Rake on the Run
Rake on the Run
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Lord Nathaniel Westlake has a reputation with the ladies and their fathers. But he always manages to stay two steps ahead of them catching him in the parson’s noose. His last narrow escape lands him on a ship and it seems like the perfect solution. That is until he learns the ship is bound for India. To make matters worse, the only available woman on board is a lady already wise to his antics. If he makes a muddle of things this time, there will be no means of escape.
When Miss Justina Tinsdale agrees to accompany her aunt and uncle on their journey to India, the last person she expected to discover aboard is Lord Nathaniel. The man seems incapable of remembering his past mistakes, but she does remember them and she won't let him off so easily. But month after month of a ship finds them often in each other's company and she sees a side of him society would never believe. One she never expected. But is he worthy of her trust or is it just the confines of the ship that brings about the change in him?
Lord Nathaniel is determined not to let another woman hurt him, while Justina is sure he only wants to add her to his list of conquests. Will they learn to trust their feelings for one another, or is their friendship destined to break both their hearts?
Intro. Into Chapter One
Intro. Into Chapter One
There comes a time in a man’s life when he is required to assess his actions and decisions. Perhaps…now was that time.
Lord Nathaniel Westlake peeked around the stack of crates, scanning the docks of Kings Lynn. He spotted Lord Malvern and his
son, Lord Hartleson, skulking about, obviously intent on finding someone. Finding me. His heart picked up its pace and his hands became moist. Lud, how was he to get out of this scrape? “Last call!”
Nathan heard the holler from the large ship off to his right. He looked toward the sound. Sailors moved into position, hoisting
the gang plank off the dock. With little thought to the repercussions, Nathan snatched up his valise, threw a quick prayer heavenward—even though he surely did not deserve such attention from God—and hurried out from behind the crates.
He half-ran, half-walked, trying to avoid drawing too much attention to himself. “Ah, you there,” he hollered slightly
breathlessly up to the men. “Please, let me aboard.”
The closest man furrowed his brows. “But—”
“My good fellow,” Nathan said, cutting him off. “I have no time for oscillation. Please, let me aboard.” Nathan cast a glance over his shoulder, scanning the nearby crowd for his pursuers.
The man shrugged. “If ye hurry. The winds are picking up.” Together the men dropped the plank back to the dock and Nathan hurried on board as the men resumed their hoisting before Nathan’s feet even
touched down on the deck.
Once aboard, he grinned at them and touched his fingers to his brow, giving them a small salute. “I am much obliged to you,
The plank settled into place with a thunk as Nathan leaned against the railing of the ship. He sighed, his body relaxing at last. He spotted Lords Malvern and Hartleson just as they spotted him. He grinned and dipped his head toward them, their expressions angry. Both men
raced to the edge of the dock, but it was too late; the ship was just far enough away that they could pursue him no farther.
The wind pushed at the sails, taking him away from all his troubles. His shoulders sagged and he closed his eyes for a moment. This was what he needed. A fresh start away from the disapproving stares of the
But just where was his fresh start to take place?
He looked around. In truth, Nathan had no idea where this ship was bound.
The swishing of skirts sounded above the waves and breeze. In his relief over his escape, he had not noticed a lady moving to the
rail next to him. This was not a common occurrence for him. He chuckled to himself. He was nothing if not proficient
at noticing women.
Nathan turned, making sure to place his most charming smile upon his lips.
But the face that greeted him stopped him in his tracks. She looked at him with the barest hint of a smile. Her eyes flicked
from Nathan to the lords on the dock below.
She was plain at best. Her hair was a nondescript brown, as were the eyes looking up at him. The face was altogether too tan to
be considered handsome, and her teeth were…slightly askew.
The smile dropped from his face. She was not ugly…he supposed. She was just…well, not the sort of lady he was accustomed to
paying much heed to.
He looked around. Surely there were other, more diverting women on board. He sighed at the empty deck. If there were other women aboard, they were not in wont of air at the moment.
Nathan turned back and shrugged, resigning himself
to a conversation with the woman next to him. “I am afraid I do not know where this ship is bound. I made the decision to board rather hastily.” He chuckled.
“Yes, I saw.” She had turned her eyes back to the dock. “Calcutta, India, sir.”
India? That was not quite what he’d had in mind when he had awoken this morning. But
neither had he intended to face Lord Malvern.
India, Nathan thought again. He could think of worse places to be headed. Back to Cambridge and Lady Elizabeth among them. His head nodded slightly as the
thought settled on him. He had never been to India. It seemed he had been presented with a unique opportunity, if he decided to make the whole of the
Nathan looked back at the lady standing next to him. Perhaps she was not as plain as he had originally thought her, but still
she was not a beauty. Although, her voice did have a pleasant sort of timbre to it. Perhaps she would prove to be a good conversationalist. Such a quality
would be in high demand after several weeks passed confined upon this ship. And then, once he was in India, there would surely be ladies clamoring for his
Nathan looked out at the dock growing farther and farther away. India was a long distance to travel on a whim. His estate was in good hands, but nonetheless, was it prudent to take such a trip? He might be better served to disembark at the next stop. Where would that be?
The angry—might he even say murderous?—faces of
Lords Malvern and Hartleson came to his mind and he gave a slight shudder. Yes, India looked better and better. Besides, he had never taken a tour, as many of
his friends had done after leaving Cambridge.
He turned back to the woman next to him. “What takes you to such far reaches of the kingdom, Miss—?” He trailed off, waiting
for her to introduce herself.
“Miss?” She pushed herself from the railing, scowling at him. “Good day, my lord.”
He sensed anger in her voice. What did she have to be angry with him about? They had only spoken for the first time moments ago.
He cleared his throat. “Lord Nathaniel Westlake.” He sketched a brief bow before waiting for her to look on him with more
admiration now that she knew his station. Granted, his brother would be the one to inherit the marquessate and all that went with it, but Nathan had an estate
of his own with a good income. Besides, he had never had a lady complain at his only being a second son.
“My apologies, my lord, but it would be improper for me to be seen in such deep conversation
with someone to whom I had not been properly introduced. I am certain my aunt would not look upon it favorably.”
Nathan reared back slightly. “It seems it is I who should be apologizing, miss. I did not realize we had entered into a deep conversation.” His nose turned up slightly.
Ah, she was of the extremely proper sort of lady. In his experience, those types were rarely any fun at all. But then, had not Lady Elizabeth been the same until her introduction to Nathan? He smiled.
The woman gave him a slight curtsy and moved swiftly to the other side of the deck. Her gaze turned down to the water below.
They must be fascinating waves for the way she kept her eyes trained upon them.
Nathan shrugged. She may prove more stubborn than most. But she would come around. They always did.