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Timeless Deception

Timeless Deception by Susanne Marie Knight
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Modern-day Alaina Sawyer is going out of her mind! She’s having disturbing visions of a woman who looks exactly like her. This nineteenth century woman, the Countess of Saybrooke, talks about switching places with someone. Evidently, a mystic, Madame Reena, is the means to this end. The Countess and her lover, Sir Derek Donnehey, are planning this escape so that they can be together, since the Countess’ husband refuses to divorce her. But what does all of this has to do with Alaina? She finds out when she wakes up the next morning in the Countess’ bed... in the year 1816! The only solution she can think of is to assume Lady Saybrooke’s identity, then find Madame Reena to unswitch the Countess and herself. She must adjust to her strange situation of being the Countess of Saybrooke and in so doing, falls in love with her new “husband.” There is one hitch: the Earl of Saybrooke absolutely despises his wife. Alaina must convince the man of her dreams that though she looks like his wife, Alicia, she is another person with completely different morals. Richard Cransworth, the Earl of Saybrooke has had to contend with his disagreeable and unfaithful wife, Alicia, ever since the birth of their son, Terrence. She’s never forgiven Richard nor Terrence for the trauma of childbirth. The Earl banishes her to his principle estate and avoids her by concentrating on his life’s passion: Roman archeology. When his mother insists on spending the Christmas holidays at Saybrooke Hall, he is less than thrilled, but he bows to his mother’s wishes for a family reunion and braces himself for the tempestuous time ahead. When he finally sees his wife again, he’s plagued by doubts about her. She’s more beautiful than ever, only she’s somehow different. Something he can’t quite put his finger on. Her behavior seems to be exemplary, which causes him to be suspicious all the more. How can he convince his own heart that his wife’s sudden descent into virtue is not just wishful thinking, and that she is now a dream come true?
Awe-Struck Publishing; June 2006
162 pages; ISBN 9781587495465
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Timeless Deception
Author: Susanne Marie Knight
Entering the room, Alicia glided as Aphrodite might, poised and confident in her beauty. She wore a simple gown with ivory ruffles encasing her slim wrists. As always, she looked exceedingly lovely and feminine. Indeed, she appeared as if she passed a restful night. Would that she had passed it with him. For some reason, a knot developed in Richard’s throat. Clearing it, he indicated a seat next to him on the settee. “Have a seat, Alicia.” To be contrary, she chose a straight-backed chair. Words seemed to escape him. Realizing he was in the wrong made matters even more difficult. “Alicia, I must beg your pardon for my behavior last night. I was a trifle disguised.” “Disguised? What does that mean?” She fussed with the folds of cloth at her wrists, refusing to look at him. Devil take it, he longed to shake the indifference from her. She was not making it easy for him to apologize. “Foxed, one sheet into the wind, bosky, feeling the tipsy... does that explain it?” “Oh, drunk,” she said with understanding. Unable to contain himself, he jumped up and forcibly pulled the frills from her fingers. “Keep your hands still, damn it and pay attention.” She lifted her gaze to meet the cold of his eyes. “You wanted to apologize, I believe,” she said calmly. “I just did,” he answered through gritted teeth. “Now with that matter behind us, I demand to know what you were doing at the Dilettani meeting yesterday.” He walked over to the fireplace and picked up a useless bric-a-brac from the mantle. “The rules you were to obey forbid attending any such event.” “Any social event... there’s a difference.” Perhaps she was right, however he could not admit that to her. Indeed, he could not admit any of his true feelings to her. He set the ornament back on the mantle. “You twist my words.” In one fluid motion, Alicia stood. “This has gone far enough. I‘ve followed your rules. You stressed events of a social nature and, guess what? I’ve complied.” She folded her arms against her enticing breasts. “As to why I was there yesterday, it’s no secret--I was curious to hear your speech.” Now she whipped her hands through the air, punctuating her sentences. “That’s it--no hidden rendezvous, no ulterior motives. Quite frankly, Richard, I’m fed up with the way you’ve been treating me. For heaven’s sake, I can’t even talk with people without a time limit!” Silencing her hands, she also dropped her voice. “I’ve... I’ve had enough.” “What do you mean?” He did not like the sound of those words. Her agitation was visible by the rise and fall of her bosom. She avoided his gaze. “I’ve decided to return to Saybrooke Hall. I would like to stay here one more month. However, if you have a problem with that, I’ll leave immediately.” His wife’s counterattack caught Richard off guard. She was right, so right in everything she said. Blast, he truly was the biggest ass in the world. He sat down at the very edge of a chair. Lord help him but he did not want her to leave. After all his invectives against Alicia and her behavior, he did not want her to go. Running his hand through his hair, he exhaled slowly. “This is a surprise, Alicia. What about Mother? She still is not herself yet.” “Oh, please, I can’t believe she will fall into a decline, missing my daily ten minute visits.” The irony in Alicia’s voice was unmistakable. Suddenly Richard understood. “I see. You are anxious to resume your wanton ways at the Hall. You will be freer there from my censure.” His wife laughed but it had a bitter quality to it. “God, yes! The pickings are too slim in London. How astute of you to realize. I find country men much more... virile.” Alicia quickly made her way to the door. “I never thought you could be so blind... or so stupid.” But he was faster and barred her exit. “More virile?” he thundered. “How do you find this?” He pressed her against the door, imprisoning her in a fevered embrace. With his lips burning hot, he cruelly took possession of her mouth. He was mad with jealousy, mad with desire, mad with years of submerged longing for her. She did not resist him. Indeed, he would not have allowed it. Tasting her infinitely sweet lips, he darted his tongue deep into her mouth. This was better, so much better than he remembered. In fact, kissing her was somehow different.... Without conscious thought, his hands explored her sensuous curves, unfairly hidden by the cloth of her dress. The smooth skin on her back, her slim hips, her rounded bottom--cherished treasures to a man who was finally coming home. Instead of pushing him away, her arms wound around him, gripping him tightly. Her fingers became entangled in his hair. She moaned with undisguised pleasure. By the good Lord above, she was aroused--passionately aroused! But still, the feeling that something was different persisted. Breaking contact with those delicious lips, Richard stared into her eyes. Her eyes were moist with the promise of fulfillment. But it was not Alicia gazing back at him; it was a stranger. A complete and utter stranger. This woman was not his wife! Although the woman’s lips were bruised and swollen, she smiled seductively at him. “Don’t stop now,” she almost purred. He closed his eyes, reeling from her ardent desire and from the realization she was not Alicia. By all that was holy, he needed time to think. Self-preservation overtook his other emotions. To lose his heart to a stranger! Who the devil was she? Stepping away from her was like closing the door to paradise. Every inch of his body physically hurt. He gazed one last time into her liquid eyes, then bowed. “Madam.” To her surprise, as well as his own, he retreated from the salon as if the hounds from hell were nipping at his heels.
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