of the head, indicated that she should follow him indoors.
She hesitated. Death from exposure to the elements―for the first fat drops had already begun to fall―or from mortification?
“For God’s sake, Edwina, come indoors before I have to drag you.”
A wave of nostalgia rolled over her. Typical, no-nonsense Richard Ballister—one thing she had always loved about him. She didn’t love him anymore—that went without saying; one couldn’t love a liar and a jilt—but a few good memories lingered amongst the utterly miserable ones.
She went inside, and he slammed the door behind her. Before she could move, he loomed over her, large and threatening, trapping her between himself and the door, and another shudder of memory went through her. He hadn’t changed much: tall and darkly handsome, with a sensual curl of the lips and half-hooded, appraising eyes.
Why must desire rear its foolish head at such a time?
“What the devil are you doing here?” he said.
Desire and nostalgia dissipated at once. “Perhaps you should have identified yourself in that advertisement, if you didn’t want an unpleasant surprise,” she snapped. “Believe me, if I’d known you were my prospective employer, I wouldn’t have come.”
“Wise of you,” he drawled.
She wanted to hit him. “If you had any consideration at all, you would have arranged for the governess to apply to an agent in London, rather than spend her every last farthing traveling to the middle of nowhere.” To find the one man she loathed most in the entire world.
“Every last farthing?” He rolled his eyes.
“Not quite,” she retorted, spitting with fury. He retreated a few inches. Good. “I have a ha’penny in my reticule.”
“You can’t possibly be down to your last ha’penny,” he scoffed. “Your husband is a very rich man. I ask again—why in God’s name are you here?”
“My husband is dead,” she said flatly. “Didn’t you advertise for a widow?”
“My condolences,” he said unpleasantly. “But that doesn’t make you a governess, Edwina. Surely you can find some worthy charity or other to occupy your time. Succoring the flower girls in Covent Garden or some such.”
Oh, how she longed to hit him. “My husband died penniless. Therefore I am penniless, too.”
He blinked, taking it in. She didn’t blame him for being surprised. At the time of her marriage, her late husband had indeed been wealthy. Richard’s lips curled into an evil smile. “Well, but you’ve got a ha’penny left, didn’t you say?” He threw his head back and laughed.
It wasn’t a choice after all—she would perish of both mortification and the cold and wet. She whirled and wrenched open the door. Rain lashed in, soaking her skirts. She grabbed her valise, which Richard had dropped—he was still laughing, the disgusting brute―and marched out into the downpour.
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About the Author:
Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer's Choice and Epic awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. When they grew up, she turned to writing for adults, first the Bayou Gavotte paranormal mysteries and then Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Some of her Regencies have magic in them and some don't (except for the magic of love, which is in every story she writes).
Barbara loves to cook, especially soups, and is an avid reader. There are only two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and succeed at knitting socks. She'll manage the first but doubts she'll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.
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