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The Contrary Contessa

The Contrary Contessa by Susanne Knight
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Lexia Cappello, a Sicilian young lady, believes in Fortuna, or Lady Luck. When she was a child, she experienced Fortuna’s hand--the gift of four colors of roses--and now believes her English stepbrother, Robert Weston, is destined to become her husband. The fact that she has seen Robert only once, on the day their parents married, doesn’t deter her. Nor does it bother her that Robert is scornful of his father’s new family, and has never troubled himself over the years to meet the additions to the Weston name: two daughters and a son. Even when she married an old Sicilian count and became the Contessa di Fabrianni, she never considered her marriage as anything but a minor detour toward her goal. Now a widow, plus the guardian of her recently orphaned sisters and brother, Lexia waits for Fortuna to somehow make good on its promise.

Robert Weston, the Marquess of Rutherford, is a lover of all things British. Unfortunately, he is also intolerant of things that are not. Disgusted by his father’s lack of civic duty by marrying a foreigner and living on the “primitive” island of Sicily, Robert administers his father’s estate but refuses to have anything to do with his new family. Even his father’s death three years ago doesn’t soften Robert’s heart toward his non-English relatives. However, when the woman his father married dies, Robert is forced to take action in the form of journeying to Sicily to “rescue” his two half-sisters and half-brother. As Westons, the children belong in England, not in a savage, foreign land.

At first Robert is annoyed, then intrigued by his new-found Sicilian stepsister. The more he resists her, the more he finds he yearns to possess her. Can he overcome his pride to admit the error of his ways and win the Contrary Contessa’s heart? Can Lexia convince this obstinate lord that his ignoble prejudice stands in the way of his future happiness?

Awe-Struck Publishing; August 2004
130 pages; ISBN 9781587494680
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: The Contrary Contessa
Author: Susanne Knight
About to ferret out a pot of coffee, Robert stopped. Chattering nonstop from a chair by the outside door was the most astonishing slip of a girl. What she said, he had no idea, but speaking in rapid fire Italian to someone evidently named Zia, she removed mudstained shoes. Her toes, brown and sturdy, wiggled joy at their sudden freedom. The girl’s dark straight hair, braided in a long strand to her slim waist, hung down to touch the floor even as she brushed dirt and grass from her feet. Dressed in peasants’ clothes, she wiped her hands on a soiled apron that outlined her slender hips. Her bosom, however, was quite...bountiful. Without thinking, he ran his tongue over his upper lip. She was undoubtedly a tasty morsel—one that he was eager to sample. Rumor had it that these Sicilians were a passionate breed. He wished to discover that for himself. He gave her a lazy smile. “Buon giorno, signorina.” She looked up at him and gasped—all doe-brown eyes and adorable pink lips. Even as she stared, her eyes widened and her hands flew to her sun-kissed cheeks. By the rise and fall of her voluptuous bosom, she would, no doubt, be a spirited conquest. Gently, he circled her small wrists with his hands and lifted her to her feet. He spoke slowly and deliberately, for a kitchen maid would not understand English. “You are quite beautiful, signorina. Bello.” Inhaling her intoxicating flowery fragrance inflamed every inch of his desire. The wine swimming in his head, the promise of the girl’s sweet nectar, and her liquid brown eyes all overruled any restraint he might have had. He leaned closer, to steal a kiss. From out of his fog of passion, he heard her speak. “Bella,” she said in her musical voice. “Bella?” he breathed, so close to achieving his goal. Her sparkling eyes almost mesmerized him. “Sì, bella.” Stepping away from him, she poured water from a pitcher into a bowl and washed her hands. He jerked his head back. No woman of his acquaintance had ever walked away from his attentions! And to do so to perform such a mundane task! Well, that was outside of enough. She picked up a worn, wood spoon, and with a twirl of skirts, turned her back on him and walked over to the boiling pot of vegetables. “Bello is for masculine and bella is for feminine. Capisce? Understand?” Just his wretched luck to try and seduce the one scullery maid in all of Sicily who spoke English. But still, by her heavy breathing, as indicated by the sensual flutter of her breasts, she was not indifferent to him. She had a similar fire igniting her natural desire. He would humor her. “Bella signorina. Do I have it right now?” He curved his lips into a rakish smile and followed her over to the fireplace. She would feel like heaven in his arms. “Mi dispiace. I am sorry. No. You do not.” She held up her left hand. “It is signora. See? Gold ring.” “The devil!” He could not help expostulating. Married? This young chit? But on her ring finger gleamed a slim band of gold. He was not so debauched as to force himself on a married woman.