The Magic Token by Susanne Marie Knight

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A MAGICAL TOKEN. When Amanda Barclay receives a magic token from a stranger, she is more than skeptical about whether this gold coin can change her life. But then the very man who captured her heart years ago suddenly appears. Is it destiny or cruel fate? Does he even remember her? Circumstances obligate her to accept the position he offers as governess, but how can she endure being near a man so beyond her reach?

A DIFFERENCE IN RANK. Marcus Hamilton, Duke of Yarborough, is a man burdened by family and political responsibilities. He does not have the time nor the inclination to dally with women beneath his station. But a chance meeting throws him together with Mandy, the engaging young sprite from his past, causing him to reevaluate his beliefs. For once in his life, the call of love beckons far stronger than the duties and obligations of his position.


After the door closed, the duke gestured toward a wide, cushioned settee, away from the fireplace. "Please, have a seat, Miss Barclay."

Amanda gladly complied. To her dismay, he remained standing. She had a close-up view of his muscled thighs. Her heart pounded in response, but only because he towered over her. No other reason.

"What was my sister crying about?"

Her first dealing with the Duke of Yarborough and she had to lie. And he just said he hated secrets. If her father were alive, he would preach up a storm.

But she had to protect the child. It was important that Daphne tell the duke herself. "Um, it was nothing important, your grace."

Convinced or not, he shrugged away the incident. "So, I am a busy man. I shall get right to the point. Do you agree to become my sister's governess? I think you will find me very generous. Very generous. Indeed, I have had no complaints from any of my women acquaintances."

Amanda raised her hand to her throat. Women acquaintances? Whatever did he mean? Was he talking about... mistresses? He could not possibly mean to dishonor her. Narrowing her gaze, she regarded him warily.

He pulled off his leather gloves and slapped them against one hand. "Well, speak up. What do you say--yea or nay? Save your missishness for another occasion, hmmm?"

She flushed. How embarrassing that he could read her private thoughts. Far from feeling at ease, she sat at the edge of the cushion. "You do not know anything about me, your grace. How can you be certain of my competence?"

Dropping his gloves next to his hat, he stood and paced in front of her. Every step he took closer to the fireplace made her wince with apprehension. She and Daphne had been lucky--so far.

"Fishing for compliments, are you, Miss Barclay? Well then, I shall oblige you." He ticked off comments on his fingers. "One, you are the daughter of a baronet, I believe. And sister to a parson. I cannot think of more steadying influences than those. Two, you have been away nursing relatives--this shows stamina. Three, Pritchard has spoken for you. I value his opinion."

He swept his gaze over the length of her. "And four, concerning your outward appearance, suitably clothed, you do not inspire aversion."

She gasped. His insult drummed savagely through her veins, chilling her very core. A sensation of sudden frost descended over her limbs, disabling her.

His highly polished Hessian boots came to a stop in front of her. She could only stare at the boots' small, black tassels, jiggling to a halt.

"Ah, I have made a mull of it, haven't I?" He reached down, caught her hands, and carefully tugged her to her feet. "I do apologize, Miss Barclay. I am a plain speaker. At times the things I say are not suitable for the gentler sex. Three years in Wellington's army had that effect on me."

She removed her hand from his. Speaking of effects, his close proximity had a dizzying one on her. Instead of looking him in the face, she contemplated the complex folds of his cravat. Being this near to him was even worse than she imagined.

Worse? No, perhaps it was more like heaven.

  • Published by: Uncial Press

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